On the second night of Passover I stayed at the La Quinta Inn in Elmsford, New York. On the wall of my room was a painting I enjoyed — I suppose it was actually a reproduction. The artist was C. Rendeiro, and beneath the signature was the year: 2002. (Of course, I don’t know the title: motels never reveal that.) The subject was three ripe red pears, lying on a bed covered with a blue striped sheet. Most striking about this work was the inconsistency of C. Rendeiro’s technique. The sheet, which had many ridges and folds, was expertly painted, while the fruits were awkward and blotchy. Black marks on their skin might be shadows or bruises — or both? How could one artist paint sheets so well and pears so poorly?
And what do pears mean, especially lying on a bed? A ripe pear is a sensual pleasure, physically resembling a breast. Many Americans go to motels to have sex, usually on the bed (though sometimes, improvisationally, in the shower). Often they are drunk. Often the sex is slightly disappointing. "Accept the inevitability of disappointment," C. Rendeiro tells the patrons of La Quinta. "The breastlike joys of the pear outwit my brush." Desire usually leads to failure — but failure is not exactly defeat. The beauty of the sheets remains, and the endearingly botched pears.