A letter of high praise

On FaceBook, John Brodeur commented on David Lester’s recent illustration for the cover of the summer 2016 issue of BC History Magazine.

“Just beautiful – stunning, in fact,” he wrote, to which David replied, “Wow! Thanks John!”

But the exchange didn’t end there. John sent David this private message.

Hi David,

I hope you don’t mind that I chose not to respond publicly – I realized that my response to your post was very enthusiastic, and replying to your generous response publicly might have come across as insincere and/or as kissing up to a celebrity friend. Insincerity would be an insult to your artistry, even if it was only in the perceptions of people who would have seen my post.

The truth of the matter, though, is this: I’ve enjoyed your music for a long time. And I’m grateful to you for accepting my friend-request, given that Facebook friends who’ve never actually met MUST come across as sycophantic to some degree. I’ve tried to guard against that by viewing the few requests I make as expressions of gratitude for the good energy those people have put into the world. But I’d be lying if I said I don’t feel some fear, or reluctance, about being perceived as a celebrity collector.

As much as I’ve benefited from listening to and experiencing your music, your visual art has struck me even more strongly. When I was in my 20s, I remember having a similarly strong response to the sculpture of Henry Moore. Until seeing your work, I thought for sure that that response (which I can’t yet describe adequately) would remain singular. I’ll work on understanding and articulating the response because it’s my nature to do so, but I hope to be open to the possibility/probability that I’ll simply have to be comfortable with ambiguity.

If my response ultimately defies articulation, I’m happy (and truthfully, made better) for having been moved by your work. It is, in and of itself, a GOOD.

It shouldn’t go without saying thank you for that. You’ve put a lot of good energy into a world that sorely needs it.

Always warmly,
John Brodeur
Director of Carolina Leadership Development, associate director of the Carolina Union and a clinical instructor in education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Hi John,

What can I say but thanks for your words expressed so eloquently. I never really know what to say to people whose work I like (its always somewhat awkward). But I’m sure it’s a good thing that we make the effort. Funny you mention Henry Moore, I was just listening to a BBC documentary the other night by his daughter on what it was like to grow up with Henry as your father. She admired him greatly. Anyways, thanks again, your words of support matter, especially in what seems like a particularly heartless time.

–David

David also asked John for permission to include his letter in our archives.

John replies:

Wow, David! Thank you for that kindness. Please feel free to use my words however you see fit. I’m honored to know they touched you and Jean in some positive way.

I truly do believe that the work you both do is important. Art–whether painting or lithography or music or whatever else–is more than ‘entertainment.’ It inspires the mind and heals wounds. And it’s such a clear rebuke against our unregulated capitalistic world that the Biebers and J-Los are considered artistic pinnacles.

Complimenting your work is honest, which feels good to be, and expressing it is a fulfillment of my basic responsibilities as a decent human being. Again, I’m honored to know my thoughts affected you positively.

Thankful for this connection,
John

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David Lester’s illustration for the cover of the summer issue of British Columbia History, a magazine that has been publishing since 1923.

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David Lester works in a similar style for his contribution to the recently published Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working-Class Struggle an anthology of comics on Canadian labour history produced for the Graphic History Collective.Ballantine

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