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  • Artist Andrew Wyeth was a second-father, mentor, and dear friend. He and his equally remarkable wife, Betsy, influenced my life in umpteen ways from the time I was eight years old when they bought the other part of the old Quaker mill property right next to us on the banks of the Brandywine River, in Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania.

    They were neighbors who became friends, and then became family.

    In 1995 I was commissioned by Harper Collins to make a portrait of Andy for the cover of Secret Life, Richard Meryman’s excellent biography. On several occasions Dick and I enjoyed long conversations about Andy and his family and I was fortunate enough to read some of the early drafts of the manuscript. Given that perspective, when we spoke about the cover image I suggested something very plain, maybe something dark, definitely something direct.

    Further, I suggested that I try to capture that fleeting moment of intense concentration I had witnessed many times over the years, the moment when Andy would spot something that really caught his attention. When he had that squinting look, it always reminded me of a sniper about to fire, or of a surgeon about to make the first incision…total and absolute attention and focus. It was always very powerful to behold his concentration.

    Andy and I agreed to do this at their island home off the mid-coast of Maine, a completely familiar and comfortable setting for both of us. I asked Andy to sit in an old ladder-back chair in the doorway of the woodshed. I stood, he sat and I made a few exposures before noticing that a certain “colorful” fisherman was running his boat through the gut between the two islands.

    I pointed this out to Andy who was well aware of this guy’s history and suddenly, just for a second, there was “The Look,” and I managed to record it. And that’s the cover of the book.

    But it’s this "out take" image that I really love.

    After the boat went by we stayed out there for a while, just talking as I kept shooting intermittently. We had slipped into an intimate place that afternoon and then, suddenly, Andy gave me the look you see here. I knew we were done, and in we went for a drink before dinner.

    And if you look carefully, you can see me, standing there, in his eyes.

    The moment lingers.

    So does he.....
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