The gallery seemed especially quiet tonight as Rosalind settled herself near the painting she had been assigned to guard. The early February weather outside was dreary and wet. She figured that most people wouldn’t feel like spending their Friday night looking at a bunch of local peoples’ artwork when they could be sitting in their comfy beds instead.
Not that the gallery itself was uncomfortable. It was certainly better looking than anything she had visited back home, what with its cream-coloured walls and domed ceilings and spacious rooms lined with mahogany floors that seemed to stretch for miles. And she thought the art was nice enough for the most part, too. But she sensed the hours would be unbearable tonight if this was the crowd—or lack thereof—that would be at The Edwards.
She stared into space for what felt like years, focusing in on the tiniest mistakes in the paint coats on the walls. It wasn’t until she checked her wristwatch that Rosalind confirmed she had only been working for thirty minutes, with another three and a half hours to go. She sighed and started focusing on the patterns in the floor, until she heard something.
“You’re a tall one, aren’t you?”
The low and nasally voice with some unknown accent came from her left, in the direction of the surrealism section. She turned to see a man standing a few feet away near another painting. She didn’t know how she had missed him this whole time. He looked to be the same height as her, and just as skinny. He was too far away for her to make out any facial details, but he certainly wasn’t a young man, as seen by his full head of greyish hair. There was a lanky look to his six-foot-tall frame that reminded Rosalind of more than a few fraternity boys she had seen on her college campus. This man didn’t seem like he’d been the partying type in school, though. Yet there was something that indicated that he wasn’t the shy and introverted type either. She responded when she realized she had stared at him for too long.
“Oh, uh, yes, I’m surprised this shirt even fits me!” Rosalind hadn’t spoken but a few words all day, so her voice come out much higher than she had intended. She immediately felt her pale face turn a light shade of pink.
“Well, we have all shapes and sizes here, no need to worry.” The man let out a controlled chuckle. “I’m Daniel, by the way. Is this your first night here…” His voice trailed off.
“R-Rosalind. And no, this is my third night here.” She felt herself speaking too fast and she internally chastised herself.
“Ah, so you must be an expert on the gallery by now?” The man named Daniel smiled at his own quip, and she found herself smiling back. “You’re not from around here then? Your accent betrays you.”
“No, I’m from a small town in Virginia that you’ve probably never heard of.” Less words, Rosalind thought, that’s the key.
“I’m sure I haven’t. Where I’m from, you tend to think that the end all and be all of the world is Brooklyn.” Another quip. Another round of smiles.
“Then what are you doing here in Pennsylvania?” She started moving closer to Daniel so that they could talk better. She was sure it would be okay to leave her post for a few moments. She was more interested in this conversation than the painting she was guarding anyway.
“Went to college around this area and have lived here ever since,” he said. “It’s a nice place, and it’s close enough to home that I can come and go pretty easily.” Now that Rosalind was closer, she could tell that this man had to be around her father’s age, as evidenced by his creased forehead and skin that seemed to sag from his eyes and cheeks just the slightest. And yet there was still something very youthful looking about him, particularly in the laid-back way he talked and presented himself. “What do you make of that?” He pointed to the painting she’d left. Rosalind looked back at the pseudo-abstract piece.
“Oh, it’s not really my favourite type of art, but it reminds me a lot of Jackson Pollack since it’s so splotchy and scattered, so I guess the person who painted it was aiming for that.” Daniel seemed taken aback by her remark.
“I’m surprised such a young person like you can namedrop Jackson Pollack. Consider me impressed.” He smiled and inched towards her. Rosalind felt the heat rising to her face again.
“Well, I’m studying art history at Calhoun University, and I like knowing as much as I can about what I’m learning. Any artist and artwork and artistic era is interesting to me, but if I had to pick a favourite artist I’d have to go with Gustav Klimt.”
“Why is that?” Daniel’s face lit up as he spoke. “I agree with you, but I’d love to hear your reasoning.” Rosalind had to think for a moment before answering, not wanting to say the wrong thing.
“Well, he has such a unique and vibrant style. He used gold foil a lot in his art, and gold is my favourite colour, and the way he portrayed women made them all look so beautiful even though I know that made his works incredibly controversial. But to me the women and the gold are all just so beautiful that they seem to shine so brightly.”
“I couldn’t agree more. He was an interesting, if misunderstood, man. Unfortunately, the piece I’m guarding tonight isn’t exactly Klimt. More like Klimt on drugs.” He motioned to the piece of art next to him. She looked over at the strange, almost disturbing painting. It was a mix of greys and yellows and was filled with faint lines going every direction. It resembled what Rosalind assumed the end of the world would look like.
“Wouldn’t that just be Francis Bacon then?” She asked. A moment passed before Daniel let out a genuine laugh, and he had to silence himself before his voice carried through the echo-inducing room.
“You’re smart, Rosalind! I was going to say it looked more like a rejected Radiohead album cover since it’s so abstract and vague. But, pardon my French, that was damn smart!”
“You listen to Radiohead?” She said, her ears perking up.
“Oh, yes.” He seemed taken aback again. “Saw them in concert a few years ago when Ok Computer came out and, let me tell you, they were incredible. I’m glad they dropped that awful grunge sound and started doing more experimental music. I really hope they stay with it. It’s more my thing.”
“That sounds wonderful! I wish I could see them perform live.” A twinge of jealousy managed to escape Rosalind’s lips against her will.
“Yeah, it was pretty great.” Daniel let out a small smile this time. “Well, Rosalind, I must say that I’m glad I’ve met someone here that I can talk to like this. Even if I am just slightly intimidated by the fact that you’re almost taller than me.” He indicated her height by drawing his finger from the bottom of her feet to the top of her head with his right hand.
“Oh, everyone’s usually intimidated by that, and it seems to scare them away from me,” she said. “But I guess as long as I look like I fit in here, I’m okay. Even if I am wearing a men’s sized shirt.” And they laughed and smiled together.