Few would dispute Augen’s unwavering opinion as to the ideal place for an early-Spring suppertime picnic. If asked, Augen would gently close his eyes, his lips would curl slightly into a gladsome smile, and he would simply say “Inside the Valve House”. Truth be told though, the reason his opinion would never be disputed, is simply that out of all of Augen’s family, friends, and acquaintances, Augen was the only one that would ever go there for any reason, let alone a picnic. It is simply poor manners to argue a point if you weren’t sure if it were true or not.
A few of the typical replies would often be a polite “Oh really?” or someone listing their favorite places for a Spring picnic. This would quickly lead others to recount their favorite place for a Summer brunch or even Fall elevenses.
No one was ever brave enough to join Augen at the Clifton Park Valve House for the sane and rational reason that the place was a favorite haunt of vampires. Not normal vampires either, but the atypical four-horned variety. Even in the light of day, the Valve House certainly wasn’t safe, but at night…
What rational soul would tempt fate with such irritable fiends? His friends would say.
It really must be quite lovely there, don’t you think? Why else would he put himself in such peril? Someone would reply.
Then they would exchange a knowing glance that said - Augen always thought with his heart and rarely with his mind.
It was precisely 6:16pm as Augen sat on his mother’s heirloom quilt and opened his wicker picnic basket. With great care the basket was unloaded of its fragrant and savory contents. The light from the setting sun stretched it’s slender tendrils through the gapped tiles in the weathered roof and flooded in through it’s empty paned windows and arched openings. This was an enchanting hour for Augen. The light was fierce, but at bay, and the shadows at this time of day felt like they were growing stronger - and they were. He smiled with perfect contentment and went about plating his supper of grilled sardines and asparagus.
A small noise of shifting sand came from somewhere nearby. Augen looked around and no one was there. Then came a deep breath that someone might make before a yawn and then a slow exhale. Augen’s heart began to race. The sound came from one of the two large openings in the ground that led to the waterworks. With great anticipation Augen’s eyes grew wide. He searched the tiled edge for any sign of movement. The moment stretched and the air became still. Every sound dissolved and Augen held his breath in fear that if he breathed, time would continue to move forward at a normal speed.
Like a black flame, a mass of swirling hair rose from the depths of the gaping hole. The air was charged with life, and light, and shadow, and death. A yearning porcelain face appeared as the figure rose and her eyes stayed transfixed on Augen as her silken gown surged from some mysterious yet undetectable force. She floated toward Augen with an ophidian smile.
“Elsie” Augen whispered as he exhaled. He was able to breath again. His face was flushed. If he tried with all of his might, he would not have been able to keep himself from smiling at this time. It felt as though his entire being was supported by his heart. He didn’t need his bones, nerves, or tendons - they were useless.
“Oh Augen.” She sighed as she floated toward him. “It’s so wonderful to see you.” Her words floated just like she did and they echoed in his mind. They floated and danced and soothed his troubled thoughts. All would be fine. Think only of now.
Before he knew it, time was up. The light was dying and the darkness was claiming everything in it’s grasp. Augen’s plate was empty and the thermos he brought for Elsie was now empty as well. Somehow time had speed up. It must have corrected itself from when it had come to a stand still when she arrived. There were moments like this when time seemed so cruel.
Elsie’s family would be waking shortly and it would be dangerous for them both if he remained much longer.
They said their goodbyes for now and promised to meet again tomorrow. That seemed like an eternity away, but so did his home and it was getting dark fast. He risked one last embrace before he departed.
Augen dashed across fields, ducked between trees, and slipped over roads and through alleys, until he finally made his way home. Had he been followed? He shouldn’t have waited so long to leave.
As his dinner simmered on the stove, he sunk into his favorite armchair next to a roaring fire, and let the thoughts of Elsie melt away any doubts in his mind. As Augen sipped his Sencha tea he found his mind wandering where his heart took him. He wandered so long in these thoughts that he didn’t notice a thing going on around him. He didn’t notice the timer going off for his simmering Dum Paneer Kali Mirch, but more importantly he didn’t notice the two tall, pale figures at his window, watching him with ill intent. He just continued to relish in the memory of every detail of his ideal early-Spring suppertime picnic.
Perverse, indulgent, gluttonous, ironic, extravagant, grotesque, and surreal would all describe the bizarre and fantastic work of Christian Rex van Minnen. Born in 1980 in Rhode Island, raised in Colorado and now living in New York, Christian's success as an artist seemed to flourish due to the internet around 2006. He found his niche and others (like myself) began to notice him. Jon Beinart (of Beinart Gallery - www.beinart.org) supported Christain's work early on and subsequently motivated him to pursue his unique vision. Often his work is a contrast between real and imagined subjects. Tattooed and cut skin on folded flaps of a featureless face, bouquets of distorted and phallic gummy candies intermixed with entrails, and proud portraits of fur clad mutations all make up the subjects in Cristian's work. The above painting "Selfie in Casemate Under Bridge To Better Days 2" is new this year (2017) and is currently on display with more of his work in the "Con-Figuration" show at Postmasters Gallery in NYC. I urge you to go to his website below to see his other work and follow him on Instagram or Facebook.
As of October 2016, I intend to use this blog as an accompaniment to my Facebook page and Instagram page. On this blog I will post information and updates about my work as well as once a month I will highlight an artist whose work I like. Additionally, as of March 2017, I began posting a monthly Story Entry with an accompanying illustration of mine.