A throng of gnats lounging on a crumb-yacht gesture to me as if to say – what gives? as they idle in a small lake of creamer pooled in a teaspoon on the counter. They are dreaming of the high seas within my mug. I oblige, anointing myself a dream maker. In a first-ever move by a human, I put an ear to my coffee in hopes of deciphering gnat chatter. I hear them buzzing about rudders. Not those affixed to their astonishing crumb-yacht, but rather the ones on their nimble frames, the ones they contemplated revving up and chose not to parade around my head.
In the Museum of Impending Doom
What adorned the walls was both shocking and spectacular, an artistry on display I did not expect. In the main gallery where the exhibit: The Great Masters on Interpretations of Hell, the walls were a like a majestic balm, a soothing pearl or lunar white in perfect contrast to what they held. In the photography wing, a fluid, stop-fixed white embellished the seamlessly hinged drywall from floor to ceiling, a cheery parchment to the rural, Depression-era snapshots commissioned by the Office of War Information. The abstract galleries maintained a surprising sense of order thanks to the linen and bone-hued backdrops. In the solarium, a gorgeous iridescent alabaster flanked sculptures of severed limbs and primate-like skulls, soft and rich as cured buttercream. In the room dedicated to post-modern impressionism where huge canvases masqueraded as dark, multi-colored windows to treacherous worlds, a surrounding latticework of ivory was visible, which became more pronounced if you squinted a little. And what a delight to spy subtle salt-gray drop shadows lurking underneath the chunkiest of frames. For a moment I had forgotten what museum this was. I sought out a docent for a reminder. This is the Museum of Impending Doom, she said. Can’t you tell? No, no I could not. In fact, there was no doom to be found at all, except for that brief spell among the milk-white, three-dimensional sculptures with severed limbs and skulls. I asked to see the maintenance staff. Then I shook every hand that had a hand in painting these vibrant canvases for canvases. Lawrence, who oversees the afternoon shift and is in charge of wall maintenance and paint procurement, said it was nothing and invited me to come back in about a month when they would ship everything out that was obscuring his full body of work.
Thad DeVassie is a multi-genre writer and fine art painter who creates from the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio. He is the author of three chapbooks including SPLENDID IRRATIONALITIES, which was awarded the James Tate Poetry Prize (SurVision Books, 2020). You can find more of his written and painted works at http://www.thaddevassie.com.