The Art Group

I went to an art group the other night. Pauline, a retired Whitworth professor, had started it in her home. The only rule was that you had to bring something to critique.

Pauline said over the phone that people worked in all different mediums. I envisioned sculptures made out of wire and pantyhose, one person revealing her newest self-administered tattoo, and another showing a short films on guppies. The folks, in my mind, were edgy and eccentric. An art group!

I arrived toting my three oil paintings--Pauline was excited, on the phone, that I painted in oils. Apparently there is some rivalry in the group between them and acrylics. There were about 15 people in Pauline's sitting room, and I was the only one who could menstruate. 13 of the members professed to having grandchildren and the 14th was a man a little older than myself. I sat down on an open chair next to him and his mother.

After the preliminaries, including the I-kid-you-not comment: "Is it your house where the mailboxes get us lost, Pearl?" We took turns showing our creations. One woman had paintings of cows including one of a long-haired steer.

"He's the only one with horns. He'd tear open the feed bag and boss everybody around. He's in the freezer now, but not before I got some pictures of him."

Another woman had incredible pictures of swirled, dripped, and splattered paint. She said she listened to music while she painted and sometimes stood back with her brushes and flicked color onto the canvas. I said she reminded me of Maude Lebowski, a comment which was lost on everybody.

Afterwards we had decaf coffee and pineapple upside down cake with whipped cream on top. I was flushed and overheated like I always am in rooms with lots of people.

Julie, Casey (the mother-son combo), and I looked at Pauline's book of Chuck Close's work. He takes photos of people's faces and grids them. He fills the small squares with abstract images. A portrait is often times the size of an entire wall.

He's still living, Pauline explained, but his health is so bad that he rides a lift to do his paintings anymore.

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