One Take: buZ blurr, A Study

In which we gave Little Rock photographer and owner of the White Water Tavern Matt White a Polaroid, eight frames of film and one take to get the shot

THAT COLOSSUS of Roads drawing, which became legendary across North America—for decades, it was a mystery who was creating those. You know, it wasn’t until the early 2000s, when his identity was more or less revealed as buZ blurr, this lifelong artist and third-generation railroad worker in Gurdon, Arkansas. With those drawings—there’s the joy of the drawing itself, which is the side profile of a character in a cowboy hat, this glorious billowy beard, tobacco pipe protruding from the slight hint of a smile. And then there’s joy in the poetry of the language—the phrases and titles drawn underneath. I’ve read interviews where he says that he went through periods of feeling in the grip of the compulsion, and he would do up to 200 of those drawings a day. And you know what’s funny? I can kind of relate to that with respect to wanting to see the drawings. Because once you see one, or you see two, you just want to see more. Like, when I’m working at night in the bar, there could be some extremely loud band playing, but I can still feel the train going by in the night—and I just have this image of all the drawings that might be on the train that are just flying by. And just being curious what I’m missing and where they’re going to and what’s out there. That’s part of the beauty—that character is never going to be in the same spot twice. He’s always on the move.