Variations on a Theme: Five Drawings in Search of an Audience

Ed Newman
Jul 8 · 3 min read

Recent drawings inspired by Bob Dylan’s funky free-flowing fun.

On display at Karpeles Manuscript Museum. Photo by the author.

One of the features of our annual Duluth Dylan Fest these past several years has been the exhibition of a portion of Bill Pagel’s extensive Dylan archives. The title for this year’s exhibit at Karpeles Manuscript Museum Library is “Which One is the Real Bob Dylan.” The objects in the 13 cases reveal many sides of the Northland’s native son through letters, original handwritten lyrics, photos and more.

One of the display cases contains pages from the original copy of the BOB DYLAN SONGBOOK owned by Bob Dylan’s early friend, Mark Eastman. What’s unusual about the songbook is how he essentially doodled over all the pages. Seeing this kind of disregard for the blank page in favor printed material as a surface to draw on. As it turns out, there’s no end to the variety of surfaces upon which one can leave an original creative mark.

What follows is a set of my own drawings in a book titled The New Scribner Music Library, copyright 1972. The inspiration came from the Dylan drawings here and elsewhere which I’d seen a few years back. At the end of this page you will find a few more details about the Songbook once owned by Mark Eastman.

Five variations on a theme.

In December 1960, Bob left Minneapolis where he had been attending college at the University of Minnesota, with the intention of going to New York City. When Bob hitchhiked out of Minneapolis his first stop was Chicago where he met up with Kevin Krown, a folk singer he’d met during a summer performing in Denver. Kevin had told Bob to look him up if he ever got to Chicago. Bob stayed for several weeks before heading north to Madison, Wisconsin and then on to New York City.

Dylan illustration on his lyrics to It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)

Bob first met Mark Eastman at Kevin Krown’s apartment in Chicago where Bob was staying for several weeks before he left for New York City. Mark and Kevin were friends attending the University of Chicago.

That previous summer Bob had met Kevin when he performed at various clubs in Denver, Colorado. Mark and Bob ended up in New York City in January, 1960 when Bob first arrived there. Mark later accompanied Bob the first time he met Woody Guthrie at Greystone Hospital in Morris Plains, New Jersey.

After graduating from the University of Chicago, Mark moved to New York City and taught at the Manhattan New School for a time. Mark and Bob remained close friends throughout the Sixties. Bob inscribed many of the pages in Mark’s copy of the book, some of which are displayed here.

To see more from the William Pagel Archives, the exhibition is on display through the end of July here in Duluth at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum Library. You can see more of my own creative expressions at my Many Faces of Ennyman art blog.

Ed Newman

Written by

Ed Newman

Retired ad man, I’m an avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3

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