Power of Art

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NOTE: This is a work of fiction. All characters engaging in sexual activities are over the age of eighteen.

*****

The stink was overwhelming. As Claire exited her car, it hit her like a punch to the throat. She gagged, put a hand to her mouth and rushed for the gallery’s entrance, hoping that the air would be a little less foul inside. She pried open the glass-paneled door just enough to slide through and hurried in, spying Ari and Stephen standing at the far end of the main exhibit hall next to a man wearing a hardhat and holding a clipboard.

“Oh my god,” she called out as she strode toward them, thankful that the stench, although still clearly noticeable, was considerably diminished inside the gallery. “What in the world has happened?”

All Ari’s message had said was that there was a problem and that Claire needed to get there quickly. She had cut short her meeting with an art professor who wanted to introduce her to some promising young students and had rushed right over to her gallery. The nature of the problem had become obvious as soon as her car door opened. She just hoped that whatever was causing it had nothing to do with her building, and that it could be fixed fairly quickly. She prayed that the man in the hardhat would be able to ease her mind on both concerns.

“Hi Claire, this is Mr. Showfelt, from the city,” said Ari Goldstern, her assistant manager, who turned toward Claire as she approached. “Mr. Showfelt, this is Claire Yarnell, the gallery’s owner.”

“Good morning, Ms. Yarnell. I’m Richard Showfelt, deputy director of the city’s public works department,” the man said, extending a beefy paw toward Claire. No two people could have provided a greater contrast; the balding Mr. Goldstern was dressed in worn and dirty jeans, a grey t-shirt and a bright orange safety vest while Claire wore a thigh-length black Thakoon dress with Prada shoes while sporting a $500 cut and style from a visit to her hair salon the previous afternoon.

“It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Showfelt. Can you tell me what’s happened? It smells like a cesspool around here. And more importantly, what’s being done to fix it.” Her tone was friendly but firm, conveying the message that she was not going to settle for any kind of bureaucratic runaround.

Mr. Showfelt nodded slightly, a well rehearsed look of deep sympathy on his face. He’d spent decades in the city’s bureaucracy and had considerable experience in soothing upset citizens, especially those of the moneyed classes, of which Claire certainly was.

“Well, as to what happened, they were working on the new construction two doors down and somehow managed to break a main sewage line, and in trying to stop the leak actually caused the lines to back up. That in turn led to a few older connecting pipes cracking and raw sewage leaking at several locations. At least your place wasn’t flooded like the restaurant next door,” he said, knowing full well that Claire would take no consolation from this fact. “They’ve stopped the flow already and are cleaning up the mess, but it will take a couple of days for everything to return to normal.”

“But the smell, how long will it reek likes this? I’m hosting an exhibit here on Saturday night and really don’t want the place smelling like a pit toilet,” said Claire, a hint of desperation creeping into her voice. “That’s just about three days away. Will we be okay?”

He gave another, more emphatic nod of understanding and twisted his lips as if he were giving serious consideration to Claire’s concerns. “Well, I think by then the smell will have abated. In the meantime, turn off the air conditioner so that you’re not pulling any air into the building and keep the doors and windows closed as much as possible. If you do that, you should be okay by Saturday night.”

“I’ve already turned off the air,” said Stephen, whose title of warehouse manager vastly overstated his authority or expertise. He was essentially the muscle, loading and unloading items and manhandling them, when needed, into position. He was a manager in title only, as he had no one to manage.

“Thank you Stephen,” Claire said. “Mr. Showfelt, is there any way for us to be notified if there’s going to be any delay in repairs?”

“Here’s my card,” Mr. Shofelt said, handing Claire a business card that he’d extracted from his clipboard. “I’ll call if we have any delays, but if you have any concerns, please feel free to contact me. For now, I should get back to the repair site to make sure everything is moving ahead. ” He nodded at them and then beat a hasty retreat, careful not to leave the door open for long as he exited.

Before he had even made it out the door, however, Claire had whipped out her phone and punched in a number. She stood, phone pressed to her ear, a look of nervous tension on her otherwise attractive face.

“Hi Marci,” she said into the phone. “It’s Claire Yarnell, from the Yarnell Gallery. Look, one of your trucks is bringing in a shipment of art to my gallery this afternoon.”

She ankara eryaman escortlar paused, and Ari and Stephen could hear a female voice presumably confirming this fact but could only make out one side of the conversation. “Well, I need it rerouted if at all possible. We’ve had an emergency at the gallery and it simply can’t come here…a sewage leak, you can’t believe the smell…to my home if at all possible. Do you have that address or can I give it to you…yes, that’s it…Oh, thank you so much, you’re the best Marci. Talk to you later.”

Claire hung up and crossed her arms over her small but pert breasts. “Okay, at least nothing is coming here. I would hate for the stuff to pick up any of this odor.”

Ari and Stephen looked at her. Despite the crisis, Claire remained calm. She had always been an unflappable person, able to look past any sudden, unexpected problem and focus instead on finding the most reasonable and practical solution. Today was no different.

“Okay. I need you two to head over to my house and begin clearing space in the living and dining rooms. If you move most of the furniture out, everything should fit. There are only around 20 pieces coming and with a couple of exceptions, they’re pretty small, two or three feet high at the most. Just move stuff wherever, so long as there is enough space for the works.”

“No problem, Claire. We’ll get it all taken care of,” Ari said. “Is Svetlana there today?”

“No, I gave her the day off. The alarm will be set, but here’s the code,” said Claire, writing down a string of numbers on a slip of paper and handing it to her tall, dark-haired assistant. “Go ahead and unpack the stuff once it’s offloaded so that you can inspect it for damage. Oh, and be careful of the plants.”

Ari had no need of this reminder. Claire Yarnell cared passionately about two things; art and her plants. She had a vast and diverse collection of each and some of her house plants were as rare and valuable as her paintings and statues. But as Ari had been to her house on multiple occasions, she knew what to expect and how to deal with any issues that might arise.

“When is the truck coming, did Marci say?” Ari asked, taking the slip of paper from her boss.

“Probably mid-afternoon or so. I should be home by around four. No need to wait for me, though; once everything is unpacked and set up you can head out. And I don’t see any reason for us to come back here at least until Friday unless you absolutely need to be here. The less the door is opened, the better. So just take tomorrow as a paid day and I’ll call you if I need you on Friday.”

Ari nodded in agreement, jerked her head at Stephen, and headed out the door. Claire went to her office and printed out a sign that announced that due to unforeseen circumstances, the gallery would be closed until the following Monday. She taped it up on the door, then slid out the entrance, moving quickly to her BMW and speeding away, anxious to put the foul odor behind her.

It was after four p.m. by the time Claire got home. She’d been so upset about the sewage issue that after a business-related lunch, she treated herself to a massage and mani-pedi at her favorite day spa. As she was waiting for her masseuse, she made a quick call to Ari, checking to make sure everything had gone okay. The artwork had arrived early, shortly after lunch, and the two employees, with the help of the driver, had gotten it unloaded and set up easily. Ari, who sounded breathless and out of sorts, which Claire assumed was from the exertion of moving everything, said they were just inspecting the last of it.

So Claire was a little surprised to find both their vehicles still parked in the driveway when she pulled up. But she didn’t really spent time thinking about it as she had developed a terrible need to pee on the drive home. She hurried up her steps and into the house as quickly as possible, calling out to them that she was back and had to go to the bathroom. She saw nor heard either of them, but thought nothing of this as she speedwalked down the hall toward the downstairs powder room.

When she emerged and headed toward the living room, which opened up onto the dining room, Ari was waiting for her. One look at her pretty assistant told Claire that something was off. Ari, an elegant young woman who always appeared immaculate, seemed disheveled. Her long black hair, which had this morning been pulled into a stylish chignon, hung loose and tangled. Her sleeveless white blouse and black skirt were wrinkled and even a little dirty. There even seemed to be a button missing from her top.

“Ari, is everything okay? You look like you’ve been through the ringer,” Claire said with concern.

“Oh no, no, it was just, you know, moving things,” said Ari. Claire noticed her assistant was staring past her at the wall, as if she didn’t want to look her boss in the eye.

“Where’s Stephen?” she asked.

“Oh, hi boss, I’m back here,” a voice called out escort etimesgut from behind Ari. Claire stepped forward and saw Stephen, bent over tying a shoelace at the far end of the room. He stood up and came towards her. He too looked disheveled, although that was not unusual for him. It was, however, odd that his zipper should be down.

“Um, Stephen, your…” said Claire, pointing at his crotch.

“Oh, uh, sorry, just went to the bathroom,” he stammered.

There seemed to be a tension between her two employees, both of whom were certainly acting awkward, she thought. “You guys didn’t have to wait here for me, but I appreciate it,” she said.

“Oh, no problem,” Ari said quickly.

“Yeah, my pleasure,” said Stephen with an odd grin. Claire saw Ari shoot him a reproachful glance, but she couldn’t figure out what she would be reproaching him for. If it had been any two other people, she would have assumed that she’d committed coitus interruptus, but that didn’t seem possible here. Ari was a lesbian who constantly brought beautiful young women, few older than twenty-five, to gallery events. On the rare occasions when Claire had seen her drunk or stoned, Ari was not reluctant to describe her sexual conquests, often of curious college girls whom she liked to believe had been converted to the Sapphic lifestyle after a few nights with her. Stephen, on the other hand, was a shy, slightly overweight young man who was devoted to his girlfriend of five years. He had told Claire that he was soon going to propose, and she just couldn’t see him cheating on her, and certainly not with a ravishingly beautiful lesbian who, even if she was straight, would be completely out of his league. The idea that they would be having sex, much less in her house when they had work to do, was so ludicrous as to be laughable. So Claire had to assume that the afternoon’s tasks had simply worn them out.

Once they had left, she poured herself a glass of wine and began to wander slowly through the living and dining rooms, carefully examining each piece. The works were by an artist about whom she knew almost nothing. Her old art school friend Denise had recommended the exhibit, encouraging Claire to agree to a showing. Denise had told her that this particular artist, one Carlos Luxor, always did his showings at smaller galleries and preferred private, intimate gatherings for his exhibits. But all of his stuff would sell in one night, Denise assured her, and Claire would definitely want to develop a relationship with him. She practically gushed over him, although Claire had been hesitant. He did primarily abstract wood carvings and glass and metal sculptures. But the pictures Denise had emailed had been of exquisite works that reflected a subtle sensuality and Claire had decided to use the exhibit as the focus for an event aimed at a somewhat younger crowd. She had sent invitations to about a dozen couples and as many individuals, all in the thirty to fifty age range, which was considerably below the average age of her clientele. About half were coming, or so their RSVPs said.

As she slowly walked through her living and dining rooms inspecting the artworks that Ari and Tom had unpacked, she was shocked. These were not the pictures Denise had sent. There was nothing subtle about these works at all. They were almost pornographic. Many of the pieces were carvings from various types of wood. Some were nude figures of men and women, almost all in some sort of blatantly erotic pose. Others were wooden or metal panels or discs upon which were etched images of people, from individuals to groups of six, engaging in wildly fantastic sexual acts. A man held a woman up over his head by her hips while he feasted on her vagina. In another, two women scissored their legs together while each performed oral sex on a man. A few were abstract shapes and forms, all which instantly brought to mind body parts, specifically breasts, butts and penises. These pieces, of glass or metal, were highly polished and ranged in color from an almost snow white to onyx black.

The highlight of the exhibit was a female nude, reclining back on her outstretched arms, her legs bent before her. It was a large piece, about five feet long and almost equal height. At first glance, the figure had appeared to have a smooth, unblemished dark mahogany skin. But now, as she looked closer, she could see that it too was covered in erotic scenes, figures cavorted across her body, making loving or chasing each other while others looked on laughing. They reminded her of scenes from some of ancient Roman mosaics or centuries old Indian or Arabic tapestries and murals.

At first, Claire was furious and even pulled out her phone with the intention of calling Denise and chewing her out. She’d booked the exhibit sight unseen because of her friend’s recommendation. This Luxor person was supposed to be an extremely talented up-and-coming artist of exceptional ability. But from what Claire could see, batıkent escort he was nothing but a pornographer.

Granted, a talented pornographer, Claire conceded, sipping a glass of white wine as she made a second perusal of the works. The details on the etchings was exquisite, and the nudes were perfectly proportioned and realistic. She was pleased to see that he did not make the figures model perfect, with the type of bodies achieved only through hours at the gym and incredibly disciplined diets. Some of them, both male and female, were curvy, even chubby, and not all the men had unrealistically massive cocks. The women’s breasts were not all perfectly formed and shapely, but in some instances were very small, or droopy. At least these were real people, even if the acts they were engaging in were not exactly the sorts of intercourse average people engaged in. It was as if he recreating the Kama Sutra with Joe and Jane average citizen.

And why not, she thought. Art, after all, is supposed to move us, inspire us as well as make us think. Maybe that was the point of these works, to show the viewer that sensuality and eroticism is not just the purview of porn stars and super models, but is something everyone can embrace. Looking at it like that, the works had, she realized, an important message to convey. And she believed that the people she’d invited would be open to the message. Sure, at first, they would be shocked, just as she had been, but if they just took the time to really look at the pieces, they would, like she had, come to appreciate the artist’s genius. Without even realizing it, Claire had put away her phone and instead had begun to softly stroke her body as she admired the works.

After spending a few more minutes examining the pieces, Claire headed upstairs to take a hot bath and change. Her husband, Harrison, was out of town and would not return until tomorrow. Svetlana, their maid and cook, who generally worked from nine to six, had taken the day off for a family issue. So she would be alone tonight and Claire decided to just relax and take it easy. But as she lay naked on her bed, still moist from her bath, the images from downstairs continued to flash through her mind. She yearned for her husband’s return, especially since Harrison was a wonderful lover.

She let her hands wander idly across her body, gently pulling on or pinching her nipples, wishing her breasts were just a little bit larger so that she suck on them. She worked her fingers down, feeling proud of her taut, 42-year-old body, shaped and maintained by regular swimming, yoga and weight work. She let two fingers run through her trimmed, blonde bush and gently ran the tip of one along the length of her labia, then did so again, this time dipping it into the moisture beneath. She brought it to her nose and took a deep whiff. A second later, Claire rolled off the bed and yanked open the drawer of her bedside table, pulling out a six-inch pink vibrator.

Still naked, she hurried downstairs and planted herself in an arm chair that Ari and Stephen had left in the living room next to the large female nude. Sitting slouched in the chair, legs splayed, Claire stared at the woman while she slowly played the toy across her body before gently inserting it into her now soaking cunt. She worked the vibrator in and out, pressing it alternately against her clit and g-spot while using her other hand to play with her tits. She climaxed after a few minutes, but waited only a minute or so before resuming her self-pleasure. As she masturbated, erotic scenes flashed through her mind; Harrison fucking her over the kitchen sink, Svetlana kneeling before her in the shower, she and Ari making out and fingering each other’s pussies, Art and Svetlana joining she and Harrison in the bedroom. By the time she staggered to her feet, hours later, she had lost count of the number of orgasms she’d had. The seat cushion was soaked in her juices and the smell of arousal hung heavy in the air. She tottered up the stairs and threw herself onto the bed, still clutching her vibrator.

She awoke late the next morning to the smell of coffee and bacon drifting up from downstairs. She slowly rose and cursed when, after taking just two steps, her heel came down hard on the pink vibrator, which had been knocked to the floor during the night. Seeing it there brought back memories of the previous evening’s activities and she felt suddenly embarrassed at having succumbed to her desires in such a wanton manner. It was one thing to occasionally play with yourself, it was quite another to become some sort of masturbation machine, plunging a buzzing sex toy repeatedly into your vagina for hours on end. She hoped Svetlana had not noticed the undoubtedly damaged seat cushion or if so, had not guessed how it came to be in that condition.

She threw on pajamas and a robe and headed downstairs for breakfast, bidding good morning to Svetlana as she entered the kitchen. The attractive young housekeeper, her long brown hair pulled back in a severe bun, was scurrying around the kitchen, seemingly cooking and cleaning simultaneously. She seemed a little out of sorts this morning, and Claire put it down to having seen the art works. Svetlana was fairly religious and probably rather disturbed by the display, she thought

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