You are a murderer who coats your victims’ bodies in cement and plays them off as realistic human sculptures. One of your “works” just got into a museum…
I’m nervous, I guess. Is that what this is? This feeling of lightness, of electricity in my stomach? The doors will open soon, and then dozens of people will get to see my true skill for the first time. I can’t believe how long it’s taken. Ten years after art school, and, finally, my first gallery show! I’m gonna throw up, maybe. Or it’s just nerves. I can’t tell.
I can see them out there, through the glass doors, congregating. Family, friends, a few old college acquaintances who saw the notice on Facebook or Insta. You know, despite all the hard work, I’m glad it’s taken this long to get here. I wouldn’t be so good an artist as I am today without that development of patience, of skill, of practicing my craft, that took this long. And for that, I’m grateful.
Here we go… Doors opening!
The curator welcomes everyone. All of us in this new exhibit, the three artists being displayed here for the first time, are waiting to mingle with our new fans (or those we hope may become fans, at least). Over there is Mindi, who makes sculptures out of discarded books. She re-pulps them and makes them back into tree shapes. And there is Kyle, he’s a visual artist, digital medium, and his things look like kaleidoscopes constantly moving and changing on the half-dozen screens behind him.
I only have the one – Study of Human Figure, Realistic, No. 47. It has been a slog. Personally, I thought I was hitting my stride about No. 30, but it still took a lot more effort to get my name out there in the last three years. No. 47 was quite the willing subject / muse / model. He came for dinner and stayed, perfectly still, just as I needed him to be.
I hear a muttering at my shoulder and turn to find two women discussing No. 47.
“He’s a bit pudgy, don’t you think?” Says one.
“It’s supposed to be realistic,” says the other. “All men look like that these days.”
“I suppose,” says the first, with a resigned sigh and a sip of her win from a plastic cup. “They sure don’t make them like they used to.”
“I wonder how he got such detail with cement,” says the second. It’s obvious they don’t recognize that I could answer their questions, being only two feet away from them. Perhaps the curator should have made some introductions. I make a mental note to remind him for the next opening.
By now, my nerves have dissipated. Men and women have expressed interest in No. 47, have given amateurish critiques of my style and technique, have demonstrated their willingness to be the foppish boors they pretend not to be, and have demonstrated also their incredible pretentiousness they don’t care to hide.
Forty minutes into the show I hear a soft, feminine voice at my elbow. “Excuse me, are you the artist?”
I turn to find a slight woman, mid-thirties, holding the program in one hand, cupping her elbow with the other. She smiles, and I smile back.
“Of course,” I say, and extend my hand. “Bradley, nice to meet you.”
“Anna,” she replies, unholding her elbow to shake. “Pleased.” She turns to admire No. 47 once more. “Impressive. You have quite the grasp of reality.”
I blush. The compliment seems rather sincere coming from her. “Thank you. I admit, though, sometimes my models are not very willing subjects.”
She turns once again and faces me.
“Do you ever seek out new models?”
And now it is my turn to feel empowered. “I do,” I say, and pull out a business card. “I think you’d be perfect. Have you ever considered posing?” She smiles, and tucks the card into her pocket.
”Not me,” she says, and gives me a sly, knowing look. “Perhaps my mother in law would be willing. Shall I tell her to come at eight tomorrow?”
I understand completely. “Seven,” I say. “And have her bring a bottle of wine.” It is now my turn to smile as she winks and turns away. Perhaps, I think, I have found No. 48 much more easily than usual.