Cristina and I crossed paths some years ago, when she worked for the Bilingual Press at Arizona State University. I purchased ten copies of the Contemporary Chicana/o Art books, and I came into the office to pick them up. Cristina was the only person there. She looked exhausted. It was the end of the semester. In that moment I remembered my days as a grad student, and in some odd way I envied her. I wondered if her exhaustion was education related. It was.
Some time later she contacted me and asked if the press could use my drawing, “Artist in Her Studio” on the cover of their Fall and Winter catalog. Yes, of course, I said. We signed an agreement. I received a stipend and the press used the artwork.
I invited Cristina to the Mental Concoctions exhibit. She arrived with her husband Don. We didn’t know each other well, and it had been years since I had last seen her. But I recognized her immediately, though this time she looked very well rested. I greeted her and thanked her for coming. She seemed excited. I noticed she looked at work very carefully. I eventually saw her leave but I did not say goodbye to her, the gallery was a full house and I was in the thick of it at that moment.
The next day Don called. Valentine’s Day was approaching and he wanted to surprise her with a painting. The work she had shown interest in had sold the night before I told him. I invited Don to come to my studio, perhaps he could find something there. Could we do this and not let anything on to Cristina, he asked. He set up a plot I was to follow. Long story short, Don and Cristina are private detectives. I was not certain I could pull off a fabrication of any sort and Cristina not be suspicious. And frankly…Don didn’t seem to be a good liar either.
So…there was no surprise, Cristina was told and she was pleased none the less. We set up a date for a studio visit. Wow…I secretly thought…private investigators coming to my studio. I wanted to ask many questions. We had a fun afternoon. I was as curious about their work as they were of mine. They spent the whole afternoon at the studio. They left that evening with five art works, three on paper and two on canvas.
A few month later, my husband and I were invited to their home to see where the work hung and to enjoy a Cuban meal. Cristina is Cuban, Don is not…but he cooks a good Cuban chicken, rice and platanos. We spent the evening talking about cultural traditions, family, education, private detective work, art…and our other point of interest…cats, tailless ones and otherwise.