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Saint John, the Panhandler

Saint John, Lost Job Sign

Saint John, Lost Job Sign

For a year, Ron and I lived in a high rise at the intersection of 16th Street and Glenarm Place in the Heart of Denver. For entertainment, we needed to do no more than sit on our 22nd floor balcony or step out onto the street.

The Convention Center and entertainment district are only a few blocks away, Federal and State government buildings as well. Hotels and eateries too numerous to count are crammed into the city scape. It was not unusual to see comic book and movie characters wander up and down the street or stop for a bite in a sidewalk cafe, especially during Comicon season. Buskers playing musical instruments as varied as bag pipes, violins, pianos, and plastic buckets staked out their areas and competed for random dollars. The occasional choir gathered around one of the city’s pianos and serenaded us.

Many of the brick walls in the alleys that intersect 16th Street are covered in well painted graffiti-style art.

Often I noted folks — men, women, and children — wearing angel wings. Not uncommon at all.

Perhaps my favorite costume was a woman in a full mermaid outfit being pushed down the street in a wheelchair, her tail fins dragging the ground.

My favorite entertainer was a dude with a huge Afro in a padded red and silver robot outfit. He would accost folks with Don Rickles-style one-liners. He may have had a day job or maybe that was his day job.

And then there are the Street People. Each block has its regulars with their homemade signs begging for whatever change we can spare, asking us to smile, and then blessing us in some way. I liked the vet in a wheelchair with his dog in his lap. The dog always had on a hat appropriate to the season.

Every day I went into my studio and looked at drawings and worked on icons of Saint John with wings on his back, signifying that he is the messenger of the Lord.

Thus was born my current painting of Saint John, the Messenger. It’s not finished yet, but I will show you parts of it until it is.

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