They say no man is an island, but Peter“Island” Islebourne never got that message. He was a child prodigy, attending the best art school in New York City and producing amazing paintings. He dropped out of school when he was 10 years old, but instantly became an artist celebrity. His paintings sold for millions of dollars, but he became disgusted with this world when he was 15 years old and he took off to the seas in a little boat, to be his own “Island” just like he had signed all of his artwork.
Peter floated around on his small boat and amazingly appeared in populated or obscure places to produce a few pieces of art and leave before anyone knew who he was. Peter floated around the globe, somehow crossing the oceans in his tiny craft. No one could care less about their legacy or their personal safety than Peter did. The boat was small and he risked his life every time he set out to sail the seas. He paddled. He did not sail. That is how small the boat was.
Matthew Stulte first learned about the “Island” while in college researching for another project, but once he was hooked by the story, he remained fascinated. He wrote a book about the “Island” that a few people read, and he became the expert on the “Island” although he was 40 years younger and had never met Peter. There were people in the small world of buying and trading art that paid millions of dollars for a great “Island” work. While Peter the “Island” paddled and floated around the world, art collectors salivated while wondering when he would next leave behind something artistic. Most of it was “Found Art” type pieces, using whatever materials he was able to gather while scavenging for food. His charcoal drawings were the most popular. His “Bird Flying into a Sunset” charcoal drawing, that he left behind on Pitcairn Island, was sold for more than any of his other pieces. Some of his art was hard to verify as actually being his, because of his hit and run style. By the time people knew that the “Island” was with them, he had paddled away already. When an “Island” piece was discovered, Matthew was called in to authenticate it. Matthew has seen places in the world he never would have imagined ever visiting, just because Peter had left some art behind for him to find.
Matthew received a call to help verify a sculpture that was found behind a warehouse in San Diego. He flew out to see the totem pole type carving made out of something solid. It could have been gold, or pyrite. It was weathered and hard to tell. How had the “Island” found the 8 foot tall piece to start sculpting with, and then transported it to behind this warehouse? Matthew could see it was a genuine “Island” work. Matthew was not only an expert on “Island” art, but knew how to spot fake “Island” signatures. This totem pole had the real “Island” signature carved into it.
As Matthew was discussing the cost of acquiring this art from the land owner, who had a vague idea of what it might be worth, there was a vision out in the sea. A man was relaxing on a small boat. Could it be him?
Excitedly, Matthew stripped down to only his underpants and swam out to the small boat. It was a boat so small that Matthew could not board it to talk to the old man relaxing on it. “Peter?” asked Matthew.
“What’s up?” replied the most reclusive and underground artist in the world.
Peter refused to come on to the main land, but knew he was outside of San Diego. He did not have body odor but his skin was weathered and reptilian. His old hair, on his head and face, were gray and as long as it could possibly grow if uncut for several years. Questions about where he had been and what he has been doing for the past 60 years were answered with vague replies, like those that would be coming from a brain that had been baked in the sun. Matthew had to conduct the interview that he had been waiting for all of his life while hanging on to the side of small boat and treading seawater. The most important question was of current relevance. Was the San Diego totem pole his work? Yes, Peter had carved that several years ago. It had taken that long for someone to find it. The “Island” had only just returned to the USA a few days ago from being in South America.
The “Island” complained about docking fees. Too many places that he wished to visit but he could not because he was arrested as being a vagrant. Where had the “Island” been? Here, there and everywhere.
Matthew begged Peter to come back to society. He did not need to live like a homeless person on a small boat. He was famous. Matthew had even written a book about him.
Peter did not come on land in San Diego. He did agree to attend an exhibition of his works in Brooklyn, New York City, but only because the weather was warm there this time of year. He did not go anywhere that it was cold. He refused Matthew’s offer of a ride. He would not fly or drive, stubbornly paddled to the event. It took him just over 2 months to get there. In Peter’s small sack of belongings there was a cell phone. It was several years old and the service for it had been disconnected. Matthew paid to have the service restored but was frustrated that the “Island” never once answered the phone. The only time he used it was to let Matthew know he was in New York.
“I am here”: said the “Island”, sounding aggravated because there was no one waiting for him when he arrived at a Brooklyn shipping yard in the middle of the night. Matthew jumped out of bed and drove down to meet him. Peter had hidden his small boat was waiting on a street corner, wearing only a dirty shirt and a skirt type of garment that he had made out of some cloth. Peter refused any type of assistance, and would not get into Matthew’s car for a drive to the small gallery that was showing his exhibit of work. Matthew had arranged this exhibit a month ago, not knowing when the “Island” was going to arrive. Now that he was here, Matthew would throw a party in his honor. The “Island” walked the 30 minutes to the gallery and slept on the floor down a staircase near a fire exit, while he waited a few days for the party. He begrudgingly agreed to wear some clothes for the party. Other than that, he was either not around or would only grunt to Matthew when asked questions. Not answering yes or no, just a grunting animalistic sounding noise. Not a bark, but more of an annoyed type of sound.
Matthew called all of his contacts and put some advertisements on all of the artistic websites. The party was a great success. Hundreds of people attended, and everyone agreed that the “Island” was an asshole when we meet him in person. He could not have been ruder, and when he did speak it was something insulting. The “Island” thought all of his fans were wasting their time looking at his art when they should have been creating their own. He insulted Matthew by telling him that this exhibit did not include his best work. Some of these pieces were still unfinished. He had left them before they were done. Impressionist art is hard to judge, so a half finished piece could very well have been complete. We were lucky to find any of the “Island” art because he left them behind like trash, never giving a hint to where he was and where his art could be found.
The one thing that happened which everyone wrote about on their art and party blogs, was when the popular movie star, Rich Michaels, told the “Island: that he was honored to meet him and that he wanted to play his role in a movie. The “Island” dismissively told him that he was not handsome enough. The ancient old man told a young movie star that he was too ugly to portray him. Everyone laughed, even the movie star.
At some point in the night, the “Island” slipped away. No one saw him leave and he left no goodbye message, other than leaving the cell phone behind. He had dropped that into the toilet, with his “Island” signature scrawled into it before he urinated all over it.