Jimmie Spheeris: Envelope

Jimmie was always a class act. After I met him at a 1976 concert, I wrote him a letter... not really expecting a reply from a busy recording artist who probably had more important people to write to than me. A few weeks later, this envelope arrived from California, postmarked June 29, 1976. Inside was a nice note from Jimmie saying that he would be pleased to help me in my own musical efforts, if there was ever something he could do.

I was living in Wichita at the time and working with a band called Equinox. Visit the website of Equinox cofounder Nan Geary some time to sample her remarkable solo music and poetry. A Song of Peace, which she produced in March 2003 with the vocal group Harmonious Combustion, is now one of the most frequently downloaded songs at my personal domain.

Anyway, back to the story. I love this envelope and thought you might like to see it. At this size and resolution it may be a little difficult to make out the design on the stationary Jimmie used... but in the lower left is a traveler in a long robe, with a walking stick. He's kneeling, with his back to you... as though crawling. Behind him is a world we know... trees, villages and steeples across the landscape, the sun and moon. Above it all is the curved dome of a star-spangled sky... almost solid, like a glass lens. The traveler has pushed his head and his right hand through the lens and can now see another world beyond it... a multi-layered universe of light, a wall of flames, wheels within wheels, rows of clouds receding away forever. Jimmie was like that traveler.

A thoughtful reader suggested that I include a detail enlargement of the drawing... you can see it here.

I've kept this letter through many moves... not the last of which was to Los Angeles about a year later, where Jimmie and I became friends. Through his help and encouragement, I did meet many musical contacts, including Paul Delph, producer of Jimmie's last album... and one of my best friends in this world. I was very fortunate to have shared a little time with them both on this spoke of the wheel. - andy

UPDATE

A Jimmie fan sent a wonderful link to share with you. Kerry Magruder, Visiting Assistant Professor in the History of Science Collections at the University of Oklahoma, has an excellent resource about the woodcut image on the envelope above. See this page to discover the many ways the image has been used throughout time - and find clues about its origins.

The Jimmie Spheeris Memorial Gallery: jimmiespheeris.com
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