Kirsten Mosher's paintings, "Pathfinder Pictures", are simulated landscapes, space fiction that embodies much of the imagery she is already known for including parking lots, construction netting, traffic islands and intersections. Mosher maneuvers nature and architecture with the fluidity of a video game. Influenced by her public works, it is synchronistic that this exhibition of paintings is concurrent with Mosher's new public project commissioned by the Public Art Fund at Metrotech Center in Brooklyn; "Local Park Express" consists of park benches and planters that roll on train tracks from inside buildings out into the park. However the influence for Mosher's paintings is not only her physical works but also the more ethereal and fantastical, including her storytelling:
"Daylight at the Sun Ra Spa"
"Hello. I've come to breathe on you, spritz you, and douse you with fancy spring water. You're my favorite! Not only that, but I might just give you a ride on my work cart today. What do you think? Don't worry -- I won't let any Joy or Fantastik get on you. See, the cart top is all cleaned off. Just for you. All the cleaning stuff is underneath, on the bottom shelf. You'll get a smooth ride." Rose pushes the cart and it rolls down the corridor a bit. "Cadillac of cleaning carts," she chimes.
"Just leave me right where I am. I definitely don't need to go on any Sunday drives with you. I am certainly not curious about other offices on other floors."
"You want a ride on the elevator?" Rose persists.
Ivy is Rose's favorite.
"No, not unless you're offering a glass elevator, which you are not. I must have all natural light today. It's been overcast for three-and-a-half hours. At this rate it'll take all week just to maintain any degree of sanity, not to mention my complexion."
"Is there anything I can get you? More water?"
"I suppose you want me to get root-rot." Ivy is impolite, as usual.
"Okay." Rose hesitates for a minute and then hurries into her next suggestion. "What about the Sun Ra Spa? That's light. We could go there and soak up plenty of rays."
"What the hell is that?," Ivy grumbles.
"I haven't seen the whole place, but the lobby is very inviting. I liked the orangy-yellow color of the walls and the posters of tropical islands. There are white wicker chairs and a green couch to sit on while you wait your turn. Ferns hang from the ceiling, and the air smells like coconut suntan lotion. The whole atmosphere is very sunny without actually being real sunny. Like I said, I didn't try it yet, but from what I can tell, you just go in a booth and rest underneath the sunlamps for a while. The clients come out with glowing complexions -- different degrees of glowing complexions. 'Just as good as the real thing,' they say. I don't see why it wouldn't work for you. C'mon, I'd love it if you came along!"
"How is it that you've been in the lobby of the Sun Ra Spa, but you've never tried it out?" Ivy's interest is piqued, but the plant would never risk enthusiasm.
Rose isn't put off by Ivy's suspicious attitude. She figures her good nature will eventually endear her to the plant.
"I was applying for another job. I noticed the price list on the wall above the desk. Half an hour -- twelve bucks. I've been thinking about it for a while now. The cost of a sun session equals one-and-a-half movies, but of course it's only a quarter of the time spent at the movies. I'll skip the film this week and go to the spa instead, why not? We could share a booth -- that is, if you don't mind. Two for one. My treat."
"I really don't think so," Ivy snips. You'd have to bring the water spritzer -- electric sun sounds dry. I doubt it's much like the real thing."
"Fantastic! Pick you up in a couple hours, when I'm done cleaning the other floors. See ya later." There was real joy in Rose's voice. She was too shy to go on her own.
She's gone. Jesus Christ, what happened? I never said I'd go anywhere with that Rose. The sun will come out this afternoon and there will be no need. I won't go. Even if I have to wait all week, I'll be fine.
She can go alone. She can't take me if I don't want to leave. The barometric pressure in the air is dropping, down. Rain 29, storm 28. Storm!
A rumble of heavy thunder slaps against the office building, shaking the windows. Rain begins to pour. Four minutes later, lightning bolts sketch a quick design in the dark sky. The ivy plant rants on, complaining and spitting epithets into the empty office.
Hell, hell, hell! It would be a lot better if the sun just came out. Actual sun. The great ball of fire! Is it so much to ask? Not only do I have to wait indefinitely for decent light, but I have to put up with Rose for my water supply. Every three days she comes -- glug, glug, glug,
... spritz, spritz. Chatting away like a little bird. And swoosh, she's back again. God! The barometric pressure in this room. I'm sweating – I could faint. Sure signs of an anxiety attack. It's her fault!
Ivy watches the cat-and-dog storm outside, while droplets of fancy water still cling to its leaves, shiny and free of dust.
Swoosh, she's back. "Ready to go? You're not very heavy, are you? Don't worry, I've got an umbrella. Everything in moderation, even rain, that's my motto."
Rose enters the Sun Ra Spa for the second time. She hangs her yellow raincoat on a hook among a series of hooks laden with other colorful raincoats. And she sticks her plain black umbrella into a can stuffed mostly with black umbrellas, although one is yellow, with a long neck and duckhead handle. Rose signs the book, pays her money, and is led to a small room by an extremely tan woman.
Nobody seems to recognize her from her job interview last week, but Rose doesn't mind. It wasn't a real interview anyway, just filling out an application form. Ivy is tucked inside her left arm, balanced against her hip.
The attendant instructs her cheerfully. "Just undress and set the timer. It'll go off automatically. Fifteen minutes each side, no jewelry. Have a nice soak in the relaxing rays of the Sun Ra Spa."
Rose is surprised the plant hasn't spoken since they left the office building, but she figures a few minutes soaking up spa rays will liven Ivy up.
"Let's get in together; you've never seen me naked." Rose giggles a little and then lies down on her back, facing the ersatz sun with Ivy at her feet. It is very hot, and she wonders if she should spritz Ivy, but she feels lazy, warm, and relaxed. Ivy will be okay for a while yet, she thinks, letting her mind drift to other things. Rose fantasizes: if she worked at the spa, she would be able to use the tanning booths for free, or at least at a discount.
After fifteen minutes the buzzer buzzes and the lamps turn off. That's when she's supposed to turn over and reset the timer. But Rose just lies there.
An odorous gas seeps from beneath the locked door in Rose's cubicle, traveling low against the hallway floor and into the lobby. There it nearly gags the attendant, who immediately goes looking for its source.
At the door to Rose's cubicle, the attendant knocks nervously and jangles keys as she tries to find the right one. She sees naked Rose lying inside the tanning booth. A lump of green plastic oozes and smolders in an orange ceramic pot at Rose's feet.
The plastic ivy plant melted in the artificial sun, releasing noxious fumes that seeped deep into Rose's lungs, dulling her ability to breathe. Rose was lucky to be alive. The paramedics, who had arrived promptly, said that the ivy plant could have burst into flames had any more time lapsed under the heat of the lamps. Rose came to in four minutes, but by that time the plastic plant had been tossed into a dumpster that was itself just two minutes from being emptied. The attendant sat next to Rose and offered her a cup of Bear mineral water.
"The plant, the ivy plant. Where is it?"
"That thing, ooh, threw it out. Didn't I tell you not to take anything extra into the booth with you?"
Rose looks into the empty dumpster as she leaves the Sun Ra Spa, but Ivy is long gone. She tries to imagine what Ivy would look like melted. On her way home Rose stops at Peoples' Drug. They sell candy, aspirin, toilet paper, soap, and plastic plants, among other things.
At home, Rose unwraps her $6.99 purchase and places it on a cookie sheet in the oven, preheated to 550 degrees. She opens the windows in her kitchen for ventilation and breathes deeply. "Ready", she whispers.
By Kirsten Mosher