Classical Jazz '05



Finer Details

Finer Details

I was in my senior year of college at St. Peters  when I met Henry. In my studies it was required to critique the works of famous or semi-famous artists and write extensive reports on our opinion as well as the opinion of others. I chose to utilize the local museum of art, and that is where Henry was - everyday.

I never saw him up and about; he usually would sit in one of the many benches dotted throughout the galleries. He was an older gentleman: late 60’s, well dressed in an old beige suit with a matching boater hat. Henry had a voice and physique that reminded me of the actor James Earl Jones, but the most interesting thing about him were his dark, round sunglasses and white cane. It was apparent to me from the moment I saw him - Henry was quite a distinguished fellow. It was mostly his age and his fancy dress that gave me the impression he was wiser than me.

Which was probably why I met him in the first place. I was looking at a painting by the artist Gregori Chivoski, a large, imposing piece of work that reminded me of what you see inside of a kaleidoscope or maybe a junkyard, and it seemed to me the wizened old man knew a thing or two about art. I needed insight from others for my report regardless, so i turned to him and inquired,

“What do you see? I don’t see much, myself.”

The bench was facing the painting, so I assumed he knew what I was referring to.

“I don’t see a thing,” he replied and chuckled, “no wait!” he quickly added, and rubbed his chin in apparent thought, “I see... I see the struggle of life. The hot fire of the human soul, reaching out to me for help! Yeah...”

This was an extremely exciting perspective. I quickly took note of the man’s insight within my journal and realized how right he was. Chivoski had been a prisoner of the Holocaust - of course his painting would reflect human suffering!

I thanked him for his help and gave my name. He gave his and that was my first encounter with Henry. I really should have stayed to talk more but I was really excited to start my report, so I said my farewells and went on my way. As I left I could hear Henry still chuckling.

That’s how the next couple of weeks of my life played out: I would go to the museum, find Henry, and ask him what he thought about a particular piece of work. Once I had his thoughts down on paper I would take my leave and add to my growing report.

He called the work of Alfred Pennington - revolutionary, the paintings of Lucia Bendez - evocative of childhood, and Vincent Franz’s “The Rainy Street” - powerful, elegant, yet foreboding.

Henry was clearly a genius; a genius that gave me the insight I needed. The due date for the report was drawing near, but I was already finished. As far as I was concerned, all I had left to do was thank Henry one last time for all the help he gave to this novice art appreciator. So the day before the report was to be turned in, I went to go see him at -- where else?-- the museum.

I looked through the hall of paintings, and scoured the sculpture galleries, but to no avail. Henry simply was not there. It had not occurred to me until then that he might actually have a life outside the Museum. I had always thought he was just such an art enthusiast that he spent every day there. Nevertheless, I had other works to do for my closing senior year at college, so I had took my leave and vowed to thank the man another day.

Not so surprisingly, my report turned out wonderful, and my art history/designing concepts course was in the bag. In the waning days of my college career I continued to search for Henry at the museum, but I didn’t find him again until I had already graduated.

I was on my way to the museum walking down one of the many urban sidewalks when I ran into him. I stood before him a learned man with a bachelor’s in art history and design - I felt like I was well on my way to being just as much as an aesthetic aficionado as he was. One thing I didn’t expect was the dog. He had a German shepherd on a leash held in the hand he normally kept his cane in. I could not imagine how he could walk without it, much less let a dog drag him around.

After our formalities I had to ask him,

“Henry, why have you not been to the museum?”

He replied very frankly,

“They won’t allow my seeing eye dog inside.”


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Artist: Ian Peck
School: North Allegheny


Caitlin Dittrich from: North Allegheny - posted: October 19, 2012
I love it! I thought he was blind when you mentioned the white cane, but was not positive. They ending really shocked me! Great job.

Megan Foukes from: North Allegheny - posted: October 19, 2012


This was really well written and I loved the dialigue and language you used throughout the story. The twist at the end really brought it all together and shocked me.

Rebecca Robles from: North Allegheny - posted: October 19, 2012
The ending sentence is great. It is very unexpected. The piece really keeps the reader's attention. Great job. I also like how you portrayed the main character as an unexperienced, yet ready to learn kind of person. It makes him human and allows the reader to relate to his first few impressions of Henry. 

Zach Murphy from: North Allegheny - posted: October 19, 2012
Really well written dialog and the use of imagery was perfect!

gabriella adair from: North Allegheny - posted: October 19, 2012
I can really hear you reading this after having poetry with you, and i really like it! wish i woulc hear you read it a loud !

karissa longo from: North Allegheny - posted: October 19, 2012
I really enjoyed this! It was cool how you put your knowledge of art into your writing, and you really kept the ending a surprise until the end. Great work!

Teresa Curry from: North Allegheny - posted: October 19, 2012

I really didn't expect the ending, but it was brilliant none the less. You didn't suspect a thing which threw me off. I really liked this piece because I was able to picture Henry, though I didn't know the pieces of work you were able to get a general idea off of what they looked like from the answers Henry gave!!

Tim Gill from: North Allegheny - posted: October 19, 2012
Another great piece of literature Ian. You told the story very fluently and summed up the meetings with Henry really well stating what he had to say about each piece of art. The ending brought it all together too. You chose the best words for your last sentence.

Adam Shaffer from: North Allegheny - posted: October 19, 2012
This is fantastc! the diolauge and writing are very good, and the story flows nicely.  

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