Inside Looking Out

Tamara Hendershot seeks out those who work their artistic magic in obscurity. The visionary art she finds is hot, but for her, buying and selling it is a labor of love.

Originally from Washington, D.C., Eaglin used to shine shoes at Miami International Airport. Now 88, he developed cataracts in late middle age. After he lost his sight, he took some vocational courses at the Lighthouse for the Blind. In an art therapy class, the students were taught to make yarn dolls. While everyone else simply followed directions, Eaglin began to weave fantastic rugs. The instructor, an artist who was friendly with Hendershot, called her with the news.

The art dealer and Eaglin became fast friends and have known each other for eight years. When Eaglin, who has no relatives here, was robbed in another senior citizens' residence, Hendershot had him moved to this one, where he is getting better care. Similar to the arrangement she has with the other artists she works with, she pays Eaglin whatever he asks for the rugs, then sells them at a higher price, which can be determined by her customer's budget.

"If nobody wanted 'em, I'd make them anyway," says Eaglin, stroking the gray beard that hangs off his chin like brush on a mountainside. "The man upstairs gives me the ideas -- if you know what I mean."

Hendershot pulls her chair close to Eaglin's and inquires after his health.
"I can't squawk," says the old man, his eyes open wide. Then together they shout out, "No complaintin'!" and break up giggling. They make plans to go fishing so Eaglin can try out a new fishing line he made out of rags. Hendershot kisses him goodbye on the lips.

"If there were more people like you, Willie," she beams, "life would be wonderful.

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