Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Video: Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel Ceiling






Art History: The Rebuilding of the Vatican



Compare and contrast how each of these artists uses neoplatonic and humanistic thought in their iconography? 

Compare and contrast these two structures in terms of their iconography.

Compare and contrast these two works in terms of their floor plan and architectural style. (What kinds of plans are these?)

Art History: Sofonisba Anguissola and the Male Gaze

Sofonisba Anguissola, Self Portrait of the Artist with Sisters and Governess. 1555 (The Chess Game) oil on canvas, 27"x37"  Italian Renaissance

Explain how this is both a good example of Renaissance portraiture and a good example of how art was oriented towards a male audience. 

So Jennifer West and I had a dialog by e-mail and she found some inconsistencies in my lecture, which I think is wonderful!  Here's the text of the e-mails:
_________________________________________________
Jenn,

YOU ARE WONDERFUL!

Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to research this and get things right!

So here's the straight poop!

Yes, I misidentified the Chess Game and I found at least two more sources that say the "Chess Game" is her three sisters.  Giorgio Vasari (historian who lived 1511-1574) and Germain Greer in her book "Obstacle Race) says that it is of her three sisters.

I'm not sure where I learned that she stopped painting after she married, but neither the Brittanica nor Greer say explicitly that she stopped painting.  Can you tell me where you found out that she continued to paint please?

One other thing when I reread the Greer and Brittanica accounts, she was the daughter of a noble who sent her daughters to study with a great painter in place of giving them a dowry.

________________________________________
From: Jenn West

 Sent: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 8:45 PM
To: Kenney Mencher
Subject: Sofonisba Anguissola & The Chess Game

I have been reading up a little on Sofonisba Anguissola and it has lead me to some questions about the lecture that you gave the other day.

Would you mind to check out this website and let me know your thoughts on this? http://www.students.sbc.edu/drahman08/womenandmeninrenaissanceart(withimages).html

It seems to me that she is not in the painting "The Chess Game" but rather it is a painting of her three sisters? On the page you can see the self-portrait that she panted of herself painting along with the one she did of a male painter doing a panting of her. They look different to me. Another thing I found is that she did not stop painting after she was married and continued art until old age even though her eyesight got progressively worse. Her sisters did quit painting after they were married, but from what I read she did not. Maybe you can clear some of this up for me. Am I on crack and remembering your lecture incorrectly?

Regardless, she seems like a remarkable feminist figure. I found a description of The Chess Game that was very interesting and in a slightly different light than you presented it. It gave the impression that Sofonisba's paintings had hints in them showing her fight for the equality of women and definitely reminds me of Christine de Pisan's writing that you had us read.

This is from an article by Sara Getz:

"The Chess game’s  main subject is also important to Sofonisba’s message for this
painting. Chess had undergone many rule changes as it was introduced and popularized in
Italy in 1510 (Gerrard, 1994). The new game of chess, much like the kind played today, gave the pawns new abilities. For example, in order to make the game move along faster,
the bishop pawn gained the ability to move an infinite number of spaces diagonally, when
previously it could have only moved one diagonal space at a time (Gerrard, 1994). Every
other pawn also had its own new set of rules. The most significant rule change for
Sofonisba’s painting, however, belongs to the Queen. Author Mary D. Gerrard (1994)
states that “The new status and power of the queen-now greater than that of the king
himself--was evidently the most noteworthy result of the rules change…” As the oldest
sister grasps her sibling’s black queen in her left hand, she signifies more than the fact that
she has just won the game; the queen, as a symbol, implies that the status of women should at least be equal to the status of men in society (Gerrard, 1994). As the status of the chess queen has risen, so should the status rise of all women in society."

Also:

"Sofonisba did not create life-like paintings by accident. She knew that what she was
doing was significant. In her Self-Portrait, from 1554, her pose and what she holds in her
hand are important signifiers for her message (Fig. 4) (Perlingieri, 1992). She sits in a three
quarter pose and gazes out at the viewer in a challenging stare (Perlingieri, 1992). She
dresses in a simple, yet elegant gown adorned with lace at her collar and sleeve openings.
Her dress is simple, but shows that her status in society is not of lower-class.

The book that Sofonisba holds in her left hand is a sign of her intelligence and success
(Chicago and Lucie-Smith, 1999). On it is written, “Sofonisba Anguissola virgo se ipsam
fecit 1554 (Sofonisba Anguissola, the unmarried maiden painted this herself, 1554)”
(Perlingieri, 1992, p.78). Here she makes a statement about having never been married.
Therefore, she is also saying that she has never belonged to a man and never given birth to
a child (Perlingieri, 1992). She detaches herself from the theories of Aristotle and in a way
rejects them while also taking on some manlike qualities. She also writes in a very matterof-a-fact tone which puts emphasis on the fact that and unmarried, childless woman painted the portrait.
Women during this time had trouble gaining the full respect from men that they may
have deserved. In order to gain this respect, women who wanted to paint could either
choose to paint with some restrictions, or paint on their own accord but gain no respect.
Artist and author Judy Chicago and Edward Lucie-Smith (1999) describe the situation as
follows:

Essentially a female artist could either elect to be a gentlewoman who
painted, with the restrictions which  this implied in terms of both daily
conduct and longterm social mobility, or she could resign herself to being
thought of as a not quite repectable outsider. A gentlewoman artist had
access to a particular sort of patronage – she could become a favorite with
the female members of a court or aristocratic circle. But this limited the
scope of her art. This seems to have been the choice made by the gifted
mannerist portraitist Sofonisba Anguissola (Chicago & Lucie-Smith, 1999,
p.115).

The book that Sofonisba holds shows that she has joined this circle of intellect and
sacrifices many freedoms in order for her work to be respected and well-known (Chicago &
Lucie-Smith, 1999).
Sofonisba was one of the first women to begin the fight for equal rights among men
and women. She fought for the right to be taken seriously as an artist in the same way that
men were taken seriously as artists. Sofonisba turned her knowledge and determination into
master works of art. Credited by Vasari as have “truly life-like” images, and praised by
Venturi for improving upon her own teacher’s work, Sofonisba has accomplished more
than art; she has helped rise the status of women to a position of equal importance as men
(Jacob, 1999)."
--------------------------

Sorry that this email is so long. Hopefully you can clear up some of these questions for me!

Thanks,
Jennifer West

Monday, February 27, 2012

Video: Women and Art During the Renaissance









One of my students caught some inconsistencies or just plain wrong facts in my lecture!  I think is way cool so here are my retractions in the form of our e-mails:
_____________________________________________________________________________________
Dear Jenn
 
Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to research this and get things right!

So here's the straight poop!

Yes, I misidentified the Chess Game and I found at least two more sources that say the "Chess Game" is her three sisters.  Giorgio Vasari (historian who lived 1511-1574) and Germain Greer in her book "Obstacle Race) says that it is of her three sisters.

I'm not sure where I learned that she stopped painting after she married, but neither the Brittanica nor Greer say explicitly that she stopped painting.  Can you tell me where you found out that she continued to paint please?

One other thing when I reread the Greer and Brittanica accounts, she was the daughter of a noble who sent her daughters to study with a great painter in place of giving them a dowry.

May I publish your e-mail notes on my blog?


Prof. Kenney Mencher
Department of Art and Art History
Director Louie Meager Art Gallery
Ohlone College, 43600 Mission Blvd.
Fremont, California 94539

Phone: (510) 979-7916
KMencher@ohlone.edu
http://www.kenney-mencher.com/
________________________________________
From: Jenn West 

 Sent: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 8:45 PM
To: Kenney Mencher
Subject: Sofonisba Anguissola & The Chess Game

I have been reading up a little on Sofonisba Anguissola and it has lead me to some questions about the lecture that you gave the other day.

Would you mind to check out this website and let me know your thoughts on this? http://www.students.sbc.edu/drahman08/womenandmeninrenaissanceart(withimages).html

It seems to me that she is not in the painting "The Chess Game" but rather it is a painting of her three sisters? On the page you can see the self-portrait that she panted of herself painting along with the one she did of a male painter doing a panting of her. They look different to me. Another thing I found is that she did not stop painting after she was married and continued art until old age even though her eyesight got progressively worse. Her sisters did quit painting after they were married, but from what I read she did not. Maybe you can clear some of this up for me. Am I on crack and remembering your lecture incorrectly?

Regardless, she seems like a remarkable feminist figure. I found a description of The Chess Game that was very interesting and in a slightly different light than you presented it. It gave the impression that Sofonisba's paintings had hints in them showing her fight for the equality of women and definitely reminds me of Christine de Pisan's writing that you had us read.

This is from an article by Sara Getz:

"The Chess game’s  main subject is also important to Sofonisba’s message for this
painting. Chess had undergone many rule changes as it was introduced and popularized in
Italy in 1510 (Gerrard, 1994). The new game of chess, much like the kind played today, gave the pawns new abilities. For example, in order to make the game move along faster,
the bishop pawn gained the ability to move an infinite number of spaces diagonally, when
previously it could have only moved one diagonal space at a time (Gerrard, 1994). Every
other pawn also had its own new set of rules. The most significant rule change for
Sofonisba’s painting, however, belongs to the Queen. Author Mary D. Gerrard (1994)
states that “The new status and power of the queen-now greater than that of the king
himself--was evidently the most noteworthy result of the rules change…” As the oldest
sister grasps her sibling’s black queen in her left hand, she signifies more than the fact that
she has just won the game; the queen, as a symbol, implies that the status of women should at least be equal to the status of men in society (Gerrard, 1994). As the status of the chess queen has risen, so should the status rise of all women in society."

Also:

"Sofonisba did not create life-like paintings by accident. She knew that what she was
doing was significant. In her Self-Portrait, from 1554, her pose and what she holds in her
hand are important signifiers for her message (Fig. 4) (Perlingieri, 1992). She sits in a three
quarter pose and gazes out at the viewer in a challenging stare (Perlingieri, 1992). She
dresses in a simple, yet elegant gown adorned with lace at her collar and sleeve openings.
Her dress is simple, but shows that her status in society is not of lower-class.

The book that Sofonisba holds in her left hand is a sign of her intelligence and success
(Chicago and Lucie-Smith, 1999). On it is written, “Sofonisba Anguissola virgo se ipsam
fecit 1554 (Sofonisba Anguissola, the unmarried maiden painted this herself, 1554)”
(Perlingieri, 1992, p.78). Here she makes a statement about having never been married.
Therefore, she is also saying that she has never belonged to a man and never given birth to
a child (Perlingieri, 1992). She detaches herself from the theories of Aristotle and in a way
rejects them while also taking on some manlike qualities. She also writes in a very matterof-a-fact tone which puts emphasis on the fact that and unmarried, childless woman painted the portrait.
Women during this time had trouble gaining the full respect from men that they may
have deserved. In order to gain this respect, women who wanted to paint could either
choose to paint with some restrictions, or paint on their own accord but gain no respect.
Artist and author Judy Chicago and Edward Lucie-Smith (1999) describe the situation as
follows:

Essentially a female artist could either elect to be a gentlewoman who
painted, with the restrictions which  this implied in terms of both daily
conduct and longterm social mobility, or she could resign herself to being
thought of as a not quite repectable outsider. A gentlewoman artist had
access to a particular sort of patronage – she could become a favorite with
the female members of a court or aristocratic circle. But this limited the
scope of her art. This seems to have been the choice made by the gifted
mannerist portraitist Sofonisba Anguissola (Chicago & Lucie-Smith, 1999,
p.115).

The book that Sofonisba holds shows that she has joined this circle of intellect and
sacrifices many freedoms in order for her work to be respected and well-known (Chicago &
Lucie-Smith, 1999).
Sofonisba was one of the first women to begin the fight for equal rights among men
and women. She fought for the right to be taken seriously as an artist in the same way that
men were taken seriously as artists. Sofonisba turned her knowledge and determination into
master works of art. Credited by Vasari as have “truly life-like” images, and praised by
Venturi for improving upon her own teacher’s work, Sofonisba has accomplished more
than art; she has helped rise the status of women to a position of equal importance as men
(Jacob, 1999)."
--------------------------

Sorry that this email is so long. Hopefully you can clear up some of these questions for me!

Thanks,
Jennifer West

Friday, February 24, 2012

Video: Leonardo

Video: Donatello, "David" and the "Feast of Herod"

I'm in a retrospective show of Will Green's Collection in Sacramento



Exhibition at SMUD, “A Lifetime of Appreciation: the Collection of Will Green”

Date: February 20, 2012


When: February 23 - April 19, 2012

Reception: TBA
 

Where: SMUD, 6301 S Street, Sacramento, CA, 95817
Contact: Liv Moe – 916.444.1453, livmoe@gmail.com
Shelly Willis, 916.808.3971 swillis@cityofsacramento.org
Sacramento, Calif. - The Sacramento Municipal Utility District in partnership with the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission are pleased to announce “A Lifetime of Appreciation: the Collection of Will Green”
 

At the age of 16 Will Green bought his first piece of art, a small pencil drawing of farmers sketched in rural Kentucky, which he purchased for $95. 
Unbeknownst to Green at the time this
small investment would launch the collector on a lifetime of art appreciation. Art enthusiasts like Green are essential to an arts ecosystem. Over the years, Green has purchased work in
regions as far flung as Thailand and Mexico and as nearby as Midtown. In every instance the investment in the artist’s work both lends a little financial support and reinforces the maker’s pursuit. “A Lifetime of Appreciation: the Collection of Will Green” features just under 30 works of the 100s in Green’s collection, representing different regions, genres, disciplines, and
topics. Abstraction, figuration, photography, sculpture, and new media works are just a few examples of what Green’s sharp eye has zeroed in on over the years. The viewer is invited to wander among these works appreciating them both individually and as a collection.
The Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission is devoted to supporting, promoting and advocating for the arts in the region. For further information on programs and opportunities through the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission go to: www.sacmetroarts.org

SMAC is funded by the City and County of Sacramento.
 

AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW: All artists are available for interview. For more info contact Liv Moe, Curator, 916.444.1453 or Shelly Willis, Art in Public Places Administrator, 916.808.3971,
swillis@cityofsacramento.org

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Art History: Ghiberti vs Brunneleschi

Brunneleschi

Which one of these do you think should have won the competition?  


Why do you think one is better than the other?

Ghiberti






Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Write a story about Claire de Loon and Win the Graphite Study


Write a story about Claire de Loon and Win the Graphite Study
Contest Ends Friday March 2nd



Round #2 of Renovated Reputations will culminate in two more shows.

Ohlone College, Fremont California 
February 7th -  March 9th
Reception, Saturday, February 25, 2012
6PM - 8PM
Louie Meager Art Gallery
Ohlone College, 43600 Mission Blvd.
Fremont, California 94539
 
Elliott Fouts Gallery, Sacramento California 
February 4th - March 1st, 2012.
  
The story you write should be a "Flash Fiction" which is a complete story in one thousand or fewer words.

The story you write should be a "Flash Fiction" which is a complete story in one thousand or fewer words. Please post the story in the comment section, you will have to provide your name and an email address in order to be qualified to win or you can e-mail me at kmencher@ohlone.edu with your info.

There is a problem with how many characters can post (only about 4,000) so if you cannot post it.

E-mail it to me at kmencher@ohlone.edu

This is the second version of this show!

Stories will be published in a vintage style newspaper catalog and the gallery will be converted into a 1930 or 40's cabaret set and students will be acting the stories out as monologues at some of the events at the college in the art gallery.


More competitions posted on my website at:
http://www.kenney-mencher.com/

_________________________________________________________________________
This came in by e-mail:

Her Charcoal Brown Eyes
by Brianna Depue

I used to watch her; no, not in that stalker way, I was just interested in her. I was in no way a stalker but there was one thing that I did not know, her name. Her name was oblivious to me as I was to her. I took the bus to the inner workings of the city since I lived on the poorer parts of the city and worked in the business area which was where I had first seen her.
She had a driver and we'd arrive at work at the same time; I'd watch her get out of the black Cadillac as I got off the bus. Her skirt was just long enough to expose her porcelain legs. She wore a dark gray, pin-stripped skirt suit with black heels that complemented her figure. Her hair was always pulled back into a bun; though I was curious how it looked when it was let down as I pulled my fingers through her silky, black locks of hair. I was curious what color her eyes were as well. I envisioned them to be a charcoal brown color; dark and mysterious.
However, I had never gotten the courage to go up to; someone like her would never be seen with someone like me. We worked in the same building but I had never once ran into her; different departments. I'd seen her everyday since my second day at work. I'd watch her get into the elevator and disappear. I had no clue what department she worked in but most often not I would see her walking next to a nicely dressed man, the men always seemed to change appearances each day, some faces were the same. I despised them. I wanted her all to myself. Yet, I would probably never get the chance. She was interested in men.
I was a woman.
Woman rarely ever liked other woman; it was against the norm.

Today would however be different. It was about a year or so since I had started here, today was to just be another day. Another hopeless day. I was a hopeless person. No ambitions, no dreams, no goals. I only worked so that I had a roof underneath my head and food in my stomach. It also showed on my appearance even though I tried to buy nice enough clothes but they weren't as nice as everybody else's. I was trash compared to them. I wasn't fancy enough. I had no friends here, essentially an outsider.
As I got off the bus, stepping onto the sidewalk I looked up in search of that black Cadillac that she always gracefully got out of. I saw no Cadillac. My eyes searched hopelessly around, frantically. Where was she?
Hah, why was I even worrying? She didn't know me. Shaking my head I decided to just not worry about it and headed to the lower floors of the building. She was just probably sick or something came up. Yeah, that was it. At that moment I felt myself pathetic, worrying about someone who never noticed me or probably wouldn't associate themselves with me. Real pathetic.
As I was walking out of the building on my way home. As the doors opened on the elevator, before me stood the woman who I had never once ran into. I looked up to her and she looked at me. Actually looked at me. She had this look about her; carefree, graceful. There was even something in the look of her eyes. My heart began to race inside of my chest and I couldn't move. Her hair was down, cascading across her shoulders. She wore a brown overcoat that hung softly on her shoulders and I finally saw what color her eyes were; what I thought they were, brown. That soft, charcoal brown. Mysterious but intriguing at the same time.
I hadn't moved and I guess she figured I wasn't getting out and stepped inside. She seemed a bit tired. She stared fore ward and then spoke to me, “What floor?” she asked noticing that a light on the elevator panel wasn't lit up.
I quickly just thought of a number, “Uhm, 6th floor,” I said a bit tongue tied. Her voice was smooth, even, enchanting.
She pressed the button for both the 6th floor as well as for the 5th floor, which I now knew what floor she worked on. It was silent the rest of the trip up. I was nervous and even felt myself sweating. Her floor soon came. As the door opened she slightly looked over at me and smiled. The most wonderful smile I had ever seen before. I had seen her smiling around the men I'd seen her walking with; but now she was smiling at me.
I thought about her the rest of the night; her smile lingered in my mind.
I didn't see her the next day in the morning as I got off the bus, probably going in late again but I remembered that she hadn't been wearing her normal outfit for work. Strange. As I walked into the building, the entire lobby was full of people huddled together and policeman were keeping people away from the elevator. I stepped forward, working my way through the crowd of people. I heard people chattering and listened in, “Oh my god.. I can't believe it she's dead.” I wondered who.
Some people asked who, and others answered. “Claire.” I looked past the yellow crime scene tape and saw a police putting a sheet over the body but happened to see the person's face. It was her. Her dead eyes looked directly at me, as if wanting me to help her. Her name echoed through my mind. Claire. Claire. Claire. That was her name. I stumbled backwards out of the crowd to catch me breath and intently something became struck in my mind.
I would kill whoever had done this to her.
To my Claire.
...................................................................................................................................................................
Victory in a Minor Key

by Delia McVay



The light of a long-ago moon captured her eye.  

The image of the two of them sitting in white plastic chairs on the small concrete slab, sliding glass door left open to let the music drift outside, blinded her to the present moment. It had seemed to be another of their typical sessions for rehashing their plans of a grand backpacking tour of Europe.

Victor swung a long shock of blue bang to the side, a faraway look in his eyes: “Can you picture it, Claire?  Seeing it all for ourselves. The art, the buildings, the people!” 

“Hey, don’t forget about the music!” Claire interjected.

The soft white petals of the night blooming jasmine glowed in the moonlight; their scent potentiated by the sensual notes of Debussy’s piano composition suspended in the air.

That’s what had done it. The music. Whenever she heard those impressionistic, experimental scales, memories of Victor and of their friendship overwhelmed the here and now.      

Her lips curved with the ironic truth that all attempts to assert individuality are doomed to become clichés.  

But they hadn’t known that then.

Their friendship had been founded on more than proximity; being neighbors since 1st grade didn’t automatically equal absolute affinity. They had always understood the big and the small.

Victor was the one who called 911 and faked a medical emergency to scare off the repo man when Claire’s father lost control of his gambling addiction.

Claire could make Victor laugh even when he had a split lip and FAG scrawled across his forehead.

This was Victor’s revenge: a scholarship to U. C. Berkley, a summer in Europe, a future unheard of for the fagot son of a field working wetback.

While Victor had earned his spot at Cal with his art portfolio, Claire had won her acceptance to the conservatory at UOP with SAT scores, extra-curricular activities, a lifetime of straight A’s and voice lessons paid for by working the grapes every summer.  Arvin was an “educationally underserved area” and while Victor and Claire might have looked like “freaks” to the locals, they were ideal candidates to the recruiters.  

But that night, two days before graduation, they hadn’t known that their naively clichéd backpacking Grand Tour was about to be aborted by an older, more nefarious tradition.

When the deputy sheriff had come in the early morning hours to notify Mrs. Gonzales, Claire hadn’t needed to see the report to know the details of the crime.

“He kissed me! Grabbed me when the locker room was empty. Pulled me close and kissed me. Can you believe it! I knew it. I knew it. And you said he was just another over-privileged jock. But I knew there was more to him. I knew he was into me.”

Alarms were sounding but Claire didn’t have the heart to point them out.

Then, the next day another swollen lip, a blooming black-eye.

“I can’t believe it. He went along with the rest of them. Called me fagot. Pushed me down and held me while the other ones . . .” His voice trailed off.

Claire had already heard about the attack. To make matters worse, a rumor was circulating that Thomas had been turned-on by watching it. Clara’s stomach tightened with dread. She knew Thomas would do whatever it took to prove the rumor wrong.

 Victor’s unexpected visit, then, had been his way of saying it was no big deal. He was moving on.

“Someday, Claire, people will know our names. My paintings will hang in museums. You will sing all the great arias in all the great European cities.”

But instead Victor’s senior picture was printed on page 4 of the local news, along with the article describing how his battered body had been found dumped in the orchards.

“Merci beau coop,” Claire said to the waiter her brought her coffee. She counted the day’s earnings. Her partner, who accompanied her on the violin, called it busking. But Clara didn’t think Victor would like that word.

“How much?”

Clara counted out half of their take. Then she gathered up her belongings which included the final self-portrait Victor had painted. Orders on the website were picking up as Claire made her way around the cities they had planned to visit together. If the violence that had cut his life short helped fuel interest in his work, so be thought Claire. Maybe there was some sort of justice in that.

Regardless, Claire felt a quiet satisfaction knowing that Victor’s beautiful face had caused such a stir across the Continent.  

Death would not extinguish his light.  


___________________________________________________
By Patrick Nelson
 
          "But, Clair, we only slept together the one time." Eggy said quietly. He even dipped his head low in self-consciousness. There was nobody else in the greasy little diner except for a soiled cook and a somnambulant waitress, both of whom where propped up at the counter far away.

          Eggy had stopped stirring his coffee with the bent little spoon and stared into Clair's eyes.

          She wondered how she could have ever gotten so drunk...he was very good-looking, but...

          "It's not like varnishing an antique table, you idiot!" Her voice rose louder than Eggy was comfortable with for his shoulders hunched and he looked around guiltily. "It only takes the one time!"

          He snorted, "I know that, it's just..."

          "Just what, Einstein?" Clair was losing her patience. She already knew what she was going to do about this, she just felt Eggy should know. Now she knew even that was a mistake. Eggy wasn't ready to be a grown-up yet, she thought. Despite being twenty-eight, he was still a skateboarding, rock star-wanna-be trying to get through culinary school. "Just the one time is all it takes!"

          "It's just that I was hoping it would be more than just the one time..." he said shyly without looking at her.

          She thought about this baby-man and her. She thought about his passion for cooking. He wasn't ever going to be a great chef, no matter how hard he worked--she should know, he worked under her at The Woods and though he had the skills, he didn't have the imagination.

          "Under her..." the double meaning made her cringe. She would never have gotten involved with somebody she worked with normally, but that night at his show... He invited everybody that wasn't working at the restaurant to his gig at The Excelsior. Even without the drinks she had in her, she was charged with attraction when she saw him on the stage.

          It wasn't the groupie type thing. He was like another person up there. He had real talent and passion. More talent than he would ever have in the kitchen. When he finished the show and came right up to her and her only to see what she thought, it made her head swim and her heart pound and it wasn't the tequilas.

          Sitting there nervously in the diner, he thought about her too. He remembered how he felt the first time he saw her and knew she was his boss. He was scared. He held back a lot of himself from her--not just because she was above him, but because he was intimidated by her talent and strength of character. He had never met a woman who was so sure of herself. He would spend hours watching her work and wondering how he could get her to notice him away from being a chef. 

          He had made his move with the invitation, but was almost positive she wouldn't come. Pressure he had orchestrated from co-workers made it impossible for her to decline.

          Though neither of them knew it, they were both now thinking about after the show. Of how he walked her home and waited for her to bring her dog down for a walk. The tiny scottie dog tried to bite him when they first met. They both remembered their first kiss in the park across the street. The dog was taking a crap when he leaned in and brushed her hair back. She leaned in too, but pulled back just a touch, but not enough to be out of reach of his lips.

          They spent the entire night making love. She was torn between him and her image at work. He was scared to death he wouldn't be able to get her to love him.

The next time he saw her after that night, she acted like nothing had happened. He was crushed and she was cold even though inside all she could think about was not making eye contact.

          He sent her a dozen roses at work. She hid them in the walk-in as soon as she read the card. Their co-workers buzzed about it, but never had a clue who they were from.

          Weeks passed and he couldn't take it, so he gave his two weeks notice. He was used to being broke and the stress of starting over somewhere else was better than the agony of seeing her ignore him every damn day.

          Weeks passed. He thought about her every second of them and she wondered about him, too.

          Then she found out she was pregnant. She realized she didn't have anyone to talk to about it. This made her angry and sad so she called the only person who knew about them.

          "So this is why you called me?" He said hotly. "To tell me what an idiot I am and what a big fucking mistake you made? Does this make you feel better? Jesus! They all said I was an idiot for falling for you, but I don't think they ever said anything about you being a sadistic bitch..."

          She knew she deserved that, but it still stung. "Eggy, I know I'm not being real sensitive, but I'm a little freaked out here..." she let it trail off weak and helpless.

          He was going to say something really mean again, but the panic in her eyes made him stop. It was the only emotion he had gotten from her since the night they spent together. Though she had crushed his heart, it was still beating for her. He saw the faintest streak of silver hope shining through her armor.

          "I'm... I'm sorry." He said as he reached out to touch her hand.

          She pulled back, but not enough to be out of reach.

          "You've already told me what you've decided to do, but whatever it finally is, I will be here for you," Eggy said warmly as he squeezed her fingers.

          "Goddamn it!" Clair whined through her tears. "Why do you have to be so fucking nice about this? I've done nothing to deserve you being good to me!"

          "I know!" he laughed. "You've been nothing but a hard-ass bitch, but I've always thought that maybe somewhere in there, you really liked me. I was pretty sure of it that night after the show, but then..."

          "Yeah. I know," she said as she clumsily wiped the tears from her face with her palm. It seemed to Eggy that she wasn't used to crying. That was good, he thought. He couldn't stand to see her cry.

          Eggy just stared at her for a moment. She became self-conscious and said, "Why are looking at me like that?"

          "I was just wondering if you would like to reboot?" he said.

          "What the hell does that mean?" she asked.

He held out his hand for her to shake and said, "Hello, my name is Eggy..."

  
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Dance, Dance, Claire

By Emily Wiebe



We shuffle into the studio like zombies channeled through a cattle chute.  The clicks, scrapes, and shuffles of our shoes resound off the concrete floor.  I always enjoy walking into the classroom, because despite its cold gray floor and its hard wooden drawing horses, it almost always smells of oil paint, just like it does today.  We ceremoniously dump our backpacks on the table in the back, dig through our myriads of stuff for our drawing supplies, pull out our 18”x24” drawing board, and settle in for another class in life drawing. 

I sit in the center of the room next to Claire.  Claire is a pretty, round-faced asian girl, about 5’6”.  She’s the friendliest face on campus; she seems to know everyone, not only their names and faces but their lives as well.  She’s so social, so confident and fun, and so helpful, she makes all the rest of us seem barely civil in comparison.  She would deny this, of course, saying that we are all very nice and friendly people, but her habit of always giving an encouraging word only solidifies my case.  In fact, if I hadn’t been conversing with her the whole half hour before class, she would already be asking me how my day was going.

I glance up as Professor Mencher strides into the room with his usual confident swagger, in his usual thrift store suit jacket and brown pants.

“Alright.  Well, welcome back, my little apple blossoms.  Unfortunately, our model for the day called in sick, but Claire has volunteered to be our model today,” he announces, hands clasped in front of him.  I stare in shock as Claire stands up from her drawing horse, smiles, and pulls her shirt off over her head.  My mind whirls as I try to synthesize this new turn of events.  This does not seem like something Claire would ever do; she got nervous the first afternoon we had to stare at a naked person, so to be the model herself seemed incredulous, despite her penchant for always being ready to help.  At the very least, wouldn’t she want to change in the back room, instead of stripping in front of us?  What happened to all the dignity that I know Claire has? 

“So how about doing a few 20-minute drawings, and then we can move on to longer poses,” Mencher continues, even as Claire is tossing her last piece of clothing onto the pile on the floor and stepping up onto the white wooden platform.  She strikes a sexy contraposta pose just as Mencher presses the button and a beat from the 80s fills the room.  Suddenly Claire begins to dance.  What is going on?  I glance around the room, but everyone is bent intently over their drawing pads, except for Professor Mencher, who is standing in front of his desk, smiling and tapping his foot.  But even as I watch, he takes two quick steps forward and practically jumps onto the platform next to Claire, joining in the dance enthusiastically. 

This confuses me even more.  Kenney Mencher, my art professor, dancing in our classroom?  A sarcastic comment I would expect from him; whistling along or even singing in a mocking way would not surprise me.  But dancing?

I look around to see if anyone else finds this strange.  On my right, Gilberto begins to dance around his easel, twisting and shuffling and bobbing his head with a glazed look in his eyes.  On my left, next to Claire’s empty drawing horse, Gretchen and Alyssa sketch calmly as Gretchen provides a full commentary to Alyssa on the latest episode of Sherlock, including a complete analysis of Benedict Cumberbatch’s cheekbones.  Across from me, Amy and Ashley laugh at their own conversation. 

“Want some food, Mencher?” Amy asks, holding up a box of french fries.

Mencher shakes his head—and torso—no in time with the music.  “You guys are trying to make me fat, and the only thing worse than a short, balding, Jewish man is a short, fat, balding Jewish man,” he replies, and an almost maniacal chuckle erupts from deep in his chest.  His concentration refocuses on gyrating to the beat.  Claire twirls beside him with her hands in the air, eyes half-closed like she’s unaware of her surroundings.

I don’t understand; no one else seems to be creeped out.  This is definitely weird.

In the corner, Oscar stands up, stomping his foot and pumping his fist in the air.  Even Matt at his easel behind me is rocking his shoulders to the beat, even as he continues to draw frenetically.  Nicole jumps onto her drawing horse.  It’s like the class is starting to catch the dance fever Claire has started.  I always knew she was a leader, but this, this was crazy.  Claire’s hands clasp her hair as she twists her shoulders back and forth.  The dignified Claire has transformed into the loony Claire.  Something is wrong, this is not right.

I feel a tightening sensation in my chest, like my ribs are being constrained.  Abruptly I stand from my wooden drawing horse, open my mouth, and ask—

I wake up with a start.