The Arrangement by Laurie Michaels

The Arrangement by Laurie Michaels


“Are you coming in or what?” Said the gallery owner as she pushed on the heavy glass door.

“Yes, I’m coming in,” said Su. “But I have to do this first.”

Su Choo had been arranging her work while she waited for the owner to open the gallery. Tonight was the art walk.

She arranged the seven small tempera canvases, being careful to shield them from the rain. Her pre-gallery arrangement was taking place in the hatchback of her old Subaru that was parked in a loading zone.

Su had painted each canvas as a natural progression from the previous canvas. Each piece was relevant to the next. She knew the difficult part was here, now.

Does the evolution make sense? Surely the appeal was in the arrangement. Would the gallery goers “get it”?

Does it have to be relevant to them or me?

Should the Bird go first or last? Maybe it should start with the arched Elderberry? Where do the Rotting Logs fit in?

Again, the gallery owner; “Are you coming in?”

“Yes, almost, give me a minute.”

Su wondered; is it possible that it doesn’t matter about the order of the canvases? Is anyone going to relate to my order of progression?

By now the rain was a steady mist and the back of her jacket was getting weighty.

Viewers have to see it from my perspective. The Fish has to go first, then the Stream and then the Dead Leaves and the Elderberry

The gallery owner; annoyed, “When are you coming in? What are you waiting for?”

“I’m just finishing”. One minute.”

The gray carpet in the back of the Subaru offered up the blue-greens, purples and rusty gold of the canvases without competition.

Su was almost in agreement with herself, and then the Stream, then the Shallow Pools followed by the Rotting Logs

That’s how it’s going to hang.

The arrangement was obvious now. True progression. The relationships made sense.

She fixed small post-its on the back of the canvases mapping the installation with numbers one thru seven.

She carefully stacked her arranged progression into a plastic tote and shut the hatchback. Soggy, she hurried toward the gallery door.

Inside the white walled gallery, the owner and her installers were attending to a large piece of silk painted with some type of Gutta technique.

“Finally” Su Choo”, the gallery owner’s voice echoed, “you’d think we had all day.”

The owner motioned with her free arm towards a large primitive tea chest standing in the middle of the concrete floor, “Leave your work over there”. “Don’t forget, be back by 6:30 this evening”.

After finding parking on a side street Su returned to the gallery. It was just past 8pm. The gallery walls were occupied with canvases, fabrics, metals and wood. The space was occupied with the usual edgy energy of gallery goers.

This is the dreaded part of showing Su thought. Mingling with gallery goers. How long before I can leave? Too bad I’m not high. Will my work sell? Where is it?  Will it pay for my wall space? What am I doing here?

She found her work installed two-thirds of the way back on an inside wall that stood six feet high and eight feet wide. She shared the wall with Native American masks carved by someone named Eelling. Her canvasses looked foreign hanging on the wall.

Later, Su found her way back to the comfort of her Subaru hatchback where she waited for the gallery to close. She woke to the blare of a truck horn, city darkness and cold feet. The rain was steady and fine. It made the streetlights turn to liquid on her windshield.

Just after 1am the gallery owner unlocked the glass door for Su. “Come in. Come in. Congratulations. Your work went to a woman who was in love with the color palette of the first four pieces. She said they would blend perfectly with her new décor. She’s not sure where she’ll hang the other three but she was delighted to find the colors she was after”.

The caterers were busy making sharp echoes with the last of the clean up.

As many times as Su looked into the gallery owner’s eyes, she never found anything familiar. Tonight was no exception.

All Su wanted to do was find her car and go home. She took the index card the gallery owner held out to her. On it was the date and time for her next exhibit. Plenty of time Su thought.



















About bbcstudiowrites

This blog is me archiving the BBC Studio Writers Workshop.

Posted on February 28, 2012, in Fiction. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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