This week I read an article in The Globe about a recent exhibit at Norman Rockwell Museum entitled: "Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margaret and H.A. Rey". They were the writers/illustrators of the iconic Curious George books.
Here's a quick passage detailing their voyage from Paris when the Germans began their westward invasion circa 1939:
"They had no car. Unable to purchase bikes. Hans bought spare parts and constructed two bikes himself. The couple rode out of Paris in the rain, the manuscripts for "Fifi" and their other projects protected under a coat in a basket attached to one of the bikes. For three days they pedaled, staying in stables and spare rooms at night, hoping to get to Portugal. Eventually, they did, although not before being stopped on the train from France into Spain by an official who suspected they were spies...Four months and two long sea voyages later, the Reyes and their manuscripts were in New York. Before the year was out, they had a contract with Houghton Mifflin for four children's books. All four had been carried out of Paris by bike...the first Curious George book was published in Boston in the fall of 1941".
These two authors showed such courage during a war where essentially they were the target (both Hans & Margaret were born into Jewish families). They not only managed to make it to their destination unscathed but went on to share their stories through books such as Curious George.
I wonder...(yea there I go again! WONDERING...) if war broke out in this country right now and I was the target as the Reyes were, would I be able to display the same amount of courage? To not only survive the ordeal physically but maintain mental strength and continue w/ my craft so intelligently?
The story of the Reyes is one of the many encouraging stories of history that I think people should be reading about. Who cares how EASILY you can become a STAR? from winning a reality television show. What I applaud is sustaining yourself in the face of turmoil. That's admirable to me.
Or maybe the Reyes didn't think their work was that important to the world & were merely trying to survive. It's hard to say. They say live for today. You never know what's going to happen...blah blah blah. Yeah we all know the saying. But what does that REALLY mean anyway?
I mean...as artists should we settle for what's available because it's easy & that's what we're used to or can we function as though we don't have everything so easy? Should we try to function with a greater urgency & focus so that no matter what does happen we're prepared to hop on our bikes with a copy or two of our script, song lyrics or painting or w/e the passion & make it?
I like to think that the Reyes had this inner urgency driving them to their destination. That the manuscripts in the folds of their satchel were a little piece of hope carrying them safely the rest of the way...
...who knows? Maybe it's just ME...dreaming again...