Towards Better Democracy

Good words, well written, better the world. Good literature betters the world immeasurably.

A Little Known Gem

I am belatedly posting on the gallery that is currently showing a selection of my work.

One can plead mitigating circumstances. Excuses fall badly on listeners’ ears, reasons for ommisions or lateness or inattentions can be reasonable. Mitigation falls into a different category. One cannot reasonably say the reason you are late is because your car broke down. You have not taken it to the garage in three years so what can you expect.? ”I am sorry … ” says you don’t mean what you offering by way of an apology, and a disingenuous “sorry” is often insulting to the intelligence of your audience. Being late for an interview may not be lightly received. “Well, I slept in … ” may not get  you the job.

The storm, Harvey,  which hit Houston , Texas, six weeks ago still resonates in its impact on those people and buildings affected directly by its ravages. So it is in my case. The impact on the house will take three to four months to remedy. The affect on the family is great in terms of stress and distress. Sickness in a family can be coped with, however difficult. But damage to one’s property, your only home, and the dislocation, and upset to family members is stressful in a way that few events in one’s life are. You are simply not in control of events.

But it is strange, for to my mind I had already posted the piece. I don’t see it though. It will be written quickly because the piece is already composed in my mind as if I had written it already. Ah, well. WordPress doesn’t save drafts. Daft, that.

This is not reportage but story. I will not give names which allows me a certain liscense in my discriptions. The gallery I speak of may or may not be the one that is currently exhibiting some of my work. “Any resemblance … ” etc.

I was stood at the corner of the entrance of cafe spealizing, it boasts, in serving fresh food, though why one would want anything else I don’t know. I was smoking, waiting for the buzzer to go off and tell me that my helpings of fresh food had been served. The area to my left has tables and chairs; few restaurants in Houston have. The Abominable Snowmen of humitidy sweltering in spring, summer and autumn, make sitting outside an unpleasant business. The chairs are emply and the tables bare since this is a weekday and this particular shopping strip has mostly empty premises and no flagship store.

I turn for some reason to look into the shop window of the adjacent store, a woman’s clothing store. In the window is a small sign, Multimedia Art, Upperstairs Gallery. I am astounded. The buzzer goes off in my pocket, and I go in and eat.

Finished, I return outside and go into the clothing store not knowing what to expect. I ask where the gallery ia, of a man who appears in front of me like some insruitbal Chibese genie, since there is no evidence of it amid a Madam Tussaud like assemblage of manikins spreading forest like in front of me. The store is two stories high but is in atrium style with no floor between. There is a gallery running round all four walls which is reached by a semicirular staircase to my right. I ask the friendly young man who has appeared in front of me, clearly an assistant and not a genie, where the gallery is.

He motions me to follow him, and guides me up the stairs. Genie he may not be but a man of few works he is. Art works line the steps, some hung, some merely resting on the steps themselves. He names the artists. I am a complete ingenue to the city’s art world and so the artists’ names are quite unfamiliar to me. He gives me a brief bio on each. The art work extends along the wall above the door I have come in on. It is modern, and abstract like most of my work. All of it is painted, and some have treated surfaces. One is large, very large, and, like some of its fellows on the stairs, rests on the floor.

We go back downstairs without conversation. I stand in front of the glass counter with the assistant behind.

I would like to write about the gallery on my blog, I tell him, Just something simple.

The gallery /  shop owner instantly appears from behind a tree / mannikin and stands beside me. She is about half my height, alert, sharp, clear eyed in the attention she gives me. I tell her that I would like to draw attention to the presence of her gallery, little known, I am sure, particularly since it is tucked away in a mall … well mall is too grand a term … shopping centre … no, it is not that either. Let’s settle for strip, how I described it above.

Do you do art? she asks. I am sure nothing speaks of me being an artist. I dress conservatively as befits the eningeer I once was. I reply in the affirmative.

Do you have any work with you?

I have a trunk packed with art material and unfinished work, but I don’t say that. I simply say, yes.

Can you show me some?

I tell her it is on my computer sitting next door in the cafe.

Bring it in, she says, kindly.

You have Wifi,? I ask uncertainly.

From the cafe next door, she says, triumphantly.

I toddle off and get the laptop. It is on and already connected to the network of the cafe. I keep a browser dedicated to where my work is online to avoid having to fumble when I show my work.

I want that, she says, jabbing her finger at the latest I have put up, Have you, a rather mediochre work. We can’t make every piece a master piece and there is no knowing what people will like. I learned that long ago.

She explains that she would like to exhibit four of my works in the windows of the store.

I pull down the next work, by far my most popular in terms of visits, Under a Forest Sky. They both gasp and draw back.

She has told me already that she is from South Africa where I lived for a time, when the country was still under Apartheid. It is now proudly the Rainbow Nation. The owner is of Lithuanian parents who immigrated to South African from Vilnius. Probably before WWII given her age.

I pull up Lest We Forget: Black Art under Apartheid and explain its context. She likes the work very much.

Later, as I am leaving, the shop assistant says;

And we want the one with the eye.

I obviously mishear because I show him Aye, aye Isis and I, Horus.

No, no, he says, two eyes.

I twig. He is talking of Chat Noir avec Pince Nez. This is an embarrasing work.  I don’t like it and I have wanted to pull it from the site many times. But Saatchi told me off soundly for pulling some works previously which were achieving a dismal number of visits – they are still not up.

So, we have our four works.

I have a show quite unexpectedly from a gallery I did not know the existence of an hour and a half earlier. And I have a commission to write an article on my visit as an exhibing artist in TOAF show in Brooklyn, New York, in November, The store owner has called the arts editor of a paper printed in the city with a online edition with a readershop of over a million I later learn.

Truly the art world is a mysterious world. All of my journey so far into this new world has been sendiptious.

What is one to make of that?

Malcolm D B Munro
Saturday 21 October, 2017



Filed under: Current Events

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