The Life and Times of an Artist’s Muse

I’m famous in a shitty kind of way.  I’m not known for a scientific breakthrough, or for winning an academy award, or for writing a book.  Not even for performing an heroic deed.  Nobody except for my immediate family and a small group of friends actually knows my name.

But my face and my body, ah!  Those everyone recognizes, or at the very least everyone in “the know”.  But I suppose that’s all part and parcel to being the model (and boyfriend, and housekeeper, and errand boy, and psychiatrist, and and and) for a famous artist.  Now HIS name is the one everyone knows.

Maximillian Braun has been lauded as the 21st century Michaleangelo, and his fame is international in scope.  At age 58 (a veritable spring chicken in the septuagenarian art community) he already has work in the greatest museums on the planet including, but not limited to, the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Tate, the MOMA, and the Guggenheim.

At present, we are ensconced in our rather luxurious 5th Avenue apartment in New York in order to make Axim relax while the finishing touches are being placed on a new exhibit.  This show will contain some of his edgiest work to date, and Axim is his typical mess of insecurities.  I try to reassure him with a kiss now and again, but he tastes of cherry flavored Tums.

Truth be told, I can’t say I’m wild about the new direction his work is taking as of late.  His art doesn’t even pretend to look like me anymore.  Frankly, it doesn’t look like much of anything but a jumble of fractured ideas. I find myself questioning if he has reached the end of his artistic career.  Or more to the point, if perhaps I have reached the end his artistic career.  He would never admit that of course, although he probably should.

At one point I actually entertained the idea of leaving him. But of course I couldn’t.  I can’t.  If I left him, my departure would break him and he would be finished as an artist.  How dizzying and how terrible to know you hold that much sway over someone, and yet also knowing you were completely impotent in the face of it.  Like giving a freezing man a match and a stack of Van Goghs. 

            *                 *                 * 

Axim and I met when I was a wise lad of 18 and he a juvenile man of 38.  He was already fairly well established in the art community at that point, but he was more of what you would call a “run of the mill” famous artist.  Locally famous and generally well-to-do, but not known much past the borders of tiny east coast art community.  We met at an art gallery, naturally.  He was the featured artist at a fairly tony place on the Lower East Side, I forget the name.

I was working as a waiter at the gala evening, walking around the room with a tray of champagne just like in all the movies.  Only the movies never really show you how uncomfortable the waiters are while walking around the room with that tray of champagne, feeling completely trapped between the stiff catering outfit and the cold shoulders of the social illuminati.

So there I was, edging through the room when this handsome, if somewhat eccentric-looking, man comes up and takes the last champagne flute off my tray.  Relieved of my crystalline burden, I lowered the tray and prepared to make my way hastily back to the serving room when the man starts talking to me.

“What do you think of these?” he asked while trying to look rather innocent.

I may have been young, but I was in no way naive.  This was merely a prelude to yet another sexual overture.  I’d been around the block enough at age 18 that I could spot at about fifty paces when an older man was attracted to me.  And believe me quite a few of them were attracted in those days.  For I had been blessed with an angelic face and a rather sinful body, both of which I took completely for granted.  My good looks were my tools, my currency, and my passport as it turned out.

Normally I would have turned on the charm in order to wangle a good meal and a warm bed out of him, but tonight I was grumpy and just not into the game.  Besides, I was earning legitimate cash this evening.

“I haven’t looked at anything yet, sir.  But I believe it all may be a bit out of my price range.” I replied rather dryly. 

He chuckled good-naturedly yet continued to look expectantly at me with his sparkling eyes, honestly waiting for a comment on the art at hand.  And because the prospect of returning immediately for another platterful of drinks was not all that appealing, I decided I could risk another minute or two of procrastination.  So I looked.

We were standing in front of a very nontraditional triptych comprised of two, medium sized paintings hanging on either side of a third, rather unique object.  The paintings bracketed a plain, low, wooden pedestal upon which sat a largish glass orb of sorts.  All three pieces were linked in color and in imagery, with the main theme being a rather stuffy-looking family portrait of people that seemed almost familiar somehow.  Even though it was a single display, each piece had a completely individual character of its own.

On the left was a rather faithful rendition of the portrait.  It actually looked like a matte photograph, yet I could tell it was made of paint.  The people in the picture weren’t smiling, much like one of those “olde time” photographs and they looked almost as anachronistic. 

The painting on the right was similar to the first but hard to describe.  It still had the characteristic of a portrait, but the figures were distorted, not in their general shape, for they were still recognizable.  But in expression and color and media, each figure was ‘altered’.  They had some featured which looked real, and some which appeared false and out of place and not altogether human.  The effect was rather eerie.  But it was the middle object that drew my eye and held it.

On the pedestal sat a mostly spherical orb made of what appeared to be glass.  The image of the family in the portrait was contained in the sphere, yet all their features were stretched and warped, like the photo was viewed through a bubble lens or a funhouse mirror.

I walked up more closely to the orb and I could see that the image was not painted on, but actually created painstakingly with pigments infused inside the glass.  The portrait actually carried around to the backside causing the whole picture to wrap upon itself in one continuous loop.  I think I was smiling as I looked at it, and actually giggled when I got up close.

“Wow- that’s awesome,” I managed.  “Now THAT took some time to do… and some imagination.”

“What about the other two pieces that go with it?” the gentleman inquired.

“Well, I understand why they are all shown together, and in general I like the whole display grouping, but the paintings are just, well, color and canvas.  And they serve their purpose of showcasing the middle work.  Now the ball thing- that really stands out as being something special.  It is just a cool concept and its 3-D and it had to be specifically and carefully created.  That’s skill in my book.  And the whole distortion idea is just incredible.  Seeing it makes me want to tell the artist to rescue the whole display from this place so it doesn’t end up in some Long Island J.A.P.’s foyer.  The whole thing should go into a proper museum.”

I looked up from the sphere and met the gaze of the gentleman.  He was starting at me with such intensity that I suddenly I felt very naked.  I realized that I had been gushing freely to one of the ritzy-titsy art patrons of the gallery, and had completely dropped my waiter armor.

“Well, that’s my opinion.  And now I really must get back to fulfilling my purpose here.”  I said, trying my best to rescue my surly compensatory facade.  I turned abruptly on my heel and left a somewhat stunned and intrigued gentleman in my wake.

At the end of the evening I learned that the man with whom I had been seen so inappropriately chatting, was of course none other than the soon to be world-renown Axim Braun.  Evidently he enjoys asking neophytes about his art as a way of searching out and receiving honest feedback.  Axim also, as it turned out, had a penchant for handsome and feisty young men.

As I was pulling on my coat and getting ready to head out the door, I saw Axim standing there waiting.  All I could think about was escaping that stuffy gallery and spending some of my newly acquired wages on some dinner.  I really wanted to avoid the coming scene of me rejecting the advances of this poor man; all my future held was a burger, some fries and some solitude.  I decided to perform a preemptive strike, and was about to speak when he surprised me.

 “I agree with you,” he said rather matter-of-factly.  “I agree that the piece should be rescued from this wretched place.  I wanted to tell you that, but you left so quickly that I never got the opportunity.”

“Yeah, well… I call ‘em as I see ‘em,” I replied, in the hopes that this would be the end of conversation.  It wasn’t.

“So you liked Surrender Oz, did you?”  he asked, a smile playing on his lips.  It was then that the familiarity of the portrait became apparent.

“The people in the picture were the characters from the Wizard of Oz, weren’t they?  The actors, I mean.  But they were sort of out of context and manipulated and not in costume.  Clever.”  I again found myself smiling, impressed by the layers to the art I had seen.

“Yes, I rather enjoy playing with things– making them look not wholly like the vision they present to the world.  More realistic in a way… and idealistic.”  He was staring again with that same intensity.  Only this time I didn’t feel uncomfortable as much as irked.

“So… what?  The self-important artist descends from his high horse to ask the ignorant young waiter for a critique of his art.  Is it some sort of a game for you?  Ha-ha lets see what this dickhead says?  What if I said I’d hated it, or that it was ugly and not worth the goddamn money?  Would you still be here talking to me and trying to get me to suck your cock?  Or would that merely have added to the whole play aspect for you?”  I shot back angrily and rather loudly.  For the second time that evening I felt naked and unprotected so I lashed out with my best weapon: bluntness.

I don’t think Axim was used to being talked to in this manner.  For a solid 10 seconds he merely stared at me with his mouth slightly agape.  I think he was processing how a boy with such a cherubic face could speak so harshly.  But then he burst out laughing, obviously tickled at the juxtaposition.  This made me color even deeper.

“I like your style,” he said while his laughter was winding down.  “So we’re putting all our cards on the table are we?  Okay, then.  My name is Maximillian Braun, but everyone calls me Axim.  And yes, being the artist I was feeling insecure enough about my work to solicit opinions from people who don’t know me and therefore aren’t sucking up or otherwise telling me what they think I want to hear.  And finally, I think you are a beautiful young man and I would love nothing more than to buy you dinner and get to know you a little better.”

 Axim always had the gift of charm (still does), and charmed I was in spite of everything.  I think it was his smile, which had always been so completely genuine, and the crinkles around his eyes that scrunch up and make his eyes cheerful slits.  My rancor quickly subsided, and while I was pondering his offer my stomach growled audibly.  If it hadn’t been for that growl, my life may have turned out quite differently.“Come on, you must be famished after an evening of serving High Society.  My car is outside.  We’ll eat anywhere you choose.” 

We ate that first meal together at a small diner in Brooklyn, and have had most of our meals together ever since.  Axim and I have since dined at some of the most posh restaurants in the world, but it is that meal that I remember the most vividly.  It was playful and fun, full of flirting and laughter and innuendo.  We had burgers and fries, and talked for hours in that booth.  After the meal (for which I insisted on paying), I allowed myself to be led back to Axim’s condo, where we made love the rest of the night.

 I generally hesitate to use the phrase “made love” because I detest it so very much.  I think it sounds hokey and false when someone uses it, like spurious hollywood plot dialogue.  But truly that’s what we did.  We connected more than just physically during the sex.  I believe we became transcendent in a way that is quite impossible to describe.  It was like nothing I had ever experienced before– or since.   Sometime during the wee hours while we slept, a transformation occurred.  My life ceased to me mine alone, and instead became bound to Axim’s.  The fringe of my soul somehow became knotted and woven into Axim and his studio and his art. 

When I awoke, I was inextricably and synergistically part of Axim’s world.  I was his muse.

                        *      *      *

Axim became an international sensation two years after we met.  It was at that time when he first acquired the label of the New Age Michelangelo, and I “David”.  But I get ahead of myself.

After that first night together, I casually awoke from a dreamless sleep only to find that I was quite alone in Axim’s large bed.  However, Axim was not far away; he was seated in a chair next to the bed, sketching furiously on a lap board. “Don’t Move!” he commanded harshly.  And then gently,  “Please.  I just want to capture this one last detail…”.   

So I lay still amidst the snowy white down comforter and sheets, trying desperately to retain whatever posture I had prior to waking up.

“You are so beautiful,” he whispered.  “So like an angel, or a god lounging atop Mount Olympus.”

I blushed at the compliment.  However, my pleasure at being the object of such admiration soon gave way to frustration, as my limbs started falling asleep and I grew weary of lying still.  Little did I realize that my life would from now on would consist mostly of as little movement as possible.

After what seemed an hour, I had had enough.  “Mr. Braun- I need to get up.  I mean, I really gotta pee,” I grimmaced.  And not waiting for approval, I sat up.  It was then that I noticed the movement.

A moth was trapped between the curtain and the window, and was fluttering helplessly.  My bladder momentarily forgotten, I stood upon the bed and with cupped hands began reaching for the poor creature.  Naturally a minor chase ensued, but eventually I trapped the moth in the hollow of my hands.  I could feel the desperate flutter of its wings; I could empathize with its fear of the darkness and the closeness of the fleshy cage. 

“Axim, open the window so I can set him free, ok?”  I asked as I focused intently on my hands.  But there was no movement.  “Mr. Braun?”

When I looked around, I saw that Axim had a camera and was clicking pictures of me, standing naked on his bed with a raging piss hardon while holding a tiny insect in my hands.  I guess my confrontation of the camera finally broke the moment.

“Axim!  Put down the goddamn camera and open the fucking window!”  I shouted.  I really had to pee badly, and was severly losing my patience.

The camera was placed gently on the nightstand, and the window was cranked open as requested.  I squeezed my still cupped hands past the curtains, and opened them.  For a few seconds the moth hesitated, and then without adieu, sprang silently from my hand and drifted off toward the trees.  Having released that burden, I made a mad dash to the bathroom to relieve myself of a second one. 

When I finally came out of the bathroom, Axim was nowhere to be found.  I began to get nervous.  I thought perhaps I had upset him with my yelling.  Those pictures, along with my pressure on him to do more sculputral work, would be the genesis of a piece that would consume the next two years, and then define our lives ever after.

                  *           *           *

The unveiling was at the Guggenheim.   The press surrounding the affair was of unimaginable proportions.  During the years it took to complete, the work had taken on an almost mythical status and elevated Axim to somewhat “Star” status in the art world.  This was, of course, back when the art world still meant something.

Axim was a nervous wreck, of course.  His status within the community had been steadily growing like a wave at sea, and now was the time for the wave to break on the shore.  I guess Axim was trapped in that breathless moment after the wave crests, but before it crashes.  And perhaps we were both a bit trepidacious of what would come after.

Finally the breathless moment ended.  The curtain was dropped and the wave crashed.  So many flashbulbs went off that I thought that this is what Hiroshima must have been like.  His piece was an immediate sensation and his place in the art world assured thereafter.

The sculpture was big, naturally.  Ever since our first night together, Axim thought of everything on a very grand scale.  And it was a statue of me- or mostly of me, anyway.  I do feel gratified in the knowledge that he didn’t use any ‘artistic license’ with the proportions of my body.

It was vaguely reminiscent of Michaelangelo’s David, but only as much as David and I were both youth captured perfectly in sculptural form.  Axim’s work far outstripped Michaelangelo’s, though, in scale and complexity.

I was represented nearly identically to how I was that first morning.  Naked, with an erection, muscles tense, yet gently cupping a moth in my hands.  Only now I was 20 feet tall and had wings and a helmet.  If that were the entire work, it would be fairly unremarkable.  He did an amazing job capturing my form; it was so realistic in every detail.  But what made the work stand out as exceptional was within the sculpture.

Axim developed a new material for the work.  It was a resin of sorts that was transparent and structurally very sound.  But color could be added to it to create whatever effect was desired.  The substructure- or innermost part- of the sculpture had the look and texture of marble.  But layered above the base, floating in a transparent resinous skin, were pictures and images that swirled around my legs, arms and torso. 

Black and white and color photographs of people and places, of war, of starvation, of children playing, of architectural marvels, of his immigrant mother, of me, all wrapped about the tormented god like so much windblown trash. 

The images at the bottom were darker and more violent, and as the images progressed up the statue, they got lighter and more hopeful.  I was particularly mortified (and pleased) by the placement of his mother’s picture around my hard penis.  Axim’s sense of irony always took a bit of getting used to.

I guess in Axim’s wonderful, multilayered style, the piece was his political statement and his homage to the Greeks.  I took on the characters of Prometheus, Hermes, and Pandora all in one.  I was winged and helmed like Mercury- bringing a message to everyone.  I had the torment of Prometheus for bringing the gift, and in the cages of my fingers, hope fluttered and was retained for the human race.

One could spend hours looking at all the images within the statue and always see something new.  And of course everything was somehow linked is a mysterious and magical way.  I think that is what made the piece so popular with the art critics and with the general populace.

                  *                 *                 *

Thinking back to that time, I would liken the unveiling of the modern David to the liftoff of a rocket upon which I had managed to smuggle myself.  In fact, in my childhood I had seen a movie with just such a premise, where a child had somehow successfully stowed his way onboard a space capsule and then found himself trapped in all the pleasures and perils of spaceflight.  This was just such a ride for me.

Honestly I don’t recall much after the opening; everything happened so fast and I had no control over anything.  I was strapped to Maxim’s rocket and it was very disquieting, especially for someone who had been autonomous his whole young life.

It was a year of non-stop parties and gallery openings and events and invitations.  Some might think this would be an exhilarating lifestyle and be quite jealous of Axim and me.  And I do admit that for the first month or so it was extremely exciting and fun.  But one grows weary of always having social obligations.  Of always being “on”.  And believe me, I had to be continually charming and crass and outspoken.  It was expected. 

I was the young, handsome, “fresh from the street” interloper.  I was very much a novelty in this world. I was a novelty act of sorts, always expected to offer an unfettered perspective on things.  I had the pleasure of being in their group but not ‘of’ it.  Therefore I was exempt from their social morays, and they found that refreshing.  God, the pressure they exuded!

 We finally touched back down to earth a year later, and I literally kissed the ground.  I remember it vividly, as it was the first Friday night that we did not have some function or party to attend.  Axim was in sweatpants and a t-shirt and I was only clad in boxer shorts.  It was finally a relaxing Friday at home, and it felt very much like gravity had finally taken hold again.

I was standing in our living room when this though sank in, and as soon as I realized the enormity of it, I sank to my knees and salaamed to the hardwood floor. I would have been quite content with this pared-down existence, of just me and Axim and no plans.  But naturally, the quietude was short-lived.

Commissions started rolling in and Axim went back to work.  His artistic vision was now not on so grand a scale, but each piece was nearly as time-consuming.  He was back to mixing media and styles- creating bold and different works of art.  But in each, my figure seemed to play a role.  My face or body was featured in every piece of his art in some form or another. 

Sometimes the work was so abstract that unless he pointed it out, I had no idea that I had been incorporated.  For one of his larger commissions, he based the sculpture on a footprint I made in the resin dust in his studio. (The results were stellar, I must admit).

We had a steady but manageable stream of parties and dinner invitations and openings and celebrations over the next four years.  I kept busy by going back to school and by working out.  Bettering my mind and my body as it were. 

I ended up getting a degree in literature from NYU at age 25, which was an accomplishment of which I was quite proud.  I now felt more on an equal (if not slightly elevated) footing with the social group into which I had been thrust.  I had also developed from a waifish youth of eighteen, to a well-developed, muscular, slightly hairy man.  The changes met with Axim’s approval and were readily incorporated into his art.

     *                       *                       *

Axim’s first affair was rather devastating to me, moreso than I care to admit.  It came at the ten-year mark in our relationship when his trajectory had leveled off a bit.  The only thing that made it bearable for me was that it was with a man who was 45 years old and married.

This man and his wife (I will call them G and A) were great admirers of Axim’s work.  They had been patrons for a few years, yet only recently had they ascended(descended?) into the 9th circle of the Art World.  They were now grand hosts of parties- mostly on their yacht.  They also had taken to inviting us to more and more dinner parties.

Gradually the dinner parties became just dinner with them and a few friends.  Then it was dinner with just them.  And then occasionally it turned to ‘dinner with the boys’ when the wife had other functions.  It was at these threesome dinner events when the flirting became most obvious.

G. was a very intelligent and charming man, and not without his physical attributes.  And I must admit, he was a master craftsman at the art of manipulation.  It was no wonder to me how he rose to his current status after witnessing him in action.  He flirted obviously with Axim yet also showed me just the right amount of attention so as not to be exclusive.  He cracked witty jokes and praised Axim’s ability.

But after fawning over him, he would then ask seemingly innocent questions that would insinuate themselves into Axim’s psyche and plant seeds of self-doubt.  Questions like, “So, when will be seeing something new and earth-shattering from the great and talented Maximillian Braun?”  You see, G. knew full well that Axim was in the midst of a creative drought.  And Axim, with all of his old insecurities and need for external validation, was completely taken in. 

I learned a lot about the art of manipulation from G.

Looking back, I think I knew an affair was a foregone conclusion, but deluded myself into believing that it wasn’t going to happen.  Axim began “working” in his studio again- spending more and more evenings there.  And I dutifully played my part by not asking to see any of his work.  Ignorance IS bliss, after all.  Eventually, he started coming in later and later, even after I had gone to bed.  And then one night he didn’t even come home. That was the night- the only night- that I cried.

My self-induced bliss was eventually shattered by A.  She called one afternoon, out of the blue, and asked if I might be free for lunch.  I give myself credit for only hesitating for a fraction of a second before replying that I was indeed free.  One must keep up appearances after all, and ten years in the art society had taught me well how to keep a facade properly maintained. We agreed to meet at a newly trendy restaurant in midtown.

The choice of restaurant meant that we would undoubtedly be seen together by people in our community.  Naturally this would get back to Axim and G., which is precisely what A. wanted.  After all, what else could our lunch possibly mean other than the fact that we “knew” what was going on between them- which of course we did.  This was the most utterly sublime way of confronting them.  A. was a pedagogue in the art of passive aggression.  I believe Sun Tzu could have learned a thing or two from this couple.

Lunch was pleasant other than the inevitable discussion. I credit her for keeping discussion light until dessert.  And her broaching of the subject was brilliant.  It was quite elegant the way she said, “You know they are having an affair,” while delicately cracking the top of her creme brulee. 

“Are you bothered more by the fact that G is sleeping with Axim, or by the wispers about it?”  I replied.

As it turns out, G had played with men before, but because of the profile of this particular affair, her pride was more greatly wounded.  She needed this affair to end, and it was time.  This lunch was sort of a courtesy notification- not only to the offending parties, but to me as well.  She was the pinnacle of social grace, and my esteem for her only increased.  We both agreed to wait one more week to see if it ended ‘naturally’.  After that, she would be forced to confront G directly.

We finished our meal and our conversation on good terms, gave each other a long hug of solidarity, and went our separate ways.  It was four days later that Axim came to bed again.

As he sat on the edge of the bed, I looked at him and said, “It’s good to have you back.” He sighed, a long, slow, deflating sort of sigh, and then replied, “I’m sorry that I’ve been…. away.” 

I sat up, put my arm around him, kissed the back of his neck and said, “I love you,” before laying back down and rolling over.  The bed vibrated with Axim’s sobs.

I felt marginally guilty about the ‘I love you’ comment, mainly because I didn’t really love him.  Oh, I suppose that in a way I did love him, but only as much as a caged pet loves his owner.  The pet may love the security, the attention, the food and the home, but there will always be some resentment about being caged.  It’s hard to love when you aren’t free.

So why did I say it then?  To exact a modicum of revenge.  Axim had made me cry for the first time in years, so I felt the need to return the favor in some way.  Having my own affair would perhaps be viewed by some to be the logical path,and on some level I do believe Axim would have preferred that I had.  But you see, it was just not possible. 

It is the duty of the caged to offer unconditional love and acceptance.  To always be there, to never stray or attempt to run away.  To always wait patiently and obediantly for your master’s return, even while resenting his absence.  Eventually the responsibility becomes a more effective cage than iron bars.

      *                       *                       *

Axim of course pulled himself out of his creative lull and soon began wowing the art community with new and “important” pieces.  But things had fundamentally shifted between us.  I don’t even know how to describe the change other than by saying at first it felt as if a tiny crack had developed in our relationship, where before we had been so tightly welded.  It was an infinitesimal crack at first, much like the crazing in fine porcelain.  But over time, the crack widened to a great rift, with all of our unspoken things filling the gulf between us like an ocean.

We still were very much ensconced in the art world, and we maintained our role of the celebrated couple well.  Axim had several more affairs, this time with younger and younger men, but I ceased to feel anything but interest.  It became like watching an event through opera glasses:  colorful and engaging, but the distance tempered the emotional impact.

But it was more than just a distance between Axim and me, there was also an elevation change between us.  While we were growing apart, I was also slowly being raised by Axim.  His belief in my unwaivering devotion, however misguided, had made me more perfect in his eyes. The term ‘placed on a pedestal’ was never more appropriate.  I was now not only the inspiration for his work, I had become an idol of sorts.  Or better yet, perhaps I had finally become that god atop Mount Olympus that Axim had seen that morning so long ago. 

I think that is why his new art has lost nearly all vestiges of my true form.  He is now viewing me from afar and working from an idealized and romanticized version of me.  I had become his religion- an abstract thing that at best governed his actions, and at worst became something to pay lip service only.

Ironically, Axim’s newest art installation was being done at the Guggenheim, almost 20 years to the day of his first major event.  I hadn’t been in the building in over ten years, and I was confronted with a wash of emotion upon entering. 

As we walked through the building to check out the space, we passed in front of our “David”.  Axim didn’t even pause or look at it; he was far too busy chatting with his latest ‘admirer’ (we’ll call him M.) about his newest work. They were walking arm-in-arm in front of me so they didn’t notice me stop.

The statue (if you can call it that) struck me with awe.  I had forgotten the enormity of the work.  I had forgotten the power and the beauty of it.  I had forgotten the passion.  I had forgotten how young I was! 

Standing in the shadow of such greatness I found myself questioning my purpose in life.  At age 38, I was a bit long in the tooth to continue being a muse.  A muse is responsible for igniting passion within the artist, and I think only freshness and beauty can truly do that.  Axim seemed to be finding those two qualities more and more these days.

I should leave him.  I still had time in my life to do more, to be more.  To be my own person and to live and love and do whatever I wanted.  To be free!  I had a sudden, powerful urge to bolt for the door without ever looking back.  I believe that my legs actually twitched. 

But I found I couldn’t move.  Even though the doors were less than 50 feet away, I couldn’t leave.  People can leave their gods, but the gods can never truly leave their people.  And that I think is the strongest cage of all.

I stood there for quite some time and was not even aware that I was crying until M. came for me. “Are you alright?” he asked. 

“I’m fine, thank you.  This work just gets to me, that’s all.”  M. looked up at the statue for what was probably the first time.

“Wow!  Yeah, it really is kinda cool,” he said.  And then, almost as an afterthought he added, “You know, it kinda looks like you.”

I studied him as he peered up at the statue’s face.  M. truly did have angelic features.  “You know something?  I kind of looks like you too.”

Then I took his hand and said,  “Let’s go find Axim.”

4 Responses to The Life and Times of an Artist’s Muse

  1. Shirley! says:

    Somewhere, I have the words, but I don’t know them by heart, yet I need to comment right now so I can capture what I’m feeling.

    Chris, (it is Chris, right?) this is an amazing piece of writing. I have cast the characters in my mind, I smell Axim’s cologne, I can see NYC’s lights spilling across the floors in their loft.

    Just an amazing piece of writing and as a writer, I am humbled to say that I wish I had created these characters, this world and the strength in your protagonist.

    I just LOVE it. This needs an audience, exposure and an agent. Alas, I have none of those. Well, maybe the audience.

    Now, I hope you won’t mind…I found two spelling errors.

    When he is at lunch with A. it should be ” or by the whispers about it?” not wispers.
    “To always wait patiently and obediantly for your master’s return” it should be obediently.

    Or is that just the Canadian spelling.

    Regardless, I hope you don’t mind.

    This was beautiful, and if this is ever optioned as a film, I would love to play the role of Axim.

    Much admiration and respect,

  2. Ok, your writing is keeping me up way past my bedtime. Very addictive.

  3. Kenneth says:

    I have no idea who you are or how even I arrived at your site from the blogs I had been viewing. I’m not a writer so I won’t be able to articulate everything I want to say about this story.

    This is going to start off sounding really insulting, bear with me though. What pulled me into this story was it’s humor. I know it’s not a comedy, but it’s hilarious the way you effortlessly conjured up a sort of mid 90’s or late 80’s art scene, with a steady superficial undertone straight from Dynasty. As someone else commented they can see/smell these characters. These people are quite real. The idea of the new “Michelangelo/David” is as idiotic as the idea the person who reads this story and goes to the Guggenheim to view it.

    The setting is the cliche-correct? if I am wrong please tell me.

    There is some brilliance? Well, really quality moments within all of the nonsense. These people are quite real in their hurt, their realization of their own inadequacies, or their complete inability to recognize their terribly flawed personalities. I the core of the story is real, and anybody can find its truth and relate to one or both of the main characters.

    The two moments of brilliance for me are: “exact a modicum of revenge”, and “People can leave their gods, but the gods can never truly leave their people.” The first quote is just too clever to not love and respect. The second is powerful because it’s true. Gods can’t abandon their people. So brilliant because it’s a sympathetic statement for the character to make; a clever move on your part as you the writer almost had us. Lets remember what a sad and ridiculous people we’re dealing with. On that closing note to head off into the sunset in the delusional state of believing you’re a god, while simultaneously demonstrating ungodly action. -Brilliance!

    If this ever were a movie of the week, and maybe this is just me, but Parker Posey would just somehow have to be in it.

    Ken Hall
    Providence, RI

  4. Ken says:

    I’ve had this page saved in my bookmarks. I forgot I had read/posted on the above story this past summer. I am a little disappointed the writer never replied. Also, I have to note I’m pretty sure I offered my rambling comments in the early am; please pardon any lack of coherency as well as my many grammatical errors. If the writer does see this-I’d really get a kick out of communicating with you. If not, thanks again for the great read! Ken, Providence RI.

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