This Level


Sometime in the last few months the husband and wife are in one of those Upper East Side galleries that’s so fancy it’s upstairs. It can’t be bothered with the street, or the people who wander in off it. There are sculptures and paintings that remind the wife of the husband’s work. The husband has not recently made work, is currently focused on his window-restoration business. I think your work is on this level, the wife says. This is very good. It’s not better than your work. The wife anticipates a response here somewhere on a continuum between My style of work isn’t in favor right now and You don’t know that much about it. Things the wife almost never says: I’ve been going to museums and galleries on the Upper East Side since I was eight years old. Maybe I don’t have to be obsessed with art in the way you are, or have an MFA in art, to have valid thoughts about art. Maybe my experience with my art is relevant to your experience with your art. Maybe my ideas about how my work is, or should be, received in the world are relevant to your ideas about how your work is or should be or will be received in the world. Maybe the only difference is that my work is being received in the world. The continuum of things the wife does say includes You have shown your art in fucking museums. You have shown your art in so many galleries. You have walked into galleries more than a few times and said “I’d like to have a show here” and you’ve had a show there. His response continuum from here diminishes all these achievements in different ways according to mood.

You might be right, is what he says.

The husband and wife have a long-running joke about his need to be right.

Sometimes I am! is what she says, with a tiny bit of cheer.

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