Art; By Any Other Name: Chapter 1
How A Gallery Goes Together
“Bring the Duccios’ around! I want them here.” He shouts. “Please, please, don’t put those two together, Michael. Their pallets just… clash horribly!” Twisting about to follow the paths of various canvases about the room, his thick glasses glare brightly from the late afternoon sun shining in the windows. Under the orange accent lighting, bits of his parted bangs start to dangle down by his forehead as the heat from the bulbs eat away at the consistency of the pomade.
More warm air crawls into the room, washing in from the back where the workers had started to unload the two larger pieces that had come in on the truck. Clipboard in hand, Arthur begins to take down the pieces’ title’s as they pass by him.
“Ey, buddy, where d’ya want this one?” The coverall-clad man passes by, holding roughly onto the tarnished wooden frame.
“That one…” Arthur turns to look at the painted surface. “Christ, what… what are you doing bringing me that?” He whines. “That’s… northern renaissance. Can’t you tell? Not a sign of linear perspective anywhere.” The limp hairs on his forehead dance around atop his sweaty, shining brow.
“I dunno’ what you’re sayin’ bub.” The man complains, peering at the painting in his hands. “I just unload trucks.”
“Ugh.” Arthur shakes his head. “It’s all I can do to manage these… these Italian pieces alone. I can’t have this… stuff in here yet! Just put… put it down anywhere.” He continues, swinging his free hand about. “Don’t let me look at it. I need to sit down and… and refocus on the task at hand.”
“Whateva’ you say boss.” The worker replies, shaking his head. Running his fingers through his hair, Arthur stomps off to the small cube-shaped office at the back of the building.
The swiveling chair squeaks loudly as Arthur flops down into it, eyes fixated on the ceiling. Huffing silently, he draws in the air absentmindedly with his index finger, unaware of the young lady entering the room after him.
“Arthur, Arthur… Please just let some of us help. Maybe I can do that Northern Renaissance stuff?” She begs, leaning against the desk in her black pencil skirt and short heels.
“No no no.” Arthur responds frantically. “You know of all these pieces that… that those works are my favorite.”
“Arthur, just take a deep breath. You’ve said that about half of the pieces you requested to come in this week. Just let us take over some of the display areas, okay?”
“Fine fine.” He says, exhaling loudly. “Sorry Tara. I just… I just want this to succeed so badly.”
“And it will. As long as the boss keeps his head on straight.” Tara rolls her eyes, jabbing Arthur in the back of the neck with her finger. “Take a break here. Turn on the air. Think about… maybe what pieces you want to focus on. We’ve still got all day tomorrow and Sunday afternoon to work out the kinks before we open that night. Maybe you can present your favorite… no, absolute favorite piece from the collection. Call it… Gallerist’s Choice.”
“That sounds… nice.” Arthur nods, glancing at the girl. “I think I have one in mind.”
As Tara trots out of the room, Arthur peers out the thick glass window to the show floor. The stark white walls glow with accent lighting, placed at asymmetrical intervals in a way that were sure to catch the eye. The freshly installed marble tile floors give off a pleasant glow, highlighted nicely by the brown matte finish of dirty footprints trailing back and forth on the surface. The fine pieces that had found their places on the wall had shifted to unique positions, placed on a bias to garner interest. Even the missing nameplates gave a sense of mystique to the growing installation.
Only the weekend ahead lay between Arthur and the opening of the Gallery, which would fall on the first day of autumn there in Toronto. The chamber of commerce had made him, a nervous high school art teacher, the head of the gallery for the season, until the works got packed up and shipped off for another gallery in another town to display. Just three months of making sure that everything went smoothly.
The following day found more paintings finding places on walls, only slightly disturbing the perceived plan inside of Arthur’s mind. Large Styrofoam and plaster replicas of Michelangelo’s and Donatello’s sculptures had been delivered; creations by the local university. The statues of David and Night, while not perfect, offered a unique presence, being displayed at the entrance and humble garden area by the side of the downtown building.
“Tara… may you pay a visit to my office, please?” Arthur calls out, sticking his head past the half-open door.
Heels clicking against the hard floor surface, the young lady makes her way into the dinky office, amess with papers. “Yes, sir?”
“Tara…” He muses, chin balanced on his fist, elbow balanced on the table. “I noticed when I came back from lunch… the statue of David out front hadn’t moved.”
“Yes, well… we intent to keep him there. There should also be a sign with the name of the exhibit out…”
“Uh wait wait wait.” Arthur interrupts, waving his hand impatiently. “I think… well, I feel… no- no! You should have asked me first. Don’t tell me it’s stuck there.”
“Stuck? No, but we have some sandbags along the base to keep it stable.” She responds cautiously. “If you’re worried about it getting stolen…”
“I don’t care about… that.” He interjects again, standing up to look out towards the front of the building. “Do we really want that… thing in clear view up front?”
“Well, why not?” Tara offers. “It’s a very iconic, recognizable piece, and I really think the university did a really great job on it. And, like I said, it will draw attention to the signboard for the exhibit. You know, the sign we commissioned and got your name on.”
Arthur sighs loudly. “That thing… for being out front… is very… well… naked.” Tara raises her eyebrow, waiting for him to continue. “I get it, don’t look at me like that. But having that be the first thing people see… is… risqué.”
“I really don’t think people are going to think something like that about such a thing. Would you like me to hang up a sign in front of the statue’s groin for you?” She says, half joking.
“Are you kidding me?” Arthur turns suddenly, grabbing at his hair. “That’ll just draw more attention to… it. Just… I don’t know… make sure none of the accent lighting is pointed in that direction.”
“Fine, fine. I’ll make sure our curly-haired hero doesn’t draw any… lascivious thoughts. I think I hear the truck pulling around, Arthur. That’ll be the last of the reproduction Bruegel’s, to round out everything.”
“Thank you, Tara.” He responds more calmly. “I’ll give you a call if you have any more ideas.”
“I’m sure you will.” She comments as she passes out through the doorway.