And one big day Mr. Derks, our band instructor, came to me, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Jean, have you ever thought of competing in the solo contest, the Indiana State Solo Contest? Against all the other tuba players of the state?”
It never occurred to me that this could happen. He gave me two pieces, a “Caprice” and “Neapolitan Nights,” and he said, “I want you to work on both of these.” I began to work on them. A secondary tuba player would come over and say, “Oh, what a bass player!” I got so that I had a sense of power.
I was blowing “Caprice” and “Neapolitan Nights,” I was really blowing them, and I began to get better and better. Mr. Derks was in there helping me and everyone was coaching me and I was taking laps around the track and taking deep breathing exercises and I’d bring my horn back home at night and sit there in the front bedroom and the neighborhood would hear the sound of “Neapolitan Nights” being played on a B-flat sousaphone, a four-valver, and it would float out over those Midwestern quiet evenings and the people would come around and talk—“Gee, your son’s the musician, isn’t he?”
Then it finally happened. That big week. We worked up more and more and more to that moment. It was going to be on a Monday morning and we traveled down to a little town called Plymouth, Indiana where they were having the state championship. And I felt twenty feet high. I felt magnificent.
The contest was being held in the high school auditorium and there were a thousand people sitting there listening, and in the front row were the assembled judges. Big, famous musicians had come down there to judge. That morning, as the solo contest got under way they started out with the saxophones. I heard the bassoon players play. I heard the trumpet players. Ah, there were a lot of good trumpet players, but they were not my competition. As the afternoon wore on, we got closer and closer to the tuba and the sousaphone section, which was always way down at the end of everything.
In the meantime, of course, I was running around with my mouthpiece in my mouth, blowing on it. I went down to the basement, tuned my sousaphone and blew a few notes. I’m blowing the spit out and I’m polishing this thing and I’d blow a couple of phrases of “Neapolitan Nights” and I was having that feeling of competition, like getting ready to run at Madison Square Garden, and I was to be number two on the program.
There was this kid ahead of me from Huntington, Indiana, a short, skinny kid with big jug ears. With that kind of red Adams apple look. And he was wearing a green and white band uniform that hung off of him like rags, and I looked like a Greek god waiting there.
So, I was standing in the wings with my tuba on my shoulder and out of the other side came little jug-ears. He came out, he sat down. He was spread-eagled and I looked back at a tuba player buddy of mine and I said, “Boy, watch this!” I could hear the sound of this kid’s teeth hitting the mouthpiece, clink clank. And then—he began—to blow.
In several parts to come, what follows is the draft of my book manuscript’s “Table of Contents” for Artsy Fartsy, done with short, descriptive comments composed to attract attention, some a bit amusing, so one has a sense of my conception of the book and how I’ve organized it. The individual essays were written and posted to the blog in a scattered way, not done in the gathered Parts as they appear here. I felt that for the blog-reader, the variety of general subjects would be more approachable for those without special interest in some of the parts. But, clustering them by general subject I feel is a better organization for the hoped-for published book.
I’ve begun sending query letters to literary agents. These days, most agents want emails, and say to expect about a 6-week delay for a response if they’re interested; and, if not interested, they never respond at all. It’s a forever delay. Which saves them the time of having to email:
“Interesting, but no thanks. Best of luck in your endeavor.”
Those who have followed my Artsys will recognize most of the illustrated essays. There are only a couple more still to post.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Describes how knowledge of arts/museums/etc. provides some insight leading to quirky/unexpected experiences. But, as their nature requires images, no overly short, words by themselves, could express the content of these mini, illustrated essays.
ART CRAZY— Van Gogh and other artists are not “crazy,” but are super-sensitive preceptor of the world around them. My incomplete and never to be continued novel manuscript, Art Crazy, the idea of which had been based on a part of my real experience, could never have been realized in the ideal form in which I envision it.
LANDSCAPE ART: Seeing Originals is a Different World Vermeer and Van Gogh—seeing the originals significantly alters perception of two masterpieces.
SITES TO BE SEEN in two parts A sad description of some art pieces that I’ve seen relatively unencumbered (such as Stonehenge, Botticelli’s “Venus on the Half-Shell,” the intihuatana), but that subsequently should have notifications attached: WHILE KEEPING YOUR DISTANCE, ADMIRE FROM AFAR.
PICASSO “GUERNICA COLORIZATION KIT” How I created and sold 100 copies of this kit out of a vending machine for $1.25 each (kit included 3 Crayolas).
MUSEUM OF MODERN ART PICASSO MISTAKE In MOMA’s Picasso Retrospective, I discovered a mistaken caption and they surreptitiously corrected it.
THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS How to see this original Bosch masterpiece better than you’ve ever seen it before. One: go to the Prado. Two: Ask for the “El Bosco” rooms. Three: Don’t peek. Four: Do what I did.
CEZANNE’S ANGRY PATCH My published letter to the editors of American Artist magazine corrected their columnist’s misinterpretation of a Cezanne masterpiece, and through this, I discovered a heretofore unknown aspect of Cezanne’s work. (Or has someone, unbeknownst to me, amateur that I am, predated my Cezanne revelation?)
CEZANNE & MARIN My John Marin watercolor and how, in comparing his works to Cezanne’s, I encountered an important influence/tribute.
EMOTION OUTRANKS TECHNIQUE What are the differences and in what way is emotion superior to technique in art (in my humble opinion)?
IS IT FOR REAL? Having encountered an image of a drawing, what qualities do I see that might allow me to distinguish between a fake and an authentic work by an artist I admire? Could I afford to take a chance on my amateur/educated/perceptive guess?
VENUS DE SANTA How dare I conflate the ancient Greek goddess with our comfortably snugly and lovable Christian symbol of largess?
RAVEN RATTLES Acquiring a better-than-authentic replica by shamefully, yet acceptably, capitulating to reality.
CHALK DRAWINGS–KEITH HARING and RUDOLF STEINER A tribute to two remarkably divergent styles of artistic expression.
CLOTH ART My unusual, sun-bleached, marvelous mola, and my original Huichol “yarn painting.” How are they much more than any old “airport art” on the wall?
ART OR CRAFT? There are innumerable works of craft that are elegant, finely designed and made, but do they rise to my definition of art, which for me, must express at least a somewhat new–yet universal–view/understanding/interpretation/insight regarding our world that can be understood/appreciated by the intelligent/perceptive person. Or am I just a snob?
LEGAL ACQUISITION OR ART-THEFT? How I coulda stolen a Gaudi door handle, and how I really did abscond with a part of the Roman Forum—With a photo to prove it!
DEVOTIONS-Devoted to Art and Ice Self-mocking poem beginning: We seek transcendent craft with mind and heart,…
More ARTSY Table of Contents, etc. to come.