Art Pour l'Art


jim_icon.gif joaquin_icon.gifjonah_icon.gifnova2_icon.gif orwell_icon.gif

peyton_icon.gif robyn_icon.gif roxie_icon.gif royce_icon.gif seren_icon.gif

Scene Title Art Pour l'Art
Synopsis Two SLC-E artists show off their talents to the curious.
Date September 1, 2020


This art gallery is situated in a modest single-floor building annexed to a larger office building. The inside is as modest as the outside in design — plain white walls and wood floors provide a blank canvas on which to which to display the actual canvases of the artists whose work is displayed here — or their sculptures, photographs, or whatever media the art comes in.

The gallery is named for the two-room design of the space — at any given time, the work of two artists is on display at a time. The two artists are often thematically linked in some way, be it their styles or their subject matter, though that relationship is not always visible to the eye.

“Everything’s all set. You boys ready? You look great. Quit fidgeting. I’m going to go check on the caterers.”

Sarai Mendoza beams at the two men of the hour, or, well, the evening. The last comment is a stern look given to Orwell, who’s pulled his tie loose. Once the gallery owner leaves, Orwell pulls the tie off completely to shove in the pocket of his blazer, and he turns to look at Royce.

“These are the worst. Nothing like people staring at your work and talking about it where you can see and hear them, am I right?” the man says, turning to grab one of the pre-poured wine glasses from a nearby table that’s set with drinks and finger foods.

He looks from where they stand, which is in “Royce’s” room, to the room where his own paintings are. “My stuff is so boring compared to yours. It doesn’t even move,” he whines.

The door opens and a pair of people walk through, and his cheeks come up as OG forces a smile on his face. They might be buyers. Or critics. “This is the worst,” he reiterates.

Suit and tie and slightly spiky hair, Royce seems comfortable and cocky, rather than fidgety, even if this is his first public display in the city. There’s a hint to his grin that shows he knows his photos will be the star of the show, because no one has ever seen the like. As far as he knows. He’d won awards back in Washington KC, back when it was still good ol’ Kansas City. Most of his awards had come from photos during and after the second Civil War, but now— now his pictures were different.

They were more day to day life. People living in cities, sitting at tables eating dinner, having conversations, laughing at the park—

But they changed.

Every time someone looks back at one of the framed pictures, it’s changed just a little. People in the street move along, while the world around them stays stationary. A young woman sits in a chair toying with her hair and smiling at the camera, then a moment later the picture has changed to her standing behind the chair with her hands on it. It’s almost eerie, how it changes. And no one ever sees the changes when they happen. Just one blink it looks one way, the next it looks another.

“It’ll be fine. There’s a lot of people who still think paintings are more art than photos.” Anyone can take photos, right?

But no one can take and develop photos like these. And he seems to know it with the grin tugging the corner of his mouth.

Wandering around the gallery and doing his level best not to stare too hard at the works on the walls, Joaquin isn't really here for the art. Dressed in a crisp white button down and black vest, black pants, unoffensive tie, he's not wandering - he's working. Catering gigs are one way to pay the bills, after all. The young man carries his tray of drinks to be dispersed as carefully as he can, trying to make it look smooth and effortless as OG's smiles. But it's hard to avoid staring at what amounts to moving stills. Every time he blinks, something's changed. It's a little bit distracting.

For the umpteeth time, Roxie Lopez - NOT Santos, not anymore - has dodged a distracted gallery attendant and for the umpteeth time she’s had to bite her tongue to keep from telling them off. Lips press into a tight line, teeth digging in for extra protection against losing her gig. Somehow, she manages to avoid the insult and plaster the fakest smile back on her lips as she offers the tray of glasses to one rather fancy dressed old woman dripping with sparkly things.

Working was fucking hard.

The job had been a last minute gig suggested to her by her buddy, Joaquin. The prospect of money… of having money to buy a bed… of owning a real fucking bed was too much. So she borrowed a pair of slack and shirt from the guy, all of which were a bit ill fitting. Pant legs were carefully rolled and the white button up was a bit baggy, but Roxie looked good.

Or at least in her mind. An amazing feeling after years in threadbare clothing.

Her journey takes her through the gallery of moving pictures, unlike Joaquin, Roxie is distracted every time. Her mouth hangs slightly agape as she watches them change each trip through, almost running into another attendee. “Sh-” Teeth clack hard against each other as she snaps her mouth closed against the word. “Sorry,” is offered hastily and the tray is held up to distract. Mmm… alcohol. See?

Outside the gallery, a small orange dog sits bathed in the glow from the lights inside. The floor to ceiling windows afford him a view of the gallery within. He looks rather depressed, head laying on paws, he can still see the humans milling around inside. Only moving when he sees the two that belong to his pack. That is when he lifts his head and wags his tail with enthusiasm. Disappointment settles in when they move on, ears lowering and tail slowing. With a sigh, his head lowers to his paws again… and he waits for their next round.

“I guess,” Orwell says with another sigh, looking through the doorway to his own work — the subject matter of his paintings varies drastically, from portraits to cityscapes to scenes populated with people doing different things on the realistic side of things; on the more fantastic end of the spectrum, there are paintings that seem heavily symbolic, even mythological. The only common thread is a certain style in the shapes and colors and brushstrokes that people have come to associate with O.G.

“Careful, there,” he says to Roxie with a wink. “Your Muggle is showing.”

A few more people enter the gallery, and Orwell takes a breath. “Thank God. I was beginning to feel like it was my seventh birthday all over again,” he asides to Royce, before sipping the white wine he holds in his hands. “Maybe one day I’ll get used to this.”

Among the next cluster of people to enter the gallery is the familiar, tall figure of Peyton Whitney, hand curled in the crook of the elbow of her date — Jonah, dressed up with a tie and a sweater vest, along with a little “newsie” cap. “OG!” he says, rushing off from his mother to execute a complicated handshake with Orwell, complete with finger snaps and a dap.

“My biggest fan,” OG tells Royce, then puts his hands on Jonah’s shoulders to turn him to look at the photographs. “Look, then close your eyes, then look again,” he whispers, as if it’s a secret.

“Hi!” Jonah tells Royce, then does as the painter asks him to — his eyes widen and his mouth drops with all the wonder an eight-year-old can contain. “Whoooooooa.”

Peyton smiles at Joaquin as she takes a glass from his tray. “Evening,” she says softly, before turning back to look at the art in the room. “Even without the added bonus,” she tells Royce, “these are just lovely. Do you do family photography or try to stick with more artistic projects of your own choosing?”

For a moment, Royce looks at OG in surprise, and then nods a little, looking down at the kid with that same grin, though a little more amused. It’s always fun seeing what his pictures can do for the first time— he remembered when he first noticed it months ago— he thought someone slipped something in his drink at first. But no, everyone else could see it too. “Thank you. These are my more artsy shots, obviously. Showing the rebuilding of America. I have some war shots, but none that move.” He won awards with them, though, war photography often did. “I do private family shoots. Usually the people buy the only copies that turn out like these, so I don’t get to display them.”

These were taken in public, at events, though he did get them to sign waivers since they would be published professionally when he could manage.

“Want to see something really neat, kid?” he asks OG’s biggest fan, grabbing a small portfolio that he had sitting at a nearby table. “See that lady in that picture?” he points at a lady who was sitting on a bench, with a dog on a leash. The lady moves each time people look away— the dog doesn’t move quite as often, or as much. A few moments later it’s head has shifted to the other side, as if it saw something. The lady’s hair is cut into a short bob, but when he flips open the portfolio and finally finds the page, he shows another picture. This one looks similar, she’s wearing the same clothes, but the dog is now off the leash and she’s playing fetch— but it’s her hair. It’s long and in a ponytail.

“Looks like she got her haircut recently. I think it looks good.”

Getting out to a gallery showing isn't something Robyn Roux has done in ages, much less for photos instead of art or even books. As she makes her way into the gallery proper, her cane clicks against the floor and she smiles. Galleries were something that had grown hard for her to enjoy when her vision was pale monochrome, the biggest contributing factor to her growing distance from them. It's been since the Yamagato gala where the phototropic gasses let her know she could still see colours that she's been in any sort of galley or art show.

Yet, she's here now, and from the wide smile on her face, she's just happy to be here. Eyes scan the crowd for anyone she recognises first - she knows how dreadfully small this city can be sometimes - before straightening her yellow and black dress and looking for the first picture to catch her eye. Of course she's here to appreciate the artistry and imagination of them but… really, she's here because she wants to bask in being able to see colours again, even after so many months.

Speaking of color.

Behind Robyn, Seren Evans makes their way into the gallery with a self-conscious dip of their buzzed head. Over their shoulder beats a pair of egregiously-oversized butterfly wings, red and orange at their tips, fading to yellow and teal at their base. But they belong not to any human— instead to a fantastic creature perched on Seren's shoulder, one with peach-colored fur dominating its dragonlike body, save for a creme underbelly. "Keep close now," they murmur to the creature. "Just like when we go see Axel's galleries, okay?"

In a sign of possible acquiescence, the creature wraps its tail around the back of their neck, laying it over their shoulder. A curved fin with a glimmering pattern of its wings settles there, and Seren smiles, reaching up to scritch the side of the little creature's neck. "Thanks, Baird."

The so-named Baird tilts his head into the scritch on the side of his face, amber eyes peering out at the various works with an eager interest— eyebrows of oversized antennae flicking with each new exciting thing he takes in.

Content that their plainly visible imaginary friend will keep to himself for now, Seren lets out a quiet sigh of relief and lets their gaze roam, too. While they wear a dress-shirt with sleeves rolled under a darkened heather-grey waistcoat that matches their eyes, Converse hightops peek out from beneath black slacks. They slide their hands into their pockets as they slowly make their way inside the space, taking their time to examine the showings at the front rather than immediately charging to the back and working their way in reverse. A leather cord of a necklace-come-bracelet loops around their left wrist, adorned with colorful charms and beads that complement Barid's coloring. A silver-backed blue-green charm catches the light while they walk.

Joaquin bites the inside of his cheek in withheld humor as Roxie gawps at the displays and nearly bumps another guest. Right in front of Orwell. Working is hard, it's true, and it's a motion of commitment and work ethic. But there's moments when it pays (ha), like watching the wonder of the works and the reactions of the public to them. Head bobbing, he greets Peyton with a polite "Evening, Miss Whitney" and short turn to Jonah. Joaquin angles his head, arches a brow with a meaningful side-eye glance to the kid aimed towards the catering tables. Grab something good, it's all right there.

That noted, there's still others coming in and thus others to serve. Joaquin gains an empty glass joining the ones on one side of his tray as he steps over to Robyn with an offer, "Would you like a drink?" Even as he asks the question, his gaze strays to the arrival of the colorful, fantastic familiar atop Seren's shoulder. He blinks a few times upon realizing it moves, too. Whoa.

Slightly late to arrive is Jim — of course, since he’s not showing anything he doesn’t really need to be there on time, per se. It’s a show! People can come whenever! So he has, sans scrubs today since that would be a statement he might not particularly want to make, even if they had superheroes on them. Instead, he’s in a jacket and slacks, and even a tie. It is both dressy and the nod to his usual penchant for all things powered. From afar, it looks mostly silvery, but from close up one can see the Avengers’ ‘A’ subtly interspersed to break up the diagonal lines of lighter grey on the darker background.

“Peyton, hi,” he says when he catches sight of her and Jonah, and he starts that way, waving to the little boy as well, though he doesn’t interrupt the child’s discovery of Royce’s pieces. A wave to OG, too, as well as a smile as he continues, “Hey, good to see you. Congratulations.” That is what one says to an artist at their show, right? Well, even if it isn’t, he’s sticking with it.

Even though cheeks are flushed from her blunder, Orwell earns himself a perplexed look at the comment. “Wh—” Roxie clearly doesn’t understand the reference, so she can’t decide if that is a compliment or not. She decides she better ask someone who’s up on all the lingo in the civilized world.

It takes only a moment to find Joaquin as he offers a glass to Robyn, “Hey,” She offers to the guest, before she leans over to Joaquin and asks quietly out of the corner of her mouth, “What’s a Muggle?”

While she hopes for an answer, Seren and their companion catches her attention and Roxie’s jaw drops. “Wha—?” She says in just as many minutes, head tilting in a manner not unlike a dog. The sight gets a mildly fearful look and instinct has her taking a step back and almost bumping into Jim.

Oh right. Working.

The tray with the refreshments is offered. “Ah… drink, sir,” Roxie asks with a nervous glance over her shoulder at the colorful creature.

“Jim! You made it!” Orwell reaches out to shake Jim’s hand, as Peyton too beams at the arrival of the precognitive nurse. “Thanks. I feel like I’m about to explode from nerves, but maybe someone can convince everyone it’s performance art if I do, yeah? This guy’s the real show here, the photos are his. Chuck Royce,” sorry, Charles, you’re Chuck to OG, “this is my pal Jim, and oh, my manners, that’s Peyton.”

Peyton’s attention on Royce has veered from the photographer to a particular image that’s struck her fancy, but she looks back at his answer to her question. “Excellent. I’ll try to schedule something soon,” she says with a bright smile. “It’s really amazing work.”

The clairvoyant turns to check on Jonah — catching sight of Seren and also Robyn. Both are given a smile of familiarity as Peyton reaches to take her son’s hand. It’s not really a children’s event, but Jonah is a well-behaved child. Still, best to keep him from touching the art.

“Oh, is that Baird?” Poor Seren’s name is left out of Jonah’s memory, but he does remember the fantastical creature from the tile workshop. “What kind of thing is he today? A butterfly dragon?” he asks, dark eyes wide with wonder. “Butterdragon? Dragonfly — wait no that’s a thing already.”

Entering through the door steps Nova. At a glance it’s easy to tell she’s likely a Brooklyn College student and likely here for an assignment, given the book bag slung over one shoulder and the notebook held tucked against her chest. Her blue-eyed slide past one wall of photographs, and then the other, before returning to the first.


“Holy shit,” she murmurs to herself, stepping closer to examine the photograph nearest to her.

On Seren's shoulder, Baird turns at the sound of his own name, antennae perking up. It takes his summoner a moment to follow, but they finally look away from the mythological-seeming painting that had captured their attention. Seren sees Jonah finally and offers a small smile, a wave of their hand. It's not unusual that Baird is the one remembered of the two, so they take no offense.

Their smile does become a touch more sheepish when they realize how many other eyes are on them, though.

"Yeah, I think he was going for a dragonfly look today," they admit a touch wrily. The chimera on their shoulder shifts his head, chin lifted in what's clearly a pose, showing off his best side. Seren chuckles at his antics, the sound brightly carrying.

Robyn is likewise stricken with awe at the sight of the fantastic creature trailing with Seren, eyes locked on it for a long several moments, before finally noticing Peyton and Jim as well, the latter of which she only barely recognises. Turning on her heel, she makes her way over towards them. "Peyton!" There's a just barely inappropriate amount of excitement in her voice. Seeing Jonah makes her wish she had dragged Matthew with her, but she would have to bring him another day.

"Jim, it's nice to see you as well," she remarks as she reaches them,eyes moving back to Baird. "Do, uh. Does that get captured on film? I bet it'd make a good centrepiece for a gallery like this." The words practically tumble out of her mouth. It's been a long time since anyone has seen her this… bubbly, but as her bright green eyes move between the three of them, she smiles wide. "How are you two?" she asks of Peyton and Jim, before looking to Seren and extending a hand with a wide smile. "And you, Seren?"

“I wish I had my camera,” the photographer muses quietly as he finds himself staring at Seren and Baird— Baird specifically, most likely, from the way he watches the fantastical creature move about. Royce has learned in the last few months that things once thought impossible were possible— even more than they had seemed after the initial reveal of SLC-E abilities in the world. After all, moving photographs had seemed exciting and new when he registered at SESA— they hadn’t even been sure how to classify them at first.

As he’s introduced, “Chuck” doesn’t correct and just offers a whimsical smile. “I hope you enjoy the show. There’s a lot of interesting pictures. Mine don’t show the future, like OG’s, but they have their own interesting twist.” Showing the future was nice, though, he supposed.

He keeps glancing in Seren, and the mythical creature’s direction though, and wondering where the nearest camera happened to be. Cause he wasn’t sure anyone would believe what he was seeing if he didn’t get a picture of it.

Jim is Jonah’s next target as he hurries over to the school nurse. “Did you see the photos move?” he asks excitedly. “How does that even work? Mom and Brad say our powers are just science we don’t understand yet, but you know more science than me,” he asks, reaching to pull Jim toward one of the photographs, but Peyton’s hand keeps him from getting too far.

“Let Mr. Clark look around at what he wants to. I promise we’ll look at everything in just a moment. Go pick two snacks,” she says to the eager child, who sighs and heads to the table. Jonah looks for Joaquin and points to the food with a curious expression — which ones are best?

Orwell shoves both hands in his pockets and glances to his room through the doorway — there are a few people in there, now, but the commotion is over Royce’s moving photographs. “Well, not all of them do. I don’t even know if any of them do. You never know until, you know. You know,” he manages, a little nervously.

“I did!” Jim reaches to take Orwell’s hand to shake, his smile widening a little bit. “I’d say that’s probably normal, but I’m actually not sure.” Since he’s probably never had a gallery showing before. Try not to be too surprised. As he’s introduced, he turns toward Charles, extending his hand to him, too. “Nice to meet you,” he says. “These photos are amazing.” That is certainly true enough, and it’s obvious he’s impressed by them.

He looks around to see some more just as Jonah comes up to him, and the child’s questions make him grin. “I saw,” he confirms. “Pretty amazing, right?” He doesn’t seem to be totally averse to being pulled wherever, but he does laugh when Jonah gets distracted by the food. There’s a nod to Peyton, semi-conspiratorial, before he catches sight of Robyn. “Hi,” he says, with a wave and a smile for her as well. “I’m doing all right. How are you? It’s been a while.” He nods to Seren, too, adding, “Hi. Jim.”

Joaquin turns to head off with half-empty tray when Roxie sidles by and speaks to him. A what now? He looks taken aback as if she'd spoken some form of slur, then clears his throat lightly when her question sounds genuinely seeking. "Oh. A Muggle is a, uh, a normal person. No special stuff." He gestures a vague wave to himself in illustration. "Comes from a book about magic and wizards," he adds, withholding the rest of the details as he glances around the gallery. "I'll explain later," he promises. Maybe on their break.

But who could deny the existence of such not-yet-understood science with proof playing out before all their eyes? "A drink, miss?" comes his next query to the latest arrival by the photographs, Nova. The question comes out before he gets a better look at the young woman, her appearance and youthful features causing Joaquin to balk briefly. Still the offer stands. It's not his place to judge, right?

Nova turns from the photograph at the sound of Joaquin’s voice and smiles. Her eyes glance at the champagne flutes on the tray, then back to him, seeing that hesitation.

“You won’t get in trouble, right? I mean, it’s not your job to card, is it?” she says with a sly grin, reaching to take one of the flutes and taking a small sip. “How do you not spill that looking at all of these?” she wonders, those eyes darting back to the photograph she’d looked away from; the woman standing in the photo has changed position, and her hair, which was lank a moment ago, now floats in the wind, caught in time.

Orwell turns to answer some questions from another patron about one of his paintings. “One moment,” he tells those clustered nearby. He throws “Chuck” a wink as he walks off with what he hopes is a potential buyer, stepping into his side of the gallery to discuss a painting not too far from the opening to Royce’s side.

Seren accepts Robyn's hand with a warm smile in return. "Good, good. It's great to see you again." And after, at Jim's acknowledgement, they dip their head with a smaller smile, a little more self-conscious. "Seren Evans," they introduce themself, feeling as though they might've met before, but it's been too long to properly recall. They'll spend some time thinking on it.

"Do you guys have a favorite piece you've looked at yet?" Seren wonders, looking between the small gathering one by one.

“Huh,” Roxie says in response, still as confused as she was before. “Whatever, at least it’s not an insult.” She can live with that. Leaving Joanquin to his work, she travels back into the photography side of it all. Away from the weird beast, too. Drinks are distributed with a forced smile, but the wonder is real. One with a dog in it gets her attention and she slows to a stop.

With each blink the picture seems to shift and move. All these powers still made her uncomfortable, but then she grew up during a war when those powers were trying to kill her family. Since coming to the Safe Zone, Roxie has seen a lot of amazing things. “So cool,” she says under her breath.

It seems that of those present and talking about the pictures, deciding not to reprimand the people serving drinks to potential minors, and instead watching Jim and Robyn and Seren who seem to look much better to do than some of those. “I’m the photographer— I can answer any questions if you have them. My ability is still pretty new, but as you can see, it has some interesting effects.”

He has kind of a goofy smile, looking a little excited, but not exactly nervous as he glances back at his pictures. They’re always still. But then they’re not.

He wished he could see them change sometimes.

“I also plan to be in the Safe Zone for a few months and will be hiring out to do commissions. But all of the pictures on display are available for sale too, all original, one of a kind prints.”

When the photographer reveals himself to her, Robyn's gaze snaps to him like a laser guided missile. At first she raises her hand like a kid in school trying to ask a question, but then decides to slip through the gathered crowd up next to Royce. "Hello, Robyn Roux." There's an almost predatory smirk on her face as she extends a hand to him. "How… reproducible is this effect? It's so incredible."

Taking a moment to turn and look at some of the pictures again, she tilts her head. "What I mean is- is there a way to duplicate the photo and keep the movement effect?" Quirking an eyebrow, she looks back over her shoulder to Royce. "I run a recording studio. I'm sure some labels and artists would love moving album covers, even if it's just for some special edition releases."

Upon hearing they're in presence now of one of the artists for the evening, Seren's head snaps in the photographer's direction. "Oh my god, you're Charles Royce?" they enthuse, and the dragon-butterfly on their shoulder purrs in interest, catlike and pleased. "I think your ability is amazing! A lot of people wouldn't be as bold as to let their ability become such an integral part of your work. So I just wanted to say— I really think it's wonderful that you're sharing your work with others the way you are."

Outburst complete, Seren lifts a hand to rub at the tattooed side of their neck a bit self-consciously, attempting a sheepish smile.

“Not that I’ve found so far, and we’ve tried,” Royce looks back over to his prints with a small grin. It had given him quite a lot of frustration, but now he seems to be grateful for it— because really, if he couldn’t find a way to make a copy, it meant other people would probably have a hard time too. “I can’t even develop the negative a second time. It erases the first time I do it. And it’s only on pictures that I take and that I develop myself, it’s very picky, this ability.” He laughs, as if the ability has a mind of its own or something.

“That’s why most of my professional work is normal digital which doesn’t have this effect, with a bonus print on the side if they wanted one with the effect.” Then he directs his attention at Seren— and specifically Baird for a moment. “I would love to figure out if that shows up on camera. Cause wow. Gorgeous. I was already a photographer when I manifested, and I loved developing pictures, it was either go fully digital or embrace the change.” he laughs, cause— well, it seems he embraced the change.

After a moment he reaches into his portfolio and pulls out a couple cards, handing one to Robyn and another to Seren. “Here’s my card. You can make an appointment to set up a photoshoot if you want anytime.” He gestures toward Baird, “I might even give you a freebee just to see if he shows up.”

Seren's sheepish grin only broadens. "I'm sure Baird would love that." And indeed, the card has to be lifted for his purview and approval first. While the creature sniffs the typeface, they look around for anyone else who looks suitably informed and artistic. When they spot OG explaining one of his works nearby, they ask, "Is that the painter for the paintings?"

Chances are, he might get a gushing glow of approval from Seren, too.

Orwell’s conversation seems to be coming to a close, as he gets a firm handshake from the person he’s talking to, before that person turns to find the owner of the gallery.

OG turns, a wide grin on his face from what seems to be an impending sale. He sees Seren looking in his direction, and moves toward them, hand out to shake theirs in a welcoming gesture.

“I am in fact the painter.” Baird is given a curious glance, but OG focuses on Seren’s face after that first appraisal of the fairy creature. After all, whatever Baird is, he’s probably not paying for any paintings tonight. And OG has that gleam in his eye of someone who’s possibly just made one sale and is on the hunt for another.

“You might like this set over here. They’re a bit fanciful, which it seems might be your aesthetic,” the painter suggests, indicating a certain wall that’s full of bright colors and whimsy. Wispy fae-like creatures dance across the canvas — not literally like Royce’s photographs — of one painting; spirit-like faces look down from the clouds of another.

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