Art by mail: Great Salt Lake

Postcard collage of Great Salt Lake and elaborate costume

Message on postcard:
Hi Sindre! Thanks for backing my Kickstarter project. I’ve had a great time traveling this summer, but since my wild boar attack the pace of things has slowed down while I recuperate in the Bay Area (the region around the San Francisco Bay). I was disappointed not to be able to send travel photos to all my project backers — snapshots of a friend’s apartment don’t compare well to the photos I took of the Badlands, for example — so I decided to work on a little mini-project while I’m convalescing.

Charles Schulz, the cartoonist who wrote and drew Peanuts, lived in nearby Santa Rosa for most of his career. After I got out of the hospital I visited the Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, and it was such a neat experience that I thought I would try to interview the museum archivist for my website. And tomorrow I’m interviewing not only the archivist, but also Jeannie Schulz, Charles Schulz’s widow. I’m super excited about this! I’m especially hoping that you enjoy it, because your avatar on the Kickstarter website is a very neat cartoon face.

I like Peanuts … I feel like Charlie Brown some days, and as the owner of two dogs I’m pretty much legally required to like Snoopy. Some of my friends don’t really care for the strip — not that they dislike it, rather they’re more neutral about it — which seems strange to me. I’m trying to segue into this story about the guest ledger at the museum, but I don’t know how to write a fluid transition, so I’ll just tell the story.

The guest ledger is this sketchbook with Charlie Brown on the cover, and inside people have written notes of appreciation and a few have drawn characters from Peanuts. On the cover, the smile on Charlie Brown’s face has a little downward dip at the end … it’s a little tiny pen movement that goes a long way. I think it shows some kind of anxiety or reservation in the character of Charlie Brown. And in a guest book entry, there’s an amateur attempt at Charlie Brown where he has a full-on smile, no hint of doubt to his happiness.

I think that particular amateur drawing is a great if unintentional interpretation of how Charlie Brown makes the artist feel. And it makes me happy that [an anxious, potentially depressed] character like Charlie Brown can make a person happier than Charlie Brown is.

Original and interpreted Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown as drawn by Charles Schulz, and Charlie Brown as drawn by a visitor to the Schultz Museum.


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