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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2234819
An artist finds out she is true blue
“Ever the art critic,” Mary Bleau cleaned her oil brushes with gusto. She couldn’t say what she really thought. Marvin Ashbury’s grant supported her work and lifestyle. Going from jobless in the Covid19 pandemic to high brow society in a penthouse art studio of her own still made her head spin. Maybe it had influenced her latest work.

“Too blue,” Marvin micro managed, ending the comment with a tut tut. “We need something sunny these days. Vibrant, Alive. Where’s that old stuff you have lying around in a corner. There.” He pointed to Mary Bleau’s earliest work stacked in cobwebs. A glint of sunshine through the crystal clear skylight overhead beamed on a sunflower down with brilliant strokes of yellows, greens and reds. “I want that one in your Guggenheim Art Exhibition.”

The stunning architecture, created by Frank Lloyd Wright, framed the skyline outside the penthouse balcony. “Well, maybe just the one, to show the transition to maturity in my style,” grudged the young twentish artist.

“All of them. You’ll see I am right when each one sells for those exorbitant prices we’ll mark on them.” Marvin Asbury’s voice gave no option for noncompliance. He wasn’t in this for the art’s sake. He was a shark of a businessman out to make a buck. Marketing was everything and he was a master.

Mary Bleau waited him out, nodding at his bluster until the man got tired of listening to himself and left. Her blue painting drew her back into the private world of an artist. There were just a few unfinished touches.

What emerged from the life size canvas startled her with its captured portrayal of emotion. Blue ocean waves curled into white foam racing as make believe creatures to the shore. Water wept into tears where it dashed against dark crevices amid deep blue rocks. There was a violence fighting with dream like hope in the gesture of unworldly vision meeting reality.

“Take that, Mister Marvin Asbury.”

Hours blended into misty reverie. Her blue mood evoked painting after painting. Canvases littered into one inspiration after another. The sheer joy of creating ebbed into a blue funk Mary Bleau had never experienced before. She eyed her beginnings, nodded a weary smile, yawned and threw herself into the shadowed corner holding her bed.

“Where are you?” The angry voice of Marvin Asbury pounded her awake. His fists beat a discordant harmony on her door. “You’d better be dead or dying, in there. Why haven’t you answered my phone calls or messengers?”

The lock rattled making the door frame shudder along with Mary’s body from her sheets. The last thing she remembered was letting in Guggenheim staff to get the frames she pointed at. “Coming.”

Her door burst open like a bomb. “I don’t like drama, young lady, that I don’t create.” Marvin strode in like a bulldozer pushing Mary aside. “You’re late. Unforgivable.”

Behind the man barged in smiles, shouts of ‘Bravo!”, wild and crazy applause. Wave after wave of excited new fans of the young artist got in each other’s way trying to get her attention first.

“How much for the ‘Blue Dolphin?”

“I’ll double whatever he offers.”

“What about the ‘Ship In Storm?”

Checkbooks hovered over heads. Offers for work she’d never named clashed against each other in her ears. Bewildered beyond reason, she looked to Marvin Asbury for an explanation. “Quiet. Quiet. Look at her. She can’t hear herself think.”

“Are there more?” A last voice thundered into the room, sound fading into expectation as all eyes turned to the artist.

“I don’t know how you did it.” Marvin Asbury’s face was a restless twitching mask of amazement and wonder. “People got tired of waiting for you at your exhibition. They roamed past your early light hearted nature series of sunny flowers.”

He shook his head, making quiet sounds to the encircling mass of admirers. “These people found the stack of your blue phase. How you managed to get my staff to bring them had me ready to fire every one of them.”

“Until?” Mary asked.

“Until the bidding war to buy them began.” Marvin Asbury’s eyes gleamed at the thought of his commission on every painting. “They wouldn’t accept a final offer until you gave your agreement to sell the piece.”

Mary Bleau’s ‘Blue Period’ revealed the growing and previously hidden talent she had become. Art critics and buyers around the world made her name synonymous with her art. ‘Bleau on Blue’ became a catchword offering her freedom from the likes of Marvin Asbury for evermore.

769 words
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