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Fiction: The Bloviator

arttimesjournal February 18, 2018

IT WAS COLD, windy, making the coming night with its iced sidewalks and shoulder-high heaps of snow, seem even colder, harsher.

He burrowed down deeper into his scarf and upturned collar, noting that just a few doors down the street, a welcoming light spilled out of a window, turning the iced sidewalk into a horizontal mirror.

"Hmmm…an art gallery....looks like an opening....and a WARM PLACE to duck into."        

As he approached the gallery, he thought: Might even be some wine and cheese in there. And there was — full glasses of red and white (with full bottles alongside) and plenty of finger food.

Must be a pretty important artist, he thought. After taking off the edge, he strolled around, glancing at the large, colorful abstracts (with one corner devoted to canvases that were largely white), and came to a plaque on the wall which had a large-print extract of a noted critic's essay about the artist.

He stopped to read, but after a few paragraphs ceased reading to search for the artist himself to see what he might learn at first hand. He spotted him near the center of the room, standing before a huge canvas of what seemed a jumble of color, speaking with a few people. Waiting until his visitors wandered off, he walked up to the artist and greeted him with a handshake.

Since he still seemed to be looking at his painting, he asked, "What's it about?"

The artist looked toward him and said, "About a hundred-fifty thousand," and turned back toward his painting.

“Err…I mean what is the painting about?”

The artist turned back, resigned now to address this newcomer…at least he did not recall him from past exhibitions of his work. "Well," he said, "it's about a lot of things."

“Uhhhh…could you name a few?”

The artist seemed to glare a bit. "Did you happen to read what that critic wrote about my work up on the wall over there"

“Uhhh…yes. But…well you see I’m a high school English teacher and I do write a bit…and, uh, I might not know much about art — as you can plainly see — but I do know a little about words, and how to put them down on paper to make clear sentences.”

He glanced at the artist who seemed attentive.

“Anyway…as I was struggling with your eminent critic’s somewhat obfuscating style…I stepped back and thought that if I blanked out — deleted — all the adjectives that maybe I could pare it down for consumption. It helped, but then I thought: Why not take out all of the verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and articles? And I did— though it became a bit unwieldy juggling all that stuff in my mind; what became clear was that I was left with only a handful of substantive information…you know, nouns.”

“Well, to tell the truth he sort of loses me now and then…even when he’s writing about me.”

“I can see why,” he said, and then turned to the painting. “So let’s forget about him and talk about your painting. For example, what’s with all the choppy brushstrokes going every which way” Some short, some a bit longer, running into and around each other. It looks a little like a mish-mosh.”

“Exactly! It’ the way I see — experience the world. Constantly in flux, constantly changing, everything directionless, meaningless — a constant whirlwind of stuff interrupted and interrupting, at odds, colliding, always changing course, all a morass of bewildered things unaware of any plan.”

“Pretty much how I see the world,” he half murmured under his breath.

“Exactly! See how I hit the nail right on the head?”

“OK, OK. But how about the profusion of color? Doesn’t seem to be any “meaning” or “purpose” there.”

“Absolutely wrong! So, so wrong! You see, the color keeps us here. Keeps us mired in the chaos of life!”


“Color is seductive, attractive to humans. Your favorite color might be blue, mine red. Doesn’t matter — yet we both respond to our “favorites.” Look around the gallery here. Where are most of the people — in fact, maybe all of them? They’re here, surrounding us — captivated by color! Now look over there in the corner where my “White Series” is set up. Hardly anyone, right? They may not understand any of my paintings, but they are drawn to color! My “White Series” is a relatively new course I’ve taken. Trying to “capture” winter. You just recently came in from out there, right? I’ll bet it was the color that lured you in. Winter is even a more forbidding world than our usual chaos…and, of course, my “followers” prefer the seductive attraction to color…hence they congregate here and avoid my “White Series.”

“Hmmm. Maybe they think they are just unfinished canvases.”

“Nonsense! Else why would they be on view for this opening?”

“Right……………………… By the way, would you take a hundred bucks for this painting?”

“Absolutely! I would be honored to know that it will hang in the home of a man who understands art! Especially mine, and especially because we have such similar worldviews! Why don’t you come around to my studio tomorrow — it’s just a few blocks from here, over on………………………”.

(R. Jayess lives in New York.)