By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
When she saw the theater on fire, Timoner went into a panic. Without thinking, she leapt from her car and pushed past the firefighters. "They were trying to stop me, but they couldn't," she says. "I had to see if his art was okay."
All in all, the fire damage totaled about $15,000 and left the theater walls coated in an oily residue. To release the smoke, firefighters punched craggy holes through the ceilings. The sofas were burned to cinders, the green lamp destroyed and the video projector melted beyond repair. Yet aside from taking on an aggressive odor of fusty barbecue, Quick's artwork was unscathed.
Quick seems humbled by Timoner's apparent willingness to risk her life to save his art -- as he points out, he barely knows her. Yet when he tells her story -- which he does repeatedly in the days following the incident -- he uses it to illustrate the effect his artworks can have on people. "They have a lot of emotional value," he says. "People see themselves in the work and can relate."
A few days later, Quick paces his office and reflects on the near-disaster. He's wearing his straw boater and a floor-length lavender caftan that emanates smoke. "It's heartbreaking," he says. "To think that everything I've ever done could be gone. I have no idea what that means."
In the most literal sense, it would have meant the obliteration of a carefully constructed personal history, because most of his works are, pretty literally, about him. The incubated sketchbook in the lobby, titled The Story of My Life by Beeaje Quick, is filled with 11,571 "original symbols" that took him a year to complete and, he says, caused arthritis in his right hand. Each symbol is about an inch square, executed in felt-tip pen and composed of a combination of spirals, slashes and angles; though they are abstract, most contain at least one small circle, suggestive in placement and proportion of a human head. A small note attached to the incubator reads: "Conviction begins where patience ends, or my pen was my penance." Another work, the child mannequin in the iron buoy, â was made with the help of a few friends. A spotlight is trained on the mannequin's melancholy expression, and a question is neatly painted on the wall above: "Why did you burst my bubble?" During one conversation, Quick points to the doll. "It's very emotional for me," he says. After a pause, he adds, "That's me."
It's also the piece that most captivated Avi Amiel, publisher of Art Connoisseur, a Beverly Hillsbased journal that shot an eight-page spread on Quick's work for its next issue. The mannequin in the buoy "goes back to the origin of life," Amiel says. "Regardless of what we do, whether as an infant or an adult, we surround ourselves with a cocoon that prevents us from being ourselves."
Amiel was an art dealer for 17 years before turning to publishing, handling Tamayo, Botero, Lichtenstein and Warhol, among others. He first saw Quick's work last fall, after being introduced by a mutual friend, and was so impressed that, he says, he would don his old dealer's cap to represent him. Quick's lack of formal training "adds a lot to his credibility," Amiel says. "The fact that he was isolated from the art world has provided him with a platform and a vehicle to create what he really thinks, feels and wants without being influenced by other art. That's what makes his work so unique. No one can look and say 'It reminds me of someone else.'" He is already envisioning a museum show. "I am so moved by his work," he says. "I think he can be anywhere."
Amiel would also like to help Quick publish his latest book, 100 Things That Suck About L.A. Entries include: "All cult, no culture," "You are whoyou eat" and "What you thought was a rainbow turns out to be another pollution-filtered sunset." Amiel calls the book "hysterical."
But Quick is unwilling -- perhaps unable -- to tolerate an agent. On the one hand, he says he knows nothing. On the other, he gives the strong impression that no one knows better than Beeaje. "I don't think my art is some global phenomenon," he says. "It is what it is. People are touched by it. What more could I ask? Whether some expert comes and evaluates it and says it has value is irrelevant."
The closest he comes to representation is Rana Joy Glickman, who is deeply invested in all aspects of Quick's creative output. One of the producers of Donut Men, she most recently produced the film version of Julia Sweeney's one-woman stage show, God Said, "Ha!" A self-described "Hinjew" (half Indian, half Jewish), she shows up at the Vogue for a post-fire meeting wearing a red dot on her forehead and a silver six-pointed star around her neck, along with a brown suede cowboy hat, a long cowgirl skirt in a sari-type fabric, and boots.
She embraces Quick and then sits in a chair near his desk, pulling DaVinci, whose dark, shaggy mane falls in dreadlocks, onto her lap. Glickman has been working on Donut Men for more than seven years. She says her career producing films is like a marriage, while her work with Quick plays the role of a lover, fulfilling her real desires. "I've established myself as a filmmaker," she says, "when all I ever wanted to do was run off and make movies with Beeaje." They are now in the process of making a documentary about Quick's life -- she's producing, he's directing. It's called Rambo to Rembrandt: An Artist's Odyssey. They're doing it, Glickman says, because "I'm sick and tired of explaining him. And so is he."