I’ve never been to this art museum before. I’m not so much art museum-savvy as I’d like to say galleries are more my thing, but unfortunately, no, they’re not. Nor am I really art savvy at all, if you can’t already tell. Can you? Thought I do love art. All of it: from food, to furniture, to clothes, to music, to acting, to painting, to literature, to dancing, to architecture, to film, to photography; all is, was, coupe de foudre. I love art. I want to get good at art. Not so much at making it; well, yes at making it, but making it and what I mean are two different things, nor is the pursuit of the creation of my own art why I am at this museum. Nevertheless, I want to be accomplished in understanding art, what is of value and what is not, not just monetarily, but in terms of what’s going to make an impact, a difference in terms of trends of thinking, and then beyond that, all culture, outside of the oh-so-coveted realms of the art world. Also, I’d like to collect art. Eventually, competently.—Curating, hanging, and displaying art, I think I could enjoy that.—I feel like I’m always in the eye of the art storm, in a bad way. I feel like I can never really reach out and make direct, consistent contact with art and the involved and zealous, instead only observe the panorama of influence taking placing all around me. I want to change that. I want to be a part of the storm. So here I am, at this art museum, browsing.

I drift/float like driftwood or flotsam, from iridescent white room, marble floor, to iridescent white room, marble floor, reading tastefully small grey plaque after grey plaque, black font, besides and beneath painting after drawing after sculpture. I pause to gaze hard at works made by artists who’s names I’ve heard: Rothko, Ruysch, Pollock, Degas, de Kooning, Applebroog, Mondrian, Dubuffet, Warhol, Matisse, Van Gogh, Picasso; now I know why I’ve heard their names.

My wanderings circulate me through the building to the staircase, the one in the corner, the one that leads to the second floor. A special exhibition is on show. There’s nothing but for an utmost corner room, and in its utmost corner is a small, flat, painted-white wooden bench large enough for two people to sit on, and in front of it is a huge—about as tall as an NBA player and as wide as a queen size mattress—painting. And it’s the most wondrous, beautiful, fantastical, mythical, ethereal, legendary, pinnacle of creation created with crushed and blended and then painted, or however paint is made, but pigments I’ve ever, ever seen, and probably ever will see in all honesty.

Also, there is a woman sitting on the bench. I sit next to her, opposite the painting, so to better appreciate the painting.

She turns over. She looks at me. She says, she asks, “Do you know who made this?”

Her accent sounds, is…British, Irish, Scottish, Welsh? One of those. I know that they’re all different, but one of those.

Initially, well, even continuously, mildly irritated by the interruption, but then fast back to spellbound by the painting, I reply, “Come to think of it, I don’t.”

I get up on impulse to examine, investigate the plaque mounted next to the work, indicating the time and date and originator of its everything. There’s no plaque.

“You won’t find out that way,” says the woman. “You can’t. I’m sorry.”

Her tone empathetic, but still, I sit back down on the bench, a little more upset.

“You don’t understand,” I bellyache. “I need to find out who painted this.”

Even I can hear the pangs of desperation in my voice, but, moment provided, I don’t care. Desperation is honest and pure.

“Don’t we all,” she says. “Nobody knows who painted it. Someone just dropped it off on the museum’s doorstep last night. A security guard found it. Can you believe it? A security guard found it. Just think: one of, maybe the, greatest artist—artists—of our time is walking amongst us in complete and utter anonymity, hidden! His work so revered, so immediately honored. And in such a time as this!—Art, and therefore I think, honestly, I think, unfortunately, I think, artists are in such high demand. He opts for obscurity? Doesn’t everyone want to be famous? Sostrange.

“Who’s to say it’s a he?” I think out loud.

“Clever,” she answers quick, with a smile too.

I look back at the painting, enraptured and recaptured, with and by it. I forget I forgot about the woman, or who she is, or where she comes from, or why she’s here. Odds are she’s the artist. I feel stuck, I think I’m stuck, I think I’m melting deep into this bench in front of this painting, unnamed and unclaimed “by anonymous.” I wonder about it; it’s so wonderful that I can’t help it of course. Burke, Kant, Wordsworth: the sublime. I sublimate. I don’t just—transcendental effervescing is prescient to becoming—I ignore that nobody else is up here. Nobody else is up here. Maybe because nobody else is up here.

“I didn’t even know this museum had this many floors!” remarks the woman.

I didn’t even know this museum had this many floors.

“I didn’t even know this museum had this many floors,” I echo, on instinct.

I retreat into the painting; it feels safe there, naturally. And then I remember—I’m beginning to remember—I painted it. This is me, of me! It has to be. It’s mine, it’s yours, it’s ours. The woman begins to explain that she’s the artist. I dipped horse hair in colors and it was like breathing on canvas, like hyperventilating.—She built the bench, too. I’m overjoyed by my work.

***

For all installments from 30 Birds, click here.

Previous installments:

  1. “Velvet” by the Bloody Eyes
  2. “Subtle” by Yukio Mishima
  3. “Geronimo Sunset!” by Jun. 27
  4. “My Hero” by Annie Wonoffate Million
  5. “Gender” by Jun. 27, Part 1
  6. “Gender” by Jun. 27, Part 2
  7. “Eel Dogs ‘Til Stupid” by Jun. 27
  8. “Pleasant Town” by Jun. 27
  9. “Daffy” by Herman Barker
  10. “Classic, Ecstatic, and Shocked (My First Kiss)” by John Robert Barnes
  11. I Would/Would I?/Wouldn’t You?
  12. “Fabled” by Jun. 27
  13. “Simpatico Starring Matthew McConaughey” by Harrison Ford
  14. “Tarantella” by Jun. 27
  15. “That Time a Toucan Was in Our Backyard/The Very First Thing I Can Remember” by John Robert Barnes
  16. “Gutwrenching (Sadism in Palindrome)” by the Bloody Eyes
  17. “Maraschino” by John Robert Barnes
  18. “Church and God” by John Robert Barnes
  19. “And a Phanta?smagoria” by John Robert Barnes
  20. “Velvet (Cont’d)” by the Bloody Eyes
  21. “Magnanimous Magpies” by the Bloody Eyes
  22. “Amusical” by Jun. 27
  23. “A Decorated Soldier” by John Robert Barnes
  24. “A Love Poem” by John Robert Barnes