Art is Long

Art is Long, a one-act play that had a staged reading at Sidewalks Theater.

Art Is Long

(An art gallery with modern masters and contemporaries.  A spring day.  The general atmosphere will intimidate the insecure.  Enter Tony and Evie Piscotta, who have recently inherited a large sum of money.  Evie is introducing them to culture.)

Tony:    You sure it’s all right to just walk in?

Evie:    Of course, silly.  It’s open to the public.

Tony:    There’s nobody else here.

Evie:    This is an exclusive gallery.  They don’t get lots of people.

Tony:    What if they don’t want us?

Evie:    Anybody can come in.

Tony:    Even a homeless guy off the street?

Evie:    That’s not what I meant and you know it.  Now don’t be difficult.

Tony:    I don’t see why I had to come here.  I don’t know shit from shingles about art.  I feel uncomfortable in this kind of place.

Evie:    There’s no need to be nervous.  I know what I’m doing.  This won’t take long and you promised to come with me.  If we’re going to buy paintings for the new house, it could cost lots of money.  I want you making all the decisions with me, so there’s no argument later.

Tony:    How many times did I tell you there won’t be any argument.

Evie:    That’s what you say now, but later it’ll be different, especially if you don’t like what I pick.  Anything we buy we’ll pick together.

Tony:    What if you like something and I don’t?

Evie:    We’ll discuss it.  I’m sure good taste will prevail.

Tony:    Did we have to come to this place?  There must be other galleries that aren’t as snooty.

Evie:    This gallery has an excellent reputation and that’s very important, because a lot of the galleries aren’t honest.

Tony:    What do you mean?

Evie:    Some of them sell fake paintings.

Tony:    So you sue them, or have them arrested.

Evie:    Do you want to spend the next three years in court, while the lawyers get rich at our expense?  Besides, what if you don’t know?

Tony:    Know what?

Evie:    That you bought a fake painting.

Tony:    Can’t you tell if it’s fake?

Evie:    Not always.

Tony:    So you take it to an expert.

Evie:    Sometimes they can’t tell.

Tony:    So you go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  They’ll tell you if it’s fake or not.

Evie:    Even they don’t know sometimes.

Tony:    I don’t believe this.  You’re telling me that those longhairs at the Metropolitan Museum can’t tell the real thing from a phony?

Evie:    That’s right.

Tony:    Then who does?

Evie:    There’s no one who always knows.  But there’s one way to tell.

Tony:    How?

Evie:    If the painting has the right papers.

Tony:    You mean like a pedigreed dog?

Evie:    That’s right.  For a painting it’s called provenance.

Tony:    What?

Evie:    Provenance.

Tony:    Why can’t some sharp operators fake those?

Evie:    They do.  That’s why it’s so important to go to the right gallery, where they check all those things before they sell a painting.

Tony:    How do they know, if nobody knows for sure?

Evie:    That’s their business.  They check back all the way to when it was first painted, and they get proof where it was before they got it.

Tony:    You’re saying they trace it back to where it was till they got it?
Evie:    That’s right.

Tony:    How do you know somebody didn’t pull the old switcheroo, when it was supposed to be sitting in Lord Woodpecker’s castle?

Evie:    That’s what they check.

Tony:    But you just told me nobody could tell for sure if a painting was fake or not, right?

Evie:    Yes.

Tony:    So if some guy painted a fake Michelangelo and snuck in to the castle and switched it for the real one, how can you tell?

Evie:    It doesn’t happen that way.

Tony:    Why not?  If nobody knows the difference between the real stuff and the fake stuff, what stops them from selling fakes?

Evie:    That’s why you go to a reputable gallery.  Their business depends on being reliable.  If people thought they couldn’t be trusted, no one would buy anything from them.

Tony:    You’re telling me we should trust somebody we never met before to sell us a real painting, for a lot of money, and there’s no way we can be sure it’s real?

Evie:    You’re twisting everything I’m saying.  Now stop being difficult and lets look at paintings.  That’s what we came here for.

Tony:    I’m just trying to figure out how to protect our money.

Evie:    We’ll talk about it later, if we want to buy anything.  Look at this painting.  It’s by Chagall. . . .

Tony:    He must of been drunk when he made it.

Evie:    Why?

Tony:    The cow’s purple.  Nobody paints a purple cow if they’re sober.  And who ever saw a cow with wings, except in a fairy tale.

Evie:    He paints what he sees with his artistic vision.

Tony:    How much does this flying hamburger factory cost?

Evie:    I don’t know exactly, but I’d guess around a hundred and fifty thousand.

Tony:    A hundred and fifty thousand what?  Meat patties?

Evie:    Dollars.

Tony:     Are you out of your mind?

Evie:    Why?

Tony:    Do you think anyone with his lid screwed on would spend that kind of money on a purple cow, that looks like it was painted by my six year old nephew?

Evie:    I don’t expect you to understand everything about art right away, but I wish you’d refrain from those vulgar remarks.  They show your ignorance.

Tony:    I’m the same guy I was yesterday.

Evie:    That’s what I’m afraid of.

Tony:    What do you mean by that?

Evie:     You know.

Tony:     If I knew, why would I ask?

Evie:    I know you’d like to make me uncomfortable, so I’ll leave the gallery.

Tony:    I wouldn’t do that, honey.

Evie:    You’ve already done it at the Ballet, the opera, the Honneger Concert. . . .

Tony:    Was that the one where those guys were blowing whistles and banging on garbage cans?  It sounded like cats fighting in the tin man’s underwear.

Evie:    I didn’t think you’d understand atonal music, but you could at least try to appreciate the modern masters.

Tony:    That squeaking?  You gotta be kidding.

Evie:    You promised to try new cultural experiences.

Tony:    I thought you meant going to see “Phantom of the Opera” or “Cats.”

Evie:    I told you that some of the events would be a little difficult to get used to. . .

Tony:    That’s a laugh.  The Russians could brainwash anybody with those tortures.

Evie:    That’s not fair.  I was doing it for us. . .   So we could get more out of life. . . . and you turn it into something horrible, as if I wanted to punish you.

Tony:    Aw, come on, hon.

Evie:    I was trying to broaden your cultural horizons, so you’d be more confident when you meet new people. . . .

Tony:    I didn’t mean to upset you.  Take it easy.  If this is what makes you happy, I’ll go wherever you like.  Okay? …Now let’s look at some pictures.

Evie:    I never said that I wanted to buy that Chagall.  I just wanted to learn about it.  I know another gallery where we can get some really nice pictures for a few hundred dollars each.

Tony:    That sounds more like it.

Evie:    We’ll go tomorrow and buy enough pictures for the whole house.

Tony:    I always wanted some sports pictures, you know, like two football teams playing each other in the mud or snow.  Everybody cold, wet, filthy….

Evie:    I think we want something more elevated.

Tony:    Why don’t we talk about it over dinner?

Evie:    Alright, let’s go.  I know this nouveau cuisine restaurant that you’ll just adore.

Tony:    Uh, oh.  That means a plate of grass for forty bucks.

Evie:    Tony . . . .

Tony:    Can’t we get a hamburger somewhere?

Evie:    Definitely not.  Now come along.   (Exit)

(Blackout)