ny arts magazine

Contemporary ceramic art: No. vase with cracked Shino glaze, Dora Good’s hand-thrown stoneware vase, a textured glaze cereal bowl by Akiko Hirai and a terracotta tea bowl, jug and ceremonial vessel from Alana Wilson. Photography by Brooke Holm, styling by Victoria Petro Conroy. / NY Times

Starry Night

Maya stood, staring; sentences forming themselves in her mind. This was, by far, the most entrancing piece she had to write an article about. Maya never brought a pen and paper when she viewed a new painting and she refused to take notes on her phone. She just let the article write itself within her mind and then rewrote it later on her computer.

She rocked on the balls of her feet and looked down at the plaque next to the art. Invisible Sun - Julie Mehretu. It hadn’t been on show in the MoMA before, despite the gallery acquiring it 6 years ago in 2014. Julie Mehretu was Maya’s favourite artist. Her technique of layering different media and elements; of building a base of acrylic paint and then layering pen and pencil and thick paint upon it just spoke to Maya. This work was no different, being made up of ink and synthetic polymer paint on canvas. It was messy, but yet not at the same time. It screamed at her, and yet remained silent. It was tones of grey, yet showed so much colour to Maya. She loved it, and had the opportunity to review it for NY Arts Magazine. She was living a dream. Her dream.

She looked once more at the painting and decided that, while she was here, she may as well have a look around at the exhibits and collection. She made her way around the gallery, saving her favourite painting for last. It was something special and always manage to take her breath away. It was nearing the end of the day and there were only a few people in the room. Maya walked slowly over to The Starry Night and stood before it. She could stand in silence for hours just looking at it, eyes trailing over every brush stroke, every colour, every detail. Her posture relaxed and her breathing slowed, and from the outside she looked completely at ease. But her mind was running a thousand miles a minute. Until she was interrupted by someone she hadn’t seen enter the room.

“It truly is breathtaking. It’s impossible to believe Van Gogh lived his life believing no one liked his painting. Living his life not knowing how loved he would be once he passed.”

“You a fan of Van Gogh then?” Maya raised an eyebrow and looked at the stranger in her peripheral vision. From what she could tell, he was young, perhaps around her age, tanned, had light brown hair, and from the subtle southern twang in his voice, she guessed he was from Texas or thereabouts, but hadn’t lived there in a few years. Without turning to look at her, he replied,

“Ever since I saw Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London. I visited with my parents, and it’s one of the few happy memories I have left. It’s fitting we saw Sunflowers. Such happy flowers, and in Chinese culture, mean long life and good luck. Oh the irony…” The stranger left the sentence hanging in the air, and Maya felt the awkwardness invade the space between them. The stranger didn’t seem to mind the awkward atmosphere, but Maya was beginning to feel uncomfortable and wanted to fill the silence.

“This is my favourite,” she nodded towards The Starry Night, “because Van Gogh considered it a failure, yet it’s one of the most recognised paintings in western culture. It kind of symbolises how I feel about myself, you know? That there’s hope for me despite what I think about my life. I mean, he wrote to his brother that it said ‘nothing’ to him. He held it back to afford postage to send paintings to his brother. Postage! It just amazes me how he hated his painting so much.” Maya stopped to catch her breath and saw the stranger turn his head to look at her. “Also, it’s amazing because it’s his view from his asylum cell. The view from the inside looking out, which is almost worse than the outside looking in. He was confined in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and still managed to make something so terribly beautiful…” Maya was finished now. She glanced over to the stranger and saw him smiling at her. She raised an eyebrow as he turned to face her and put his hand out.

“Lucas Friar.” She looked down at his hand, shook it and replied,

“Maya Hart.” They caught eyes and smiled at each other, before both casting their gaze back to the painting before them. Both keeping the smiles on their faces.

Falling back into an awkward silence, Maya adjusted the bag on her shoulder and looked down at her watch. 5.15. Fifteen more minutes until the museum closed. Fifteen more minutes of finding serenity in Van Gogh…Until she heard Lucas cough awkwardly, to which she turned her head and raised an eyebrow. ‘Sorry’, mouthed Lucas. She inwardly laughed and turned her attention towards the painting, wanting one more look at it before they had to leave.

“Are you a native New Yorker then?” Lucas had now turned to face her completely, but she didn’t do the same.

“Born and raised. What, do I scream ‘New Yorker’ to you?” She turned her head towards him and gave a challenging smile before turning back towards the Van Gogh. Lucas laughed faintly, not at all fazed by her tone.

“Not really. You just have this air about you. Like, you would know the best pizza place in the city and it’s not Dominos or Papa Johns, but this little hole in the wall place that really shouldn’t be open because of hygiene laws, but it is and it has the best pizza because they use an amazing cheese that holds all the flavour in, and even though it’s terrible for your health, you still go there at 2 in the morning because something’s bothering you and you want comfort food.” He grinned at her, waiting for her reaction, though he expect her to turn round and look at him.

“For your information, Cowboy, I go there at one. 2am and I won’t get up for work in the morning, and that’s never a good thing. Oh and if you were wondering,” she leaned closer to him, as though she was telling him a secret, “It’s called Frank’s Pizza House.” She fell back to grin up at him. He just shook his head and asked,

“Cowboy?”

“That’s what you took from that?”

“Yeah, I want to hear what you have to say about me. And why Cowboy?” Maya looked up him and saw that he had smile lines near his eyes.

“Well, judging by your accent you’re from Texas, and most likely grew up on a ranch owned by your parents. You were taught to ride western to help on the ranch but prefer English saddle when you’re just out riding, and you own at least three pairs of cowboy boots,” she counted on her fingers, “in tan, black and one pair in red that you hate but you keep them anyway because Memaw gave them to you for Christmas one year. But little Mr Southern Hospitality must’ve done something to jumpstart the move to New York because no one trades warm winters for cold summers, or the freedom of riding a horse across a meadow for the claustrophobia of being on the New York subway, and most certainly no one exchanges starry nights for light polluted skylines. So my question is, Huckleberry, what are you doing in New York City?” She looks at him, to gauge his reaction but didn’t expect to see him with his mouth in a straight line and no comprehensible emotion on his face. Shit. His piercing eyes kept her from looking away out of embarrassment and it was a moment before he spoke.

“English saddle? English saddle?! What do you take me for? I never ride English saddle! Always, always bareback, just like Poppy Joe taught me. Honestly, you had me up until English saddle. God.” He huffed and turned away from her, and Maya couldn’t help but laugh. She’d been so worried that she dragged up something about his parents, but no, it was about the freaking riding style.

“Are you serious right now?” she breathed out between laughs, “I was worried I’d made you upset!”

“Oh, and there’s one more thing.” Lucas leaned down to whisper in her ear just like she had before, “They’re not red, they’re blood orange.” And with those three words, both just collapsed into a fit of giggles and Maya had to sit on the bench because she was most likely to fall over because she was wearing her heeled boots, which were beginning to hurt her feet. When Lucas noticed shed sat down down, he joins her because now he towers above her and it was hurting his neck to keep looking down.

They sit in a silence interspersed with muffled giggles until the security guard finds them and says that the museum will be closing in 2 minutes, and that they should leave soon. Maya looks at Lucas and holds out her hand, struggling to talk due to the fact she’s still laughing.

“Well, Ranger Rick, it was nice to meet you, but I need to go and write a review, so…” Lucas takes her hand, shakes it, then pulls her up off the bench with him, as he says,

“Nice to meet you too, Ma'am.” He lets go of her hand and they walk out of the building, neither knowing where to go from here. Do we exchange numbers? Maya thinks,unsure of what to do now. She enjoys his company, and she is actually interested about his life, because surely he didn’t actually grow up on a ranch? Lucas brings her out of her thoughts by nudging her shoulder, and when she looks up at him, she sees that boyish grin again, and smiles back as he says, “Coffee?”

Okay, so this is an idea I came up with ages ago that I never started and now I have and idk how well it’s going to turn out and I really should work on finishing things I start, but here you go. My first Lucaya fanfic (that I’ve published)