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My Friend Jay

John W. Pinkerton


Jay Schaan is a steel sculptor.  We met a few years ago at a tacky little art show at a house in College Station.  I think Jay had a tabletop sculpture in the show, but he disappeared for a while and then returned with his truck loaded with a graceful seven foot tall steel wind chime with a most pleasant ring.  I was impressed, and I think others attending were also.

Anyway, we chatted.  To Jay I appeared to be an old hand in the art world having had three shows of my own paintings, and I encouraged him to visit Round Top to see if he was interested in showing there.  We visited Round Top together, and the owners seemed impressed by Jay's work.  He installed several permanent pieces: I call them permanent because Jay poured concrete bases for several of them.

Yesterday, Jay came by for a visit.  Jay, who lives in College Station, used to visit us more often when The Gallery at Round Top was still open because our home was on his way there…sort of.

It's always a joy for Linda and I when Jay suddenly appears at our door.  When Jay visits with us, Linda usually has something for him to fix or install.  The latest was a door that drug and a wall shelf that needed to be installed.  I  attempt to “entertain” him with my opinions and stories.

I first noticed that Jay was pretty handy with tools when we were visiting the Gallery at Round Top when the left side of the front of our car decided to detach.  I laughed when I saw it, and Jay, who was installing a piece on the lawn nearby, without being asked, reattached the front end of our car and…it's still attached.

Jay is well-rounded and has a lot of knowledge about a lot of different things.  A small example is one day I was telling him my efforts to paint with construction chalk.  He commented that the only permanent one was the red variety.  Now, you might not be impressed by this knowledge, but I am. The only reason  I knew this obscure fact was because I had recently read this fact on the side of the container of red chalk.  I was impressed by Jay having that fact stored away.

The second time I visited with Jay was at another tacky art show.  We shared life stories.  When Jay seemed to have finished his stories, I suggested that he must be a hundred years old to have worked in so many different occupations.  I don't recall many of the occupations but I do recall his saying he had once been a roadie for a monster trucks that toured Europe.

Jay told me that when he was a kid, he was able to paint and draw exceptionally well, but somewhere along the line, this ability disappeared…it was just gone…no explanation.  A few years ago, he turned his attention to steel sculptures---wise move:  his steel sculptures are a wonder…and often quite humorous.

Jay, originally from some cold state like Montana, has been living in College Station with his wife, but recently told us he planned to move to Austin: I think the move was predicated on golf and a better market for his art.  However, the other day he told me they're headed to Montgomery---the opposite direction from Austin---where he's having a house built.

By the way, the last game of golf I played was with Jay.  When we finished the round, because I suspected I had outlived my ability to even reasonably play the game, I offered Jay my extreme wedge, which he declined.  I haven't played golf since then.

I'm not sure what Jay's future in the world of sculpture is, but although he sold a lot of his supplies (steel mainly) he's retained most of his tools.  I think Jay has become a little put out with folks not willing to pay what he thinks is a reasonable price for his works.  I don't think his ego is huge, but he likes to be paid for his work.  He's also been a little discouraged by the way some of his works have been mistreated after going on display.

Oh yeah, I just thought of a funny story involving Jay.  I had been telling him that Bryan-College Station was a horrible place to sell art, and he tolerated my opinion.  Then Jay and his wife went on an eleven state tour as a vacation.  When he returned, he couldn't wait to tell me that he had learned that in other parts of the world, they like and respect art.

I wish I knew more facts about Jay's life, but I guess I'll just settle for what I know: Jay's a friend and I appreciate his tolerance of me.


(To learn more about Jay, see his webpage on this site and see his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/jayschaanmetalsculptor/.)