It’s been one year since Jason Polan died. I am re-reading my diary entry from August 8, 2018, the last time I saw him. It is no coincidence that seeing him made me think about seeing — he was one of the great see-ers of our generation, always looking, always seeing.
I have been practicing a lot of Debussy on the piano, and read a letter he wrote to his friend, quoted in Alex Ross’s The Rest is Noise:
I confess that I am no longer thinking in musical terms, or at least not much, even though I believe with all my heart that Music remains for all time the finest means of expression we have. It’s just that I find the actual pieces — whether they’re old or modern, which is any case merely a matter of dates — so totally poverty-stricken, manifesting an inability to see beyond the work-table. They smell of the lamp, not of the sun…. I feel that, without descending to the level of the gossip column or the novel, it should be possible to solve the problem somehow. There’s no need either for music to make people think! … It would be enough if music could make people listen….”
Jason’s work smelled of the sun, and if it ever smelled like a lamp, it smelled like a lamp in Taco Bell: absolutely delicious.
If you don’t know his work, watch this video, narrated by his friend, Fritz Swanson, for the new site by UNIQLO, which features a letter from Jason’s mother. Jen Bekman also wrote a remembrance at 20×200.
Then pick up a Uniball Vision Elite Bold and a Strathmore 4×6 pad, take a walk, and draw what you see.
And be nice to people.