Just That

0220-Escher meets Okeefe - via Flash-PromptHe’d wanted to be an artist for as long as he could remember. He colored until his crayons were stubs, painted his way through canvas after canvas.

 

When natural talent couldn’t take him far enough, he performed magic on street corners, pulling quarters out of little boys ears and making bouquets appear from nothing to present to little girls.

 

In college his excellence at card tricks led him to the poker table, where he was careful to lose every few games so no one would accuse him of cheating.

 

He never cheated.

 

Magic and poker paid for art classes. Technique. Practice. Materials. He tried sculpting for one semester but it didn’t appeal. He liked turning lines into pictures more than clay into objects.

 

An art appreciation seminar gave him his heroes. He fell in love with Escher’s skewed reality – Möbius stairs and the like – mixed math and art, while O’Keefe made cow skulls beautiful and flowers sexual.

 

In grad school – an obscure private institution on an island off the coast of the northern USA – he found HIS art. He combined the math and the magic and the lines, but paper wasn’t big enough for his ideas.

 

He puts his art into the places where it’s least expected. Balancing on a log, he’ll sketch a shape in mid-air, suspending it on a fractal dream. Turn your head and it’s a flower. Blink your eyes and it’s a woman’s face.

 

When people caught him Making Art, they all asked the same question. “What is it?”

 

And he would counter, “What do You think it is?”

 

Whatever they said, so it became.

 

“But… how did you know?” They would demand.

 

“Art is subjective,” he would answer. “It doesn’t matter what I see, it matters that you see something, and respond.”

 

Then he’d make a balloon animal out of a piece of sky, and hand it to a little old lady. “Just imagine…”

 

Yes.

 

Just that.

 

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Just That by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.