Mastering The Whole Job


“He’s the best plumber you’ve never heard of…” 

Have you ever heard that?  Someone is supposedly a great chef, or mechanic, or even insurance agent, but he/she has never achieved success or recognition.  Why?  The individual’s fans either don’t know or won’t say.  And if you ask this person toiling in anonymity you may hear how the fates have conspired against him, or how she was just too busy to do the marketing, or worse, how others have sold out, but he has remained true to himself. 

They have failed to master the whole job. 

We just got back from Ann Arbor.  I was multi-tasking, first meeting with a Michigan based health insurer and then looking for more stuff for the office at the Ann Arbor Art Fair.  Once I knew that my Detroit-area client will be properly insured, I was free to enjoy the show. 

The art is an integral part of our office.  We were once featured in the Plain Dealer and people visit just to see the collection.  The pictures, wood work, and sculptures aren’t expensive, just meaningful to me and generally fun and appreciated by our guests.  In fact, I did not pay over $2,000 for any item.  What makes the art cool is how we, our guests and I, react to each piece and the story that goes with it. 

This was my 21st year at Ann Arbor.  I stop and thank every artist I have ever patronized.  I don’t know if I’ll ever purchase another piece of glass from Rollin Karg, but I’m truly glad that I’ve got the one I have.  I enjoy sharing with Jerry Farnsworth that adults and children love his kaleidoscopes.  And a visit with John Russell, the guy who makes my wood pens, is worth the three hour drive. 

I purchased a wooden coffee cup last year.  I had never seen a coffee cup made of wood and was instantly intrigued.  The booth was busy and I didn’t get a chance to get to know the artist.  A year later I had questions about cleaning my mug and wanted to buy a couple more.  There was no one in the booth Wednesday, not even the artist.  We waited a few minutes and were intercepted as we were leaving.  I thought asking how to safely remove the coffee residue from my cup was a reasonable question.  He thought that I was wasting his time.  We left empty-handed a moment or two later. 

My cupmaker is only good at part of his job.  Why pay the money, schlep your goods, and pitch a tent on a hot Ann Arbor street (or at any show) if you don’t want to talk to the public? 

My major 2012 purchase was from Beau Tudzarov.  Clients and I have admired this creative piece of digital art since it arrived last September.  I have been looking forward to discussing the picture with him.  We had a great conversation Wednesday.  He confirmed some of what we had found, the influences of Salvatore Dali and M.C. Escher. 

Beau’s wife is also an artist and he credits her as one of his artistic influences.  Her work was being displayed in the next booth.  He showed me a picture that predated mine.  He felt that her tree, which had bubbles instead of leaves, had found its way into several of his pieces.  It was a revealing insight and it put my picture into sharper focus for me.  It also fostered a greater appreciation of his art. 

Did I buy another Tudzarov?  Not this year, but I’m sure I will one day. 

I also got a chance to visit with Greg Billman.  I have given Billmans’ as gifts and have work from Greg and Jane hanging in the office and at home. 

Over the two days we were in Ann Arbor we visited with over a dozen artists, some old friends and some new.  And I made a couple of trips to the car to stow the special art that had to come back to Mayfield Heights.


We finished our trip at the Zeber-Martell booth.  Claudia and Michael create and display amazing clay works in their Akron studio.  They are socially conscientious active participants in the Akron art scene.  They are a wonderful couple, talented and loving, who work hard at the entire job.  They produce terrific art and they enjoy a well-earned, loyal following.  We seem to get a couple of things from them every year. 

The whole job.  It doesn’t really matter if we are talking about Michael Martell or Attorney Mark Obral.  The best are those professionals who master the whole job.