Letters to Holly

Wednesday, November 17

Weak Copies and Grand Masters

I was so concerned about leaving my concert ticket at home that I kept in in the car for three days. I was ramped up. Not so much in eagerness to see Sir Elton, but in a heightened pessimism that my ducks should be lined up when the inevitable obstacle falls from the sky. It didn't. I saw the show. It was huge.

Your Sister called right as I parked to say she and the sidekick were in town meeting Your Parents at a baby store. We couldn't meet for dinner as she was on her way home. After a quick dinner at the Noodle Shop (with a West Wing scriptbook), I snuck into the nearby 16 Patton Gallery to pursue a mystery. I was in there last week as a new exhibition was being assembled, and I saw a near life-size reproduction of a Bouguereau. That's my favorite artist. I know my guy. This is the original, Evening Mood.

Here's the copy.

I hadn't seen this gallery offer reproductions before. Not direct reproductions, anyway. Anna Jurik's work includes a series of people taking in artworks in museums, and her work includes those art pieces.

I like Jurik's work. It exemplifies everything good about oil paint. I was sorely tempted to buy one earlier this year but couldn't justify the cost.

Anyway, the Bouguereau copy is weak, and I couldn't figure out why it would hang in a gallery with this pedigree. I consider it on par with Blue Spiral. They shouldn't offer this kind of knock-off. I wondered if they knew it was a copy and secretly hoped I could bust the artist for trying to sneak one on the local art scene. I downloaded a copy of the original on my Droid (or, as Your Sister first called it, Doctor Oid) and prepared my comments to whoever was minding the gallery.

Turns out the painting is part of a display from a local fine arts club dedicated, their flyer says, to studying and creating realistic fine art. So this was a student's work. To his credit, or maybe his teacher's, the ID card notes the original, calling it a reference. I think that's a stingy word choice. Not stingy is the asking price.

That's some chutzpah right there. You could probably buy a print of the original for a few hundred.

I killed some time at the nearby art store and discovered a portfolio designed to the dimensions of my comic art boards. That would make it easier for me to make sketches at that size for the convention and sell them. I made use of downtown's new-ish public bathrooms (very practical, not decorous) and browsed Malaprop's. About 7:10 I headed to the civic center and got in a line that strung from the center's front door to the parking deck behind the library. There were two big concerts in town, and the parking spaces vanished quickly. I felt pretty good about getting a first-floor space three hours before the show began. Leaving would be a breeze.

I sat between two sets of women in the back right corner of the civic center. The stage was a simple platform on the concrete floor, and the room was a barebones brick box.

But once the lights went down and the stage lights went up, none of that mattered. We got three hours of Elton John. Kinda.

The show was advertised as a greatest-hits show by Elton. But he recently released an album with Leon Russell, whom he cites as an influence. Elton took the stage at 8:07 to explain how the night would go: Russell would play some of his solo hits, Elton would play a few of his, they would play from their new album, and Elton would finish the concert. That duo material was a solid hour of the show, and it was all new stuff. Some folks around me grumbled at that, and I admit that it's not what we paid for. But one gets the feeling Elton is gonna do the show his way, and the new stuff isn't bad. It's very much in keeping with the classic Elton sound: background harmonies to kill for, honkytonk piano, and white soul vocal phrasing.

When he did play the classics, they each had a vigor that made them practically new-sprung works. "Rocketman," for instance lasted well over ten minutes and drifted into gospel, blues, and prog rock. He's got a galaxy of songs to choose from, and I'm glad to say I heard some of my favorites -- "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," especially -- and didn't hear those overplayed on local radio -- "Get Back Honky Cat" and "Crocodile Rock."

There was no intermission. A three-hour show like that is worth the money even if it's not what the money was coughed up for. I think Your Mom and Sister would have balked had they come along. As it as, streams of folks left at 11, presumably to relieve babysitters.

Leaving the parking deck was indeed a snap and well worth the special-event fee. I picked up a soda and candy bar at a local convenience store (while evading beer-seeking hobos) and drove home with my ears ringing and my grin glaring.

Moving Picture of the Day
Earlier this year, Warner Brothers realized they owned DC Comics, a goldmine of licensing material, and cranked up several movie projects. The success of the Batman and Marvel films (Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men) suggests the superhero genre isn't fading. The first of the new films is Green Lantern, and the trailer was released with the new Harry Potter film.

Speaking as a comic fan, this isn't bad. They've brought in a LOT of the Lantern franchise instead of hedging their bets. The hero is a cocky pilot and the origin also seems intact from the comics. This looks like the next big thing for boys.

Because the trailer deals so much with fighting fear, I think the It Gets Better project could make some headway by handing out lantern rings to show support for gay kids.

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