AND THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH
THE American Art School looked most disappointingly like a factory. It was located on Michigan Boulevard near Van Buren Street, on the top floor of a decrepit brick building which leaned heavily upon its sturdier neighbor, the old Victoria Hotel. There were about twenty easels arranged in rows against the shrouded windows, and as many student artists busily engaged in making airbrush portraits. In the rear of the school was a real studio where the commercial work was done by trained artists. I looked around apprehensively.
"Can it be that this is what the life of an artist is like?"I asked myself.
Mr. Malette was exasperatingly cordial. Without opening Miss Crowe's letter, he said,
"You come well recommended, Mr. Chaplin. Come back here and I will explain your duties."We walked through the inner sanctum where, in a haze of tobacco smoke, the artists were working away for dear life. "Mr. Chaplin's" duties turned out to be very simple. I was to sweep both studios morning and evening as well as process some three hundred backgrounds each day. Any time I had left over could be used for "practicing." Not only was my "tuition" free but I was to receive six dollars a week for carfare and lunch, with the promise of a raise—as I "developed skill—and speed."
My job consisted of rubbing lampblack or dry color on solar enlargements mounted on hexagonal stretchers. At the end of the first day I emerged looking like a chimney sweep. I was dog‐ tired, bitterly disappointed—ready to quit on the spot. Only the thought of what would happen at home prevented my walking out, never to come back. But I kept smiling. And the following day I repeated the performance. I was making progress.
One day Mr. Malette advised me to get an airbrush and to