Thursday, June 04, 2009

Art Sale

So the movie premieres tomorrow. My first as producer. I came here six long years ago like everyone else that comes here with Tinseltown dreams. Now in a scant few hours, I’ll see the first film with my name in the credits on the big screen. It’s a thrill, yes. But I find something else nags at me - has me hesitate about embracing complete glee and giddy success. It’s natural to be nervous at unveiling your art for the world but considering I didn’t write or direct it, it’s not like the artistic risk is mine so much. So why the reluctant heart?

I must have been six or seven. It was a lovely summer day and I loved to color. I left my pre-drawn coloring books behind and created thirty-odd original pieces on mom’s work stationery. They encompassed all the key subjects for a girl of my generation: flowers, unicorns, sail boats, family, and of course, the General Lee, both side and top views.

Very pleased with my output, I trotted across the street and scarfed white quartz rocks from the neighbors. I then colored a rock to match each masterpiece so that each had, in effect, a matching paperweight.

I’d always been praised for my creative ability so I thought I’d best share it. I laid the pictures all over my front lawn and pinned each in place with its lovely accompanying rock. I then scurried around my neighborhood (back when you’d let a six or seven-year old run around a neighborhood alone) and put up signs proudly emblazoned “ART SALE” followed by our address.

Then I sat on the lawn and waited for the art-thirsty public. I would help all their homes become cheerier places.

It was a weekday and there wasn’t that much foot traffic in our residential neighborhood but after a while a few neighbors happened by. They each duly selected a picture and paid their ten cents – I believed in an egalitarian pricing system. That was it for a while.

Finally a car whirred around the corner. The husband driving pulled over and stayed in the car. The saggy wife launched herself onto our yard.

“Excellent,” I thought, “I love enthusiastic customers.”

The woman’s face took in the proud display on the grass and quickly shifted from eagerness to confusion, confusion to disappointment and from there to rage. She turned her coal-lump eyes and jabbed a stubby finger at me.

“How dare you?” She seethed. I thought it was a trick question.

Before I could respond, she spat “this isn’t art. How dare you mislead people like that? You’re wasting their time with this crap! You horrible little brat.”

My jaw dropped as she turned on her heel and marched back to her car. I was pretty sure it wasn’t OK to speak to someone the way she’d spoken to me but there was no one around to tell her so.

“It is too art,” I finally squeaked as she slammed the car door and admonished the husband to speed away presumably to real art.

I stood there shocked for several long moments before I understood what I was really supposed to do. Quickly as I could, I sped through the neighborhood tearing down my shameful signs. I bundled them up with my stupid pictures and threw them, rocks and all, under our front bushes. Then I hid in my room. Sharing art was not safe.

Now I wish the adult me could be back there standing next to those same bushes to deliver a hard smack across that windbag’s slavering jowls. Who speaks to a child like that? I’m incredulous as I recall her all these years later, comical in her absurd agitation.

Now I am no longer the heart-on-sleeve child (or am I, also?). I am the woman with a right to creation, a freedom of expression, a passion for sharing my point of view. I’m sure there’ll be windbags. There always are. But this time I won’t hide our creation under a bush.

I imagine Windbag’s shock as she watches our intense opening sequence, her discomfort through the squeamish parts, her outrage at the surprise ending. As she storms out of the theatre I yell “It is too art, you foul beast, because I say it is.”

Then as she screams at her husband to gun it away from the curb, I launch several bright quartz rocks colored with flowers and unicorns at her back window. Several decades too late but it still feels good. Oops, that General Lee one may have left a dent.

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