The name William Saroyan brings to mind Pulitzer Prize writing. Bill Saroyan was also an artist, and his artist friend, Varaz Samuelian made a monumental tribute to him in sculpture.
William Saroyan is known the world over as a great writer. Not everyone is aware, however that he also was an artist. A close artist friend, Varaz Samuelian, made several sculptures and likenesses of Saroyan, including one that is currently under restoration. The bust pictured here once sat on top of a thirty–foot tall sculpture, which included a pile of huge wooden books. Some of the remnants are pictured below.
Most artists make much more art than they have room to put it. Most artists have so many ideas that have never made it into production as well. An artist friend recently mentioned he would have to live 300 more years to complete all the sketches he has made for future sculptures.
I had an experience this week that found me contemplating the “reality of production.”
As writers we keep pouring out words – some of which reside somewhere inside our computers – some of which journey to various web sites to dwell with like kind – some of which are bound into publications whether soft cover or hard.
This is the production of the writer. Many works, but really not that much actual space occupied.
As digital artists we keep creating images, and again many of us are quite prolific with hundreds or thousands of files within a short period of time. I can’t tell you how many images, and variations of these images I have made in the last ten years. I have a large wooden box filled with old 5 1/4” floppy disks, more boxes filled with 3 1/2” disks – all with images and variations of images. Then I began to save the files to a zip disk, and kept buying zip disks. It is not that I have saved every image I have ever made. I have deleted hundreds of them. As example, in the Fall of 1994 I had worked on a project many long hours from early September through much of November. One day I was bringing some up on the screen and thought to myself: these are all junk. So I deleted well over a hundred images that morning. And began over again. By mid–December I had my project finished – another fifty plus images of some of the finest work I had done to date.
My point: it is so easy, once we have one image created, to make a few copies “in case something happens to the file“, or to turn out variation after variation with the flick of a mouse. I did some house cleaning on my computer and found two or three copies of so many things. I finally got one copy of all the good stuff to a CD – ten years of work on one little disk. But I was still paranoid about losing that one disk, so I made a copy of the CD. Even then I was reluctant to delete the versions on the hard drive and zips.
This was brought home with a tremendous exclamation point this week.
I had occasion to photograph some art works in an estate. I was told the artist died a couple years ago and apparently had no heirs so a group from the university is laboring about what to do with his work. Then I learned it was Saroyan’s friend, Varaz whose work was in storage. I remember seeing the exterior of his studio for many years in downtown Fresno. The large brightly colored sculpture was something one does not easily forget. Nor the powerful bronze life–size man on a horse in Courthouse Park.