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[Author's note: With the latest Hopper exhibit about to close at the Whitney Museum in NYC on April 10, I thought it might be a good time to put up this story from early 2010. Hope you enjoy "Legacy."]

"Hopper is simply a bad painter, but if he were a better one, he would probably not be such a great artist." - Clement Greenberg


On a bitterly cold morning in early March, one which saw Benjamin Englander home sick again from high school, the doorbell rang. Putting on a robe, he took his time getting to the front of his parents' house. He opened the door and bent down to pick up the new 1971 telephone books left there. Carrying them into the den and setting them on the credenza near the phone, he noticed the picture gracing the cover of the residential White Pages. In muted colors, it revealed a deserted city street from a bygone era.

After dinner, he showed the cover to his father. Glancing up from the paper, he asked, "Norman Rockwell? Perhaps reprinted from an old issue of {i]The Saturday Evening Post[/i]?"

"I thought so, too, at first," Benjamin said. "Very similar in content, but it seems much more desolate. There's none of Rockwell's warmth or subtle humor -"

"Inside they indicate the title is 'Early Sunday Morning.' Looks much like a 1920s or '30s street scene from an old jigsaw puzzle of Rockwell's my father once put together. Did it on a wooden board, I might add. 1,000 pieces, it was. Your late grandpapa was crafty. Very good with wood."

"This artist's name is Edward Hopper."

"You know, son, I think I've heard that name before. School of Realism or some such. Believe the man might have passed on a few years ago."

"I...I like it. With your permission, I'd like to save the cover when the year is done."

His father laughed. "Always thinking ahead, aren't you, Ben? But I wish you gave that kind of foresight to your future. You graduate next June. But, yes. you may have it."

A good son, but Ben was considered nerdy by his classmates long before that pejorative adjective came into being. A loner almost cast into the mold of Salinger's Holden Caulfield, but without possessing that character's rebellious nature and outspokenness, he had far more in common with inveterate daydreamer Walter Mitty. Frail and prone to illness, shy and socially awkward, he compensated by working diligently in school, but drove counsellors - and his parents - batty by drifting away setting any cast-in-stone goals for his life.

Just before winter break, one of his teachers had shown the class a 16mm print of On the Waterfront for a special after-school occasion. Despite being released almost two decades earlier, it was Ben's first brush with realism. He was riveted by the power of the story which retained the in-close portrayal of life in the gritty world of the Hoboken piers.

He knew he could never have the strength and dogged determination of Terry Malloy, but he admired those qualities just the same. Conversely, he was touched by that character's conflicted love interest, the vulnerability and girlish innocence of Edie Doyle. Exposed to this rough world of hardened people seduced by corruption and greed, he was unaware that he was birthing an eye for realism as well as for stark beauty.

[To be con't.]

Copyright 2010 James D. Young


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Comments

The following comments are for "LEGACY (1)"
by JamesYoung

brilliant Hopper
You had me hooked with your lead in .. took me some time to open this series because .. well .. too many reasons to confess

Anyhow .. thanks for this read .. will continue on because you're too clever a writer to just read one installment and feel satiated.

( Posted by: Pen [Member] On: April 13, 2011 )

Legacy 1
I'm going to read the rest of these in this sitting and comment on the lastest one. However, I wanted to leave this note to say that I enjoyed it.

Also, I wanted add a small note. I don't know a lot about art and you dropped quite a few names here that I was unfamiliar with. I'm not sure if you were aiming this at everyone or just the art lovers in the audience, but to those like me who don't know much about the subject it makes it a bit difficult to visulize paintings that we've never seen. Of course, it does inspire me to research these artist's that you've mentioned. If they inspired you to write so well about them, they are definitely worth taking a look at. :)

You did a wonderful job of showing instead of telling, which Beckett tells me is the key to any good story. I'm exited to see where this goes so I'll move on.

Much Love,

Dave

( Posted by: HeRoCoMpLeX [Member] On: April 26, 2011 )





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