"Give me something to remember"

This quote is taped to the wall in my studio. I don't remember where or who it came from, but I like the gist -- an appeal to artists to create work that is memorable. This is, of course, easier said than done.

How does an artist anticipate what a viewer might or might not remember? Great art often embodies human themes that are universal but is that enough to avoid the wasteland of the forgettable?

Memorable seems like a singularly high bar -- a step up from beautiful, interesting, skilled, avant-garde or even expensive. At the least, works of art hoping to find sanctuary in our brain should strive for a human connection -- emotional, intellectual, or spiritual.

So, what stands out for you? A piece you created? A gift from an artist? A purchase? A treasured drawing by a child? A mesmerizing discovery at a museum?

For me, the image below has stood the test of time. I just finished scanning 1,200 of my negatives from 1970-1972 and, to my surprise and delight, a few reappeared like old friends. In fact, the portrait below is an old friend -- a college roommate Wendell and his pet snake. Wendell was one of the most interesting people I ever met. He was whip smart, inquisitive and a bit of a merry prankster.

When I took this picture 50 years ago, I certainly wasn't thinking "wow, here's something I'll remember when I'm 70." But now, this rediscovered image of Wendell and his snake is memorable for several reasons: it's unique, a bit strange, scary (for ophidiophobes), humorous, technically solid and brings back fond memories of good friends and good times -- definitely something to remember.

Wendell and Snake

My beautiful picture
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