Monday, August 31, 2009

Treasure-Hunter or -Hunted?

A friend who collects art dropped by yesterday and somehow we started talking about our earliest memories of discovering something, whether by accident or as a result of searching. At the age of six, he found a quartz crystal on a dirt road named Diamond Road and, being a smart kid, was sure he had found a huge diamond. I enjoyed discovery so much that I once buried a toy plastic telephone in the back yard and a few days later dug it up and triumphantly "found" the treasure.

It's funny how little moments like those loom larger in retrospect as part of the trail of bread crumbs that mark the road traveled by treasure-hunters. Still, I suspect that sometimes, instead of being discovered, the treasure discovers US.

I grew up in a home with very few pictures on display, but we did have books, and as a boy I saw a black and white reproduction of "Tornado Over Kansas," a painting by John Steuart Curry. I don't know why that image made such an impression, but it was powerful. I remembered it well enough to recognize it when I saw it again at college. I really liked Curry's work and felt especially connected to it because of my early discovery.

A couple of decades went by, and one day a fellow brought me several boxes of art books he had purchased at the estate sale of a local artist. The artist's name was Josephine, and she had a very nice library with lots of choice books I wanted for myself. So I bought them all, and later went through them separating the keepers from the chaff. There I found a little chapbook about John Steuart Curry, small, thin and with inferior reproductions of the work. But before discarding it, because it was about Curry, I opened it and took a longer look. And there on the inside front page was this handwritten inscription:

"To sweet Josephine, with a heart full of love, John Steuart Curry."

I still think that that book found me.

This is my 100th post on this blog. Thanks to all my readers and responders.


  1. Great recollection! And congrats on number 100!

  2. Thanks, Joey. I enjoy your stuff, too, even when I don't say so.

  3. wow! time flies. 100 good a friend of mine would have said, "all cherch"