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THE VIEW FROM PAST 50

WHAT LIES AHEAD FOR the artist past 50, largely unsung? All history is quickly limited to a few reputations, and while we know temporal judgment can be off, that hardly compensates the artist who, though generally recognized, nonetheless passes into a kind of limbo, trying hard not to feel left out.

Still, the answer to emptiness is not to latch on to whatever comes along. The answer may be the careful nurturing of illusion, the maintenance of expectation in face of the odds and momentary facts that can’t be denied. Neither can one’s rage be denied. It is, at the very least, a crying shame to have envisioned glory and be denied it for failings even partly one’s own. I’m convinced that assertion is more important than luck, for luck by itself just creates the opportunity it requires assertion to exploit. Should one then pack it in? “Why don’t artists retire?” Isabel Bishop was recently quoted

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