TRAVEL THERE: SPENDING MY MORNING WITH AN ARTLESS AUCTIONEER ON NORWEGIAN EPIC
After my workout in Norwegian Epic’s marvelous Pulse Fitness Center, I returned to our stateroom and freshened up. Eventually, Bill woke up and was ready for breakfast. Unfortunately, by the time he woke up, the sit down breakfast was just about over. He wasn’t particularly happy about a buffet breakfast, but a man’s gotta eat.
The Breakfast Buffet
I’ll be honest with you. I loved the Garden Cafe breakfasts. You could get anything you wanted. There were a lot more choices than we found the next day at Taste. Bill didn’t really have any trouble with the food, he just wanted the sit-down experience with people waiting on you. I don’t think he realized, at that point, there were people at the buffet to make omelettes to-order or Eggs Benedict or whategger else you wanted.
Art Auction at Sea
After breakfast we wandered the decks a little, learning our way around, until it was time for the art auction. I really can’t remember which of my cruises was the first to include an art auction or when I attended the first one, but I really look forward to them when I cruise. The last one I’d participated in was on a Carnival ship. To my best recollection, we were on board several days before the auction and we’d made visits to the gallery to enjoy the art previous to the actual event.
The Epic had an art gallery, too, but it was tucked away under the Epic Theater on Deck 5. With the auction being so soon after we boarded, we hadn’t really had a chance to look over the art and fall in love with something. Still we made our way to Le Bistro to enjoy the show.
Right off the bat, Bill wasn’t happy. The bar they used for the auction on Carnival Ecstacy had been much larger than the Epic’s French Restaurant. Strolling through the art on Carnival had encouraged lingering and we’d already been sampling it in the ship’s art gallery. On Epic, too many people and too much art were crammed into too small of a place. Bill was ready to leave as soon as we got there. I reminded him of the champagne they’d be serving and he did stay for that, but not much longer.
The cramped display and bidding rooms were somewhat of a disadvantage to the auction, but the auctioneer was the last straw. As soon as Bill’s champagne glass was dry, he high-tailed it out of the room. I was really interested in the art, so I overlooked the auctioneer’s lame attempts at entertainment.
Art is not a thing of passing interest to me. It’s a passion. I can’t afford to be a collector, yet, but I thrive on the opportunity to visit museums, learn about art and artists, and see pretty things. The auctioneer for other art auctions I’ve attended aboard cruise ships understood their audience and devoted as much time to entertainment and education, as they did to actually auctioning off the items. The Epic’s auctioneer took himself entirely too seriously. He insulted both the audience and the art. Someone needed to tell him we were on a cruise ship.
He was from Romania and had been working for Park West for five years. In his opinion that made him an art authority. If he had any formal art training, he didn’t bother telling us about it. I’m not going to pretend that I know more than he did about financial side of things, but he wrongly assumed his audience was a bunch of rubes from down on the farm.
The auctioneer’s first sin, in my eyes, was to scold a passenger, before the auction even got going. The auctioneer was up there bragging on himself and making jokes about Romania when the poor guy in the audience said something to his wife. Unfortunately, the passenger had one of those voices which carry further than intended. I think the auctioneer was trying to be funny when he challenged the guy, but I didn’t see the humor. The passenger didn’t even understand what he did wrong and was obviously embarrassed. The auctioneer continued to pick on the same guy throughout the auction. I wanted to punch out the auctioneer’s lights, but I remained quietly in my seat.
Then the auctioneer started his schpiel on what did and did not constitute an original work of art. I happen to know a little something about the business of reproductions. I understand the difference in a giclee and serigraphy, in lithography, etchings and engravings. At least I know enough to know that this guy wasn’t someone I would trust.
I stayed in spite of the auctioneer, but I wasn’t happy about it. Then he pulled out the Thomas Kinkades. Now people either like Thomas Kinkade or they don’t. I find his work pleasant, but it’s been overly reproduced, so I wouldn’t buy one. Apparently, Park West feels the same way. Before the auctioneer was through, he’d trotted out ten Kinkade giclees and was offering them for $1500 as a set. I’m not saying the bidding started at $1500, I’m saying he had ten Kinkades up at the front of the room and he said whoever raised their hand first could get them all for $1500. Even then he couldn’t find a taker.
He hadn’t read his audience at all and he made a mockery of the artist. I looked at my watch and decided the thing had to be over soon and after putting up with all his stupidity, I should at least stay around for the free art they were giving away. I cherish a very nice Marko reproduction I got at the Carnival auction, even though it was only am 8X10. I survived through a trio of modern artist the auctioneer tried to shove down our throats with the same methodology he’d used with the Kinkades.
Next was a Rembrandt etching. As he extolled the value of the Rembrandt, I’d had enough. Certainly there’s value in owning a Rembrandt etching, but he was going on about it like a carny barker and touting the etching as if it were the first one made, rather than one that had been printed several centuries later. I relinquished my free gift and went to find Bill.
But let’s leave behind this less than entertaining activity and go to the pools. See you here next week.