Polson tells of his struggles to balance an artist’s life with family demands in this debut remembrance.
Starting in 1957, when the Wyoming-born author was 9, he started having a yearly vision: “Suddenly the universe around me was filled with light. Orbs were floating in the void. One sphere had a shape emerging within it. The shape became a human figure, and my fear turned to calmness, peace, and enlightenment.” The vision’s meaning was unclear to him, but it augured the restlessness that would characterize his adult life. After a first, early marriage in Wyoming fell apart, Polson moved west to pursue a career as a painter. He held down odd jobs in various cities, working as a substitute teacher in Las Vegas, an inflatable-sculpture maker in San Diego, an art framer in Seattle. All the while, he painted, sculpted, and sought his voice as an artist. He even managed to take an impressive tour of Europe, visiting the great museums of the continent for inspiration. Throughout his life, however, the fluctuations of romantic relationships and his obligations to his resulting children unsettled his already-unsteady life as an aspiring visual artist. It is only now, after decades of work and thousands of pieces, that Polson says that he can look back and appraise his decisions. In this memoir, the author writes in simple prose with straightforward descriptions and observations: “Life was strange in Southern California. People didn’t become attached to one another like they did in Wyoming.” Readers may wish that the memoir contained a bit more self-investigation, though, as some lines keep its narrator from being truly sympathetic, such as when he calls his act of writing a memoir a “noble” one. The author does succeed in documenting the often difficult life of people who pursue the arts as a career. However, there’s little in this book that readers can’t find in numerous other memoirs, penned by other vagabonds of Polson’s generation.
A rangy but underwhelming artist memoir.