Putting a value on art

Art is as intrinsic to modern life as it was to cultures thousands of years ago. Whether an evocative painting, a whimsical installation, stunning architecture, music that creates gooseflesh, a film that leads you to unabashedly roar with laughter or quietly weep in a theatre of strangers, a book that makes you miss your stop, or the performance that inspires both awe and connectedness, the soul value of art is priceless.

It is at the root of our curiosity and our creativity; one naturally feeds the other. Art enhances our ability to maintain delight in the everyday as well as the extraordinary. Art is not an esoteric kingdom where only the well-heeled can live; it is the essential joy of expression – the pride on a child’s face when revealing a masterpiece in crayon.

Art provides experiences that can change your perspective on life, history, nature, the universe (your pick) forever. That’s about as fundamental as it gets on this human journey. We value art because it is how we discover, define and celebrate life.

Quite Short Story: Corners

She found herself at the same corner again. Again, for the third time in a week. Perhaps it was fate…or, more likely, her own design; her own desire to go back.

Things were different then; then, when she felt anxious to move on. Or had she been anxious not to move on? Had she looked for reasons to remain unchanged, even while feeling desperate to change?

Then, she’d looked at the men her own age and simply couldn’t see the point. To her, they were young and beautiful and boring. She looked elsewhere. They weren’t her professors, after all. To them, she was young and beautiful and bored. She took their tuition. Methodically.

She wondered where they were now. They might be pushing up daisies. One even tried to marry her, woebegone his grand romantic gestures couldn’t melt her cynicism.

She climbed the ladder instead. All in for twenty years. And now, there was nowhere to go. Nowhere but back to this corner.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” the voice said. “Do you need directions?”

She turned to find an earnest young face, stylishly bearded in the way they did that now, looking back at her. “I suppose I do,” she said, and smiled. Funny, she thought, he doesn’t look boring at all.

Quite Short Story: Mr. W.

He seemed to Jane, through her covert glance across the train aisle, like a seasoned Willoughby, posing in a sharp blue suit and tan shoes, trench slung over his shoulder. She shifted her gaze higher, only to find wolfish eyes already locked upon her, lingering like a question mark. The blush immediately swept her skin and she turned away.

He was clearly no Mr. Darcy. Perhaps a Wickham? A Willoughwick? A Wickhamby? Everything about him was W, and she knew she should curb her curiosity. Though he’d given his seat to someone, she reckoned it was just for show. He looked better standing, and knew it.

He moved immediately in front of her; close enough she had to cross her ankles under the seat so their legs wouldn’t touch. She sighed emphatically, and he eased out of her personal space. Still, she wondered if he could somehow hear her thoughts; wondered how many virtual locks he’d collected in his comings and goings. He glanced down at her, slyly, exposing a dimpled half-smile as he left. Decidedly Wickhamby.

Quite Short Story: Noise

He twitched, pressure building, panic starting to surge. “It’s all right,” his mother whispered, gripping his arm firmly. “Just two more stops. It’s all right.”

He took deep breaths as he’d been taught. His eyes briefly met those of the woman across the aisle. They were green. Bright green like in a comic book. Unnatural.

He dropped his gaze to the floor, fixating on her feet. He couldn’t understand why she was wearing those things on her feet. They were like gloves, but for toes. No shoes. Just these feet gloves. It wasn’t right. He couldn’t bear it. “I need to get off now,” he whispered.

His mother nodded and quickly gathered their belongings, joining him at the door. As soon as the chime rang out, he bolted up the escalator to the street, rounded the edge of the station and leaned against the wall, eyes tightly shut.

“It’s…all right, Derek,” his mother said, panting. “Come, let’s go.”

He nodded, rubbing his face, and then his stomach, feeling nauseated again. His body still craved the poison they’d been giving him. He’d been pretending; shoving the pills into the pocket above his teeth so he could spit them out later. He couldn’t tell his mother. She believed the doctor. But he knew what the doctor was. Like that woman with the kryptonite eyes. One of them.

*****

The dry summer wind swept grit into their skin as they walked past alley garages, spraypainted with noise. His mother unlatched the gate to their tiny backyard garden, sighing at the weeds. He knew how exhausted she was, dealing with him. Too exhausted to weed.

The neighbours were blasting music. He wondered if they needed to block the noise as well; to keep it from getting in. He looked back at the weeds erupting from every crack in the patio, every possible point of entry. It reminded him of a film he saw in school about a Margaret Atwood poem, the lines rippling through his brain: “everything / is getting in… everything / is getting in… everything / is getting in…”