Tucked away on G Street in downtown Anchorage is the quaint Fiddlehead Gallery. Gallery is not really a fitting name, however, as it is more an art boutique than an exhibition hall. The “gallery” features new artists every month, partaking in the city’s First Fridays.

The most recent of exhibits was titled “Little Encaustic Wax Paintings” and featured pieces from local artists Yuliya Helgesen-Thompson, Katie Sevigny and Cindy Shake. The little shop features works from numerous Alaskan artists, so unless an observer takes extra time to closely examine the paintings on the walls it is indiscernible to determine what paintings belong to what artist. I did take the time. I take time whenever I can get it. Time is a precious commodity, almost as fleeting as an art show named “Little Encaustic Wax Paintings.” I spotted only a few paintings by each of the newly chosen artists. This is because the shop chooses which pieces to keep on display when a First Friday has come to pass; a kind of First Friday time machine. This would be the most splendiferous device ever! A time machine that could take you to the first Friday of every month, where all you had to do was mosey around art galleries and grab brews with good company once the idea of sophisticated culture had worn out its welcome.

Far too many people were in the gallery for such an endeavor to be possible. I would not want to travel with all these people, for I fear the sheer number of patrons in the art shop turned time machine would cause a time paradox catapulting the crowd farther into the future than anticipated. I would be forced to fend for myself, leaving the rest of these poor saps to fend for themselves against the Morlocks.

Snapping back to reality from my daydream, I found myself standing in front of a mixed media piece titled “Why track.” The piece featured soft colors of yellow, orange and light green. A grotesque creature—what appeared to be a misshapen elephant—overlooked a dusty railroad yard. The railroad yard itself was not painted; it was a picture that had been incorporated into the piece. This mixture of real with surreal only caused me confusion. I could not decipher the deeper meaning, if there was meant to be one at all. Why track? Why a freakish cartoon elephant?

Many paintings featured simple glimpses of Alaskan nature: polar bears, birds, flowers… Nothing too exciting. An older woman approached me while I was jotting notes and enquired as to what I was doing. “Recording my thoughts,” I said. “For I have lost my short term memory!” The woman, I’m guessing, suffered from the same handicap having no response to my plea for attention. She asked me what I liked most about the gallery. Before I could answer she informed me that the flowers were her favorite. I wanted to tell her that flowers could be found just outside the shop, but her eyes remained fixated on a small painting and I quickly escaped.

The brief distraction was causing creativity to slip from my mind, and I had to circumvent human interaction to find a painting worth brooding over. That painting will remain nameless, as it was not labeled. The co-owner of the shop informed me that it was painted by Katie Sevigny and would cost me $2,500. Reaching in my pocket, I was disappointed to discover that I had only brought $2,499. What a shame. The large piece was seven to eight feet tall, four to five feet wide. It featured naked women sprawled all over the canvas. None of the women had their faces showing except one, but her eyes were closed. All of the other faces were cut off by a body part or shape that created the background of the painting. Rectangular shapes of every color surrounded the women. These shapes made up the background, but they appeared to protrude from the painting, creating the illusion that the rectangles actually rested in front of the women instead of behind. Its retro shapes reminded me of ’70s architecture. Suddenly, the room began to spin, and I found myself on a disco floor dancing to Boney M.

When should a shop be considered a full-fledged gallery?

Does going to an art exhibit naturally invite social interaction?

How big is too big for a painting?

How often do you see paintings featuring naked women? How often do you see paintings featuring naked men?

Where the Eloi a communist society?

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