Notebook 1996, 2001, 2008
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It was Benny Andrews who I thought was really Benjamin, but he said that he was baptized Benny. Benny has a way of getting around to galleries and introduced me to Robert Graham, the director of the Graham Gallery on Madison Avenue.
Robert said, "Call me Bob," when he visited here to see my paintings. He
One, rather large, about fifty inches high, had some bright orange flicked around some unreadable words, as though some teacher had graded a paper of writing. Bob was having a group showing of new painters and decided this painting could be in his gallery show. I call it "Paragraph with Orange."
I had been around galleries and openings, and enjoyed the drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Many invitations came to the Display Department at the Metropolitan Museum where I worked as the secretary for a while. They were addressed to Mr. Knotts, the Director, and he gave them to me. One very fine opening was at a gallery called the New World Gallery, designed by the architect Frederick Kiesler. I didn't know anyone there and few of the artists exhibited were familiar, and two floors of the gallery were spectacular with streams of water flowing around the ground floor under the paintings. The water was contained in small channels which went under little bridges on which one stepped while continuing the stroll around the exhibit. The walls showed Calder drawings and paintings of Georgia O'Keefe. It was a major opening and was written up in ArtNews.
Bob Graham's exhibition that was in late June had the first painting that I showed in a gallery. Benny had a painting as well as Dick Miller, an abstract painter whom I knew. His wife Terry was a soprano in the Metropolitan Opera. The exhibit was on the second floor of the Graham Building on Madison Avenue at 71st Street.
During the run of the showing Bob invited the new artists who were showing that month to his house in Stamford, Connecticut. What an adventure! benny and his wife Mary Ellen and I took a train to Stamford, and were picked up then taken to the party by a driver in a big black car. The estate was much larger than I expected with a swimming pool and tennis court and great shady lawns. When evening came, we went into a large open kitchen which had every possible luxury. Places to sit, big glass walls, and two refrigerators, two large ovens, and a spread of food which included beef steaks being cooked out of doors in a barbecue pit. He called attention to the lighting in the gardens when it got dark. I was outside at the time. and Terry Miller told me to look out toward a field which was lit and fenced in. I thought I saw a zebra and there were ostriches, peacocks, and some tiny horses grazing.
The Graham summer exhibition came down, my painting returned, and Bob's assistant Joan Washburn came here to see more paintings.
The paintings, as well as the drawings, were calligraphic. One of the first was "A Letter to Mark Tobey," which was black, red, and green. It is a paragraph of brushstrokes that make what looks like big free handwriting. I am interested in lined paper, and prepared a canvas by painting it a thick dull white. It looked like the color of plaster. I divided the vertical canvas into two-inch horizontal lines, leaving a six-inch space at the top. With a pushpin on the right side of the stretcher I tied a string, soaked it in blue oil paint, pulled it to the left, in line with the two-inch measurement, and, holding it tight, plucked the string so that it shot an uneven slightly splattered horizontal line. This I repeated on every two inches until the canvas looked like a page of blue-lined paper.
Joan Washburn got along with this type of painting and told me she would telephone after Bob and she had a conference concerning their new artists. She telephoned soon after telling me that the gallery was not going to handle my painting, though they were attracted to this kind of work. Joean Washburn went on to mention a new gallery recently opened on East 82nd Street, down the street from the Metropolitan Museum's main entrance. The director is Allan Stone. This interested me, and I asked her to let Allan Stone know that I would visit him at his gallery. She said that he is expecting a call from me. That same day I made an appointment to visit the Allan Stone Gallery.
This loft is divided in half, the west half being my studio, the other, a living space, a bath room, and kitchen with no sink. Water is carried to the kitchen area, heated for washing dishes, then used water is carried and flushed down the toilet.
George Monk and I lived here first. The weekend we moved in Dad died. There was no telephone and I did not receive the news until Monday at the Metropolitan Museum where I worked.
George Monk and I built a wall to separate the studio from the rest of the loft. Anything that we could nail to a basic structure we nailed. We found a discarded bundle of broom handles. There are sixty broom handles in a bundle. They are hard to nail through, but this separating wall has a section of sixty broom handles. Anything that could be nailed was nailed to this structure. We even found a swinging door like saloon doors seen in Western movies, with the hinges that allow the door to open and close both ways. These were days when the financial district was remodeling, and some buildings had scaffolding built over their fronts. Windows and doors were removed. These were the days when doors were made into fences that kept the construction hidden. It was after five we would scavenger for furniture or a textural piece to nail on the dividing wall. West on Fulton Street, real construction was happening. West, an enormous hole was being dug. Earth from the hole was making landfill in the Hudson River west of here. It was said that the World Trade Center was being built. I thought they would change the title after the building was completed. It sounded like the the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, which I always thought was not a permanent name.
My studio has smaller windows than the back windows because the roof is angled towards Fulton Street. How I love this studio! My easel is near the Fulton Street windows and my desk is against the separating wall on the right if you turn around from the windows. Here I have lights, a telephone, and here I draw.
The drawings are made with ink and watercolor and gouache. Watercolor for stain and gouache because it's solid and opaque. I usually
The handwritten notebook entry stops with this unfinished sentence