Waymark Literary Magazine | Issue 2

Page 26

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IN THE EYE of the BEHOLDER By Ken Wetherington The little boat bobbed further away, nearly obscured by the angry sea. Over my shoulder, a towering wave rose. I twisted to avoid the impact, but it struck hard, pushing me deep beneath the salty water. The muffled roar of the ocean rushed past, distinctly present yet strangely remote. I struggled upward, fighting the weight of my clothes. Breaking the surface, I searched frantically for the boat. The spray, driven by the wind, stung my face and blurred my vision. Then I caught a glimpse of the craft, sliding toward me. Before I could react, it vanished behind a large swell and almost as suddenly reappeared, elevated by the undulating sea. Another surge lifted and propelled me toward my salvation. I lunged for the boat, falling short as it spun out of reach. Fatigue strained my muscles, and I began to sink. From somewhere nearby, a voice, soft at first, then louder, cut through the wind and rain. “Please sir, don’t touch the art.” I blinked. A museum guard stood beside me, his hand on my arm. I blinked again. The vivid seascape had receded to its two dimensions. “Sorry, it’s … it’s such a powerful image.” “Just don’t touch it. Please stay two feet from the artwork.” He frowned and stepped aside, smoothing down his thin black moustache. I felt him watching as I eased away, the scent of brine lingering in my nostrils. In the restroom, I wiped the sweat from my brow, splashed cold water on my face, and ran a comb through my hair. The mirror over the sink

reflected the weariness in my eyes. Visits to the museum often exhausted me, though I usually found myself there on my day off. I took a deep breath and exited the restroom. Only a handful of patrons dotted the main concourse. Resisting the urge to revisit the captivating seascape, I meandered into the modernist wing. In the first gallery, a series of abstract paintings hung on the walls. Most of the works featured large blocks of colors. More like geometry than art, in my opinion. Conceptual art filled the next room. In its center lay a pile of clothes. A plaque on a small stand read: Teenager’s Laundry by Denise Landry. “Laundry by Landry,” I muttered, shaking my head at the alliteration. In the far corner of the room, an elderly lady I had not seen earlier cast a disapproving glance in my direction. What drew me to museums with so much passion, yet brought out my aversion to other patrons? Was it their snobby superiority or my own insecurity? I gave her an ambivalent nod and moved on. The canvases in the next gallery oozed with drips and squiggles. Admittedly, a few of the paintings had a compelling quality, but any child could sling paint on a canvas and call it art. What made it art? In front of one of the paintings, a figure of a dark-haired lady lay on the floor. Did the two pieces complement each other? Perhaps they intended to show a person’s reaction to art. A series of pale blue lines ran diagonally across

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