J E N N I F E R   C O L B O U R N E

Art

Issue No. 4

 

 

Once there was an artist. He must have been a good artist, because he had shows in Zurich and Milan, and people paid a lot of money for his art. Eventually he could do almost anything and people would admire his work, because he was told he had Creative Genius.

One day the artist’s wife had a baby. The wife died in childbirth, however the artist found he soon forgot his grief upon the realization of what he called his Great Epiphany.

His Great Epiphany occurred the first time he held the baby. Holding the baby out at arms’ length, he noticed the baby had his nose. It was then his Great Epiphany came into being.             

“I have created this baby!” he declared aloud, momentarily alarming the nurses. 

“Sir-” began the head nurse, with every intention of quieting him down- until, of course, she recognized him as a Great Artist and demurely left the room.

“I have created this baby!” he cried again.

He paused for a moment, then declared:

 “I shall call it Art!”

 

It was a fortunate set of circumstances that Art’s mother had passed away while bringing him to life. She wouldn’t have liked to call him Art. She had intended to call him Trevor or Brian, Jess if he was a girl.

 

 

Soon after came a prestigious show. All the fashionable artists were asked to contribute their work, and the artist was immensely pleased with the opportunity to show Art. Very carefully he set his exhibit up on a broad, flat pillar. He kept an attentive eye on his work, for everyone knows not to leave a baby unsupervised on a pillar.

The first art patrons came by. The artist studied their reactions closely.

“This is not visual art!” one cried aloud.

“Absolutely not!” concurred another. “Whatever is this doing here?”

At this Art began to wriggle and whimper.

“Ah ha! See- just what I thought,” said the first voice. “This is not visual art. This is performance art!”

“An exquisite piece nevertheless!”

“Undoubtedly!”

The artist was troubled by this. Did Art belong in performance? He supposed that he did. The artist had never done anything in the way of performance art before, but was great enough to acknowledge that his abilities could easily extend to the challenge.

In the meantime, the artist took a picture of Art, enlarged it, signed it and hung it on the pillar for the remainder of the show dates.

It was acknowledged by all to be the hit of the show.

 

Those in the performance art circles welcomed the artist with open arms. He brought prestige to their obscure branch. He found them eccentric.

The artist did not take to performance art. Admittedly “Tantrum 1" and “Tantrum 2" were a timeless success, and “Sleeping 8" highly praised by reviewers, but he found that he preferred the glamour of the old shows, and ultimately went back to his original medium.

 

This did not necessarily entail abandoning Art, and although he did a few different side pieces, Art was still the focus of his career. He painted Art on canvas, he painted Art on sheets. He took Art’s shoes and sprayed them gold, and stuck them on a pipe. He captured Art in as many ways possible, and still occasionally displayed him in shows alongside his other Art pieces. This was considered the revolutionary start of Performo-Viz art.

 

As Art grew older, the artist found him too much of a handful for just a housekeeper, and employed a governess to raise him. As the artist was none too particular in his wishes regarding Art’s upbringing, the governess found it an easy job. She enjoyed the travel, high wages and spending long indolent days on the beach.

Art learned that if he kept quiet, he could do what he wanted. (He didn’t do much).

He didn’t like the governess though. It was fortunate, then, that she didn’t last very long.

It was at a private art exhibit in Milan that the artist discovered the Nefarious Collection of Found objects: it only took only a glance to see that Art’s Shoes 1, Art’s Shoes 2, and Art’s Shoes 3 were in fact displays of Art’s very shoes. The governess had been selling objects to collectors. The anger of the artist bordered on terrifying.

Actually it was pretty astonishing that it took this long for the artist to notice the thefts. Art had been running around barefoot for months. Then again, the artist never really noticed Art much, unless of course he was on display.

 

Needless to say the governess was fired. However, Art was such a quiet child that the artist decided he was probably old enough to be left to his own devices. He got the housekeeper to ensure Art had tutors, but they changed cities so often that Art often went months without studying. This, however, was of no consequence; Art behaved himself remarkably well. He mostly spent his time just sitting quietly in the corner. Occasionally he’d draw with crayons on a little pad of paper. When he was being particularly adventurous, he would watch the artist at work in the studio. More often than not though, the artist would make him sit. Art didn’t like that.

When the artist made him sit, Art found it impossible to be still. Even though he sat quietly enough on his own day by day, for some reason when the artist made him sit, all sorts of funny emotions began coursing and bouncing through his veins, like chimps run wild in a circus. He had to move. He couldn’t sit still. He concentrated on not moving. He fought the energy but it was so hard-

“Sit still!”

He tried so hard to sit still. He sat on his hands. He ignored the restlessness spurring him to run, run, run. The demons whispering wayward impulses to throw the paint, throw the brushes. Smash a painting. Fling the statues out the window. But he mustn’t, he had to concentrate-

“Sit still!”

He was so itchy. His skin had hundreds of ants running up and down his arms, up and down his legs-

“For Christ’s sake!”

And so it would continue. This was why Art hated sitting for the artist.

 

A few years later the artist decided to do a “natural” series. It was called: “Art In The Natural Surrounding”.

 

Art didn’t like this series at all. Instead of being called into the studio to pose, the artist followed him around the house, sketching him at his everyday life. To a boy accustomed to solitude, he found the constant monitoring nerve-racking.

At first Art could not be natural at all. The artist’s presence made him as tense as in the studio. Art had never seen the artist at home much. The artist principally dined out and attended Important Functions when not at work.

However, the artist was so persistent in this project that after a few weeks, Art began to resignedly ignore his presence. Fortunately he never yelled at Art for moving (in fact two of the most famous pieces from this series became “Art Descending A Staircase” and “Art Opens The Door”) and he was so silent one might sit hours outside the room they were in, and hear nothing but the faint scratch of the artist’s pencil.

One day the artist came to observe Art and found him doodling with his crayons on his little pad of paper. At first the artist paid no attention to what he was doodling. In fact it didn’t register that Art was drawing at all. The artist quietly outlined the crayons in pastel; he did a pen and ink impressionist sketch of the pad of paper; he diligently worked a cubist depiction of Art’s hand moving up and down the sheet- yet it was only when he came to naming the piece that he realized it should be called “Art Drawing”. “Art Drawing”? What kind of title was that? Art couldn’t draw.     

He later renamed it “Art Doing Something”.

In the meantime, the artist wanted to know what Art was drawing.

“Bring that over here,” he ordered him.

Art looked up surprised. The artist hadn’t said a word to him in days.

 

“What are you dawdling for? Bring it here!” he demanded again.

Art got up quickly and brought the artist his notepad.

The artist glanced at it. It was a colorful sketch of the artist sketching Art. This was quality; despite the tenderness of Art’s years, even he had to admit the piece was extremely well done.

The artist didn’t like it. Art had managed to capture a look, a certain something in his bearing that he didn’t like. He tore the paper to bits. Art passively watched as his work was shredded to pieces before his eyes.                   

It wasn’t a complete loss, however. Later the artist saw the colorful bits, glued them to a canvas, melted some wax and then set the entire piece on fire (not a very large fire, just enough to char and burn it a little). He utterly forgot that those bits had once been Art’s work; but Art never forgot.                                       

 

Years went by and Art became a man. He was as quiet and reserved as he was as a child; he had no friends, and he was quite content to keep entirely to himself. For lack of ambition, Art never found a reason to leave the artist’s household. The artist could care less; he had long retired and was enjoying the fruits of his labor. They would often not see each other for months on end.

It came, therefore, as quite a shock when one day the artist returned home to find his studio completely ransacked. Although he had sold many of his major pieces, he’d still retained the majority of his artwork for the occasional show and his own personal pleasure (coincidentally this also happened to drive up his market prices).

Every piece was destroyed.

 

The artist was enraged. How could this have happened? His property had tight security; the studio was barred and locked. There could only be one answer.

Art was nowhere to be found. He tore apart the house looking for him, but to no avail. He yelled. He screamed. He fervently interrogated the household staff. No one had seen Art.

It was only later when he attempted the salvage of his studio that he found him beneath a shredded pile of canvas.

Art was dead.

 

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