The Birthday Clown


We are joining in a neighborhood Garage Sale this weekend. So far, seven households are participating. In preparation, John and I have been sorting through bins and boxes in the basement, and turning up all kinds of stuff.

Yesterday I came across this treasured clown painting; I remember it well from my childhood.


This “paint-by-numbers” clown used to hang in my family’s home. It was one of my favorite paintings.

As the “artist” in the family, I was a bit jealous of this clown — because I did not create him. He was painted by my older brother Glenn (whom I would eventually refer to as ‘my brother The Coach’). This clown may be the only painting my brother The Coach ever produced. I can’t remember any others.


According to my Mom’s careful archival annotation, this work dates from 1964-1965 (I guess The Coach was a slow painter). This places the artist in his 6th and 7th years.

You must admit, this work is very expressive for such an early artist. The brushwork pushes at established boundaries, constantly testing the rule of ‘staying within the lines.’ Obviously influenced by the freedom of expression that exploded throughout America in the mid-60’s, my brother The Coach created art that reflected his time.


With only a tiny ‘brolly’ to protect him, the clown faces a rapidly changing world and looks straight into an uncertain future. All the while, he stands solidly on his own two oversized feet. Beneath disheveled appearances lies a man of integrity, and this is the clown’s enduring strength.


I could not bear to see this masterpiece end up in an estate sale when my parents’ house was to be sold. It’s been about 10 years since I rescued the clown. I have held him in safekeeping for all that time. But now, I am ready to let him go.

NO, I don’t plan to sell him to an unknown collector at the Garage Sale!

I gift-wrapped him and put him in the mail today — it’s my brother The Coach’s birthday on Sunday.

live. enjoy. repeat.

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