A Currier and Ives picture has roots somewhere in reality, generally speaking, until an artist with an eye for essentials and a steady hand turns their gaze upon the scene.
Artist is defined by a Dictionary, which is, essentially, a committee of dis-agreeable people agreeing on definitions and being paid for it. Having made that statement an observer must convince a listener his definition is essentially true, without, the listener should note, becoming bogged down in the details of his thought on the definition of Dictionary.
The agreed definition of Artist runs alone these lines: Artist (art’ist) n. craftsman, artisan < L ars, ART 1. a person who works in, or skilled in the technique of, any of the fine arts, esp. in painting, drawing, sculpture, etc. 2. a person who does anything very well, with imagination and a feeling for form, effect, etc. 3. a professional person in any of the performing arts.
If we go up through the definitions provided backwards one could suppose everyone in a performance art, from the coffee go-for (pronounced Gopher) to the producer, director, lighting technician to the musician and the secretary to the performers themselves could be called artists – as long as the skill was applied with feeling, form and effect. One may, if pressed, concede the go-for might be left out of the equation. That is until one wonders where the coffee and nibbles, normally available, have gotten to, which heretofore had so magically and silently appeared.
Someone, generally agreed upon by society, once said that the world is a stage, and all upon it actors – or words to that effect. Such sweeping definition would include the alcoholic, then, that performs very well in all aspects; all in fact with a performance to render; all who pan-handle or even all who con the gullible. Bad performances, with crocodile tears and excessive wailing or not credible acting are not artistic – which says little for the performer, but volumes for the performance.
An old man, sitting with up turned collar on a park bench in the moderate chill of a late spring snow flurry somewhere, might tell you in a few, or many, words of the world he watches. Sitting with overcoat tightly buttoned, hands folded one upon the other atop the artistically crafted walking stick, the old man might make a tiny gesture with gloved finger to emphasize a point or direction, though he’ll seldom, if ever, over act the gesture. He’ll hardly ever take his gaze from the scene he paints, keeping his eyes on the various distances as he tells the observations he experiences.
One listens, perhaps, not believing the events one hears. But, having placed themselves in the environment next the old man and having primed the flow of words, so to speak, by questioning the old man, who gives very little away unless assured of an appreciative audience, one listens.
And listening one gains a sense the old man is detached, in many ways, but is also intimately connected to the events he speaks of, being experienced in the finer points of them by his life experiences. He speaks, if that was your question, of marriages in the summers; here wags a finger atop the cane head to shift attention toward the church across the road. Or, perhaps, if the listener is seeking the past, the old man, using the same gesture will send your attentions to the church across the road and tell of the many cars and people milling, standing in sun, or drizzle or snow, and the hearse pulling away, and all the cars following and finally he might speak of the three people remaining standing, on the walk in front of the church, conversing. They being the actors remaining when the performance there is completed.
But if your question is of now, not the far distant past, or the undetermined future, the old man might, if you’ve phrased your questions or leading statements properly, tell you events that have immediately passed or are occurring.
He might tell of the gentleman, sometimes named, others not, that sports an interest in a certain lady whom he visits every day at her place of work and the gentleman’s actions when interrupted by the appearance of others into the lady’s attentions.
He might tell of the gentleman leaving the presence of the lady and going out to sit in his car and sit there in that space until the intruder, if male, leaves; and how the gentleman will then himself start up his car and leave the area. Once assured the intruder, the male intruder, has conducted business and not tarried.
Here the old man might pause in his tale, and the listener, if impatient might miss half the story, or rather the tiny segment of the story making sense of the futility of the gentleman’s efforts. But if the listener pauses, as the old man pauses, and waits, he’ll hear the old man explain, having asked the lady the gentleman’s name; that the name was given and mini-history expanded upon, that the gentleman worked in a town distant and is now un-employed and on disability, he having, so the lady said, something wrong, you know – in his head.
The old man might, at that point, turn and glance at the listener from the corner of his eye to see if the listener is understanding, and then go silent.
One could leave then; the old man contemplating from his throne the scene, his domain; the listener, just another audience for whom he performed.
From the reaches,