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Isabel talks about art

At the gallery there was much commotion. A reporter from the local newspaper had come to interview Isabel. While he waited, he watched the staff hanging the show, and scribbled notes in a little pad. There was also a reporter coming from Mexico City to give the newspaper there a preview of the show that would arrive next month. Elena, who managed the gallery, was running around telling everyone what to do, and Isabel walked in just as they were hanging the largest painting. It was a vast azure field seen through broken clouds as if looking down from an airplane very high in the sky.

“Ah, here she is at last. You’re so late. We had to start without you,” Elena yelled out to her from the far end of the gallery. “Look here’s Esteban from the paper. Talk to him. How do you like the center piece of the show here on this wall? It’s good, no?” Elena stepped back from the wall.

“No, no, Manuel. Tilt it to the right. Over here.” she pointed at the top right corner of the large painting, instructing the man on the ladder how to make it straight.

“I’m sorry,” Isabel said. “I had some problem at home.” She held out a hand to the reporter. “How do you do. I’m Isabel Bueno DeBlanco. I’m glad to see you.”

“What problem?” the reporter asked. He looked intently into her striking eyes.

“My daughter was late for school,” Isabel answered.

“How old is she?” he asked.

“Almost sixteen,” Isabel answered and realized she must get him off this subject. “Have you written about art before?”

“This is a profile of the artist. So it’s not really about the art itself but about the development of it. Tell me, you studied abroad?” he asked.

“Yes, for a time. One year. In Florence. In Italy. It was wonderful. I will always treasure that time,” Isabel said. “But I am a Mexican artist. My roots are here. This is where I learned the basics of my craft and where I will always work. It is where my heart lives.”

“That’s very poetic. Do you think art is about mind or heart?” he asked.

“It’s about both. Without higher abstract reasoning, art is flat, without the depth that makes it reach into the future and outlive its own time. But without heart it lacks emotional appeal and fades after a short while. So mind and heart create art that transcends both its time and its creator. There is a story about Picasso, about how, when he had become famous and was to have a show at a great museum, he asked the museum director to hang his paintings next to some of the great works by Spanish masters just so he alone could see them side by side. He stood there studying his works next to the masters’ and he was satisfied and is supposed to have said, ‘My work will also stand up to time.’ He was that sure of both his mind and his heart. One without the other does not create art. It creates temporary distraction.” Isabel walked over to her large blue painting of the Pacific as seen from above the clouds. Esteban followed, the notebook open in his hand.

“You must understand,” she said, almost to herself but with the awareness that the reporter was still standing next to her with his notepad and his pen. “To make a work of art is to see into the future so far that one is not even aware that one has become a time traveler. And those who wish to ‘own’ art, who buy the rights to it as if it were like a car or a computer, those are people who are dead inside. They have no idea what art is. They only know the value of money and think money can buy anything. But I tell you, art comes like lightning from the sky comes. An event that cannot be controlled.”

“Then you think it is not possible to train someone to be an artist?” he asked.

“You can learn technique. Of course. And every artist must. But technique does not make an artist anymore than learning how to add creates a Descartes.

“And what about your paintings of the Pacific? Do you think they’ll become repetitious?” asked the reporter.

“Monet had his haystacks. Van Gogh his sunflowers. I have the Pacific. I only hope I’m worthy of her.”

At that moment, a loud voice filled the gallery.

“So Isabel, here you are talking with this young man from the newspaper. And what are you telling him, eh?” He came up to them, in his suit and his shiny leather shoes, wearing a necktie of bright red. He placed one hand on the reporter’s arm and the other on Isabel’s shoulder. She flinched slightly.

“I know you are going to write good things about our Isabel Bueno DeBlanco, isn’t that right, young man?” he said.

“Well, Señor Sierra Vargas, I will do my very best,” said the young man.

Isabel, Episode Three

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