TITLE: An Enlightening Trip to the "Art" Museum
By Jacob Gibson
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My stories could always use improvement so your opinions are like gold to me! (How can I have more sentence variety and make them sound better? How can I make better descriptions? I need more interesting words and more ideas!) Thank you.
"I went skyyyyyyyy-divin'! I went Rocky Mountain climbin'! I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu. And I looooooooved--"
A radio alarm clock sounded as 8:29 appeared and was quickly silenced by a slim hand from under thick bed covers. The girl sat up in her bed, stretched, and smiled. Most Saturday mornings she always hit the snooze button and slept in, or didn't even set the alarm clark at all, but today was different. It was a day that 17-year-old Gabby Jensen did not want to miss. After waiting months and months for the new art museum in town to be erected, it was finally completed with much celebration. The first tours would begin today and for a very reasonable price as part of the grand opening.
You could say that Gabby was an art freak in the highest sense of the term. She decorated her room with scenic paintings and posters of her favorite shows and bands, her bed was coverd with colorful blankets, and she had a taste for clothes that were out of the ordinary. She would spend hours at the desk in her room creating art of nature scenes and cheerful portraits of friend's and familie's faces. Markers, colored pencils, sometimes paint and sewing... almost anything was great. She posted some of her best pictures on a website with other artists where everyone could compliment each other and give critiques.* She did her best to share the gospel by creating pictures of Jesus and the cross, and enjoyed seeing others who made work like hers, plus art of animals, fantasy, and anthropomorphics. If all of that wasn't enough, a few weeks ago she had even dyed her calm brunette hair a screaming bright purple! (after much talking with her parents) No one could ever incorrectly guess what she liked best.
Gabby jumped out of bed and immediately got ready for the day. She quickly dressed, showered, gulped down breakfast, said a few words to her family, threw on her make-up, and then ran out the door yelling a quick goodbye. Her destination was clear in her mind and she had the whole route there memorized. She jumped on her bike and rode down the sidewalk at full speed, noticing almost nothing but the sidewalk. Halfway to the museum she suddenly remembered something and yelled in frustration. "Ahhhhhh!! I forgot to brush my teeth! How embarrassing. OH NO!! And I forgot to have my quiet time with the Lord!" She looked around and judged by people's reaction that she had said it too loud and then blushed. Under her breath she scolded herself for acting like that and forgetting something so important. Then she slowed her bike and prayed, "Lord, I'm so sorry I forgot to make time to talk with you this morning and read Your word. This museum shouldn't be more important than You. It was stupid. Please forgive me and use me today. I'll try harder in the future. At least I can talk with you until I get there."
From that point on the ride was different. She slowed her peddling, and allowed herself to enjoy God's creation and meditate on His goodness and promises. In just a few minutes, she arrived at the art museum, but not as soon as she first planned but still on time and refreshed from the prayer time. Gabby parked her bike at the nearest bike rack, then looked around for someone. "Where is she?" she thought. "How can my best friend be late for this after how much we've talked about doing this? Oh yeah... she's probably having her quiet time. Of course. I'll just take a look around while I wait."
The rectangular buiding was wide and painted light red except for the front center structure which was white, and tall windows sat in a perfectly straight row across the middle of the building. More than a dozen marble steps led to the entrance (plus ramps for wheelchairs), ad six looming colums stood against the walls and guarded the doors. She spotted a few fountains on the lawn in front of the building, one where water poured out of a jar held by a mermaid, another with many small slides and winding steps that allowed the water to flow through more than one course. Surrounding these fountains were beautifully arranged flowers.
She noticed something else that made her smile. Two life-size statues stood to the far left on the stairs of the building where no one needed to walk. It was a man in a suit holding the hand of young boy ahead of him, and their feet were positioned on the steps to look like they were going up them like everyone else. The man was smiling and the child had a look of pure glee and excitement. She rememberd how as a young girl her parents would take her somewhere like a store in mid-December and she would jump up and down with excitement as she thought about all the toys.
Suddenly she felt a light tap on her shoulder and turned around to see no one there. She turned all the way around to find her friend she had waited for. They laughed and hugged each other tightly. "Reiko! What took you so long? Did your younger brothers hide your stuff again? Or maybe you just don't like art?"
Reiko grinned and blushed. "Ahm sorry, I got a leettle lost trying to find thees place. I wouldn't break my promeese to hang out with you today."
Reiko was an Asian girl from Gabby's school, with long, straight dark black hair falling around her emerald green eyes. Her family had come from the Phillipines just a few years ago and sent her there with her siblings. Gabby and her had quickly become best friends because of their opposite personalities and interests in books and television shows. She thought Reiko's accent and polite manners were very cute, and more than a few of the boys in school had a hopeless crush on her.
Gabby grinned too. "I know. You'd never fogive yourself if you forgot."
"That's right," she replied. "Because ah might see Cory here today and want to flirt weeth him if I see him. Ha ha ha!"
Gabby rolled her eyes. "Of course. I should have known that you don't even care about the artwork. Just the magnificence of some guy you can see anytime."
"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, don't say that, Gabby. I like aht too. See? I painted my nails bloo and purple just to make you happy. Ha ha!"
Reiko held up her fingers to her face so Gabby could see her nails and it made her laugh. "You are a real piece of work, girl. C'mon, let's go inside before we miss the tour." They turned and briskly walked up the marble stairs to the doors. Before they entered Gabby quietly asked. "You wouldn't... happen to have any breath mints, would you?"
They stepped inside and marvelled at the interior of the building. Overhead, golden chandeliers with sparkling crystals hung from the high ceiling. The floor of the main lobby had black-and-white checkered tile, very shiny like someone had just waxed it, and in the distance she could see that the floors and walls in the halls had their own unique color schemes and themes. It was all a feast for the eyes and just as artistic as the items the building held.
Finally, after a few moments of awe, Gabby pulled herself away and they came to the desk for admission. With that taken care of, they passed between the red velvet ropes and rushed to a growing crowd gathered not far ahead, waiting for the tour to begin. There were men and women of different ages and colors, college students, high school students like them, and squirming young children. While Reiko and Gabby waited patienly, they talked about subjects like schoolwork, their other friends, TV shows, and, of course, boys. In just a few minutes...
"Hello everyone! Welcome to the museum." A woman who looked to be in her early-30s stepped towards them and greeted them with a bright smile. She wore a red dress covered with abstract shapes of varying colors and had brown eyes behind thin-frame glasses. Her hair was cruly and an autumn brown. She spoke with enthusiasm and made eye contact with everyone.
"My name is Miss Kadreskew." she said. "I'm glad to have the opportunity to give you this tour and help you learn a few fascinating facts about the artwork you're going to see. This is my first time to do this, of course, but I'm looking forward to it. Is everyone here?" She peered over their heads to see if anyone else was coming. "Well, I'll tell you some facts about the museum and that should give a little extra time for anyone else who wants to come with us."
The guide spent a few minutes talking about the museum, the idea for it, the funding, the construction, from where they received the art, and more facts that would bore some but Gabby found fascinated. Then she looked at her watch and signalled they were ready to go and walked down the hall with the crowd close behind her. Gabby could feel excitement in her bones that some of the others appeared to lack. It must be a God-given desire and talent, she thought. Not everyone can like the same stuff and that's okay.
Soon, she stopped beside a large canvas on a wall and everyone looked up. It was an abstract painting of criss-crossing black lines covered in places by messy splashes of red, blue, green, yellow, and orange. Although it seemed very chaotic and random, Gabby liked the mixture of structure with no structure and thought she could find some emotions in it... like maybe anger and happiness. Kadreskew held up her hand to it.
"This painting is believed to be the oldest one in the museum. It didn't always look like this but came to be over a long period of time. Experts believe that this canvas was left on the floor of a building surrounded by several cans of paint. One day the cans exploded from extreme heat and the colors splashed onto it. After 23.5 years, the paint changed shape, and moved around, until it dried and became what you see now."
Loud giggling suddenly arose from the back of the group and the guide turned to find Gabby and Reiko covering their mouths and whispering to each other.
"Is something funny?" she asked, more serious now and slightly annoyed.
"What?" asked Gabby. "Of course it's funny. Paint cans exploding? Isn't is obvious that... wait. You weren't joking? You're being serious?" She looked at the rest of the group and saw that most of them had straight faces, save the children who were goofing off.
Kadreskew nodded. "Yes. Please be respectful and quiet during the tour. You'll know if I'm joking." She slowly regained her enthusiam. "Okay, on to the next piece."
The second painting they came to was a truly beautiful work. It depicted an old man and woman sitting together on a porch swing of a big log cabin, watching their grandchildren running around in the grass and laughing while a black labradore chased them around and three cats watched. Behind the cabin stood the grand and stunning moutains of Montana. Gabby looked closer and spotted some animals in the distanct hills: some bison, wolves, and a even bear in the midst of a pine forest. The sun rested half-way behind the mountains and was either rising or setting, Gabby guessed setting.
The guide spoke again. "This painting is at a more advanced stage than the previous one. It too was hit by an explosion of paint cans with every color of the rainbow. But this time the colors changed shades to be lighter or darker, and also formed into much more advanced shapes. Over a much longer period of time, probably 76.2 years, it transformed into this beautiful artwork."
This time Gabby wasn't laughing. She raised her hand.
"Do you have a question?" she asked politely. "I'm sorry but please hold all questions until the end of the tour. I forgot to mention that earlier."
Gabby asked it anyways. "Uh... I don't mean to sound rude but... how can you say this was made by accident? You can clearly tell that someone made this. Look at all of the details, the expressions on their faces, and how everything resembles things we've all seen before. Is it coincidence that it looks like Montana instead of just blah? And..." she poined at the bottom right of the painting, "How did someone's name get here?"
Kadreskew sighed but remained polite. "Well, it may appear to certain minds to have been made intentionally by someone, but the experts have careflully studied these kind of paintings for a long time and know how it happened. These theories have been tested repeatedly and are quite reliable. And... maybe someone added their name to it later to try to take credit. Who knows?"
Gabby frowned. "But--"
"I'm sorry but we have to keep moving so we don't lose time. Follow me and we'll see our first sculpture."
They continued walking and Reiko put her arm around her friend's shoulder. "Ahm sorry, Gabby," she whispered. "This isn't what you expected, huh? I wondah why she's talking like that?"
Gabby sighed and shrugged. She didn't know either, and dreaded what else the guide had to teach them. Was this all a big joke or something?
They turned a corner and arrived at the sculpture. It was a grand limestone statue of a soldier. He was still in uniform and kneeling on the ground, one hand holding a sword and the other covering his grief-ridden face. Maybe he regrets killing so many people, she thought. Maybe a good friend of his died and he couldn't save him. Or maybe his family was killed in a war. Or his whole town. What is this lady going to say this time?
Kadreskew stopped beside it, and the crowd stopped too. "This here is probably my favorite pieces of art in the museum. We believe it began as just a large boulder at the base of a cliff and over hundreds of years, smaller rocks fell off the cliff and chipped at it, breaking off pieces to form the arms, legs, head, and the rest of it. The more delicate parts like the eyes and fingers likely came when it fell in a swiftly moving river and bumped against other rocks. Someone found it like this and preserved it so it wouldn't fall apart and we could enjoy it today."
Gabby grit her teeth but tried to keep her patience. "Ma'am, forgive me for interrupting but... how can you be serious?! A two-dimensional picture is one thing, but a three-dimensional object like this... has a less than zero chance of coming by accident. Why are you lying to us? Why won't you acknowledge the artists of these works? They would be outraged if they were here now!"
Kadreskew sighed again. "Young lady, I know what I'm talking about. I'm sorry that people told you wrong and made you believe these things. I don't want to upset you but this is fact."
"Okay, but if these came by accident then does that mean this whole building..." she motioned around herself, "came by accident too? The inside, the outside... everything?"
"No, that would be absurd. We witnessed the construction workers build this over time and know it was made. However, we didn't see anyone make these items so we have to conclude they were formed by chance."
Gabby raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean no one saw them make it? There must have been some friends and family that were there while they worked on them. Why do you 'have' to conclude chance instead of intentional art?"
"Again, I'm sorry but we must keep moving. Let's talk about it later when we're finished."
Through the rest of the tour, the tourists continued to behold magnificent works of art and the well-educated guide continued to explain their origins and development in the most unemotional and scientific ways possible (even the photographs and ceramics). Gabby grew more and more sour and Reiko apologized over and over. She asked if Gabby would like to leave but the strong-willed teen refused and wanted to see the rest of the masterpieces. She decided to keep her mouth closed the rest of the time.
Finally, they were on the way to the last painting and Gabby gasped. She had seen this picture before. It was one of her favorite oil paintings ever and she felt like she knew practically everything about it. She felt overjoyed to be able to see a copy of it in person. There was no way anyone was going to steal credit from this one. A look of disgust and determination crept into her face. Reiko soon noticed and looked concerned.
"Gabby... what ah you going to do? Please don't embarrass yoself!"
It was no use. Before the guide could come within several feet of the sacred canvas, Gabby ran around past the others to the front and jumped in front of her. Everyone looked surprised and confused.
"People, please listen," she pleaded. "I want to tell you how this great art was really made. A good man by the name of Jon Christopher painted this and you can see his signature right here at the top right. The face of the old woman in the center of the painting is his wife. Before she died of sickness, he wanted to have a way to remember her precious smiling face. So he took all his stuff into her room and painted this beside her so he could talk with her and make it look perfect."
Kadreskew scowled. "Excuse me, miss."
Gabby contiued. "See the beautiful wrinkled face? The silver gray hair? The blue eyes sparkling like a lake in a summer afternoon? He worked on this for days without stopping to make it just right. And this is my favorite part. Do you see the planet Earth behind her? Do you know why he made that?" She could feel tears welling up. "He made that because she meant more than the world to him! More than anything else."
"Excuse me, but--"
"And just hours before her death, he was able to finish it and show it to her. It made her so happy that she held him and cried with joy. After she passed away he hung up the painting in his house where he could always see it. It was his favorite work of art and he refused to sell it to anyone during the rest of his life. And I KNOW this is true because I read it from a very trustworthy book that some 'smart people' probably don't believe. I'm not crazy." She turned to the guide and said, "How would YOU feel if you made something like this, pouring your whole heart into it with sweat and tears, working on it for years, and then someone came along and said it was just an incredible series of mindless accidents guided by nothing? If that was me... I would be sick. I hope my art never comes within a mile of this horrible place! NEVER!"
With that she spun on her heals and marched down the hall towards the exit, upset and disappointed. Reiko ran after her and put her arm around her again while the rest just stared. Some looked confused, some of them laughed until their sides hurt, and some also had teary eyes.
Miss Kadreskew adjusted her glasses and played with her hair, embarrassed. "I apologize for that, ladies and gentlemen.... I had no idea that would happen. She'll be fine. She just needs some time to realize the truth and will understand some day. Let's finish up now."
*-*-* ORIGINAL ENDING *-*-*
*-*-* NEW ENDING>> *-*-*
As the two girls exited the building and descended the steps, Gabby complained, "I can't believe how stupid that was! We actually paid money for that? This could be one of the biggest letdowns ever. What was wrong with that woman? How can they let someone like her work there? How come no one else questioned her but me?"
Reiko sighed. "I know. But we still have time to hang out and have fun. Let's do something else and fohget about this. What do you want to do?"
"Me?" she asked dumbstruck. "Ha! You get to pick this time, girl. Don't let me make another terrible choice like that or I promise that I'll have to beat myself with a--"
"Excuse me?" said a voice from behind. They turned around and saw a young man briskly walking towards them. He was tall with short golden blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, and looked to be just a little older than them. As soon as Gabby saw him her eyes opened wide and her brain suddenly ceased to function properly. For a moment she couldn't say a word.
He didn't appear to notice her reaction and spoke without waiting, looking at the girls and then the ground. "Hi, I'm... Joshua. I just wanted to... you know... say that I was really impressed how you... stood up for your beliefs and stuff... in front of all of those people. And you have a cool hair style too. I mean... uh... what was I trying to say? Do you think you coud... tell me more about the artists you know? And stuff?"
Seeing the young man's nervous reaction made Gabby laugh inside and helped her relax. She grinned and played with her hair while Reiko turned around and tried not to laugh out loud.
"Yeah, I'd be happy to tell you the little I know. My name is Gabby and this is my best friend Reiko. How about... we all sit on that bench over there so we're more comfortable?" She grabbed his wrist to his surprise and dragged him over to the bench. "We'll get you all straightened out and maybe kill some of those jitterbugs too."
Reiko followed close behind and said slyly, "What was it that you said to me earliah today, Gabby?"
She roller her eyes. "Oh just be quiet."
Small facts: 1. Even though I don't like most country music, I mentioned "Live like you were dying" because I love the message and music of that song (and it reveals more about the girl's interests). 2. I'm not really much of an artist, in case you're wondering, though I do enjoy good art. 3. I visited Montana not long ago with my Dad and brother and we stayed with our relatives for a few days. It was way fun and unforgettable. (funforgettable?) 4. The name Kadreskew came from someone named Andre Kadreskew, who said something mean-spirited about Christians and I don't want to repeat it.
By the way, if you have ideas for how the museum should look, a better name for the tour guide, or a better title please let me know. Other title concepts I had in mind included Of Art and Axioms, A Trip to the Art and Axiom Museum, A Trip to the Art and Science Museum.
* FaithArtists anyone? =)
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