Dear Mr. Burton,
I’ve found myself in a desperate rut, the likes of which you’ve managed to retrieve me from in the past, and I’m hoping you will be available again sometime soon.
January a year ago, I made a trek to the Museum of Modern Art, specifically to view your work on display there. I bought a membership just so I wouldn’t have to stand in line with all the other saps who had to wait to get in.
The rooms that housed your exhibit were terribly crowded; I’m sure we were well beyond the building’s fire code. Sardines, as it were. But I managed to see everything, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything that might later turn out to be something I would have liked to have seen.
After I squeezed my way through all the rooms I took a breather. I bought some stuff. I ate some stuff and, in spite of the sardine thing, I decided I needed to get myself back in the middle of that exhibit.
So I did.
This time I knew exactly what I needed to see again, so I jumped out of the line that snaked around the rooms and headed straight for the drawings.
The drawings, as you know, were watercolor outlined in pen, so there was really nothing out of the ordinary there. Using the media in that way was nothing new, and had never been a source of inspiration for me. So that couldn’t really have been the attraction.
Why was I still there? Why couldn’t I take my eyes off these images? Why were these images so much better than what I conjured in my own sketchbooks?
I think what sucked me back into those rooms and set my sparks flying was that unrestrained childlike imagination. How does an artist allow himself to let everything fly out the window like that? The caricatures were well beyond caricatures. Arms and legs and tails and horns and whatever other body parts that could conceivably be conceived as a body part were attached to shapes that weren’t really bodies until simulated body parts had been attached.
But you knew that.
Stripes and checkerboards and spirals and dipping horizons added to my acute sense of instability, and all I could do was stand in front of them and try to soak in as much as my little brain could soak in, in the hopes that some day that freedom would spew out in my own work.
On the train ride home I drew. Over the next few months I drew some more. I was inspired and ready to take on my own sketchbook demons and wrestle them into something I could proudly show the world.
Things seep away over time, however. It’s been another year, and I seem to have lost that thing. That permission you had given me to create outrageousnous. Those weird images that had been crisscrossing around in my head. And, ultimately, the hope that somewhere down the line it would all be worth it.
Dear Tim (do you mind if I call you Tim?), please send me a sign. Something. Anything. Something to get me back on track. Something to help me find my monsters. I’m afraid right now they’re lost, and I’m also afraid they’re scared. And hungry. I know I am. I desperately need to bring them home.
Please help me bring them back home.
P.S. Thank you kindly for allowing my family to give me your art book last Christmas, and I’m eagerly awaiting your and Danny’s CD box set, as my Alice in Wonderland soundtrack is quite possibly wearing thin.