~This story was previously published in Natural Bridge (2011).
Jared needed to be fucked, fueled and reconfigured, but mostly, he needed to be inspired, which was why he invited Richard to his studio. While Richard wandered around his windowless loft, Jared stood by the radiator and listened to the floorboards creak. His canvases were propped against the wall, facing out, as if he was onstage and his paintings were watching him. What would they see? – these women, these figures culled together from paper and plastic, bodies jagged with industrial shapes, their natural curves forced into the right angles of credit cards and subway passes?
Collage was the best description of Jared’s work. He made large painted canvases onto which he glued scraps of paper. Any kind of paper so long as it was discarded: newspaper, paper cups, sugar packets, movie tickets. If someone threw it away, it could very well end up on one of Jared’s portraits. Women emerging from garbage: a feminist manifesto or a misogynist’s vindication. He let the viewer decide.
Right now his work was stalled. He hadn’t made a new piece in months. Every day he would comb the streets, picking up cigarette packs and sales receipts, examining fast food containers and wet magazines. He would bring these findings back to his studio, spread them on his work table and wait for inspiration.
He tried to give Richard space, but eventually found himself walking a few steps behind, pretending to scrutinize. Richard put one hand on his face and scratched his stomach with the other. His belly separated the fabric of his button-down shirt; black hairs peaked out like fungus.
Richard put an arm around him. “Good stuff. Good stuff.” His wet armpit stuck to Jared’s shoulder.
Richard was a lawyer with an art history degree, not a full time dealer. He had sold a few things of Jared’s before, and even bought some of his earlier work. One of Richard’s clients was Catherine French of The French Gallery. He told himself if Richard sold a piece to French, it might jump start his creativity.