[StoryADay May prompt: “Write At Your Natural Length“]
Why then the connection between sex and art? Nothing tantalizing about the muscular men in skin poses; the camera was not interested in their sexuality but shapes they made with the black and the white, light along curves, ridges and the punishing twists and turns of angling for their photographer. Not in the smooth white and black enamel-finished clay figures hinting at biceps, calves, abs, chin. Nor the central gallery piece where guests gathered in awe: what appeared to be a chest, but maybe three nipples. Or ocean ripples.
Ty knew when the artist arrived. What drew him to him.
Lena lacked what she thought of as an appreciation for art. While in town visiting her best friend, they followed early evening from one to the next cocktail lounge, and by eight Lena stood in front of the gallery where she seemed to sink away from the bright color of the city and her friend at night and into a pool of black-and-white circumstance captured as photographs on the wall and sculptures on tables.
“This is my exit,” and though her friend followed her in, Lena was not aware of her. Of only the works, their pointing at the artist.
This artist, he thinks of himself, has no gifts besides his craft. His index finger clicks shutters. His palms work clay. His hands pull out of his brain the landscapes curves make against empty volume. To him, neither the photographs or sculptures resemble the human body. The body is a medium deprived in frame and limited volume of concerns about the whole, or biology, or sexuality. Nothing natural to see here, only artifice, endless beyond the edges, constructed, representing a simple critique: too often we (I) think in wholes and what is there in wholeness but empty promises? So lonely.
Ty resembled the easy way that bodies orbit without knowing they are falling. He would have found it embarrasing except that the artist orbited him with increasing frequency, too. They would say four or six words total and then rotate away without urgency, finding in falling the calling of gravity unaware of up or down. Attraction, certainly, but beyond the frame of the small cubic studio who was attractive to whom was as important as the white wall white space between photographs.
“Oh, this one.”
“Yes, this one.”
Ty followed the back in the photograph. Missed the other orbit. Lena.
The whole of the man. The whole of the woman. The way they collapse the space and bring the artist fully into his own opening, and having now opened, fully embracing what was otherwise meant to showcase him and his work. He does not for one moment think there is a choice to make. There is a woman. There is a man. They are there. He is there.
What matters are two conversations that build connection that connect him to himself to see he is not in himself enough. The art, sure. The artist, yes. But him?
Room for more.
Lena noticed, of course. She had always noticed what was there between people, like neon lights above cocktail lounges that spell out They haven’t noticed yet but I do! If it confused her, confusion was below her sobering, lost with her friend who still tagged along but could have been in another city Lena wasn’t visiting. The artist was flirting with a handsome man and the artist was flirting with her and everyone else was also in that other city.
A city for three. She considered it, found nothing particularly appealing in the skyline. Maybe two suburbs on either side.
The artist finds his schedule on either side of his favorite time to work: early morning every day of the week. Ty arrives late evenings, leads eventually to the artist’s bed, and the hours there end in enough rest to open his eyes bright at 2 a.m. The artist slips quietly from bed and into his workshop. He pushes through dawn, they have breakfast, Ty leaves, and the artist goes back to bed.
He meets her for late lunch, afternoon sex, long dinner and dancing dates, walking adventures, or she watches him work. She goes home alone.
2 a.m. again.
Remarkable how it doesn’t matter, Lena thought. Until it did. How for her there was only the two of them when they were together, until she couldn’t help thinking about three. How it didn’t bother her who he was, who Ty was, until it bothered her that she didn’t want to ever know who he was, and if learning more, learning she didn’t care. Until she cared that both the artist and her should care.
She said goodbye.
Spent her days ignoring his phone calls, deleting his messages, not feeling especially sad or angry or hopeful he would be happy.
Remarkable how much he matters to me, Ty thought. Until he didn’t. There was no cause. Ty had no illusions they were exclusive, no illusions there weren’t women, too, no fantasies about threesomes and if his fantasy of the two of them together forever was especially comforting it surprised him to learn that it could fill him with so much sense of his own naivety.
What is art but passing?
He said goodbye.
Spent his days moving to another city, not feeling especially sad or angry or hopeful he would find who he was really meant to be with. Together.
The artist in imbalance finds how edges contain constraints that slice the sense of continuous space and limits his new photographs and sculptures to borders. He takes up painting and thinks about how the canvas is not a window but a closed and locked door that doesn’t let him out.
He won’t let the viewers out of his works, not without the physical act of turning violently from one work to stagger to the next where they are trapped anew.
His new art begs for bigger spaces and bigger spaces beg for his works.
He begs to be whole again.
StoryADay May 2016 Day 27