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Robert Zurer
Brooklyn, NY
Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights



ARTIST STATEMENT: Two childhood experiences have influenced everything I do with art. The first was at The Little Red Schoolhouse where I attended the sixes, sevens and eights. I think it was in the eights that the class was drawing with crayons on that yellowish construction paper with pieces of wood still in it. There were two girls in my class who had their own painfully exclusive clique of two. They were drawing this picture together, heads bent over the paper, intently working. When it was done they showed it around. I remember that the maroon and green crayon was layered so thickly that it glistened. But the intriguing part was that they said that they had put a secret into it. I never did find out what it was but somewhere in the design was a hidden message. The second influential experience was a drawing game that was played on a TV show that I used to watch. A search yielded this:Fred Hall's "Cartoon Playtime" was on WNEW-TV Channel 5 in NYC from 1958 to 1965. He would engage his viewers in craft making, hobbies, games, and drawing lessons at the easel known as "Mystery Lines" where the kids at home would send in their own lines via the mail and Mr. Hall would draw pictures based on those lines to a musical accompaniment.I remember the magic of watching familiar objects appear when he extended those seemingly unrelated lines. There is a delectable "unknown" hidden everywhere, behind everything. If I listen, it calls, and if I call, it listens. I want to stick my mind and heart and fingers into it and play hard.I start all my work by scribbling random lines. I then pay close attention and wait. It turns out that whenever I shut up, listen (which is seldom), and pay attention to anything at all, something happens. It feels like an idea or an impulse is coming into me from outside, as if I am receiving a Message from the Mystery. I am now responsible for responding. I cannot think or hesitate because then it is lost. It is a volley, a call and response, a dialog. I make a move, wait, then another, and so forth. At each step the whole changes. The problem is how to make it "work."I don't know quite what it is that makes something work or not work. I don't know much about art history, don't know much about aesthetic theory. But I do know that things that work are whole, powerful and true. They have an immediate and lasting effect. A beautiful example of something that works is the song to which I just referred. And that is what I am trying to learn to do by doing.
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