At my opening at 203 Fine Art in Taos on September 25, 2021, I met another local artist, Helen Gene Nichols, for the first time. Helen’s kaleidoscopic, tessellated conceptual works are very interesting. Like me, she is an alumnus of San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). We didn’t cross paths at that time, but we had lots to talk about.

Ronald Davis - The Toothpick SaleAfter we had fun chatting for a while, she said out of the blue, in the context of being a conceptual artist, “I’d give you $20 for a toothpick.” Without missing a beat, I silently reached into my coat pocket and pulled out a new, clean, cellophane-wrapped toothpick and handed it to her. Game on! She didn’t expect that, and to her credit, she didn’t miss a beat either, and took the toothpick matter-of-factly, twirling it around and examining it. She said, “Would you sign it, please?” which was a hilarious thing to volley back. “Well do you have a Sharpie?” I challenged. Several Sharpies popped up nearby from rapt observers, but I realized it was too difficult to sign such a tiny object. Instead, I reached into my pocket and found a second wrapped toothpick, and gave it to her in consolation. “Here, a free bonus!” She was appeased, and pulled a $20 bill from her purse and handed it to me. “Thanks!” I said. “But now you have to sign the twenty.” She took back the bill and complied, signing it “One Of One. Yours, Dude.” I told her I was going to take it home and frame it.

The only reason I knew I had toothpicks in my coat pocket was because I happened to find them there earlier when dressing for the opening. It made for a successful spontaneous and serendipitous conceptual event.

Blog page image of repeating pattern artwork, Yin-Yang, by Taos artist Helen Gene Nichols

Ronald Davis: Seven Decades is on view at 203 Fine Art through November 11, 2021