An over sixty-page short story in the Ploughshares Solos, Volume 3, explores art, commerce, and integrity. It's written by Anne Elliott and told in first-person over nineteen sections. It's pretty funny. Having gone through an MFA Painting and Drawing program myself, I found the story to be revealing and true in the way that young artists-in-training question authority, yet often use something else that reveals an hypocrisy, but how can they do otherwise when they are a product of the very thing they are supposedly questioning. Often, they end up revealing something and then succumbing to that very thing they revealed. Sometimes, a balance is discovered and I think that is what happened for Clay. He's come to terms with adulthood and an imperfect world with imperfect people yet he can still love his "material. I loved it hard. Even when it did not love me back." His "material" is conceptual art. LOL
The story, for the performance art his friends and girlfriend concoct, incorporates the Three Billy Goats Gruff fairy tale, cubicle farms, corporate art collections, performance art, starving artists, love, alcoholism, lack of marketable skills. The story has it all. I enjoyed the romp through Manhattan and Brooklyn, large and small; an artist's sky-high studio, installation art, corporate art collection, and performance art in Brooklyn. I also enjoyed Clay's experience with the Jennifer Bartlett painting on those many steel plates. We've all studied her paintings in art history, as well as Robert Rauschenberg, David Salle, and Andy Warhol and these artists are, indeed, in many corporate collections. The art world is as wacky as the political scene and the money laundering, off-shore hiding of assets.