He had come to the museum to pick up a bronze for a friend. The exhibit had ended and his friend was unable to retrieve her work anytime soon. He introduced himself with a tip of his hat as Curtis Fort. He was a cowboy and an artist, with his crisply starched jeans tucked neatly into his buckaroo boots. I held the door so he could carry the heavy bronze to his truck. The infamous Amarillo wind caught his straw hat. Turning to me, he said “push down my hat, please.” I also wear my hat too high and have to smash it down on my head just as a bull rider does as he readies for the gate to open. I obliged, being sure to push at the crown. “That’s perfect…you knew where to push on it.” “Yeah, I ride.” I said.
I opened the cap to the bed of his truck and remarked how clever it was organized, with a tall, sturdy shelf toward the cab. He explained that he found the best way to sell bronzes was to carry them with him so he can show the actual work, as a photo on the internet just doesn’t work for a three dimensional piece. He’ll stop in and visit with people, chat about his work and then they go out to the truck and take look. He said you have to experience a bronze, you can’t just look at it. We began to talk about making art and making a living as an artist. We were just enjoying the conversation that artists tend to have when they find one another. Curtis then asked if we could start writing letters, like the old artists used to do. He has several artist friends that send illustrated letters and he collects them all on a wall in his home. He just loves them. He said he would return the favor and write to me as well.
The next day, I wrote an illustrated letter to Curtis. Yesterday, I got my first letter. I studied it a good while, smiled, and stuck it on the wall. I hope it’s the first of many as I intend to write him again today. I think that would create a connection that I feel is missing from my life.
Why did I decide to actually write a blog post today? Well, I read an article (sorry, can’t find the link) the other day about ways to be more creative. First thing in the morning, you should immediately write down those half-lucid, weird thoughts on paper before they dissolve into the reality and organization of the day.
So as I woke this morning, I decided to try it. I recalled my interaction with Curtis and realized that his need to haul bronzes around in his truck for people to experience the actual work in person is a good analogy to friendship and connections. Interactions with people on the internet are nice, but don’t come close to replacing the value in a real life connection with people. And you have to put in the work to do it. I live a very solitary life here in the Panhandle. Perhaps the letters can help rekindle more ideas, such as my interaction with Curtis sparked something in me. And I might need to work a little harder at getting out and interacting with more artists. I actually think I’m going to see if I can get a couple of my artist friends to exchange letters as well……