Two Readers Are A Movement

Tom Roberts. Self-portrait. 2007.When I came home from Toronto recently, I found an over-sized, flat envelope waiting for me. I recognized the handwritten address without being able to read it. I knew without opening it that it would contain visual art that would catch my eye. Over the past thirty years I have been surprised to receive in the mail pencil sketches, pen and ink drawings, lithographs, even oil paintings — all created by this familiar hand . Once the envelope itself was the artwork, a provocative pencil sketch of a recumbent nude that must have turned the mailman’s earlobes red. In the age of James Joyce and Henry Miller it would have been seized by the postal inspectors, who fantasized secretly about becoming art connoisseurs. In the envelope that awaited me there was a large pastel of another recumbent nude and this self-portrait of the artist, Tom Roberts.

As soon as I saw Tom’s new work I knew I wanted to present it in the blog. My HP scanner, still only semi-functional in conjunction with ZoomText screen magnification software, isn’t large enough to scan the drawings. Until I can schedule studio photographs, this roughly-scanned thumbnail will have to suffice.

As touching as Tom’s gift of art was the simple note he sent with it: “I love your blog. Enclosed is my payment for a two-year subscription to blindflaneur.com”.

No payment is necessary, of course. My business plan amounts to giving it away on a Ritz cracker. I am very grateful, though, for such an engaged reader and long-standing loyal friend. With Tom’s and Ms. Modigliani’s participation, a blind flaneur has reached its first milestone, Walter Lowenfels’ threshold for social commitment and literary success: “One reader is a miracle. Two readers are a movement.”

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4 Responses to Two Readers Are A Movement

  1. ms modigliani says:

    I am proud to be part of the “movement” as your blog evolves. Happy Thanksgiving to a dear man and loving partner.

  2. Mark Willis says:

    Thanks,[ Ms. M]. I’ve always admired Walter Lowenfels sense of scale, stubborn old Communist that he was. His movements weren’t grandiose but humble. THe quotation comes from an obscure little book from the 1970s called *The Revolution Is To Be Human*.

  3. tomrobertstennessee says:

    My painting instructor, Bill Collins, Director of the Portland School of Art, died this year at 82. He used to talk about the difference between binocular and periferal vision. He taught me how to look at the world through periferal vision, to become aware of my vision, and to see the world as though it were a painting. The blindflaneur and I used to exchange letters about these ideas, and he understood exactly what I was writing about. Painting intensifies the pleasure of seeing the world.
    Thanks, Mark, for the kind tribute. I am grateful to be part of your blindflaneur.com community. I love wandering from place-to-place with no particular destination in mind.

  4. Mark Willis says:

    Yes, I remember those dialogues from your Portland days, Tom. Much of what I know how to articulate in words about my remaining vision comes from those dialogues. This blog is a way to pick up the conversation again.

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