Alan P. Scott - Fictions/Memory

ars gratia artistes

The words in this document are as true as I can make them; the people are real, as much as can be, but the chronology has been elided extensively.

* * *

Michael and Rebekah were curator and chief graphics designer, respectively, for a small but well-regarded museum, organizing odd and intriguing exhibits:

That big museum downtown could have used some of their panache; its exhibit of broken glass and red velvet lies flat and the collection of translucent urns looks like, well, a bunch of umbrella stands. Unsuspecting yokels have picked up and moved them out of the way, in fact, earning them stern lectures from the guards but no real shame, no desecration felt.

* * *

Outside the museum, I tell Karen that it's my birthday. She hands me a fistful of pebbles. I take the gift as given and fashion a small fat-bellied animistic sculpture, gluing the rocks together and supplying eyes from an old Christmas ornament, but she remains unimpressed.

* * *

In another's hands this room would be barren and its furniture mismatched; in Rebekah's it's stark and effective. Every second-hand color lies the same subtle degree off primary: rust, ocher, teal stand for red, yellow, blue. She chose each piece only after hours of combing thrift stores; each speaks in chorus for its place in the whole.

Michael's olive smoking jacket complements the furniture as well, echoing the same vision; his wide, talented hands clasp each guest's in turn and each one in turn becomes animated despite their common penchant for aloof disdain.

His career as a marketer of others' art is but a breath away from taking off at this point... fame of a rarefied sort; those who know know him. The au courant flatter themselves. Strangers write about him in journals increasingly less obscure, quoting his borrowed bon mots. "A Coney Island of the mind" means... what, exactly, in this context? Would even Ferlinghetti have a clue?

Strangely, though, at this point Rebekah's become quieter. The smell of new money can force its own meaning, it seems.

* * *

I remember the simple ceremony they held on the windswept point, backed by the looming presence of ancient metal, rose petals scattering across the pavement in the brisk kite weather. They spoke their vows as if they'd practiced this life once before and were now sailing through a performance they'd already perfected.

Their hosting of this party shows the same style; they manage the inevitable collisions of talent with inconspicuous grace:

* * *

My hosts' expensive imported beer in my hand, I try hard to muster some disdain - try to be at all scornful of this crowd of people whose lives are so well in hand that they can be Artists no matter what their sordid day jobs. In the end, though, after far more of their beers than I could afford, I realize that envy is the only negative emotion I can honestly apply.

* * *

©1995, 2000 Alan P. Scott. All rights reserved.

Last updated September 3, 2000.

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