I’m crafting sales projections for the coming season in Popejoy Hall. These are our estimations of your evanescent actions and reactions. My task is to calculate the moment when a message from us raises your eyebrow and moves you to purchase a ticket, then enumerate your action, replicated by several hundreds of your statistical twins, sisters and brothers in arts appreciators. Next I transform that enumeration into the summary of our prediction for your attendance at a specific show. Then I have to do the same for 25 other shows.
It’s that moment that intrigues me, the instant where you decide to order tickets. That’s when lead becomes gold, when a butterfly’s wings stirs the hurricane.
I want a mural of that moment, a shimmering tile monument abstracting that instant where you move from curious bystander to involved arts patron, clamoring for the best seats in the house. If I could stare at that moment, captured in shimmering ceramic on a wall, I could better enumerate our chances of selling you a ticket or two in the next few months.
Because it has substance, dimension. Sales moments have no form. But if I could see one manifest on a wall before me, it would be much easier to count and to replicate. I could see its form, its components, its overall makeup and color in detail; it would be available to touch and analysis.
A companion piece, of course, would be a tile representation of what we sell. Most companies can take their products off the shelf, look at them, handle them, reshape them. What we sell is thinner than air. The only absolutely measurable aspect to our product is its fourth dimensional qualities.
So, if I had the money, I’d commission new artwork for my impending office: a pair of glazed tile abstractions of the abstract, the ephemeral, the ungraspable. They would be companion pieces giving matter and weight to the illusory world in which I work.
Which is fitting, really. It would take the reality of my professional life and make a metaphor of it. As choreographer Twyla Tharp noted, "Metaphor is the lifeblood of all art, if it is not art itself.” And art — whether mural or music, drawing or drama — helps us understand our world.
It certainly would help me understand my world as I try to count all the ticket transactions that haven’t happened yet.
Terry S. Davis
Photo: Tiles on display at A World of Tile on Menaul