After a 32-year hibernation, december magazine returns to publication, honoring the spirit of the forward-thinking writers, editors, and artists who made it a literary legacy. Picking up (almost) where it left off, Volume 24 — the Revival Issue — features new poems and prose from many of december’s “original” contributors, including Marvin Bell, Stephen Berg, Grace Cavalieri, Gary Gildner, Albert Goldbarth, Lawson Inada, Robert Mezey, Linda Pastan, Marge Piercy, Robley Wilson, and more, as well as some of today’s freshest voices, such as Kelly Cherry, Ricardo Pau-Llosa, James Tolan, and Sally Van Doren.My College Dean (Intertextuality moment: an echo of Merle Haggard in Okie from Muskogee, as in who "the kids still respect") Buzz Spector has accepted a role as art editor of the new old mag, working with Gianna, the driving force behind today's december. I was flattered to be commissioned to produce a cover illustration for the revival issue. I enjoyed working with Gianna and Buzz, and also with art director Diann Cage.
I spent July and August in Paris. There is much to say about this, of course. But more to the point, as I walked along the Left Bank, I was struck by the famous statue of Henry the 4th against a backdrop of construction cranes. (I saw this just before stumbling upon the Charvin store, where I bought some gouache.)
Henry looks back from the prow, as it were, of the Ile de la Cite. (I don't know how to do proper accents in blogger). Near the Place Dauphine, between the two halves of Pont Neuf.
Which, as it turns out, seems to have been a favored landscape subject in Paris, viewed 90 degrees from my vantage point, looking downriver, into Henry's face. Multiple versions in the Musee de Carnavalet, the museum of the history of Paris. The credit read, Pont-Neuf viewed from Place Dauphine, French School, 17th century. That's the (impossibly large) Louvre on the right.
At first I was fixated on the statue and the cranes; somehow they suggested a revival image. The first sketch reflects this.
A week or so later I saw a girl sitting on the edge of a fountain at St. Sulpice, sort of cradling her bike with her legs in just this way, and the idea made a big leap. (She was, of course, looking at her phone, not reading a book. Even in Paris...)
When I sat down to work on the final art, it became clear that the opposition of the two figures was the real story. Plus I had a more square format to work with than I'd previously thought. So the girl grew. And I glued the fountain base onto the pedestal, so she'd have a proper place to sit.
The image is built in layers; this is the key drawing in black.
More about Paris to come...