Matt Large

Sculpture Studio

Winner of “Crime Wave” Solution Announced!!


There were many, many entries to the “Crime Wave” Solution Contest, but after hours of reading, I’ve finally decided on a winner. Picking a clear winner was very difficult because of the wonderful imaginations of would-be-detectives (and totally weird, but equally entertaining solutions by some), but one stood out with the spirit and feel I was going for in my work. Really, none of the entries hit the nail right on the head, but the submission by Kathy Goralski was closest to what I imagined and very well thought out. Here’s what she wrote:

“After 8 years in NYC, Patsy’s dream of making it as a singer was as dead as the field corn in the middle of a Nebraska winter.  Escaping the abuse and poverty of her home on a farm in Arcadia led Patsy to New York where she struggled from one dead end job to another, starting as a taxi dancer in the late 30’s when she got to the Big Apple.  When the men went off to WWII and dime-a-dance girls lost their audience , she snagged a gig as a cigarette girl at the popular Brooklyn supper club, El Tangiers, where her striking beauty caught the eye of handsome Johnny “the Fixer” Martoni, Capo Bastone for Bugsy Siegel, one of the most ruthless killers in New York gang history.  Patsy had more looks than brains and immediately fell for Johnny’s smooth line, flashy suits and giant bankroll.  Johnny moved her to a posh row house in Brooklyn Heights, with a view of Manhattan from her 3rd floor windows.  The affair may have languished for years, but Patsy was insanely jealous with the resulting arguments between her and Johnny about his suspected infidelities becoming more intense as time passed.  One regrettable night, Patsy decided to follow Johnny when he left her apartment; she was certain he was meeting another woman.

Johnny moved quickly in the dark along the promenade, heading toward the Brooklyn Bridge.  Patsy followed unobserved.  About two blocks from the bridge, Johnny stepped into an alley, where he planned to meet one of his numbers guys, Vinnie the Mooch, who he suspected had been skimming money from Johnny’s accounts.  The confrontation between Vinnie and Johnny was quick, vicious and deadly and ended with Vinnie’s body being dumped silently into the river by Johnny.  Unfortunately for Patsy, she observed this encounter from behind a trash dumpster, and decided to run away.  In the dark, she tripped over a metal pipe, catching Johnny’s attention.  He caught her within a block and before Patsy could scream, shot her in the back.  Patsy died instantly but the noise of the gun attracted the attention of patrons from a nearby bar and one of the customers ran to the site where he saw Patsy lying in an oozing puddle of blood with Johnny standing over her holding a gun.  He tried to tackle Johnny but managed only to knock the gun from his hand before Johnny disappeared into the dark.

The cops and press showed up within minutes of Patsy’s death, but little evidence was found and nothing pointed them to Johnny.  The gun had been stolen, and although Patsy was known as Johnny’s mistress, the DA could never prove that Johnny was the shooter.  As happens many times over in such mob cases, Johnny was provided with a rock solid alibi by 14 people who claimed he was at a party all evening two boroughs away.  The would-be hero was held at the scene for questioning, but was released when it became obvious he could add nothing to the investigation.”

This submission was short and to the point. It painted a beautiful picture and was suspenseful. It also has a simple Film Noir story line. When I read Kathy’s submission, I envisioned Johnny as the suspicious man with his hand in his pocket. Yeah, he was the obvious choice, but as Occam’s Razor states, the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable. The scene that I created is symbolic of the story, so the fact that Johnny is still present on the scene means little to me. Many aspects of the composition were symbolic in nature, such as the color red, the dove, the foreboding bridge, etc.  Speaking of the color red, I threw out a bunch of red herrings to folks I spoke to, so my sincerest apologies are in order. Really, the location wasn’t that important other than to establish a heartless city landscape. The fact that Arthur Fellig, aka “Weegee The Great”, was the real-life crime scene photographer meant little except to tip my hat to his bleak and wonderful crime scene photography that inspired this piece.

The real success here is that I was able to engage a group of intellectually curious viewers into really looking at a piece of art. Boiled down, I hope “Crime Wave” provoked thought and imagination. I love the idea that there can be so many solutions and that the viewer is the ultimate judge and detective. Special congratulations go to excellent writers, Lori Jordan who’s solution would be the beginning to a really great novel, Roberta Christenson and Patti Pruitt, who’s solutions were very cleverly written, and Detective Taylor for his well-thought-out hypothesis.

Thank you so much for joining in the fun,

Matt Large




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