son and smile—at the park, at a coffee shop, just on the street. They
would look away like it was some mistake, but then she would just keep
looking, keep smiling, expressing the feeling that she admired them and
wanted to know them without cover or deception, just as open truth.
When she brought them home, she would make them disrobe at the
door and put their clothes in a white bag hung on a hook by the door. She
never called them. She had no phone. If they came back and knocked,
she would let them in. If not, she just felt them sweep through her life
like a wind. There were so many people in this city, and she was just one;
she felt herself sending out her signal to the empty cosmos.
When they hauled in her work for the first show, Susan was furious.
Why hadn’t Claire told her she was doing something new? All the marketing had been for the other show, and there was no guarantee this
would sell, and couldn’t she at least get a phone? But Claire just stood in
the gallery and looked at her with an expression lacking guilt, shame,
or ambition. It was a look that seemed to suggest that all struggle was
mainly pointless. And no one knows the vagaries of the world better
than an art gallery owner, so Susan just sighed, and they installed the
Then there was buzz and rumor. Art-world royalty Claire had flipped
her lid and screwed the gallery with wild sculpture. It was kind of good,
I heard. She was at the Baxter show and wearing all white, acting like a
monk, and maybe she was zonked on something, we all thought, but she
took home Gerard, you know beautiful Gerard, and he said she made
him strip at the door and put his clothes in a white sack on a hook, and
she never spoke a word the whole time. He said it was beautiful, really,
not speaking, not assuming anything but the moment. He swears she
wasn’t on anything, just had become a being of light.
So the gallery was packed, and the art critics asked Claire questions,
and she just looked at them and didn’t respond until they answered their
own questions. Of course, it’s what I thought, or maybe not, but it’s different, and I understand now. She moved about the gallery detached but
exuding a transcendence that was radiant, and somehow the whole place
felt blessed, like everyone there was in a room that wouldn’t change, that
would float through history and space like an unbreakable unit. Everyone felt it, in the way people do, in the way people feel much more than
they can ever say or know. It was a night like that.
Everything sold. Susan was nearly in tears and a little drunk. There
would be pictures and a full write-up in the Times and Art Forum.