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Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes

LV: Present

Because of the larger student body, high school had two art teachers—Mr. Reading and Mrs. Yue—neither of whom seemed interested in the least in their students. Mr. Reading spoke with a slow, nasally voice and forced Art I students through the most mundane projects recycled ad nauseam over the eight years he’d been teaching. His boredom rubbed off on every student, including Brendon, and even when Brendon sought extra advice or critique, Mr. Reading’s response was generally low-effort and dismissive.

“He can’t be bothered, Mom,” explained Brendon over dinner. “Like he’s got a script and doesn’t know how to do anything but follow it.”

“You complained about Mr. Wexlar too and he ended up not being too bad,” his mother countered.

“That was different. Entirely.”

The differences became more and more pronounced, for where Mr. Wexlar had been critical, with eyes that missed absolutely nothing, Mr. Reading couldn’t have been more ambivalent. When Brendon mentioned The Bayscape and his new piece going up in October, Mr. Reading snorted and made a comment that aimed to be derogatory against Mrs. Pierceman in the most subtlest of ways.

Brendon didn’t repeat the comment to Mrs. Pierceman, but he did ask if she knew Mr. Reading. She shook her head with a sad tut-tut of her tongue against her teeth. “Man’s about as bitter as a lemon. Don’t you listen to a word he says. Except when he’s teaching portraits. He’s a fair hand at them. Tried to make a living and failed, but that’s because he doesn’t know how to market, not because he’s a poor artist.”

“Have you showcased any of his work here?”

He’d been helping organize the showing, passing printouts back and forth as she studied small photos of larger work to see what complemented.

“I don’t imagine Mr. Reading thinks my little gallery good enough for his work. Shame, really.” Then she looked up at him, her red lipstick showing cracks and loose wisps of hair falling to her round cheeks. “Don’t you fall for his arrogance. People are how you succeed, Brendon. People, not talent.”

Mr. Wexlar had said something similar, hadn’t he, in his own way. Twice over, in fact, giving Brendon his first true lesson concerning audience.

Mrs. Pierceman swapped two photos, placing Brendon’s contribution where it would sit at eyelevel on one of the main walls. Then she added in a murmur, “And people are all very different.”


Next Chapter Coming Feb 17th!