OM110 - Patrick Nagel

The Alaska Permanent Fund (OM110)

John talks about this some more in HH8.

In the early 1980s the state of Alaska started giving out yearly cheques to all Alaskans from what was called the Alaska Permanent Fund. The state of Alaska took a very small cut of all the oil revenue which was producing a lot of interest, but the law limited how that money could be used and one of the ways to benefit all residents of the state was to give every man, woman and child a cheque every year. It started in the early 1980s with a first cheque of $1000 per resident, which in 1980 money was a lot of money. John was a young teenager and none of them had $1000.

A lot of John’s friends got that cheque taken out of their hot little hands by their family who said that they were providing room and board to their children and they didn't get these $1000 for themselves, but John’s parents said that this $1000 was the beginning of a bank account and he could learn about responsibility and how to use a checking account. Over the subsequent years $1000 arrived every year (actually it was more like $400) and some people like John put every one of these cheques into a bank and never ever touched it.

John would paw over his bank book and every time he earned $10 from mowing the lawn he would put that money in the bank because he recognized that having money in the bank was better than anything you could buy with that money. John’s sister was not this way. When they were little kids and people gave them both $1, John would put it in a show box while she would spend it on candy. In 1984 they had a few thousand dollars in the bank (actually $1717.44 from 1982-1984).

John's sister buying a Juno-106 and a Nagel print (OM110)

John's sister was very much in love with Duran Duran and in 1984 she bought a very expensive Roland Juno-106 synthesizer that Nick Rhodes played because she wanted to be the synth-player in an all-girl new-romantic band in Alaska. She also bought a Nagel print. This was immediately after Nagel's death (he died 1984-02-04) and she got the first of the post-mortem Nagel prints for $1000 that was sold to her as an investment-grade piece of art. Fine Art is such a funny thing for a teenager to buy with their windfall. She had every Duran Duran poster you could have and she wanted this framed print on her wall (Nagel had illustrated the cover of the album Rio).

She did not touch her Juno-106 at any point six months after she bought it and it migrated around the house and became John’s synthesizer because he was a musician. The Nagel print just ended up in the back of a closet. Many years later she owed John some money and paid him by giving him the Juno-106 and the Nagel print. It isn’t that John wanted the Nagel print, but it was an asset that she had and that she thought was worth money.

John still has both. He has used the Juno-106 on all the Long Winters records, it is a fantastic instrument and can still be had affordably. The Nagel print is hanging on the wall in John’s daughter’s room. Ken had seen it but had no idea it was a contemporary print from the time. Unfortunately Nagel’s style was easily duplicatable by cheap knock-off artists and a lot of what we think of as Nagel artwork is in fact not by Nagel at all. It was easy to flood the market and the people who managed his estate did a very poor job of not also devaluating his work by overprinting it. When the 1990s came the 1980s started to look ridiculous and Nagel became the poster-child for that style and fell on the garbage heap of people rejecting the 1980s.

John decorating his daughter's room (OM110)

John decorated his daughter’s room when she was very young and he put up the Nagel print he got from his sister, a picture of Mohamed Ali, a Big Bird and a Linus, but he also found paintings in thrift stores of horses, a couple Triple Crown winners, sailing ships and old maps. She was just a little baby at the time.

Every few months he goes into her room with her and asks her ”What art do you like and what would you like to replace with something else?” Over time she wanted the sailing ship to go because that is for boys, but she liked the horses. All John does is tell her what women can do and that they can be seafarers, but she has a very strong feeling about what she is and she is not listening to John. The Nagel print has never come under her scrutinizing eye. She neither confirms nor denies, but she just lets it hang.

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