What artist, living or dead, would you want to do your cover design?
By Rebecca Cantrell
I was walking through a little gallery in Kona the other day. Usually the paintings they carry have tropical themes—whales, flowers, waves, cottages in the moonlight—and often I come across something truly beautiful. This day they had a series of koi in clear water across multiple canvasses that my mother quite liked. Every year she seems to have a different configuration of favorite colors and this year it is a bamboo green, a deeper forest green, and a bright orange. It sounds hideous but actually looked gorgeous on the fish paintings.
After admiring them I turned a corner and saw the kind of painting one rarely sees in a small Hawaiian town, although I later learned that the artist lives in Honolulu. The painting was called “Night Street” and the artist is John Pitre. He says it represents “A collage of my memories from New York, London, Tokyo, and Honolulu. The essence of the moods and the action on the street of any big city at night.”
At the time I knew none of that. I stopped and stared at it. The colors are wonderful, the textures are mesmerizing, and the woman in front is haunting. She faces us so seriously. To me, she looks like she’s stepped out of the late 1920s decadence of Berlin. She wears long gloves, her hair is covered as if by a cloche hat. Behind her some of the women are unclothed. It’s definitely not a staid beer garden in the background. She reminded me so strongly of Hannah Vogel, my heroine that I stopped and stared so long the gallery owner brought the painting to a private room with clever lighting.
This tiny rendition of it doesn't do it justice, of course. Here's a version on the author's web site that doesn't do it justice either but is better: http://www.johnpitre.com/JP/nightfull.htm
It would make the perfect cover for “A Trace of Smoke.” I looked John Pitre up and found him described as “the most bankable living American surrealist,” which put the painting right out of my price range. But they still have it, it’s still lovely, and I still stop by every so often to gaze at Hannah and wonder what she’s up to there, in her world on the other side of the canvas.
What do you think? Do you think I could make a convincing case to Tor Forge to put it on a limited edition run?