They say Vincent Van Gogh died flat broke, having sold only one painting.
Perhaps the starving impressionist should have set his sights a little lower and preserved posteriors for posterity.
Arthur Anguiano, who bills himself as “a butt sketch artist,” was paid $1,650 to draw derrieres for four hours Monday at Spokane Community College.
“It still shocks me. I graduated high school to sketch butts?” said Dallas resident Anguiano, 27, laughing heartily. “I mean, sometimes people will bend over and actually moon me.
“I can’t believe it.”
The butt artist was paid out of student activities fees and not tax dollars, according to the aptly named Gayle Bender, the SCC program coordinator who booked Anguiano.
For the above flat sum, Anguiano erected his easel in the Lair foyer and went to work.
Anyone brave enough to pose - fully clothed, of course - received a charcoal, rearview portrait absolutely free and suitable for framing.
Just as Anguiano predicted, a sizable crowd formed around him within minutes.
Booths set up by four-year colleges hoping to attract SCC students couldn’t compete. “We’re in the wrong business,” said Jeffrey Hedgepeth, a University of Washington director of business.
Some stunned SCC students watching Anguiano made it clear they wouldn’t stoop so low.
“Nobody’s sketching my butt,” snapped a disgusted guy in a jacket that advertised a popular Idaho country and western bar.
“So we’re paying money for this?” mused an incredulous and smirking Chris Nelson.
Others, however, weren’t about to be left behind. They waited, eager to have their assets or liabilities artfully rendered.
“This is really different,” said a slightly embarrassed Debra Looper, who turned her back to Anguiano and struck a jaunty pose.
Even I couldn’t resist such a weird call to booty.
“So, are you married? Got any kids?” asked Anguiano, making small talk while I stood and he sketched.
“Er, yes I do. And I’m glad they’re not here now,” I muttered, praying for the three minutes to hurry by.
The experience was oddly satisfying. Anguiano could have been blunt and told me he needed a full-sized mural to do justice to my considerable essence. No wisecracks, please.
No doubt worried about what I might write, he created a rather flattering likeness.
Anguiano is actually a butt sketch assistant. He works for the true master, Krandel Lee Newton, who started his bizarre “Original Butt Sketch” business on a Dallas street corner during the mid-1980s.
Newton, who claims to make six figures a year, soon had more bums lined up than the sidewalk fronting a Skid Row liquor store.
He hired Anguiano five years ago, eventually adding three others. The cheeky artists have amassed 150,000 tush sketches.
John Goodman, Johnny Bench, Vanessa Williams, Tony Curtis and even Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek are but a few of the famous backsides.
Newton and his artisans now travel the country. An SCC entertainment committee spotted Newton at a convention and booked the appearance.
Newton and his cronies have been filmed and interviewed by scores of TV and print reporters. Even the staid Wall Street Journal couldn’t resist:
“A pretentious artist might have named his business the Original Posterior Sketch, but the personable Mr. K chose what some might call the B-word.”
What a great country. We live in a place where even artists who specialize in hindquarters are showered with attention and wealth.
So how does Anguiano deal with the same lowbrow subject matter day after day? “To me,” says the artist, “each butt has its own personality.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo