Tuesday, March 03, 2009

March 3, 2009
I realized today I certainly spend a ton of time trying to decide if images are good enough. Both for the hundreds of images we publish in the magazine every issue and all of the efforts in my art studio.

For example, here's a scene that appeared in the True West magazine excerpt on Mickey Free:

A well known historian (whose name rhymes with Brian Dippe) criticized the back end of Mick's mule as being too truncated (see your issue for verification). When I found the original art board in the driveway (yes, I ran over this one as well) I realized I needed to attack it again so I fixed, or extended, the back end of the mule, redid the foreground and the shadows on the wickiups.

Meanwhile, yesterday I transferred a face of anguish from my sketchbook to a gouache version of the same little girl only in a full blown battleground:

Is the sketch better? It's certainly looser. Did I overwork the images? Were they better before? Is it art? Or just advanced cartooning? Is this necessarily a bad thing?

Today, I got this email forwarded to me from Gai, a fan of our radio show in the nineties:

Washington DC Metro Station on a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approximately 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later the violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the till and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes, a young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes: a 3 year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly, as the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced them to move on.

45 minutes; the musician played. Only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace.
He collected $32.

1 hour; he finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities. The questions raised: in a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments .... how many other things are we missing?
—Alan Nugent

Wow! Pretty heavy. Gee I wonder what Jack Handey has to say about all this?

"When this girl at the museum asked me who I liked better, 'Monet' or 'Manet', I said, 'I like mayonnaise.' She just stared at me, so I said it again, louder. Then she left. I guess she went to try to find some mayonnaise for me."
—Jack Handey

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