Scott E. Blumenthal, writer
About the Cover
In The Kiss, the music of the Aron, Reuven, and Benjamin affects each listener in his or her own way. One relives a lifetime long forgotten. Another is moved to confront her most painful memory. Another—as legend has it, at least—is brought back to life.
Another, 17-year-old Meyer Marguiles, is inspired to paint.
Meyer’s greatest painting, his self-proclaimed masterpiece, depicts the three musicians, he explains, as only I can see them. From its initial sketches through its completion and beyond, Meyer’s painting—which he calls “The Kiss” for reasons I won’t spoil—becomes the central visual image of the novel. As I wrote the book, I imagined that the painting would someday become its cover. There was only one problem: The painting didn’t exist.
So when Jessica Knauss, my editor at Loose Leaves Publishing, said that it was time to design a cover, I submitted a request that anyone who's ever run a book budget longs to hear: Can we commission a painting? The response was silence, followed by the suggestion that I might be insane. But I should feel free “look into it.”
As I perused the mind-bogglingly vast and wonderful online art gallery that is Fine Art America, the work of one artist in particular—a painter and photographer named Kamil Swiatek—leapt out at me again and again. Mr. Swiatek’s paintings were moving, haunting, powerful. I just knew it: This is the artist.
Then, as they say, reality set in.
Given his rare skill and exceptional range, surely Mr. Swiatek was a gray-bearded 99-year-old recluse living on a mountain somewhere, deigning to consider commissions only from the finest crowned heads of Europe. But heck, I thought, it couldn’t hurt to contact the guy. At the very least, I might come away with some enigmatic, recluse-artist wisdom that will make me sound smart at parties.
As it turned out, Kamil wasn't gray-bearded at all. Instead, he was a college student. He was super-busy juggling his art and coursework at the moment, but sure—a book cover sounds fun.
Kamil’s challenge wasn’t easy. He was tasked with interpreting (and somehow rendering) Meyer’s vision of the musicians’ eyes, hair, and instruments—at once highly specific and maddeningly vague—all while remaining mindful of the artistic influences and physical resources available to a 17-year-old living in Eastern Europe in the late 1930s. It was a tall order even for the most grizzled veteran. But Kamil—perhaps slightly more grizzled for it—rose to the challenge. And, in my humble opinion, surpassed it.
Learn more about Kamil, see samples of his work, and purchase his incredible art here.
'Three Musicians' (Kamil Swiatek, 2014)