“One-Man Show”

Tonight is my big night: my first one-man show at the local art center. I’ve worked for over a year capturing rural scenes in hopes that owners of the featured properties will buy my paintings.
“Barns and buckets”, my wife calls them. She has filled our house with large abstract expressionist works and reluctantly hangs my small watercolors in the kitchen.
I check the art center parking lot. It’s full, yet my gallery is empty. I go to the door. Crowds of people are on the porch listening to a guide praise the creativity of a metal sculptor from New York.
I see that I  cannot compete so I slowly remove my pictures from the walls.

(Photo by Sandra Crook. Rochelle Wisoff Fields, Friday Fictioneers, April 12, 2013.)

This entry was posted in Flash Fiction, Micro Fiction, Short Fiction, Short Story and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to “One-Man Show”

  1. vb, a sad commentary on the relationship between the two of them. Especially in art, so much depends upon your point of view as to what is really “art.” Too bad the wife didn’t support him, even if she didn’t care for what he did.

    I think your ending might be stronger if you left of “get the message” and just use the rest. We’ll understand that he got the message and it seems more stark, like his frame of mind. (Just my two cents.)

    I was a little confused because the show’s at a local art gallery, yet he goes onto the porch, making it sound as though it’s in his house. Maybe the gallery has a porch, though, and maybe I’ve been sniffing too many wood stain fumes! 🙂


    • vb holmes says:

      Many thanks for your suggestions, Janet–always appreciated! I probably took on too much when I tried to contrast an artist who creates a work of art “for art’s sake” 🙂 and one who simply paints pictures that he/she hopes will sell–in 100 words or less. I chose to have his wife fill the house with abstract expressionist paintings because they are the opposite of tight, uninformed landscapes (not to knock barns and buckets as subject matter: they can inspire some great work–look at Andy Wyeth whose paintings have to be seen in real life to truly appreciate the paint handling). As for the porch–the sculpture/construction (which I think is great fun) is on the porch in the photo and I suspect the building is an art center or gallery as the windows are blocked. Again, thanks Janet–if I do anything with this piece it will be a complete redo as it requires explanation–always a bad sign.

      • I got this backwards. I thought his were the good pictures and that the “uninspired” was because of what his wife thought. Maybe it’s because I’m not a huge fan of abstract painting. I just read too much into it.

        As for the art gallery/house confusion (to me, at least) came from saying the wife hung his pictures in the kitchen and I connected that with the porch, even though the porch went with the gallery. I seem to be coming at this entire story the wrong way ’round. 🙂 Could I got to bed again and then get up, have tea and read once more???


      • vb holmes says:

        Made a couple of changes–hope they help. Again, thanks for the comments–always welcome.

  2. Sandra says:

    Aww that’s such a sad story, with just the right amount of pathos injected into it. Nice work.

  3. billgncs says:

    VB – I felt his despair, really!

    • vb holmes says:

      It’s difficult for many people to maintain their confidence in their own work–and sometimes, a lack of confidence leads to great improvement. Hopefully, our hero will fall into that category.

      • billgncs says:

        I don’t know. I think he was pretty beaten down. Lets hope he was the resilient type. I got the feeling he might never paint again.

  4. Pirate says:

    Crushing, absolutely crushing, and very well told….’c’est la vie’ as we say in French…but…

    • vb holmes says:

      C’est vrai, malheureusement. For some reason, your comment ended up in my spam folder–no hint why that happened. Glad I found it. Thanks for visiting.

  5. zookyworld says:

    Poor guy… with a wife like this, who needs enemies? Sad, too, that even though crowds showed up to the art show, none of them actually saw the art. Some of them could have liked the barns and buckets.

  6. I would prefer “barns and buckets” and anything rustic to abstracts any day!

  7. Oh, too sad… There’s just no accounting for some people’s taste.. 😉

    • vb holmes says:

      As everyone comes to a work of art with his/her own personal frame of reference, we each see an object with different eyes–which is lucky, otherwise, we would all have the same paintings hanging on our walls. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Kim Nelson says:

    This just made me sad… but I know a lot of artists whose significant others have no appreciation for their work.

  9. Lyn says:

    I’m with Kim, this made me sad. How could his wife not support him. Very well written.

  10. camgal says:

    I’m with everyone on the mood of the piece…marvelous job though

  11. That’s so sad. I love have you’ve written it though. Hopefully the guy can break through eventually.

  12. Excellent piece, conflict created and explained beautifully.

  13. elappleby says:

    How sad – I can see the artist, dejected, head hanging, as he slowly takes the paintings off the wall one by one. 😦

  14. Joe Owens says:

    How sad that his wife does not get the importance. Then at the gallery even more rejection as the patrons stop for the trike.

  15. jwdwrites says:

    I feel so sorry for him, without the support of his wife his confidence was so brittle. If he had just waited a little while longer they would have got past that bike and into the gallery. Its enough to make a guy cut off his ear! Very enjoyable vb. 🙂

  16. petrujviljoen says:

    I the character was real, which can be, I’d like a word with him – no way taking pictures of walls in deference to another artwork, or a disparaging wife/husband, or for whatever reason whatsoever. No way. Ask me, I know, have been there.

    • vb holmes says:

      I’ve been there, too–the first time I exhibited in a juried show, my painting was flanked by the works of two accomplished and experienced painters. In my eyes, my work was diminished by their proximity and I desperately wanted to grab my painting and bolt. Naturally, I didn’t, and in the long run, I learned as much about professionalism from the “up-front-and-personal” comparison of my work with theirs as I ever did in class.

      • petrujviljoen says:

        Indeed, that’s it. It takes courage to both believe in one’s work and oneself, if such a distinction can be made. I’ll have a look at your art.

  17. unspywriter says:

    Aww, poor guy. In art there should be room for both. Well-played emotions.

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/siblings/

  18. JackieP says:

    As an artist I felt his hearbreak. Really well done. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder as far as art is concerned.

  19. silently Kim says:

    A sad ending. The ego deflated, self esteem destroyed. I think this is a feeling all artist feel when they admire the work of others. But we need to realize it’s not better just different and what one one likes another may not. Good story, you see I read so much from it.

    • vbholmes says:

      For most people it’s hard to preserve a high level of confidence about their work. One negative comment, no matter how insignificant, can shatter the creator’s cool.

  20. So sorry for the artist. Wonder if he’ll try his hand at a new kind of art now?

  21. 40again says:

    Oh I hope he bounces back, perhap with a different partner? Found myself liking him very much and wanting better for him

  22. Mystikel says:

    Very moving story. I don’t think he would stop painting, despite how his wife felt, but hope he will have the courage to show his work again! That’ll show her 😉

  23. That’s so sad. He shouldn’t give up so quickly. Eventually someone will try to escape the crowd and start to wander. I like barns and buckets.

  24. Dear VB,
    I could’ve sworn I commented on your story. A lot’s been said and rightfully so. A good read and well thought out story. The changes you made strengthened it.

    • vbholmes says:

      I had the same experience–I read your story early on, formulated my reply (which I changed after reading similar replies already posted) and was interrupted before I could write it. Enjoyed your adventurous Natalie and her successful joyride.

  25. Actually, I felt that when he got to the porch and heard the guide, that possibly his gallery would be the next stop on the guide’s list. I wish he would have hung in there. Art and creativity is so personal that it becomes painful at times. You certainly captured that. Shame on his wife! She didn’t even accompany him to the event (regardless of her personal taste in art).

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