Who are your favorite artists? What makes their work so compelling to you?

My favorite print, photographed by Gary Crandall, is an image of a male mallard duck floating on water.  I bought this years ago from a store in Park City, Utah during one of several skiing trips I took to the Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons southwest of Salt Lake City.  I had been searching for a lone duck print for years and when I spotted Crandell’s work, I immediately went to a store clerk and said I wanted it, without bothering to ask how much it cost.  I didn’t care, I was going to buy it no matter what.  The most compelling feature of this duck picture is the gently falling snow landing on the duck and surrounding water, adding to the story that a duck, as I’ve often thought of myself, is someone that is calm on the outside while paddling like crazy below the surface.

My second favorite print, photographed by David Whitten, is a bright white picture of aspen trees standing in several feet of winter snow.  It reminds me of the several snowmobile excursions I’ve taken in the mountains around Park City, usually on an off day between skiing Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, Solitude, or other northern Utah slopes.  A typical snowmobile trip took a couple of hours, a combination of high-speed races across large meadows and guided, single-file forays dodging aspens and other high-altitude species.  Those peaceful moments cruising through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world had me on the lookout for a print to bring back those memories, and when I found Whitten’s aspens, also in a Park City shop, I knew I found the perfect memory.

I’ve read a lot in my life, particularly in my younger days, and science fiction was always my favorite genre.  Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Scott Adams, and David Eddings were among my favorite authors, with my first choice being Raymond Feist.  I’ve read about twenty-four of Feist’s books, including The Riftwar Saga, The Empire Trilogy and The Serpentwar Saga series, and more.  All author’s ability to write books containing hundreds of pages of deep storylines and interesting characters amazes me, knowing how hard it is to write just a few pages before getting stuck.  My all-time favorite book, and the only one I’ve kept for decades to re-read, is The Number Of The Beast by Robert Heinlein.

I was fortunate to have grown up during the best decade of music, the 1970s.  Picking a favorite group or individual is tough, but I’ll choose Chicago.  There were few groups that were truly unique and Chicago, with their eleven members including Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, and Walter Parazaider on trumpet, trombone, and saxophone respectively, and one of the best voices ever, Peter Cetera, playing bass.  Having any horn instrument represented is rare, but having three in a rock band is remarkable and if you get to see Chicago in concert, you’ll be amazed at the energy they still bring.  

There are only a few athletes that I would put in the category of being an artist, but those that compel you to watch them time and again are special.  Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins is one of them, playing a hard-nosed game with incredible eye-hand coordination that’s beautiful to watch.  Pro golfer Pill Mickelson also comes to mind as he’s a master at the short game with an unbelievable imagination, making impossible shots look easy.  But my all-time favorite is ice skater Peggy Fleming, the 1968 Olympic ice skating champion.  I really respect those people that were first, changing the course of a sport or an industry, and like Star Wars and Jaws did in the movies.  Peggy’s beauty, style, and perfection would be copied by skaters for decades, and yes, improved upon, but she started it all, at least in the mind of this 12-year-old boy staring at his parent’s black-and-white TV screen.

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