THOMAS HART BENTON
She wrote back, "Yes, that would be nice."
He went early and picked up two tickets. Then he worried that she wouldn't show up and he'd be left having paid for an extra ticket. He recognized her immediately. He tried to smile but the muscles in his cheeks twitched and made him nervous. She noticed he had dressed up for her. It made a small crack in the ice. They talked about the weather. It was spring but there was a hefty wind blowing from the west off of the Hudson. He had thought about walking the High Line if things went well. He was now racing ahead in his mind trying to figure out a plan B.
They crowded into the elevator on their way to the top floor. They had decided to start there and then work their way down. He was happy she hadn't decided to bolt with some pre-prepared excuse she might have composed if her first impression wasn't good. The crowded elevator took the pressure off of immediate conversation. There's a written code of museum conduct requiring you whisper. It was comforting for both of them to have small talk in hushed tones. It made the risk of saying something awkward less likely.
They took their time walking from gallery to gallery trying to be adult when it came to the nude photography. The naked bodies made him uncomfortable. She was hoping he might loosen up. She wanted to be able to laugh. If it had been with someone she knew better she would have.
He asked her if she'd take a picture of him when they came up to Gary Simmons' piece: Lineup. He was hoping she'd see the measure of him through the camera's lens. He pulled out his iPhone and handed it to her. She gave it back and took out her own phone.
John Steuart Curry, 1897-1946,
First Artist in Residence at the Agricultural College of the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Part of the permanent collect at the New Whitney, NYC
Theses stories were written as an exercise in flash fiction writing where I give myself a limited time frame (3-4 hours) to construct stories on photos I’ve taken while walking through the museum. The people photographed have no connection to the stories. The scenarios are completely made up. My apologies to anyone depicted in the photos.