I remember my grandmother trying to teach me how to play the piano when I was a little girl. We got as far as Yankee Doodle before I called it quits. It is absolutely mind-boggling to me, the amount of patience and skill that goes into learning the piano. I mean, you basically have to read two different languages, and interpret on two different hands, AT THE SAME TIME. Combine that with the ineffable ability to tell a story without words, to bring a feeling to life that you didn’t even know existed. And if done right, it seems effortless, though you are fully aware it is not. It’s simple and impossible at the same time.
There's a unique power that comes with certain types of music. I’ve watched seasons change just by listening to someone play the piano. I've felt anger and despair, joy and hope. I've understood what someone was saying without ever hearing any words. Maria Cristina Mena once penned, “Piano keys are black and white, but they sound like a million colors in your mind.” It doesn't make any sense, but it does. And the people that bring these colors to life are special. They are patient and hard-working and diligent and passionate. They have to be. And like his instrument of choice, Arthur Bosarge has created a life both grand and bright.
I first met Arthur in my hometown of Foley, Alabama while working at the Banana Republic outlet. No offense to any of my other co-workers, but no one could put together an outfit quite like Arthur, which makes sense, seeing how his favorite childhood memory is going to the mall with his mom. It always amazed me the way Arthur could bring to life a pair of outlet chinos with an cardigan and a neck scarf. Try as we might, none of us could pull off a look quite as well as Arthur.
Fast forward five years from our time at BR, and I am finally pursuing my career as a photographer and writer, while Arthur is living his dream as a professional pianist and music director for The Prizery in Virginia. He gets to spend his days playing piano and directing music for other talented singers, an inevitable occupation choice for him, since his reason for becoming a pianist in the first place was because he loved “the sound of unamplified singing” - plus, “the literature is wonderful.”
When Arthur came into town a couple of months ago for a visit, he asked me to take some new headshots for him. I happily obliged, not not only because I love photographing other artists, but because I knew Arthur would be the quintessential mix of sass and elegance and give my photos the type of depth only an intriguing personality can bring.
I was excited to find that his fashion sense had expanded even farther beyond his already impressive eye for style. He walked into Kudzu, our beautiful venue for his session, with a vintage, faux-fur coat and retro, round sunnies (which I woefully did not get a photograph of), and I knew I was in for a treat. We kept the outfits simple for the sake of his headshots, but you can’t deny the magic this man brings to film.
As thoughtful as he is witty, you really can’t spend time with Arthur without wanting more. He has a way of keeping you on your toes while making you feel like a friend, a solace for us socially awkward types. If he were to have a dinner party, the likes of Quentin Crisp, Tennessee Williams, and RuPaul would be at the top of his guest list (just below me, I’m assuming), and I know he would find a way to relate to them all, to make them laugh, make them think, and, if he were to play piano, possibly make them cry. I would love to photograph that dinner party, if I could.
I do hope I get the opportunity to photograph Arthur again one day, maybe another five years from now. Maybe I'll get to catch a show at the Prizery, or maybe he'll be playing on Broadway. Maybe he'll be in France. Whatever he is doing, I know he will be working hard to keep the art of piano alive and appreciated, and the world of fashion on its tip toes. Either way, I'm glad you've had a chance to meet him here.
If you'd like to find out more about what Arthur is up to next (trust me, you do), check out the Prizery's Facebook page here. And if you also regret the fact that I did not snap a photo of Arthur making his grand entrance at Kudzu (which I will literally regret for the rest of my life), you can see some of his epic selfies on his Instagram.
Thank you for the chance to photograph and spend time with you, Arthur. Keep doing what you're doing. And keep looking this good doing it.
Last but not least, huge thanks to Megrez Mosher for opening up her studio to us! Kudzu Aerial is a gem, and for those of you who have never been to an aerial class, you should give it a try. Check out their website or Facebook page for more.