The artist and the businessman: A present-day parable

painter 2 By Cristina DC Pastor

An obscure painter and a wealthy businessman met initially through an act of kindness. Their story would develop into a tale of exploitation, shame, and crime that now has New York State law enforcers and the Philippine Consulate involved.

The businessman offered to shelter the artist in his Upstate New York home when he heard this elderly portraitist was looking for a place to stay. Needless to say, the artist was grateful beyond words. He stayed in this unoccupied house for about eight months paying only the utilities.

Unknown to the artist, however, the businessman was in the process of selling his home. The businessman did not inform the artist that the house would soon have a new buyer. Why he did not headsup the artist is something for the courts to look into.

When the artist came home one night, the lock had changed and he could not get in. He saw an open back door and tried to get in. Someone called the cops on the artist, who was accused of being an intruder. He was taken to the police station where he gave a statement. He also pleaded with them to let him stay the night in the station because he had no place to go. He was allowed to crash on an empty bench by the lobby.

The artist turned to friends and fellow artists in the NYC community. Some did not return his calls, others did and offered to help. One of them asked, “Where are your paintings and tools?” The artist did not even think about those; his main concern was his survival. Until it dawned on him: His paintings are his survival! He filed a case of theft against the businessman.

The businessman made conflicting statements. He has admitted to some people having the paintings — several of them all done but unframed. To others, he denied the paintings are in his possession. He maintained before investigators that he doesn’t have them and does not know where they are.

The artist, who is now being cared for by a Filipino priest, insists all his belongings — including his paintings — were gone when he returned to the house that fateful night. He wants them back, hoping to sell some for his expenses.

Sadly, not many in the Filipino American community are aware of this woeful tale. Friends of the artist who are trying to pass the hat for him have run into a heavy wall of apathy and indifference.

This story was shared with The FilAm. It is our hope that with this retelling, those who would like to help the artist will get in touch with the Philippine Consulate’s Assistance to Nationals Unit and offer whatever they can. The artist, who is 70 years old, needs a pair of glasses.

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