Monday, December 9, 2019

A Work in Progress

A Work in Progress

Coming up with a post for The Lost Canyon Project was a relatively easy matter. The Project was creating a catalog of Pete Hampton’s paintings. The blog was a weekly chronicle of my progress.

The Lost Era Transcripts is a much more difficult undertaking. I have a selection of 828 paintings by Pete Hampton to match up with the fragments of “The Lost Era” narrative. Well over a hundred of these paintings were specifically done as scenes for “The Lost Era” slide show. Many other paintings in the archives were done specifically for Pete’s other work, “The Lost Canyon Trip”. I remember Pete showed me a lot of “The Lost Era” stuff, complete with scary story and sound effects. I saw “The Lost Canyon Trip” show several times.

But that was over forty years ago.  Nonetheless, seeing these small paintings again, and then transcribing the material from Pete’s notebook tapped into some deep veins of memory, and I saw dozens of the Lost Era pictures fall right in line with the stories as written.  Stranger yet, I seem to have no trouble telling early from later work, no trouble separating Lost Canyon from Lost Era stuff, and I can tell right away which paintings of the Puente Hills are from La Habra, and which ones are from Whittier, just a  few miles to the west.
Even so, it is a slow business selecting paintings, cropping, and squaring the photographs, and matching them to the text. I won’t necessarily have a new episode done each week.

The text, too, has its problems as we saw with the first installation. It was my original intention to leave Pete’s narrative exactly as I found it. I discussed this with Pete’s brother Richard. Quirky and odd as the writing is, to Richard or to me it sounded just like talking to Pete. His descriptions of La Habra made perfect sense to us because we lived there. Without that frame of reference the writing becomes quite opaque.

I had the good fortune to receive some excellent feedback and advice from Gerard Vanderleun of  (best  site on the internet) AmericanDigest.  When Vanderleun tells you, “Edit the text.” you edit the text. Thank you, Mr. V.

But “edit the text” is not like “crop the picture”. “Edit the text” adds layers of brain work, and decision making to the job. It also puts me into a whole new dimension of responsibility, as well as making the work itself go much slower. All part of a work in progress. My readers should find the narrative clearer, tighter, and easier to follow in subsequent installations. The next story from The Lost Era Transcripts will go on line as soon as it is ready. Thanks for stopping by.

One final note: Thank you to the people who stopped by, and left comments on last week's Lost Era post. Unfortunately, when I went to edit the post, Blogger went all wonky on me. I lost the whole post, comments included, and had to start over from scratch.