Making Some Blogress

We here at Friends of Mona are working tirelessly to raise our profile and protect the rights of those in need. We currently have representatives stationed at most of the major art galleries in the United States, and are now working on placing our people outside of art studios and art schools in some of the larger urban cores.
I am fairly new to the organization and, considering our mandate, it is no surprise that I am the only artist to sit on the board. While we are not officially 'anti-artist', we do strive to steal away some of the attention and acclaim that is showered upon the artistic community and redirect it towards those who actually inspire the art.
Here's how I got involved –
Last April, my friend Pippi phoned me and asked if I'd pose for a portrait. Pippi is a gifted painter who has done phenomenal realist renderings of many of our mutual friends. I was jazzed at the opportunity and could think of little else in the days that came.
I planned and re-planned what I would wear for the occasion. I tested out a number of different facial expressions (ultimately settling on a distant stare with a sly, half-grin) and tried standing perfectly still for hours on end. When the day finally came, I was a posing expert, and Pippi was aglow with inspiration. The portrait turned out great, and I couldn't wait for her summer gallery showing.
When the time came for Pippi's exhibition, the line-up at the gallery fed out the door. Pippi's portraits hung smartly from the walls, with an admiring mob gathered in front of each. I saw Pippi off in the corner, gracefully fielding compliments and praise, and I prepared myself for much of the same. I took a deep breath in and waited for the crowd to notice me.
As I moved across the room, the gallery air was electric, in the way it is when talent and inspiration meet. I was a little surprised that nobody had recognized me yet, so I subtly made my way over to where my portrait hung. I stood a few feet away, watching people marvel at the piece. I tried standing perfectly still, but they still didn't make the connection. I tried a distant stare with a sly, half-grin, but all I saw was Pippi across the room, being interviewed by the press. Nobody noticed me, and as the evening wound down and the crowd thinned out, I stopped grinning.
A tap on my shoulder broke the stillness. At last, an admirer, I thought:
"Is that you up there in that portrait?" asked a pretty, older woman.
"It is," I replied. "But you're the first person who's recognized me."
"That's the way it goes, kid. I'm Rhonda Trifle. Why don't you and I take a little walk?"
We walked for a while, and as I poured my heart out, Rhonda seemed to know exactly how I was feeling: the frustration, the disillusionment…the overwhelming sense of injustice. With a determined gait, she led me into a coffee shop and placed a photo album down on the table.
"Robbie…I'm the new President of an organization called Friends of Mona. The organization was founded in 1508 by a woman named Lisa Gherardini. Do you recognize that name?"
I shook my head.
"Lisa Gherardini was Mona Lisa, subject of one of the most famous oil paintings of all time. Her face may have made Leonardo da Vinci famous, but Lisa quickly faded into obscurity, with nary an interview or a talk-show appearance to show for it. And Lisa Gherardini was just the first in a long line of exploited subjects who never got their due."
Rhonda opened up the photo album. On the first page was an old and weathered drawing of the inaugural Friends of Mona gathering in 1509. I recognized a couple of the faces…
"That's Lisa, of course…and the naked guy beside her is Paulo Girardelli," Rhonda explained. "Paulo was the model for Michelangelo's David, and he never got any credit for it. Poor guy kept trying to prove who he was."
Every page had a picture from a different Friends of Mona general meeting, and as Rhonda flipped forward through the album, centuries of artistic inspiration came alive before my eyes: a photo of the woman from Degas' Woman with Chrysanthemum commiserating with the four women from Gauguin's Four Breton Women…two of Picasso's Four Musicians making a joint address to the group. All of these indirectly famous faces were members of the organization.
Rhonda smiled at me: "We even had those poker-playing dogs signed up for a while…"
I was amazed. All my life I had celebrated creativity, but had paid no mind to what preceded the spark. Who knew what influential faces had stared at me on the subway?
I looked at Rhonda, as if for the first time, and wondered what great piece of art she must have inspired. Her face did not seem familiar, and so I gently inquired:
"Rhonda…you're the president of Friends of Mona. You've devoted your life to advocating for the muses of the world. You traveled across the country to help bring a first-time poser like me some comfort. What could possibly have motivated you to help me, Rhonda?"
As soon as I said it, I knew. And as those gorgeous Beach Boys harmonies filled my head, Rhonda and I both stared off into the distance, with a sly, half-grin on our faces.
I end this week's Blog with another interesting musical fact:

Using your diaphragm when you sing can help deliver a strong and steady vocal tone (but you mustn't forget to put it away after a performance).


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