Friday, October 08, 2010

Wednesday: NYC - Dinner and a Show


Slept in until 9am Eastern Time. Went down and had some cereal and rye toast. Everyone here has freshly squozed orange juice. I have never experienced the like since Florida. Ohhh it was so good. I stayed with just the one glass so as not to rupture my sugar levels. Got cleaned up, and I headed out for the day, which was all planed out. I was to start with The Illustration House, Arcadia Fine Art Gallery, Forbidden Planet (comic book/toy/geek dom). If I am still standing after all that, the last stop was to be the legendary Strand bookstore. (I wasn’t standing, so I skipped the Strand).

So with Talcum powder freshly applied everywhere, even on my ears… I was ready for another brisk walk down to the Illustration House. Oh, did I mention that the Walking portion of Google Maps is Beta, I may have forgotten that because after 2 hours I was a bit over half way!!! But never fear, I stopped at a local deli that offered 2slices and a can for 4.99. My hope was that the slices were slices of pizza and not slices into my side with a box cutter. I was correct. It was 2 slices of cheese pizza, New Yawk style. It was good. I actually heard some older guy griping about stuff and actually say… “now I got a problem”… to which the owner came over and quickly calmed everything down and sat with the gentleman, served him his lunch and discussed local building history. I believe I may have been witness to a… transaction of some sort. So, I packed up and skee-dadled before jimmy the nose decided I was his next “problem”. It was good pie, maybe jimmy the nose spilt soda on his plaid trousers??? Probably not.

So, I continued on for another hour and made it to a run down alley. No name, no nothing…. I thought… I have been screwed. Then I noticed a lot of dark oak, and books, and some paintings farther away from the front window. There was a small sign that said, Illustration House. So I asked to be buzzed in and introduced myself.

A nice younger man said, “Oh, you’ll want to talk to Walt. I’ll call him down.”

Within a few moments, the 248 year old Walter Reed sauntered down a flight of stairs. He couldn’t have weighed more than 110 pounds, had hearing aids in each ear… but with dead batteries in both. But could weave tales about each painting and each artist as if they were completed not but twenty minutes ago and he was there to witness it all. His eyes would light up as he would pick up each painting with a shaky hand. I was sure he was going to drop a couple of them. I held one or two as his grip wasn’t quite what he suspected it was. He would point out subtle nuances, tell of stories of the times and technique challenges or discoveries. He apologized for missing some of the pieces due to a show on pulp fiction illustrators that was shipping out this week. I graciously told him that I had come just to see his studio and the Society of Illustrators, there could be no disappointment.

Here is an account of the artwork that I got to see… ORIGINAL PAINTINGS, ALL.

· 3 Michael Golden Punisher Covers, drawn and Inked by Mr. Golden.

· 2 Bernie Fuches landscape paintings… The master. I almost cried.

· 2 Norman Rockwell charcoal finished drawings for the Post. Most people can’t paint as well as Rockwell drew.

· The Hildebrandt Brothers Lord of the Rings masterpiece where everyone is meeting at the garden of the elven city, and the two hobbits are crying… it is flipping huge. And the details are amazing. I think I had an accident when I turned the corner. Mr. Reed had to hold me up, not an easy task for a man 248 years old.

· A Norman Lindsey watercolor of a man fighting off a shark… black and white.

· Violet Oakley’s preliminary painting for one of her massive murals at Pennsylvania University.

· A Hayden Sunbloome pin up girl illustration. (Sunbloome was the painter of the coca-cola santa and the quaker oats man.)

· Several pen and ink illustrations: joseph Clement Coll, Charles Dana Gipson, A.B. Frost,

· Coles Phillips a disappearing girl in deep blue.

· And several of the pulp illustrations that had yet to be packed up.

Mr. Reed stayed and spoke to me for a good hour or more. What an honor.

Norman Lindsey

a different Coles Phillips... very similar, but the girl is facing the other way and the background is blue... but the design and concept are of the same starting point.

Dean Cornwell... this baby is not as big as I have seen him paint. 20" x 24" maybe
I turned a corner and my insides started to quake when I saw this... the corners are actually tattered a bit. They painted to the edge of the board, no handling space at all. It is almost as wide as I am tall.

From there I cabbed it to the Arcadia Fine Arts Gallery. Just too sore at the time… and a bit too lost… I think the cabbie was too. But we made it. The gallery was much more clean, tidy, but certainly lacked the warmth and love of the works the way that Mr Reed had provided. Nonetheless, I did get to see some spectacular pieces by Robert Liberace, Malcolm Leipke, Jeremy Lipking, and Francis Livingstone. The paintings were stunning, make no doubt about it, but after having to follow a showman like Reed, Arcadia just was a room with canvases in it.

From Arcadia I walked to Forbidden Planet. For those who don’t know, like myself,

Forbidden Planet is one of 2 bookstores on earth. One resides in NYC, the other in London, Proper. (that’s England folks).

Forbidden Planet is about the size of every comic book store you have ever been to… added together… and I don’t care how many you have been to. It is STILL bigger than them all combined. It has… everything, literally. If you can’t find it, you only dreamt that it existed and even then… if you ask… they probably still have it. I didn’t even go up to the Third floor to look around for fear that I might find me up there for sale.

So as your little minds start spinning around trying to come up with some odd ball little thingy that the store didn’t have…. Don’t, I already checked… they had that too.

My body sent me back to the hotel for a nap… longer than expected. But needed none the less. I strolled down Broadway to “Mickey Mantle’s” for a supper and a chance to sit (quietly) and observe Yankee nation during playoffs. I had to do it, If they were home, I would have tried for a ticket, but they were in Minnesota. As far as D├ęcor, I don’t know how much of it is real and how much is replica. They had a pillar that was made of Yankee signed broken bats, gloves, shoes. They had a Joe Namath wall, which I thought was odd, but whatever floats. The food was really good and for NY, was reasonably priced. I asked what the server liked to eat… and then chose from that list. A cheese steak hero, actually one of the best I have had, ever. This was goooooood, and not too big, it was a half order. I watched the last half of the Reds lose to the Phillies to a perfect game pitched by Roy Halladay. Then stayed for 3 innings of the Yankees Twins game.

I needed a fresh head about me for the conference the next day, so I decided to walk back, and if I got a bit nervous I would hale a cab. The streets were active with mostly normal looking people. So I was able to maneuver my way back to the Hotel without incident. I did get so see my token “interesting” person of the trip… a shaggy man who had not seen a bath in a few days+ with a long flowing white beard and hair shouting warnings to us all about the end of days. Oh, did I mention he was dressed in carpet samples? Rolls of carpet runners, carpet squares, shag, short fibers, it must have been like wearing armor. Now THAT’s NEW YORK CITY, Dinner and a show.

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