The Michelangelo of The Sink
It was a hot, ethereal summer night, July 4, 1989.
I was heading home from the Folsom fireworks show. I crossed Broadway at Pennsylvania and there he was: Michelangelo. Standing in front of the Sistine Chapel smoking a cigarette.
OK, it wasn’t the Sistine Chapel. It was The Sink. And it wasn’t Michelangelo. It was Llloyd Kavich, the beatnik artist who in 1952 painted the murals on the walls. The Sink was his Sistine Chapel.
He was in town to restore his masterpieces.
In 1974, Sink proprietor Herb Kauvar decided to rebrand The Sink as a delicatessen — Herbie’s Deli — as a way of breaking with 1960s bad karma that still hung over The Hill like a miasma. So Llloyd’s murals were covered over with rough pine paneling.
Fifteen years went by. Herb’s kids, now in the family business, convinced him that the time had come to “de-model” the deli back into The Sink.
So Llloyd (he spelled it with three Ls “just for the l of it”) wa s summoned back to Boulder by his patrons in the House of Kauvar.
And there he stood before me taking a cigarette break.
So I introduced myself and we started to talk. When he was ready to resume painting I followed him back inside. I watched the Master throw himself into his work, gleefully laughing at the old jokes — “the floggings will continue until morale improves” — as he refreshed the great works and added new ones.
Naturally we talked until sunup. By then he had painted a picture of me on a wall in the back; it’s still there. We’d been talking about guns — I was working for Soldier of Fortune back then — so I invited him to go shooting the next weekend. We had a great time, and within a few days he had painted caricatures of everyone in the shooting party.
A couple of weeks later, I ran into him in Doozy Duds.
“What’s up?” I said.
“I’m gonna get a dog,” he said.
A week later he turned up with Streamline, the world’s smallest, smartest adult dog (a Russian toy terrier, I think).
She was so small Llloyd could hide her under his shirt and smuggle her onto airplanes.
They were inseparable.
A couple years after the Kauvars sold The Sink to the Brothers Heinritz (Mark, Chris and James), Llloyd was brought back for one last gig.
Llloyd Kavich died in October 2013 in Santa Barbara. He was thought to be in his 80s. He was preceded in death by Streamline. Hardly a trace of his life remains. Except for the glorious murals in The Sink.
Photo by Peter Burke