One Forger’s Beginnings

Still reading Con/Artist, Tony Tetro’s entertaining memoir of his life as an art forger.

Here he describes an early attempt to set up his own “art factory.” (NOTE: San Bernardino County must be an interesting place!)

  • I checked out a Chagall book from the library and set about studying subjects I could do in a limited black-and-white palette. I searched the phone book for a printer nearby who could help me figure out all the technical details. Almost randomly, I picked one in a rough, seedy part of Pomona. When I rang the bell, the printer appeared holding the half-open door in one hand and a baseball bat in the other. Despite the suspicious welcome, Ray Galpin and his brother Barry were the best blessing I ever had. They were expert printers from a previous era when master pressmen were talented artists who mixed their colors by hand and skillfully manipulated the complicated and mechanical processes needed to create first-rate art.

When self read the last phrase, about Tetro’s commitment to creating “first-rate art,” she couldn’t help smirking. The irony, oh the irony!

There’s no denying his level of commitment. Every paragraph has this subtext: If Michelangelo can stay on his back, painting the ceiling of the Sistine chapel, for so many years, Tetro too can devote hours and hours to his “art” — in fact, he even carries on painting while in jail (He was in minimum security, obv). He’s just your typical starving artist, except that he isn’t starving. He drives a Ferrari. If real artists had 1/20 of the guy’s commitment, they’d be churning out a book a year, or a painting a month, just sayin’.

One thing about Tetro, he drops names with such abandon. Self wonders what the consequences are for his accomplices, such as the brothers mentioned above. Did they get hauled in for investigation, and were they cleared? Wouldn’t exposing their illegal activities bring them more unwanted scrutiny?

Stay tuned.

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