The Business of Art

By Jen Anthony

The artist inside her cried every time Nelson Kennedy unveiled another painting.

“How exquisite,” she said. “The conjunction of brushstrokes shows a clear focus by the artist.”

She didn’t choke, she didn’t stutter, or even pause at the use–misuse–of the word “artist.”

It was her job; no one could fault her for that.

And she had much practice at choking back her true words in her many relationships.

“Are you certain you even got it from her? I mean, it could have been a towel or maybe even a toilet seat,” she would say. “Surely no one is to blame.”

She did not condemn his euphemisms, and only asked him politely what he meant by the “moving dandruff” that was causing him so much itching.

“Oh no,” he said, “I’m sure I know who I got it from.”

She asked her coffee companion, “Was it the prostitute? Of course, I understand what might drive men to utilize such services.”

But the woman in her clawed at his diseased loins for creating demand for the objectification of women. Of course she said nothing; that would not be polite. One person cannot change an entire culture, so it takes strength to be able to live within it.

She did not even protest when he thrust his thick cow tongue into her mouth. She did not bat his hand away when he toughly groped her breast. And when she could not find pleasure in his brief and hungered thrusting, she said she must have been feeling the stresses of her job. She knows one must never criticize the man’s performance. Besides, she can pleasure herself far more thoroughly than he ever could.

Unlike sex, however, art is a field few people believe themselves to be experts in. Therefore, anything she said was taken as canon and she felt little guilt at misleading buyers into thinking these paintings were art. The tasteless nouveau-riche, grasping at another symbol of their newfound status, rarely inspired anything but distaste in the established and envy in the classes below them.

However, even her steeled stomach turned at the sight of Kennedy’s latest “masterpiece.” Bull semen mixed with paint pigmented by dried blood was smeared over the fifteen-foot long canvas. The masses merely stood and gaped at the atrocity with awe.

Maybe that is why she couldn’t stop the boxcutter in her hand from enacting justice on the once-clean canvas that soiled the studio. Still, she could not understand it when the police grasped her roughly by the arms, leading her away.

“How could it be a crime,” she asked, “to destroy something which has no value?”

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