“What if I bomb? What if nothing sells and the critics hate my stuff?”
Poppa was silent. His words were never rash, always considered. “This is Carly Sloan. She has a reputation.” He shook his head. “No, she wouldn’t ask you unless she believed your photographs were worthy.”
Poppa was right. Her stuff was good. It was far and away the best in her class, better even than most the instructors, though they’d never admit it. There was nothing the institute could teach her, no reason for her to attend classes.
“Your work has been compared to some of the great photographers,” her father said.
At the institute’s show, critics compared her black and white work to Sylvia Plachy and Albert Maysles; her street scenes to Garry Winnograd; her urban nature shots to Joel Meyenowitz. She’d studied the work of these creative innovators and the only difference as far as she was concerned was recognition.
“You just need a break, Freyja. Maybe this is it?”
“It’s not as if my photos are crap, Poppa. The curators love my work but say they’re too stark, too real, too edgy – in other words they won’t sell. Their patrons don’t want social commentary, they don’t want truth, they want images that match the color scheme of their living room.”
Freyja wanted to convince herself the photos she would present at the show were important. She wanted to get rid of the feeling all her photography until now was simply artifice, insignificant and silly compared to what she’d shot today.
Poppa reached for the glass of water on the end table.
“Let me, Poppa.”
Her father frowned and continued to reach out. The closer his hand got to the glass the more it shook. He laid back.
Freyja lifted the glass to his lips.
“Thank you, Freyja.” He wiped his chin with a waded tissue he held in the other hand. “What about Arni’s restaurant?”
“I don’t want charity.” Arni’s boss offered to hang her photos in his restaurant. Freyja had declined. “All matter of junk is hung in coffee shops and restaurants because a friend, a spouse, or a good customer has persuaded the owner to display it.” In this case, Arni and his employer were lovers. Nepotism diminished her work. In fact, she resented relatives and friends patronizing her, even if they meant well.
“Sometimes you need a little help, at the beginning.”
“I want my work to be judged on its artistic merit not on who I know.” She was being a bitch. She smoothed the afghan that covered his legs.
“I understand. It’s about integrity.”
“Thank you, Poppa.” Freyja kissed him on the cheek.
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