Monthly Archives: April, 2018

Letters james-v-harvey-4
11

James Harvey, not yet one year old, moved with his family from Toronto to Detroit in 1930. After studying painting at the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1950s and designing window displays in Detroit, James moved to New York to try and break into the art world. He took a job for $55 a week in the studio of industrial and packaging designer Egmont Arens and started showing his abstract expressionist oil paintings around town. For two years, he worked with a team to redesign the Philip Morris cigarette package — an also-ran to the post-war streamlining going on over at Lucky Strike.

Letters Lawren-Harris_Lake-Superior_ca.1924
17

A subscriber asked us this question for a university thesis: “Why do you make art?” I included it in a previous letter and some responses came in.

I knew we were onto something when another subscriber wrote, “The gift was recognized very early in my life. There were marvellous tools at hand: pencils, crayons, coloured pencils, poster paint, etc. Producing art was an extension of myself on some other plane or level — spiritual.

Letters Abbott-H-Thayer_My-Children
30

Artist and Purpose Guidance Coach Sam Kaczur recently put out a call on social media asking her friends, many of them artists, the following question: “Around the ages of 6-10, do you have a memory or pivotal moment in your life that you feel set the trajectory or tone for your future?” She offered some examples, like meeting an artist or scientist, discovering a talent, or winning a prize. From among the responses, a theme emerged that painted a picture of family and parenting. “My mother took me to the theatre,” “My dad beat me and so I wanted to be peaceful” and “I assembled my first computer,” were among the replies.

Letters Picasso_Woman-with-High-Arms_1936
20

Some people think she’s crazy. She’s a bronco-busting, motorcycle-riding, video-making, sky-diving, giant-picture-painting kind of girl. She makes loud noises in social situations. “Man, look at that tree,” she shouts. She can laugh like a logger and giggle like a baby. She disappears from view for long periods of time — nobody knows where she is.

Letters cathy-allen_nurp1
8

At the top edge of Joshua Tree National Park and skirting the edge of the Mojave Desert is a place called Wonder Valley. In 1938, the U.S. Congress put forward the Small Tract Act, encouraging homesteaders — mostly World War I servicemen — to lease five-acre federal land parcels to convert to private ownership if they built structures, businesses or recreational facilities there. By the ’50s, thousands of cabins had been built but, after infrastructure like roads, water, power and schools failed to appear, were later abandoned.

Letters Ivan-Aivazovsky_The-Ninth-Wave
16

The Mozart Effect by Don Campbell makes some startling claims. By listening to Mozart you might just turn out to be more creative, productive and healthier.

This book is full of scientific studies and lots of anecdotal evidence. For example, premature triplets were separately incubated; one was fed Mozart, one silence, and one Rock. Guess what? The Mozart-fed kid gained weight faster, didn’t fuss, was smarter, and did more with his life. That sort of thing.

Letters alex-katz_snow-scene-3_2014
15

A subscriber wrote, “Do you ever hear from collectors asking if you’d like to buy back a painting? Do you ever buy back? There are paintings I wish I’d never sold — I feel they are my best and I should have kept them. If given the chance to buy them back, I would. What do you think?”

Letters brice_marden_drawing
6

Mist rises on a mile-long white sand beach. It’s an island — almost deserted. There’s dazzle: puddle-jumping, tide pools, crabs crawling, seaweed and sun-bleached, haphazard logs. Behind, the dark forest looms: salal, spring flowers poking. Gulls call. Eagles watch. I’m on a search.

We artists have an environment in common: we search through it, we dig in it. We look here and there for subjects, ideas, better work, deeper meaning, farther sight, creative joy.