The holiday daze brings more glitter and less efficiency as Mercury turns retrograde now through Dec. 30. Relax and enjoy the lights, reconnect with old friends, and finish old business before the year ends.
We’ll see an increase in odd misunderstandings and misplaced items but also some luck woven into the minor mishaps over the next few weeks. Though the store might not have what we came for, we may see a long-lost acquaintance while we’re looking. If we haven’t mailed packages or made travel plans, it’s best to wait until next week to do so. If we feel tension brewing, let’s check for misunderstandings first.
Through this next week we may experience a Venusian conundrum about relationships, love, money, or our sense of value. Work through it gently. With Venus in Scorpio and Mars in Capricorn, we enjoy emotional steadiness. A snarly cynicism may occasionally surface, but we don’t have to indulge it. Venus and Mars in such introspective, determined signs might make the holidays more intimate and less glittery; we might prefer to talk with a few people rather than skip about under the mistletoe. We can get snarly when things go wrong or if our heart hooks on past thorns, but we can also build trust with good memories.
This weekend, we dive into the seasonal magic because not much else gets done as Mercury retrogrades under a Pisces moon. Monday, a conjunction between Mercury, Mars, and Pluto in Capricorn demands that we make decisions and act, but we may not have the information needed to do it right. Tough decisions are on the table about how we work and handle resources. Pare down, but don’t overdo it. Midweek, an Aries moon builds up momentum, but we need to ensure we’re headed in the right direction first.
Friday, Dec. 10: The world slows down, and misunderstandings pick up; we mean well but can trip as Mercury retrogrades. Take opportunities to weave connections in the afternoon’s positive vibes. Tonight, the subconscious churns, and people are distracted.
Saturday, Dec. 11: Give the psyche room to roam this spacey morning as the moon conjuncts Neptune and then enters Pisces. Afternoon is tender on the inside but creative on the outside; some object from the past can trigger a memory flood. Evening is dreamy but active; deep feelings may be present.
Sunday, Dec. 12: The morning is sweet and connected; the afternoon is inefficient but contemplative. We may feel old this evening but appreciate tradition as the moon challenges Saturn. Don’t argue about procedure; people have their own methodologies. The week will go easier if we rest tonight.
Monday, Dec. 13: Get oriented to the week’s issues this morning under a positive moon-Jupiter conjunction; stay steady this afternoon as an intense Mars, Mercury, and Pluto conjunction in Capricorn requires decisions. Take tough news seriously but skeptically. Watch sharp edges, rough motors, or a tendency to cut off more than we need.
Tuesday, Dec. 14: Don’t get involved in other people’s storms as the moon enters Aries and squares the Capricorn lineup. A breakdown or breakthrough is possible; proceed with care. Watch out for edgy, chip-on-the-shoulder energy.
Wednesday, Dec. 15: We’re called to maturity even if we don’t feel like it. It’s a cleanup and follow-through day. If we listen to the spontaneous needs of our soul, we won’t be so resistant later.
Thursday, Dec. 16: Last-minute expenditures spill from generosity; it’s a materially thoughtful day with some conflicts of interest as the sun squares Jupiter. Make your point this afternoon as the moon trines Pluto and Mercury; use metaphor and illustration rather than repeating information.
An Object of Beauty: A Novel by Steve Martin, Grand Central Publishing, 295 pages It’s commonly referred to as “the art world” — a phrase that encompasses the creation and trade of select objects deemed worthy of possession and envy either for the passions they stir or the pockets they line. “Art world” insinuates that art and those who benefit from it professionally (critics, collectors, public art institutions, dealers, lenders, auctioneers, artists, etc.) travel in an orbit separate from everything else, hurtling through space and time with either the blessing or curse of special classification — one that is commonly self-generated.
In comedian/actor/author/musician Steve Martin’s debut full-length novel, An Object of Beauty, the art world and the larger world it depends on collide, their polarities jostled and tilted to reveal just how fragile and intertwined they are. Set primarily in New York City and spanning the early 1990s to the present, Martin’s story anthropomorphizes the growing pains and financial agonies and ecstasies of the art market during that period in the form of small-town gal Lacey Yeager, a beautiful, sexually aware, and manipulative young woman whose determination to succeed in the Big Apple overrides her ability to separate ambition from selfishness and cruelty. “When she left a room,” writes Martin’s narrator, Daniel Franks, a freelance arts writer and awkward friend to Lacey, “there was a moment of deflation while we all returned to normal life. It was apparent to everyone that Lacey was headed somewhere, though her path often left blood in the water.”
After cutting her teeth in the back rooms of Sotheby’s on the Upper East Side, prepping 19thcentury paintings for auction, Lacey graduates to co-brokering the sale of modernist works for a big-time dealer, adding international travel and a tryst with an emasculated yet debonair French collector named Patrice Claire (among other men) to her art-world repertoire.
Lacey perceives the women she works with at Sotheby’s (and all women, really) as either nuisances or threats. “When someone less capable is ahead of me,” she says, “I am not pleased. It makes me insane.” The annoying women are usually manageable through the application of superior fashion sense. But to neutralize the ones who actually stand between her and success, Lacey immerses herself in her work to become indispensable to the New York art scene’s elite. Soon she realizes that “she was now able to put herself inside a collector’s head, know that she was treating a blessed illness, and determine the appropriate bedside manner.”
As trends in art buying and marketing change — “this was the first time in conventional art history where no single movement dominated … diversity bounced around like spilled marbles on concrete” — so do Lacey’s personal attachments, professional loyalties, and Manhattan addresses. Her ambitions lead her to the Chelsea neighborhood on Manhattan’s West Side right before a dealer-friendly escalation in market prices for works by Andy Warhol. Lacey has a 1965 painting from Warhol’s Flowers series hanging in her apartment. How she came to possess and profit from it and other valuable paintings is at the root of Martin’s devilish story, which is illustrated with more than 20 prints of works by painters — some esoteric, others widely celebrated — including Milton Avery, Pablo Picasso, and Willem de Kooning.
Pining to open a contemporary-art gallery in Chelsea after being fired by Sotheby’s under suspicious circumstances, Lacey dips into her arsenal of sexual persuasion and deception to secure her place among contemporary-art-world royalty. Being a descendant of painter Maxfield Parrish’s onetime muse Kitty Owen doesn’t hurt her chances, financially or socially. It attracts unwanted attention, though: the FBI is watching her. But it’s watching with bedroom eyes, so few of her bad deeds go punished.
Martin, an avid art collector (he once owned pop artist Roy Lichtenstein’s “Ohhh … Alright ...” painting, which sold in November at Christie’s in New York for more than $42 million), synchronously skewers and honors the contemporary-art scene. His background as a collector lends the story credibility, but it also hinders the book’s flow. Passages of dialogue are interrupted by long-winded ruminations on art, presented through Frank’s frustratingly passive tone. Of Avery, for example, Frank says, “His pictures were always polite, but they were polite in the way that a man with a gun might be polite: there was plenty to back up his request for attention.” While such observations may be illuminating for readers unfamiliar with the work of Avery and others, Martin sacrifices his usually fluid and accessible writing style for the sake of unnecessarily detailed art-world intellectualism. And unlike Bret Easton Ellis’ winks at New York City dining culture in his novel American Psycho, Martin’s restaurant fetishes have no real bearing on the story or its themes here. On the upside, Object is a decent primer on where to dine out in New York City — 10 to 20 years ago.