THE PHILISTINE Short Fiction

March 21, 2012

…and another short, short from the Dark Side

 

“You heard what James said, Dear.”

“He said a lot of things.”

The eye roll. “He said, darling, that he was an ‘up-and-comer’.

“Hmmph…at forty-five thousand bucks a pop, he’ll soon be a ‘came-and-wenter’.

“Ohh, you’re simply impossible at times!”

“Well, I sometimes feel the same way about ‘James’, you know. I mean, can’t he speak in any other word forms than adjectives?”

“He’s only trying to explain things, Charles.”

“Well, he might do a bit better at ‘explaining things’, Marsha, if he’d throw in something substantive now and then … you know, like a noun?”

“Oh, God! What do nouns have to do with art?”

“Might tell me just what the hell I was looking at, for one thing.”

“Tsk! You are simply impossible! I mean, really, Charles! James is a dealer. He knows what he’s about!”

“A ‘dealer’.”

“What’s that supposed to imply?”

“A ‘dealer’ — look, Marsha. A ‘dealer’ only means that he’s a merchant. A peddler.”

Massive eye roll. “He knows about art Charles. He deals in art.”

“And I know used-car dealers. They don’t have to know how to build them, or how to service them — or even how to drive them. All they have to do to stay in business is know how to sell them. Has James ever made a painting? James sells stuff.  That’s why he needs all those adjectives.”

“Oh, Charles! You are just…. Listen, I do know something about art myself, you know. I’m not letting James take advantage of me, if that’s what you’re implying!”

“Oh, yeah. I forgot about Mitzi.”

“Well, you needn’t sound so snide about it. Mitzi knew her stuff.”

“Right. I remember those little art-jaunts she took you and the others out on.”

“Well, we learned things!”

“I forget now — was Mitzi a painter?”

“You know perfectly well that she was not!”

“Oh. But she ‘knew her stuff’.”

“Of course she did! She took that art appreciation course at the Community Center — you know that. I remember perfectly well telling you that!”

“’Art appreciation’ — does that mean you have to ‘appreciate’ everything that any Tom, Dick, Harry — or James — shows you?”

“Of course not. But one ought to know what one is viewing. A dealer simply helps you to see what is there.”

“Like Mitzi.”

Yes, like Mitzi. She was not some ditzy blonde, you know. She was educated.”

“But not a painter. Right?”

“Oh, God!”

“Look, all I saw at James’s were walls full of paint smatterings.”

“They were paintings, for God’s sake.”

“Oh.”

“We were in an art gallery, for God’s sake.”

“Well, I saw better stuff on the drop-cloths of house painters. I don’t think even James knew what the hell they were. Ergo, all the adjectives.”

“You just don’t know anything about modern art, that’s all — plain and simple. James was merely attempting to explain to us — to me — how accomplished the work was.”

“So, I was looking at the work of an artist?”

“Of course, silly. How else would he get his work into an art gallery? James could tell right away that he had a real artist on his hands as soon as he met him.”

“Oh. So what did all that ‘up-and-comer’s’ stuff have to do with his being a ‘real artist?”

“Really, Charles, sometimes you are just impossible.”

“Well…?”

“Well I certainly can’t give you a crash course on art, for Heaven’s Sake!”

“Again, I ask you. What would that ‘up-and-comer’ and art have in common?”

“Charles, Charles…Charles!”

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A TWOFER!

March 5, 2012

NOT EVERY DAY do I get two gifts at once! In this case, it was a visit from Kamryn Delmonte, a budding fine artist who not only presented me with one of her original drawings, but spent the afternoon with me. Her mom, Rebecca (a phlebotomist who sees me nearly every week for testing), brought her to my studio after I’ve been telling her for months that I thought her daughter was a very special young woman. Rebecca has some of her drawings pinned up on the wall at the blood lab — changing them from time to time — and I always felt like I was not only visiting a lab, but a mini-gallery as well. I’d been noticing them for at least as long as a year (as I tried to look away from the needle going into my arm) and eventually asked who the artist was. “My daughter,” said Rebecca. “How old is she?” I asked. “Thirteen,” she answered. “Thirteen!” I chirped. I looked again at the drawings and judging from the confidence, surety of line, and proportional ‘rightness’, could not help repeating, “Thirteen?” I looked forward to seeing more of this 13-year-old’s work as I came in for bloodwork over the weeks and months. I had, of course, voiced my admiration during that time, and eventually, Rebecca started telling me that her daughter wanted to meet me after she told her about my remarks. Sooo…the visit. Kamryn had just turned fifteen — two days before coming to visit me — and, seeing this teen-ager sitting before me, I still could not help but be amazed at her professional-class draftsmanship. Meeting this extraordinary draftsman (or is it draftswoman?) was an especial treat for me. I’ve met and visited with hundreds of artists over the past 35 years, but this was my first time with a teenager. And, like so many artists I’ve met over the years, Kamryn was somewhat shy speaking about her work — which, when I told her how honored I was to finally own one of her pieces — got me little more than a one-shoulder shrug which silently said “Oh, it’s nothing.” But, it was not ‘nothing’ — the drawing, of a pensive-looking woman — was precisely limned in what is called the ‘manga’ style, delicately tinted green in strategic parts and framed in a simple black frame that perfectly set the whole thing off. Certainly something worth much more than a shrug — even more so in that it was given to me as a gift from what I believe to be herself a very gifted artist. So…I felt double-gifted, that I got a real honest-to-God ‘twofer’. The difficult thing is how to convince Kamryn that her gift is special, that it is rare, and that she ought to pursue it for as long as the urge to draw is upon her. I am aware that, in the world we live in, this may not be the best advice to give to anyone – the fact is, that being an artist is not an easy career-path. Yet, judging from what I see in her work, Kamryn could either go the ‘fine art’ route (the difficult one) or the commercial one (the more lucrative path). What I would hate to see was for her to abandon her extraordinary skills. I also hope that she retains her humility (without allowing it to cripple her) since, all too often, brash egotism can kill the gift of creativity all too quickly.  But I think she’ll be just fine. When I saw her mother the day after the visit, she told me that Kamryn buried herself in her room as soon as she got home because she was “inspired”.

You go, girl!