Dave Hickey Wasn’t Just a Great Art Critic. He Was an Extraordinary Friend. – Texas Monthly

Dave Hickey Wasn’t Just a Great Art Critic. He Was an Extraordinary Friend. – Texas Monthly

Maybe you already know that Dave Hickey was the seminal art critic of the past century. Before his death on November 12 at age 82, the Fort Worth–born writer collected most of the big prizes that the creative world can award: a Peabody Award, a MacArthur “genius grant,” and many, many other accolades “like that,” as Dave would have said about lists he trusted you could figure out on your own. Since I have zero knowledge of and even less interest in the art world, it never figured in our friendship. 

This is about the Dave who was my friend. The off-duty Dave.

I met Dave 35 years ago at an Austin party hosted by a smart, glamorous group of women I thought of as the Art Babes. I wasn’t sure how I’d managed to slither in, but slither I had. I was barely in the door when a friend asked how the garage sale I’d hosted that day had gone.

“Well,” I told her, “the oddest thing happened. Not once, but two different times, little old ladies in giant Buicks drove up. Neither one got out. They just rolled down the window and yelled—”

“Milk glass?!” a tobacco-roughened voice imitating a twangy, exceedingly nasal North Texas accent interrupted, taking the words right out of my mouth.

My jaw dropped, since that was precisely what the ladies had asked for. I turned and there was Dave. 

He had the imposing build and manner of a one-time linebacker whose knees had gone bad many, many seasons ago, crossed with the jaunty contrariness of a renegade leprechaun. There was about Dave an air of dukes-up Irish pugnacity leavened with an irresistible bad-boy charm; he was always almost as ready to joke as to jab. I was lucky. We started out joking and never stopped.

“Did they ask if you had any milk glass, jadeite, like that?” 

“How the hell did you know that?” I said, asking the question that would define our relationship. 

Instead of answering, he told me we were going out to the patio to smoke. There, after nonchalantly tossing off a thumbnail history of Depression-era hobnail glass pitchers, as well as jadeite (“like that”) and its recent rise in value, he said, “I liked that thing you wrote.”

In my second “How the hell did you know that?” moment with Dave, it turned out that he’d read the novel I’d recently published, Alamo House. That “thing” was a scene in the book. The scene, juvenile and dopey as it is, is worth describing because it reveals so much about the Dave who was my pal. 

In it, my heartbroken heroine, forced by her cheating boyfriend’s betrayal to move into a dump of a housing co-op, contemplates “the half-dozen tenderhearted cockroaches that gathered at my feet like the kind mice that had altered Cinderella’s ball gown. The little guys waved their wee antennae at me in a touching display of interspecies commiseration.

“I hope they knew how much it cheered me to dispatch four of their number to Valhalla with my sandal. The two survivors scurried away to spread the tale of human perfidy (a tale …….

Source: https://www.texasmonthly.com/arts-entertainment/dave-hickey-great-art-critic-extraordinary-friend/

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