always been fascinated by art. I don't know why. My dad used to be the
president of the school board in the district in rural northern Idaho where I
was born and where I attended the first and second grades. I remember he invited the
teachers from our grade school to the farmhouse one summer, and I prepared for
this by making the teachers individual gifts: works of art. I took my lined
tablet and with crayon colored in a different color between each line. Then I
cut these ribbons of color with scissors and presented it to each teacher. I
wonder if those color ribbons were not an early sign that I would be attracted
to minimalist art.
left the farm. We moved to another small town in the West. My cultural
experiences came from TV, magazines, books and movies. There was a show called The Ed Sullivan Show, which just about
everybody watched on Sunday nights. He had Elvis Presley on his show. He had
the Beatles on his show. Imagine almost the entire country watching one thing
that isn't the Super Bowl. That's what The
Ed Sullivan Show was.
Sullivan didn't just present rock & rollers. Opera singers--Joan Sutherland,
Beverly Sills--were on the show. James Earl Jones performed a scene from The Great White Hope with the entire
Broadway cast. Standup comics--George Carlin, Richard Pryor--were on. Circus elephants were on. Rudolf Nureyev danced. Natalya Makarova danced "The Dying Swan" and millions of children--boys and girls--tried to imitate her the next day. The poet Carl Sandburg strummed a guitar and droned on about Lincoln.
Sullivan took high and low culture and mixed it all up so that some people
began to get a notion that there really wasn't a difference between the two.
Weren't some of those comics as artful at what they were doing as Joan
Sutherland was singing from La Bohème?
Weren't the Beatles doing amazing things with melody, harmony, rhythm--and in
the later psychedelic years, sound itself? And wasn't that as interesting
as anything Aaron Copland was writing?
Ed Sullivan, who looked like a zombie on stage long before zombies were hugely
popular, never explained anything.
(to be continued on the Monday post, have a good weekend!)
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