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What Endures (Redux) Hand-painted Digital Collage 7.25” x 5.25”

A tryptch hangs on a white wall in a one-room apartment in Toulouse, France. Across the bottom of each panavisioned frame lie slices of ocean fashioned from modeling paste. Rising above the waves in all three panels is a hand-colored billboard backdrop of an early twentieth century advertisement for Crane’s Peppermint Life Saver Candies. A beautiful woman half-submerged reaches out toward the candy’s namesake. Her rescuer clad in yellow foul weather gear looks on from a dory. Printed over this image are lines taken from a poem by Harold Hart Crane, son of C.W. Crane, the man whose once successful chocolate company first manufactured the iconic candy.

In one of life’s poetic ironies life savers (the floatation devices, not the candy) were tossed by the crew of the S.S. Orbiza into the Atlantic after Hart Crane leapt from its deck. The tryptch titled, What Endures? Suggests several answers: the candy as candy, the candy as American icon, the lines of poetry, the memory of a suicide.

I like to think C.W. Crane fathered two enduring American icons whose relationship to one another say something about the tensions between art and commerce in America. C.W. sold his interest in the candy soon after its creation, but he never lost interest in his son. Bewildered but supportive, he kept Hart afloat much of the time. He died a year before his son took his own life, having lost his candy fortune, but having resuscitated his son’s affection.