Tigresses of Summer – Part 6 – Is it Fall Yet?
By Dr T
The second session at Ashfield ends, and it's time to go back to Lawndale.
The Morgendorffers pulled in next to the cabin Daria and Jane had shared a little after 9:30 the next morning. They had the SUV packed by 10:00, except for Jane's art which was on display until 1:00. Jane had by then already left for the art displays.
"This is a nicer cabin than I thought it would be," Helen remarked from the kitchen area. Quinn was touching up her makeup in the bathroom while Jake was enjoying the fresh air.
"The colony has a couple of angels who have really built up its foundation," Daria answered. "It's well run." Daria hesitated.
"Yes?" Helen asked.
"Jane and I were given scholarships for next year."
"If they offer them, I am not surprised the pair of you were offered two," Helen said. "I always thought you were a good writer, even if your choice of topics sometimes bothered me. It appears we all underestimated you. So, what does the scholarship entail?"
"Everything, except for the upgrade to this kind of cabin," Daria answered.
"A five hundred dollar difference," Helen pointed out.
Daria winced. "Seven fifty; Ms Proctor gave us a discount because of Jane's mother, and because it was available."
Helen nodded. "We'll put up the three seventy-five for you, if the Lanes do the same for Jane, if you both decide to return."
"Thank you," Daria said simply and sincerely. "The larger cabins are alright, but we'll probably still be two of the youngest students. The college crowd would probably still resent having to socialize with us."
"I understand," Helen said. She would have been more concerned about Daria not socializing, but she had apparently done a good job of doing so this past summer, and with far more people than just Jane. "Shall we go?"
As the family walked past one of the studio buildings, Daria said to Quinn, "After you look at Jane's work and any of the other oil and acrylic paintings that might catch your eye, you might want to come back here."
"Why is that?" Quinn asked, curious to see if Daria was serious or back to setting her up.
"The next studio building has the pottery, which I doubt would interest any of you. There are two beyond where we're going. One has the watercolors, pastels, and the like, as well as some of the design and drawings that aren't on display elsewhere. The last one has all the different kinds of prints. That one over there has the large scale sculpture, which may or may not interest any of you. The one we just passed has the glass and metal studios, including jewelry."
"Have you seen any of it?" Quinn asked. "A lot of amateur jewelry is pretty clunky."
Daria held out her right hand, and they all saw there was a delicate white gold ring on her tanned hand. "Jane and I both liked these, so we each bought one. It's based on an ancient Celtic design."
"If we have time, I'll come back," Quinn simply said.
Daria gestured her family into a large painting studio (built like many of the other buildings to resemble a one storey barn in some respects, to give the colony a rural look) which had temporary seven foot high partitions dividing it off into areas for individual artists. The Morgendorffers were unsurprised to be gestured towards an area where four unhappy patrons were exiting.
Both Helen and Jake actually knew a bit about art. Helen had started off as an art history major, an 'appropriate' subject to study according to her mother, only switching to a pre-law program her second year. Jake had burned some of his open credit hours his second and third semesters to take two art classes, so he could sit next to Helen. Although they of course knew about Jane's artistic interests, they had actually seen very little of her work, other than some sketches. The few paintings they had seen they thought were well-done but odd.
All three visiting Morgendorffers were a bit stunned by what they found in Jane's area. They could see the paintings clearly, as only Jane, a stool, and a small stand were between them and the art.
At least seven of the nine paintings, the adult Morgendorffers recognized as they approached, would have been appropriate in a nineteenth century academic showing, not just in content, but in quality. Granted, Jane's works were on a smaller scale, but they were impressive. The two largest works were landscapes thirty inches high by forty-two inches wide, each showing aspects of the south field of Ashfield. The silver medal winner showed a sun-dappled lawn, the road, some figures lying in the grass, and the buildings beyond – 'Students at Rest' was the appropriate title.
The gold medal painting showed the edge of the woods, shading some grass before transitioning to that same sun-lit lawn. A figure was lying on a blanket, and the realism of the rest of the painting only made the higher resolution of photorealism in the figure and blanket stand out even more. The figure at first seemed clad only in shorts, and the shade/sun line ran right over her -- she was obviously so engrossed in reading or writing that she had not noticed the creeping sun. The Morgendorffers recognized the auburn hair even before the pair of boots off to one side. Both parents leaned in close, and were relieved to see that Daria had been painted with a halter top on.
The two looked at each other, and Jake just muttered, "Home."
Helen nodded, glanced at the other price tags, shrugged, and then raised two fingers as she mouthed, "Offices?"
Jake nodded, and they looked at the other paintings. As they did so, both expressed their pleasure in Jane's 'Genius at Work.' As Quinn did the same, the Morgendorffers turned to Jane.
Jane pulled out four canvas-board water colors in frames, the studies she had based the Daria painting on. "I wanted to thank you for letting Daria come with me, and for helping me out," Jane said. "I wondered if you'd like one or two of these, either for your home or your offices?"
"That's very kind of you, Jane," Helen said, "but we've decided to buy the oil, as well as a painting each for our offices."
Jane and Daria looked stunned. As Daria had mentioned to her parents on the way over, the Art Committee set the maximum prices, and the colony would process checks and credit card purchases (and collect tax) for the student work. The price on the Daria oil/gold medal painting was $1000.
"I'm trying to decide between the other two landscapes," Jake mused. The large silver medal painting was $750, the slightly smaller one, showing a view of the woods and the ridge beyond, was the second of Jane's three gold medal paintings, and was the same price.
"Are you thinking of hanging it on the south wall of your office?" Daria asked. When Jake assented, she pointed out, "If you hang the smaller one off center, towards your desk, it could act like a window."
"A nice relaxing view, either way," Jake agreed.
Daria nodded. "But if you got the larger painting, it might distract you clients."
"Good point, I'll take this one!" Jake said.
"And I'll take your seascape," Helen said.
"Err. . . ." Jane started.
"Yes, Jane, I saw the joke," Helen said. "I'll hang this in the conference part of my office. I just won't mention the title." The 12x24 inch bronze medal oil at first seemed to show an empty beach with a roiling sea and approaching storm clouds. A closer look would reveal three shark-fins hidden in the waves. The piece was called 'Lawyers on Vacation.' "Trust me, living with Daria, I've heard ever possible lawyer joke, including the ones about sharks and professional courtesy."
"There is something else you should know," Jane said, putting away the watercolor sketches. "Some of us are tired of seeing artists' work hocked around without the artist getting anything beyond the initial sale." She handed Helen some papers.
Helen glanced at them, then her eyebrows went up and she read the three page document carefully. It basically stated that the artist was selling the original work, but that the artist controlled the image rights, not the buyer, and detailed how the image rights could be used. No owner or museum could sell postcards or t-shirts or posters, etc., without the artist getting a cut, although of course the buyer could sell the actual painting as they wished.
"Very well done," Helen admitted. "Our firm couldn't have done a better job, if the assignment had been given to write it in plain English."
"Thank you," Daria said. It was clear she had written it.
Helen turned to Jane. "Your conditions are fair and clear. Mark the three as sold."
"Excuse me," a voice came from behind them. The group turned and saw a rotund man, "Are you a lawyer?"
"I am," Helen stated firmly.
The man glanced at Jane's art and then asked, "May I see one of the contracts?"
"For which piece?" Jane asked.
"Oh, the figure abstract," he answered. This was a piece done in Jane's preferred style of 'curvy cubism.' Any member of the colony that summer would have recognized 'Angry Artist' as Alison, at least by her tattoos. While her painting instructor tried to wean her off the style a bit, Jane felt she had to produce at least one finished oil painting in that style. It had been awarded a bronze medal.
As the man read through the contract, Jane turned to the Morgendorffers and said, quietly enough that the man couldn't over hear her, "If you want, you can pay me later," Jane told them. "After all, I know I can trust you, and that way you don't have to pay sales tax."
Jake brightened, but Helen said, "But then we can't claim them as office furnishings. Trust me, this will be better." Helen generally preferred to stay on the right side of the law, even when she could duck out of something.
The man looked up. "A few of the dealers were complaining, but I think this is a good idea. Which art program do you come from?"
Jane shrugged. "I'll be a senior at Lawndale High in Maryland."
"Really?" The man looked at her, surprised. "I'll be darned." He approached and looked over the pieces more carefully. "My name is John Taylor Bell," he said as he looked. "I'll take the figure study, but I need to bring some people over before I pay for it." He took out a fountain pen and signed the contract for the painting. "Mark it as sold."
Quinn, who had been very quiet this whole time, piped up and said, "If no one wants one of those watercolors, I'd love one." She spoke directly to Jane. "They are very pretty. Let me know, okay? I want to check out the jewelry."
"Sure thing," Jane said.
"Did you want to keep one, Jane?" Helen asked.
"I have good photos of everything," Jane answered. "I would love to keep all my work, but money aside it does pile up!"
Helen pulled out her wallet and handed Jane five twenties. "One for Quinn, one for each of Daria's grandmothers, and, well, would you like one, Sweetie?"
"I have one," Daria answered. "Jane did six. She traded the other to one of the students." Fred, although neither Daria nor Jane thought Helen needed to know that. "How about Aunt Amy?"
Jane rolled her eyes at Daria and just gave up trying to give her art away.
At that point, the rotund middle aged man returned, dragging an older man and a slightly younger woman in his wake.
"Mrs. Sloan?" Jane asked, obviously surprised.
"Jane?" Kay Sloane asked in turn. "My, this is a surprise! Tom said you painted, but I thought I had taught him to recognize talent."
"That one," Bell said, pointing to the still life which had the last of Jane's three gold medals.
The elder man approached it and looked it over carefully. Then he actually pulled out a low-powered magnifying glass, and repeated the process. A small crowd was looking on by now.
"You're a high school student?" the man asked. "And the one leading the charge here demanding to retain some control over your creations?"
"I'll be a senior at Lawndale High," Jane confirmed, "and 'yes' to the second."
"H'mm, if you learned all this from Claire, she's even better than I thought," the man said.
"I learned a lot of it from her," Jane answered. "She's given me a lot of room to experiment."
He looked at Mrs. Sloan and Mr. Bell. "She certainly has a remarkable talent, and a fair idea of how to use it," he said. "Give me one more reason we should acquire it."
"Well, she's a fifth generation local artist," Kay answered.
"Really?" The man looked at Jane. "You're one of Amanda's children, I take it?"
"I am," Jane confirmed.
"Fifth generation artist?" Daria asked. "Through your mother's side, I take it." Daria knew the Lane family's opinion of the Lawndale Lanes.
"Exactly. Sixth generation actually," Jane replied. "All women, in fact."
"Really?" the elder man asked, doubtfully.
"My maternal grandmother was an artist. She mostly did watercolors, but she also did the murals down at the post office. She gave me my first painting lessons," Jane said proudly.
"We have work by both your mother and grandmother," the man confirmed. It was obvious he was connected to the Lawndale Art Museum (LAM).
"There used to be a big pottery factory outside of town," Jane went on. "Most of the clay was dredged nearby, and that became Veronica Lake. Anyway, my grandmother's mother, Victoria Chilson, was one of the chief designers for their fine ceramics. Two of her brothers were managers there as well."
"We have an excellent selection of her designs," the man agreed.
"Their mother, Mary Carroll, was a church elder, and designed most of the quilts made by the Lawndale Community Church in the late Gilded Age to just past the turn of the century," Jane went on. "She was taught by her maternal aunt, Wilma Charlotte Dukenfield, who started the Community Church quilt tradition during the Civil War."
"That we did not know," the man stated with some excitement. "We of course knew about Dukenfield and Mary Carroll as the first two leaders of the Lawndale Community Church quilters. We didn't know what, if any, relationship the two had other than working for the Church. The Lawndale Community Church Quilts are among the finer of the second half of the nineteenth century mid-Atlantic quilts designed and made, and we have several examples." He pointed at the still life. It was a simple table scene -- a bottle of Lancers (although the label was somewhat off to the side, so Jane wouldn't have to worry about copyright), with two empty jelly glasses, although there were hints of dregs in each, plus six crackers on the plate. It was entitled 'the Artists' Last Meal.' "We'll take it," he said.
"And I'll take this one," Kay Sloane stated, pointing at a still life of a conch shell.
"I didn't know you collected oil paintings," Jane said. "I thought Tom said you preferred watercolors."
"I do. I especially enjoy pastel work, however," Kay agreed as she signed the contract.
Jane smirked and said, "The model for the figure painting does excellent pastel work. She's over in the watercolor area; ask for Alison and look for the tattoos."
"I will before I leave. I'll see you in a moment." She and the Lawndale Museum representative left the area.
Just as Jane turned to Mr. Bell, one of the art dealers who had been harassing Jane returned, maneuvered through the dispersing crowd, and broke in. "So, young lady, have you've decided to give up on that contract idea yet? If so, maybe we can deal!"
"Why would I want to?" Jane asked.
"Why, so you can sell!"
Jane shrugged. "I've sold six already." Jane was certainly pleased; she had not really expected to sell any.
The man looked shocked. "What!"
"I think she and the others have a great idea," Bell put in.
"Oh, is that so?" the dealer asked. "Are you buying the girl's work for your fine institution?"
"Where do you work?" Daria asked.
"MOMA," the man said carelessly, as if the Museum of Modern Art was not terribly important. "And no, I made this purchase for my own collection. I certainly think this contract idea is a good one, and I'll be bringing it up when I get back to New York."
The man frowned and turned back to Jane. "I suppose it doesn't matter. I don't see that so-called contract holding up in court."
"I do," Helen stated. Before the dealer could ask her why her opinion should count, she handed both men her business card.
"Schrecter? Would any of those Schrecters be either Matt or Eric Schrecter?" Bell asked.
"Why, yes!" Helen said. "Do you know them?"
"Matt and I were roommates as sophomores at Crestmore, while Eric was in law school there. I lost track of Matt; haven't seen him in fifteen years or so! Has he fulfilled his life ambition to argue before the Supreme Court?"
"He's the firm's Federal appeals attorney; he's been before the Supreme Court, successfully, several times," Helen answered.
"Give Matt my card, and ask that he call or e-mail me," Bell said.
Thwarted, the dealer turned to Jane and said, "Five hundred for the remaining three paintings, no contracts."
Jane jerked her thumb at Daria. "Talk to my agent."
"No sales will be made without the contract," Daria stated.
"Sorry," the man said, "I just can't do business like that." The contract would make no difference to his buying and selling Jane's work (since he did not plan to pass the information on to his buyers). He just did not want to take the chance of the contract idea to leak out.
"I can, however," Kay Sloan said, walking up. The dealer left in disgust. "Jane, oh, excuse me, I should talk with your agent." She turned to Daria. "I'm Kay Sloane."
"Daria Morgendorffer," Daria replied, shaking hands. It was clear Kay had never heard of Daria, which did not bode well for Tom if he actually called for a date over the next week or so.
"The still life of the conch shell was personal," Kay said. "This is business. If any of these three are unsold at the end of the day, I'll take them for office art, either for my husband's firm or my foundation. So, six hundred for the landscape; a hundred and seventy-five each for still lifes. And I will of course sign the contracts. More artists should do the same."
Jane gave a slight shrug, so Daria said, "Deal. Why if they're still unsold?"
"Office art is impersonal," Kay replied. "I am buying these because they will look good in an office. If someone wants to give them a home where they are appreciated, especially as that will pay a starting artist bit more, I am all for it."
Kay turned to Jane. "Jane, that idiot son of mine made a bigger mistake than I realized." They shook hands. "I look forward to following your career."
Daria looked at Jane.
"What?" Jane demanded.
In the end, a dealer bought the landscape for $700, but Kay Sloane took home the other two still lifes. Helen and Jake were terribly impressed that Jane had dated a Sloane, but said nothing.
Helen was worried about all the money Jane had earned that day. However, to Jane's surprise, her parents showed up about an hour before the exhibition was over. Helen had run into Amanda the week before at a farmers' market. Amanda had remembered why Jane was away, but had forgotten the date the session ended.
They had hoped to arrive earlier, but Vincent's flight was late the night before, and so they had gotten a late start that morning. Both were impressed by their daughter's art, and Vincent mentioned to Helen that half Jane's earnings would be placed in Jane's college fund. (Jane was happy just to learn she actually had a college fund.)
Jane, however, would still be riding back with the Morgendorffers, as the Lanes were staying at the colony for a week, Vincent to develop his latest set of film as he needed some special equipment and Amanda to try out a new source of clay. Jane was rather astounded to learn that Amanda was planning on being back in Lawndale through Christmas if the clay worked out, as she had a very ambitious idea for a set of designs. Vincent mentioned that he would be in Lawndale from early November through Christmas as well, doing a special series at Arlington for a Viet Nam veterans group.
As happy as Daria was about how the summer had turned out, Jane was even more so.
Two days later, Jane and Daria walked through the corridors of Lawndale High, a bit surprised they were finally starting their senior year, and with very mixed feelings about being there. "How did the pre-school conference with Ms Li go?" Jane asked.
"Very well, actually. By Mom paying Ashton University as well as the colony, I got university credit for two creative writing courses. Why take a high school AP writing course? Mom and Ms Li of course wanted me to take something else, so I can finally take Spanish as well as French, since I've fulfilled all my language arts requirements to graduate."
"But, if you take senior Spanish. . . ."
"I'll have Spanish, but not English, with you."
"Oh, well done! Any word from Tom?"
"No, not yet, anyway. I don't expect him to call."
"He dumped you at least in part because you changed. His mother would have told him about you, and probably mentioned me. However she described me, I bet it was different from the way he saw me," Daria pointed out. "As you told me a few weeks ago, if he does call and we do go out, he'll find a slightly different Daria that the sarcastic mouse he probably saw me as last year."
"True," Jane had to agree. "Although I don't think 'mouse' was ever a good description of you."
"Minx, maybe. . . ."
The pair walked past Sandi and Tiffany, who were waiting for Quinn and Stacy to come out of the bathroom. Tiffany said nothing; in fact she barely moved. Sandi, however, thought, 'Those two still dress like geeks, but that tan looks good on them. The art girl grew about an inch, but Quinn's sister didn't grow much at all.' It bothered Sandi that Quinn now openly admitted Daria was her sister; it was one less thing she could hold over Quinn.
'But even though they still dress funny, look at them walk,' Sandi realized as she continued to watch them. 'They walk differently; they're confident. In fact, they're turning more of the boys' heads than we did this morning!'
Sandi saw the pair go up to Jodie and Mack. Sandi knew she would never want to be friendly with those two, but she was glad they at least were unlikely to ever be enemies.
In high school, as in business, that was often good enough.
"Wow, you two look good!" Jodie exclaimed. "Good summer at the art colony?"
"Outstanding, actually," Daria admitted, surprising the pair not only by her positive statement, but because Daria just seemed more full of life (at least for her) than usual. "If I had planned the summer there, it would have gone differently, but it could not have gotten much better."
"I have to agree," Jane said. "And you two?"
"The ice cream truck sucked," Mack said. "I'm glad I could turn it over to Kevin and Brittany a few weeks ago, even if they did mess up badly."
"My summer sucked, too," Jodie admitted. "I'm glad it went well for someone! Say, is there any chance of you two joining. . . ."
"No!" Daria and Jane stated. After all, they hadn't changed that much.
Ms Li's voice suddenly came over the P.A. system: "Welcome back, students! And remember, the school nurse is in and ready to take your voluntary urine sample. Show your Lawndale High spirit with the gift of urine!"
"Eew" and similar noises were heard all along the hall way, the loudest from the now-four members of the Fashion Club, just walking past Daria, Jane, Jodie, and Mack.
Daria sighed. "I hate high school."
"Let's talk about college!" Jodie suggested.
Daria looked at her friends. "That's not a bad idea. Conference at Pizza Prince right after school?"
"No practice today!" Mack pointed out.
"I'm supposed to network," Jodie mused. "Shall we network over pizza?"
"Sounds good to me!" Jane agreed.
The first bell rang, and everyone in the hall made for their home rooms. Kevin rushed past the quartet, knocking Jodie into Jane. "Hey!" Mack exclaimed angrily, but Kevin didn't notice.
Jane rolled her eyes and asked wistfully, "Isn't it time for college yet?"