Wednesday 3 December 2014

Day 3: A Sort of Artist

A Sort of Artist

Don Nixon
The opening of the Early Renaissance exhibition was a success. Everyone who mattered was there – Wall Street movers and shakers, the fashionable Fifth Avenue crowd and the usual clutch of critics, poseurs, free loaders and self-arbiters of taste. Even Vanity Fair had sent a photographer – the ultimate seal of approval.
I stood sipping my glass of flat champagne in front of the little wooden panel of Sandro Del Campo’s version of the Annunciation. Behind me two critics were in full voice. I winced as the pitch went higher. It reminded me of the old days when Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne were at the Met, trading high notes in some showy Rossini cabaletta.
    I caught Carlo’s eye and he winked at me. He is far too handsome to be a capo di capo in Palermo. Most of the Mafiosi of his rank have pasta heavy bellies and jowls like Mussolini but Carlo is as slim as the angel announcing the good news to the Virgin in the Del Campo picture. Michelangelo would have drooled over him as a model and I was hoping to persuade him to pose for me when the exhibition was over, he had half promised. I could see him as a Fallen Angel. It was the darkness at the back of his eyes that I wanted to try and capture.
“It is so typical of Del Campo. See the twist of curl at the angel’s neck,” trilled one of the critics. “Could almost be a Durer.”
“Or even Titian,” said his companion, not to be outdone as a small group gathered, eager to be told what to admire. “He must have been an influence on Titian. It’s clearly one of Del Campo’s later more mature works. Look at the halo. He’s using that Venetian trick of adding Murano powdered glass to the paint. You can see the light coming through. It is quite seminal.”
    I could only agree. Each feature they had mentioned was typical of Del Campo’s late style. And I should know. I had spent nearly a year studying Del Campo’s work. I glanced at the little crowd around the picture. Already they had picked up the right phrases and I heard murmurings of ‘curl’, ‘angel’, ‘Durer’, ‘Titian’.
“Who is Murano?” I heard a visitor from Wisconsin whisper.

About the author: 
Sadly, Don passed away before our book was published. He lived in Shropshire and had been writing for about twelve years. He has had had a number of short stories and poems published in anthologies and magazines in the UK, North America and Italy His first short story was published by Tindal Street Press – Birmingham Noir in 2002. More recently he had two short stories published in the Bridge House crime anthology Crime After Crime and a short story on a Shakespearean theme will be published later this year in an anthology arising from the Canterbury Festival. This year two poems have been published by Offa’s Press in the anthology Poetry of Shropshire. His novel Ransom was published last year.

  Read more of Don's story here:


Debz Hobbs-Wyatt said...

I got to know Don over the years of including his stories in our collections and I loved that he liked to call me to talk over his edits. I was very sad to hear via his daughter that he passed away before he got to see this; his last short story published. But I like that he leaves a legacy in his words. Enjoy, what a loss as he was a great writer and a lovely man. RIP Don!

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