13 What I Was In For

Forty-seven towns. Over one hundred Hopper paintings. Nearly a thousand interviews.

A mere four-hour drive from Chicago, Muskegon had been a trial run. Without too much investment, I could see whether people were interested in Hopper's art and my question. But Miriam's plea made me feel that I had an obligation to see this through.

Little did she know it, but she launched me on an adventure that would take me backstage at New York's Museum of Modern Art; into a bank president's office; on a tour of the strictest town in America with the former mayor as my chauffeur; inside a major corporation's headquarters; onto the campus of posh Phillips Andover prep school; and down an endless road of dingy travelers' hotels, restaurants, and roadside attractions. I would meet a man who was a freelance art curator and got into the business by going blind; a Yale professor who hosted a dinner party to discuss my subject; a woman who was an up-and-coming star on the national fine arts scene; a man working as a greeter on the deck of the very ship where he had been the crew's dentist 40 years previously; a homeless man who was a big art fan; and a million other people with stories as compelling as the characters in Hopper's paintings.

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