MINNEAPOLIS - Gush if you will about the commercial triumphs of Amazon, whose tentacles reach into nearly everyone's home, or Apple's $2 trillion market value, the American spirit lives on not in corporations, but in individuals.
Which is a good thing. A great thing, actually. And never more so than now, on October's cusp, as we stiffen our backs against a pandemic that kills about 1,000 of us every day.
It is true that in an increasingly urbanized world, self-reliance often kneels at the feet of institutions, whose devil's deal, forever tempting, promises comfort and security in exchange for attendance and conformity.
Yet like standard-bearers, many Americans still carve their own paths.
"A project like this was years in the making," Bob White said the other day. "And, of course, we started it long before the world got itself into its current situation with the pandemic."
Bearded and bespectacled, White's appearance is artsy, but his nature is down-home. A working man, his days begin and end mixing paints and staring at an easel, with his fortunes hanging in the balance.
Trading in sporting art, White has spent the pandemic months preparing for publication of what he calls a "lifetime" book of his work. A coffee-table collection, his 280-page missive published by Stackpole Books is a cavalcade of inspiration born of experience and honed by reflection.
Some of the book's paintings cast in soft palettes morning light playing against St. Croix riverbanks not far from his home. Others convey in pencil the quiet aspirations of two men and a dog questing for ducks in a narrow river boat.
Sporting art, as differenced from wildlife art, White says, "involves the environs of a sporting activity and the people who pursue their passions there."
So it is that people are prominent in White's paintings, whether, as in "Rain," an oil on canvas rendition of a solitary fly angler beset by a soft mist, or in "Partners," in which a grouse hunter and his dog rest self-satisfied beneath a autumnally chromatic tree, reveling in warm sunlight.