Saturday, January 17, 2009

Andrew Wyeth and Jack Kerouac and John Stewart

Andrew Wyeth died yesterday at the age of 91. You may not know this about him, but he spent every summer of his life but one in Maine. According to an article in today's Kennebec Journal, in 2005 he told the Portland (Maine) Press Herald:

"'I paint the things that emotionally mean a lot to me. One goes as far as one's heart takes him. Anything else to me is just a technical trick.'"

Wyeth went on in that interview to say he "hoped to be remembered for the ability to paint what he felt -- 'that I tried to put down the feeling of the objects that meant a great deal to me, put them down as clearly and as naturally as possible.'"

I've had Wyeth's "Master Bedroom" (a print, of course) hanging in my last three bedrooms: Mansfield, PA, Gardiner, ME and now Belgrade Lakes. It speaks to me. I first saw it in my dentist's office in Harrisburg, PA. My wife at the time didn't like it. A divorce took care of that roadblock (among several).

Wyeth's approach to art reminds me of Kerouac's. Their emotions were inextricably part of their art, and they focused on what meant the most to them: Wyeth his landscapes, Jack his travels.

Wyeth was born about 5 years before Jack, but sure outlived him. Perhaps drunkenness lends itself more to writing than painting. Sorry, Jack, but the truth hurts sometimes.

In some quick web-surfing today I found this article about folk legend John Stewart, who died in January 2008. Rolling Stone said his "California Bloodlines" album was one of the top 200 albums of all time. According to the article, "'When I left the Trio, I was reading [Jack] Kerouac and [John] Steinbeck with Andrew Wyeth prints hanging on my wall. All that somehow took me to the songs on that record.'"

So there's a Wyeth-Kerouac connection for you.

I don't know if Wyeth and Kerouac ever met or corresponded, but they sure had a cultural impact and left this world a better place for having been here.

That's not a bad legacy.

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