The Process of Selling My Paintings in front of the Metropolitan Museum

The Shoes and The Bedroom Interior paintings

One afternoon, probably on a weekend, I was sketching a street view in Manhattan from the penthouse at Marino studio. John walked in and saw me sketching. Later, he told me that, when he saw me sketching, he said to himself, “She is a genius” while biting his fingers lightly. And he thought he had to help me.

On another day, he took me on a ferry ride to Staten Island. It was a beautiful sunny day. I made some sketches of the Statue of Liberty and other spots from the ferry. On the way back, as the boat was getting closer to downtown, many passengers, including us, were standing near the exit so that we could get off as soon as it arrived. While looking from there, I was mesmerized by the view that was getting closer and closer. It was the beautiful towering high-rise buildings, Brooklyn Bridge and other bridges and the water around them. The buildings and the water were casting reflections on each other along with the sunshine and the blue sky. I couldn’t help making a sketch of it, so I pulled my sketchbook out from my bag and made sketches in the crowd.

One day, John asked me to show him the paintings I had. After he saw them, he suggested I sell my paintings outside the Metropolitan Museum. Then, he took me to a factory-like old building in a little suburb in New York City. He told me to bring my paintings with me, so I brought Behan’s bar, Derry City, Marseille,  Shoes, Bedroom Interior, Ducks and Swan and others with me.

Brown boots and sandal watercolour painting

Shoes, Belt, Sock and White Cloth on Brown Carpet by Chiho Yoshikawa, 1999

We went to the upper floor and waited for a few hours because other people were in front of us. Actually, I had no clue what we were waiting for. I don’t remember why. Maybe I wasn’t so focused on what we were doing because a lot of things were new experiences for me in New York, or maybe I didn’t fully understand what John had said or he hadn’t explained to me well. I was just following John.

Our turn came and we went into a room. The first room we were in was a tiny little room. Then an older Chinese man came in and started explaining something (I don’t remember what) and asked me to choose the paper quality of the prints I wanted. Then I finally figured out that we were in a print shop where they would produce prints from my paintings.

I was taking some time to decide my preference when the Chinese man smiled and said, “Artists are picky.” From this, I felt that people in New York City were familiar with what artists were like and had respect and patience for them. After I told him my preference, I was invited to come into another room. It was a larger room with many printing machines, and most, or all, of the workers looked Chinese or Asian. They showed me the prints they made from my paintings and I asked for a dozen of each painting.

Next, John took me to a framer in New York City. It was quite close to Studio Marino and it was run by two male Indians, probably father and son. We asked them to make mounts for my prints. I choose again very carefully, the colour of the mounts I would like to use for each print. They told us when they would be ready and we went back there to pick them up.

Behans Bar painting with mount

Cathedral painting with mount

Bedroom painting with mount

When they were all ready, John and I headed for the Metropolitan Museum of Art to sell my prints and paintings. We took the subway there and he brought his portable table with him. We set up my stand beside the sidewalk, just a little south of the museum. There were other people setting up their stands in the same area. We continued doing this for several days.

John also went to see someone he knew who owned an Irish pub in New York City to ask him if he would like to buy a print of the Behan’s Bar painting. 

The Metropolitan Museum

Every night, John would make my bed with those pieces of foam in the workspace of an older female artist called Ethel at Marino Studio and I would sleep there. He would sleep near his workspace. One night, before going to sleep, John tried to kiss me on my cheek. I dodged it because I was a bit surprised. Also, it was not the right timing or the situation for kissing since we weren’t in love or anything like that. Then, he slapped my cheek and walked off to his work area. I thought he was crazy. But after a minute, he came back and said, “I forgot Japanese people don’t kiss when they say good night, instead, they shake hands.” That’s not all true and it was a strange statement so it just sounded like he was making an excuse for his behaviour. I felt a little unsafe being with John, so, before going to sleep that night, I decided to leave the studio the next morning. The next morning, I woke up and I left the studio. John was still sleeping.

After I left the studio, I went to the place where I set my stand in front of the Metropolitan Museum. I was going to try to sell my paintings by myself. But there was nobody there that day as it was windy and cloudy and it looked like it was going to rain. I sat down, leaning against a building off the sidewalk, and I felt I had nowhere to go to.

I went back to Marino Studio at the end of the day. In the studio, I saw Brian, a sculptor who rented a space there, and his girlfriend. They let me stay at the studio until John returned. Soon, John came back. He had his straight blonde hair curled and he was holding a hanger with a navy-coloured suit and said in a happy voice, “You back!”