The Indianapolis 500 approaches, and we offer in this issue (page 74) two highly personal views of the race—one the work of a young gallery artist, the other that of a Jesuit priest-professor-poet. The two men are strangers. Artist Bob Stanley was commissioned to put his impressions on canvas, but Writer Bob Crozier knocked on our door and asked that his unusual story be given a reading.
For Stanley, who got his assignment because of the force and excitement of his paintings, Indy was totally new. This was a confrontation deliberately arranged by Art Director Richard Gangel, who sometimes throws an artist into a novel field and then challenges him to make his way out. "Sport," says Gangel, "can benefit from original work from any angle."
Throughout history many artists have chosen to involve themselves in sport, and Gangel believes he must be on firm ground in asking leading contemporary painters to work in the same vein. Stanley is the first of the new wave of gallery painters to be so involved here. Moreover, since the Indy scenes in this issue will continue to be shown as paintings in private homes and museums, they will long outlive this week's print and paper. That kind of permanence and continuing testimony was part of Gangel's design.
Stanley the artist reveals himself in his work; Stanley the person volunteers almost nothing of his creative urges or mode of living. The Indy paintings say that Stanley the artist cuts through the underbrush of busy decorative distractions and attempts to find a maximum emotion in stark color and economy of form. His chromatic reverberations are likely to keep viewers' eyes ringing for a long time after they have put down the magazine.
This we do know about Stanley: he studied at the Brooklyn Museum Art School and Oglethorpe College and now lives and works in a high-ceilinged loft in lower Manhattan. His paintings bring as much as $2,000, and he is hard put to keep up with the demand. "I've been included in Op and Pop art shows," he says, "which is very funny. My roots are in American abstract expressionism." Stanley exhausts one subject, then moves on to the next. His latest theme: trees.
Father Crozier, whose mystical approach to auto racing is as original as Stanley's, traveled a far different route: teaching at Indian schools, wheeling diesels over mountain roads, climbing the mountain peaks above the roads, riding quarter horses—but always following the triumphs and troubles of the men of Indianapolis. "I turned from the boyhood dream of becoming a racer," he says, "to the dream of sky piloting." Now in the role of companion-counselor to a group of young Indy buffs who are eager to sample life outside their collegiate classrooms, he may be said to have the best of two worlds.