SAVE C.B.G.B.!

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“It’s Deja Vu. All Over Again.” Yogi

I can see the mail already…

“Dear Nighthawk.nyc, You’re 10 years late and a dollar short with this. Bah Humbug!”

Yes, and, unfortunately… no, Dear Reader(s). Yes, I/we went through it back in the day. Once was enough. Now? I’ve HAD IT. I’m finally SICK to my stomach. No, not from Trump. Not from ISIS. Not from gunsanity. Not from the Kardashians (Cheers, M!) or Baby BooHoo, though any of them alone could get you there. All of them? Definitely.

THIS is the final straw.

Though I went to CBGB’s as often as I could over the years, (including spending an unforgettable New Year’s Eve there, their last, on a date with a model. We got a BOTTLE of champagne for TWENTY DOLLARS!?, and booking one of my artists there, I only met Hilly once, when I spent my 2 week vacation in 2006 trying to see if I could somehow help mediate the feud between he and the Bowery Residents Committee, who owned the building. THEY WEREN’T EVEN TALKING and the clock was ticking towards the end of their lease and the club closing. I quickly came to see that it was something apparently “personal” and there was nothing anyone else could do. I spent the rest of my 2 weeks at the bar getting blind every night in frustration and by way of “pre-mourning” it’s eminent demise.

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Last call. CB’s door hangs heavy over my head as it’s about to close for the last time, Oct 21, 2006. The famous awning already stored away, the memories will never die.

Somehow, I hoped sanity would reign and the club would be saved.

“Hurry hurry hurry, before I go insane”*

It didn’t. And now, with THIS news, it’s apparent Insanity has gone “Insane-est!” I’m getting my now vintage T, above, back out, but I’m left wondering…

Now that the phrase has new meaning- Will we be saying “SAVE C.B.G.B.!” for the rest of our lives?

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A candle from the closing of C.B.G.B. Please Notice- The Light Has Officially Gone Out.

“Nothing to do, no where to go o,
I wanna be sedated.”*

*-Soundtrack for this post is “I Wanna Be Sedated” by The Ramones from their Lp “Road to Ruin” by Johnny, Dee Dee & Joey Ramone (aka Jeffrey Hyman, John Cummings, Douglas Colvin) and published by Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Please send comments, thoughts, feedback or propositions to denizen at nighthawknyc.com.
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This Post was created by Kenn Sava for www.nighthawknyc.com

The Ghost of Christmas Present

Even as a kid, I was usually alone. It was, and still is, hard to find those who share your interests in Art & Music. (This Blog is my way of reaching out to them now.) Art came first, Music came to me later. Still, early on I had a small radio I used to keep under my pillow at night cause I was supposed to go to sleep earlier than I wanted.

Cough.

I can’t really remember most of what I was listening to then, besides hearing R.F.K. get shot on a live broadcast from LA, but I became good at turning it’s small round tuner dial under my pillow without being able to see it, switching from station to station by guesstimating the distance the wheel had to be moved. All of that switching ended shortly after 11pm one lonely Saturday night.

That dial had found a program with no music. Just the sound of one guy talking. The first thing that struck me- What a voice he had! It turned out he was telling a story.

I listened.

And, I listened.

I kept listening. I was mesmerized.

I’d never heard anyone like him. I still haven’t. I’m STILL listening to him. That little radio has grown up to become my iPhone, where I listen to him now.

The stories came in a seemingly never ending stream, one upon the other, night after night. Only rarely was one repeated, and that’s the center piece of this post. Many of them, as I’d come to discover, featured a recurring group of characters- his friends- Flick, Schwarz, Bruner, his younger brother, Randy, and the rest, with classic names like Ludlow “Lud” Kissel, Ollie Hopnoodle, Josephine Cosnowski,  his mom and especially his dad, and their relatives and other neighborhood kids in the 1940’s and 1950’s, in Hohman (nee Hammond), Indiana, then on to his days in the army, stories from today based on seemingly inane, everyday events or triggers.

Such was the world of a man named Jean.

Jean Shepherd.

Years later he became immortal, though it’s still a bit of a secret, much to my frustration. As my gift to you this Christmas, I’ll let you in on it-

The classic movie, “A Christmas Story,” is HIS story!

He wrote it. He narrates it. He appears in a scene in the movie. It’s a film that’s been seen to death in 24 hour marathons already, and will most likely be shown for as long as movies are watched.

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Shep, left, in “A Christmas Story”

It began as a story in Playboy Magazine, home of all things Christmas, called “Duel In The Snow.” He won their annual best story award for it. Then, it was published in his book appropriately titled, “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.” Due to overwhelming request, it became a “tradition” on Shepherd’s WOR Radio show that he would read it on Christmas Eve. Thank god someone recorded it, so now you can actually hear him perform it on December 24, 1974, 41 years ago tonite, here.

Can you imagine what it must have been like to hear Mark Twain, or Dickens read one of their stories?

For me, however, it’s a shame that more people don’t know who he is, what else he’s done, or know that he is, perhaps, the greatest American storyteller of the 20th Century.

But, “Shep” has not gone completely unnoticed through the years (he passed away in 1999). His influence lives! No less than Jerry Seinfeld has said that Jean Shepherd was responsible for forming “ my entire comedic sensibility.” Heavy praise, indeed. Steely Dan’s great lyricist Donald Fagen devotes a chapter to him in his first book,”Eminent Hipsters,” and says,

“I started looking back at some of the things that used to inspire me as a kid, including some of Shep’s old shows, now available on the Internet. Hearing them almost a half-century down the line has been a trip. Despite the tendencies I’ve already mentioned (plus the gaffes one might expect from a wild man like Shep ad-libbing before the age of political correctness), much of the stuff is simply amazing: The guy is a dynamo, brimming with curiosity and ideas and fun. Working from a few written notes at most, Shepherd is intense, manic, alive, the first and only true practitioner of spontaneous word jazz. “ 1

This doesn’t surprise me- Fagen’s first solo album, “The Nightly,” seems to be a concept album about a late night DJ who spins jazz and talks, as is depicted on it’s cover. Hmmm…very similar to one Jean Shepherd. He’s, apparently, not a big fan of Shep the man, but I’ve learned to separate Art from life, even with artists like Donald Fagen, and I never met Shep. Fagen, apparently, was one of Shep’s “Night People,” as he called his listeners.  I’m keeping that flag flying, Shep!

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Channeling Shep?

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“Excelsior!”

“Shep” wrote stories for magazines, including being one of the first writers at the Village Voice, books, preformed about 5,000 hours on radio, released 6 Lp’s (and did one with Charles Mingus), a series of audio tapes, and made some other films besides “A Christmas Story” (ACS) that are traded on places like archive.com among fans. His “Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters,” is, to me, every bit as good as ACS. See if you agree-

He also did a 13 Part series for PBS called “Jean Shepherd’s America,” two seasons of “Shepherd’s Pie” for NJ PBS, and a documentary on the history of his beloved Chicago White Sox, who would FINALLY win the World Series in 2005, 5 years after he passed, and the first time they won since 1917, 4 years before he was born! He remains one of the only people who are continually described as a “raconteur.” I’ve always been jealous of that.

Still, in spite of all of this, and in spite of the joy he gives every year to viewers of “A Christmas Story,” his name is rarely spoken. He’s become a Ghost. I’m hoping this Christmas Eve people will take a break from the movie to look him up and check him out.

His voice has become a very familiar sound in my life, his outlook, the way he remembers details that are so familiar to kids, yet unique to his experience, and how very New York this midwesterner became, with his jazz sensibilities and ability to free wheel with the best of them on his live radio show that was broadcast from the Limelight in Greenwich Village for a while on Saturday Nights. Shep nailed what it is to be alive in America in the last half of the 20th Century, from childhood on, and he did so with style, smarts, wit, irony and…that voice.

For me, and many others growing up, as I continue to discover, Jean Shepherd was “the voice in the dark.” For millions of others now and not yet born, ACS is the most likely way they’ll discover him. There, apparently, isn’t a “Jean Shepherd Estate” that keeps his work in front of the public. It’s left to fans like me, to pull a coat here and there. It’s left to word of mouth. If you smiled watching “A Christmas Story,” say a silent “Excelsior!,” his motto, and pass his name along to someone else.

Pay Shep Forward.

Art & Culture are two of the pillars of any culture or civilization. They don’t only live in the past, they have a real role to play in reminding us who we are, where we came from and inspiring those who are coming next.

The Real Santa Claus will never be known. The man who is the creator of what has become one of contemporary America’s most beloved Christmas traditions should be.

The author of “A Christmas Story” was, perhaps, the greatest American Storyteller of the 20th Century, and maybe the greatest since Mark Twain. You have to dig a little bit to enjoy his brilliance, but it’s worth it. I hope you do.

“Yes, Santa smoked Camels…just like my Uncle Charles.”

Excelsior!, Shep. Thanks, and Merry Christmas, man.

Soundtrack for this post is “Bahn Frei” (Fast Track) by Eduard Strauss, Jean Shepherd’s theme song for his WOR Radio show, as performed by Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops Orchestra, in the fastest version I’ve ever heard of it, and now, the only one I can listen to of it. If it weren’t for Shep the name of Eduard Strauss would be as forgotten today as his is.

To experience more of Shep, the easiest way is to do a “Jean Shepherd” search on youtube.com. Also check out the link I posted above for archive.com. There are also fan created sites, like flicklives.com. There are sellers who offer collections of his radio shows, films and TV shows on CD/DVD on eBay, taking advantage of the fact that there is no estate watching over them. Unfortunately, for some of the rarest Shep, this is the only way to experience them. Since much of his work was done for PBS, I call out to them to re-broadcast it!

Comments are off, but that doesn’t mean I don’t welcome them, thoughts, feedback or propositions. Please send them to denizen@nighthawknyc.com.

“I want to wake up in a City that doesn’t sleep”

When I first heard those words in 1980, something inside went “click.”

I had overdosed on Frank Sinatra as a kid growing up in a world where he represented the “old school” before Rock n Roll. There was a station called WNEW (AM) that played him constantly. I think they actually first played him in 1938 when he was unknown. I had tuned him out. As far as I was concerned, his persona, image and lifestyle defined “square.” The music of my parent’s generation.

Then, in 1980, he dropped “New York, New York.” I had always wanted to live in Manhattan, so when I heard Frank sing those words, right then and there it coalesced into being my Mantra.

A City that doesn’t sleep? The Nighthawk is there! In 2015? It still one of the great things about this place, something almost no where else can match, and why I’m still here. If some other place else does, tell me!

The single from his 3 record set, “Trilogy: Past Present Future,” “New York, New York” has become a song you can’t escape if you live here, the song the New York Yankees play immediately after every game since July of 1980, in the House that Ruth Built, and since, to this day. I heard it played before Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals that would see the Rangers win the Stanley Cup at Madison Square Garden. It’s become a part of the fabric of the culture of New York City, the “unofficial anthem” of New York City.

Though he was born right across the River in Hoboken, New Jersey exactly 100 years ago today, December 12, 1915, he became as much a part of New York City, where he first became famous, as the City became a part of him. 17 years after his death, it feels like the name “Sinatra” is tattooed on the skin of The City.

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Years before it was the Hard Rock, when it was the Paramount Theater, Sinatra, Superstar, began here.

Before “Beatlemania,” before Elvis, on December 30, 1942 “Sinatramania” was born here, in what is now the Hard Rock in Times Square, when it was called the Paramount Theater. You can still see the word “Paramount” in lights above the arched window. The Paramount was also where big band leader Harry James had discovered Sinatra during a June, 1939 show. His return to the Paramount as a solo act caused a near riot, you can relive here.

In the 1990’s, while I was managing singer-songwriters, I came to fully appreciate how unequalled and unique a singer he was. I regret never having seen him in concert. Still, he was from not far from where I was, so, he’d always had the New Jersey/New York element to him that never leaves you, and I always related to that. Man, seeing him in his NYC black suits out in LA always seems wrong to me. Even more recently, I’ve begun to appreciate his acting, but in hundreds of years,

Frank Sinatra will be remembered as “The Voice” of our time.

If you want to dig a little deeper beyond his greatest hits, here is a recent rundown of some classic Sinatra Lp’s (CD’s) that I recommend consisting mostly of his “concept albums,”which he invented, of which “Trilogy” is one, too. “In The Wee Small Hours,” and “Only The Lonely” were the first ones I bought, too. Along with Miles Davis, they are THE soundtrack of my nights on my own. The artwork in the article are illustrations done in homage to the actual covers.

His voice has a quality that could only have come from this time and this place. In 500 years no doubt our slang will sound like Shakespeare’s Old English does to us and send listeners scurrying to their dictionaries! But, what makes his so unique as a singer is his phrasing. I love watching him on video as he spontaneously crafts yet another interpretation of a song he’s performed for many years, even decades, like a jazz musician does. You can see in his body language that he’s making it up on the spur of each passing moment. Yes, the songs have written arrangements which the band always stick to the letter of. And, because he was Sinatra, he always worked with top bands. When you have him with the likes of Nelson Riddle, Quincy Jones, or especially for me, the great Count Basie leading them, you’re hearing the best of swing, both vocally and musically. (I wish he had done more work with the genius of jazz, Duke Ellington. How about some with Miles Davis? Can you imagine the sound?) No matter who was accompanying him, you can’t rehearse what he does over them. As the great Wayne Shorter says, “You can’t rehearse the unknown.”

Reinterpreting a hit you’re known for is never easy. If you don’t do it exactly like the record, many paying customers will be disappointed. If you always do it like the record, you’ll become bored performing it and it will show by sounding stale. Sinatra got around this by being himself. He always seems relaxed on stage, though I’m sure that’s partly (mostly?) his stagecraft, and through which, he seduced his audience into going with his flow, and thereby allowing him to do what he does best- create on the fly. It’s one of the hardest things you can do as a singer or musician, and to top it off, his repertoire consists of some of the greatest classic songs ever written, many of which he himself first immortalized. (It’s akin to watching that great video of Picasso at work on a glass screen being filmed so we can watch from the other side- “What’s he going to draw next?” Sorry, I can’t locate a link for it.)

Those songs are what are called “standards” now, and that very term was invented to refer to songs he, among a very select few, immortalized, or “set the standard” for. The “standard” was often his. The bar has been set very high. It’s like there’s now a genre of the “Art Song,” somewhere between jazz and opera, where you have the best of the best- Frank, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Billie Holliday and very very very few others, and yes, The Beatles, who have attained a stature previously reserved for the finest Operatic and Lieder vocal interpretations. (Instrumentalists have their own, but that’s a different topic.)

You can try and run very far away from him, like I did, but if you love great music, and especially great interpretation of great songs, sooner or later, you’ll get Frank Sinatra “under your skin.”

A few years ago, I opened one of my Friday night DJ gigs with his “Come Fly With Me,” recorded live with Count Basie in Vegas. Well, NeXT Magazine said in their review of me that I spun “a head-spinning mix” of music from all over the map, and I think it’s is a great opener. Someone came over near me and with a querulous look on his face said, “Sinatra?,” meaning “Why are you playing THIS?”

I smiled to myself. That’s one sure way of spotting someone who’s a square. I was there, too, once, Kemosabe.

“Start spreading the news”*

Happy 100th Birthday to The Voice of our time, Mr. Frank Sinatra! I’ll keep the light on for you.

Here’s a live video of Mr. Sinatra that will remind you that there are TWO classic songs entitled “New York, New York. Both are now standards, and BOTH of which he made famous. The other one? It was composed by somebody named Leonard Bernstein, in 1944.

This post is dedicated to all those who’s dream it is to live in New York, especially those we need most- Artists, Musicians, Creative Architects & Designers. To my way of thinking, they’re the ones that make this City.
*Soundtrack for this post is “New York, New York,” as performed by Frank Sinatra on his album “Trilogy: Past Present Future,” and written by John Kander and Fred Ebb and published by EMI Music Publishing.

Comments are off, but that doesn’t mean I don’t welcome them, thoughts, feedback or propositions. Please send them to denizen@nighthawknyc.com.

13 Years At The Metropolitan Museum – Part Two – The Light

This is Part Two of my ongoing series, “Thirteen Years At The Metropolitan Museum.” Part One is here.

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Her Aim Is True. With an arrow to my heart, Saint-Gaudens’ “Diana” points the way to the undiscovered land.

It happens more than I’d like.

I stop into the bookshop every time I go to The Met (TM), either on my way in, or out. As these 13 years have gone on, unfortunately, it’s become one of the few decent art book stores left. They have a good stock of current and new art books and, of course, a very good supply of Met Museum Publications. Nothing old or out of print, still, I always find something of interest, either about whatever artist I’m currently fixated on (there’s always at least one), or someone I’m only discovering through a show, or right there on their shelves.

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My apartment. Almost. No, it’s The Met’s Bookstore.

Then, it happened.

I picked up this heavy hardcover called “Portraits By Ingres.” Ingres. Yes. There are a few of his portraits upstairs in the European Paintings Gallery and an amazing one, which has become my very favorite painting in The Museum, in the Robert Lehman Collection Galleries. I start looking through the book. There, on page after page after page are THE most incredible drawings I may have ever seen! What? I’m amazed. Astounded. The line! The delicacy. He knows exactly what to leave out and still, somehow, capture the essence of his subject’s face, like in Chinese or Japanese painting, but more so. He’s using graphite. No washes, no ink, no nothing. The most amazingly beautiful lines I’ve ever seen on paper.

How did I not know about this?

Since the book is old, it’s on sale. How old is it? I look at the publishing data. “Published on the occasion of “Portraits by Ingres” at the Metropolitan Museum October 5, 1999 through January 2, 2000” (You can actually download it now, direct from TM(!), here, for free.)

UGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

You mean, this was A SHOW?

AND?

I MISSED IT?????

Oh my god… ….. ………….

And, that’s how I discovered THE WORST feeling I ever get when I to go TM. While “Portraits By Ingres” is the “big one that got away,” unfortunately, it’s happened more than once. And that’s only in the recent past.

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And? Look what I found recently on the back of an article I saved in the NY Times from 1999. History tugged my sleeve…and now mocks me.

Since then, I live with a terrible fear of missing a great show. Why? When a show is over? It’s gone…forever. It “lives on”, but to a much lesser extent in exhibition catalogs (thank goodness!) and through websites, online videos, maybe an app or two, but that’s it. The catalogs may or may not have all the works that were in the show and almost certainly won’t have them in their original sizes (maybe, one day, e-catalogs will, but the resolution of art e-books today is nowhere near there). Almost never are shows documented with a film or documentary, the way “Leonardo: da Vinci: Painter At The Court Of Milan” was.

In fact, I only discovered “the show of the Century,” “Leonardo da Vinci: Painter @ CoM” 3 days before it ended at the National Gallery, London. (It was put together by Luke Tyson, who I wrote about in Part One of this series, who is now working at TM.) I jumped on an over night flight and went straight to the National Gallery, without a ticket for the sold-out show, minutes before doors opened on it’s very last day. I got in (a story unto itself. The NY Giants won the Super Bowl that same night. Something crazy to watch in London). It’s the first and last time 9 of Leonard’s incomparable 17 (or so) paintings were being shown in one place. And, possibly, the first time ever both version of the “Virgin of the Rocks” were being shown together- in the same room (I had to take a step aside and pinch myself in utter amazement when I walked in to that gallery), and so much more as you can see on the checklist, here, including, astonishingly, a full size copy of “The Last Supper” done in 1520, shortly after the original had been painted! To think…If I hadn’t happened to accidentally stumble on that documentary at 3am on PBS, I would have missed it!

So, impelled by this fear, I have since designed each visit to TM around their exhibition calendar- I go and see whatever’s closing soonest, if I haven’t seen it already.

This has paid off, for me, in uncountable and undreamt of ways.

I have discovered countless artists I never knew about, who have enriched my life and my knowledge of art history in so many ways I can’t even count including Sanford Gifford (besides being a brilliant underknown member of the Hudson River School, he was also a Met Museum Founder in 1880), Henrick Goltzius (who overcame a fall into a fire that disfigured his drawing hand but turned that to his advantage becoming a graphic artist, perhaps, only equalled in the north by Durer), Thomas Eakins, Alexander McQueen, Christo & Jeanne-Claude (who I got to meet right before The Gates), Philip Guston, Bernini, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Chasseriau, Ellsworth Kelly, Girodet, Sean Kelly, Degas, Thomas Hart Benton, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Cezanne, Antonio Canova, Liu Dan in the revelatory Ink Art in China show, Faberge, William Kentridge, Balthus, Paul Klee, Neo Rauch, among individual artists I “discovered” at Special Exhibitions at TM since 2002! Some I had heard of or knew a little about but I “discovered” them here.

As someone obsessed with Art History who draws a little bit, these artists had/have a huge and ongoing influence on me. I learned so much from all of them. They have helped me refine my focus. Before 1999 I was solely interested in modern and contemporary art. After seeing the Mark Rothko Show at the Whitney in 1998, I started to draw. Then, I realized I needed to go back through the entire history of art and learn from the masters who could draw. That led me to TM. TM led me to “the Light.”

This is not to mention artists I’ve discovered by wandering the galleries, like Ingres, Stuart Davis, Tiepolo, Remington, Caravaggio, Goya, Yves Tanguay and Juan Gris among them.

I’ve seen the light.

Even now, today, September 18, 2015, I returned from TM after spending a large part of last weekend there for the last few days of China, with a fresh revelation- George Caleb Bingham. Bingham. Hmm… I know of him though the one intriguing painting that’s been continually on display in the American Wing. It’s a work you walk by and always draws you closer. You ponder it and are left thinking. “It’s interesting…different…powerful and real. Bingham, huh? I don’t know him.” There’s no other by him work on view to reinforce the feeling that “I really need to look into him.” Well, maybe he was a one hit wonder.

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23 year old Bingham’s Self Portrait beckons us in to “discover” his unique light.

It turns out, he was far from it. After seeing his about to close show, “Navigating the West” featuring his River paintings and drawings, I came away struck by an artist that seems to be something of a missing link. Someone who fills in a gap before Thomas Eakins. He’s a master of the natural pose,while making that pose always seem uniquely American, a powerful draughtsman, with a real gift for setting the stage in his compositions, which often feature beautifully out of focus backgrounds years before cameras showed such things, and in ways I haven’t seen many other artists do this well. Ever since Leonardo artists have put in very realistic backgrounds, often consisting of modern towns or locations regardless of the time period being depicted (which no doubt charmed contemporaries, but always struck me as being weird and bizarrely out of place in the story). Bingham’s rarely depict a recognizable location (according to the catalog), but they add to the air of authenticity that he is trying to present more convincingly than some of his Renaissance predecessors. Interestingly, Bingham was influenced by the Hudson River School after his first trip east, and his early landscapes show their trademarked lush and thickly detailed flora and fauna. As time went on, he paid more and more attention to the focus of his work- his characters. Carefully working and reworking them in masterful preparatory drawings, he was able to simply transfer them to his canvas and then make sure that everything else supported them, or they got left out. He became an editor as much as he was a draughtsman. The Met has prepared a fascinating short analysis of the process Bingham used in creating his masterpiece, “Fur Traders Descending The Missouri,” The Met’s painting that first caught my eye. He was downright ruthless in his editing, down to the smallest detail, creating a work of sublime economy that I wonder if it in turn influenced another masterpiece of American River art, Thomas Eakins’ “ Max Schmitt In A Single Scull,” which happens to call TM it’s home, too.
His light runs the full range from soft to hard, and is never more masterful than in “Fur Traders.” The foreground water, in particular. Then there is a pair of masterful, yet entirely different, self portraits, one, early, of the artist in his 20’s, the other done 2 years before his passing. They speak volumes about his growth and the evolution of his technique and style. The early one is a marvel of seamlessly smooth skin coloring and belies a style of it’s own. It actually reminds me of early Ingres in this regard. The face just pops from the canvas 180 years later, and I found myself marveling at how few colors he accomplished this with. Ah, but then a closer look reveals his mastery of economical blending. The overall effect is both brilliant and unforgettable. All we see is his torso. No arms. No hands. It’s all in back, except for the collar of his white shirt, and his face. He looks out at us with an expression that says “Yes, I may be young, but I’m already THIS good, and I’m taking no prisoners from here on.” And? he didn’t. The late self portrait was done by an entirely different artist, one who had learned nuance, who’s craft had vastly deepened and who wasn’t afraid of truth or age. Interestingly, he paints himself in the act of drawing. After seeing the many drawings on view, it’s a tribute well earned. His drawings hold every bit of their own even when viewed right next to the paintings they preceded, including his masterpieces, like TM’s own “Fur Traders Descending The Missouri” from about 1845, the work I had seen before in the American Wing-

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Bingham’s “Fur Traders Descending The Missouri.” The work that drew me to his light.

Everything about Bingham’s river paintings (and the drawings/studies that led to their creation) says “American,” in exactly the same way as Mark Twain’s writing does. From the attire to the attitude, all done with masterful attention to detail and shadow, THIS is American art for the people. The show is devoid of portraits of the well-to-do, the famous, or the powerful and is, instead, populated by the people who were trying to survive in a new land while helping their new country survive in the process. Is it any wonder that the school children of Missouri took up a state wide collection to help the State buy (and thereby preserve) a collection of Bingham’s masterful, iconic drawings? While being an act they all can be eternally proud of, it shows those kids had better taste in art than some of the dealers in Chelsea do today.

While not a big show, it’s a very deep show, and since it’s doors are closing for good on Sunday at 5:15pm, I’m going to be scrambling to see it one or two more times before it does.

Afterall? I well know what happens then.

These wonderful work will go back to where they belong, possibly never to be seen together again.

The light will go off in those galleries Sunday night.

But, it will remain “on” inside me for the rest of my life.

The second best thing I’ve gotten out of going to The Met so often for 13 years is Discovery.

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Hark! A Met Angel Beckons me to the Light. To not hear it is my loss.

*-Soundtrack for this post is “The Shape Of Jazz To Come” by Ornette Coleman, 1959. I chose this to honor Ornette, who led us into many new frontiers of music, like TM has with Art, since he recently passed. He was exceedingly nice to me, a complete stranger to him, the one time I had the privilege of meeting him.

Please send comments, thoughts, feedback or propositions to denizen at nighthawknyc.com.
Click the white box on the upper right, for the archives, to search, or to subscribe.
This Post was created by Kenn Sava for www.nighthawknyc.com

Hamilton’s Next Duel May Be With…David Bowie?

“There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds”*

Bowie’s “Lazarus,” based on the book, “The Man Who Fell To Earth,” has landed off-Broadway at the New York Theater Workshop (East 4th between 2nd & 3rd Aves). The early reviews seem to be “mixed” (here and here), so it’s hard to say if this will give “Hamilton” a run for it’s money or not. My gut says that even if it’s great, it’s going to have it’s work cut out for it. It’s sold out for it’s run through January 19, 2016, though $1,000. a seat tix may be available for it’s finale on January 20th, a benefit for NYTW.

Speaking of openings, “Hamilton,” is also opening, again. In Chicago, as it begins it’s eventual conquest of the entire world. I, also, made a Quest- Uptown to visit his statue at his alma mater, now called Columbia University, in front of Hamilton Hall.

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Later, I enjoyed a “Hammy on Rye” at his deli around the corner.

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“Let all the children boogie.”*

*-Soundtrack for this post is “Starman” by David Bowie from his album, “Ziggy Stardust,” that’s changed the lives of many. Published byEMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG Rights Management US LLC, Tintoretto Music.

 Comments are off, but that doesn’t mean I don’t welcome them, thoughts, feedback or propositions. Send them to denizen@nighthawknyc.com.

“You Look So Much Better”

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“Little Triggers you pull with your tongue”*

Chris Ware, the brilliant graphic artist who gave us “Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid On Earth,” in 2000, and the more recent “Building Stories,” in 2013, is someone who always seemed to me to be fascinated by the history of graphic design and artists, but wary of technology and the prospects of “advancing” a paper-bound art through the use of cutting edge tech. That seemed to have softened in September, 2014 when his next book, “The Following Saturday” began appearing in installments ONLINE at The Guardian. I was surprised, though Ware has history with The Guardian, who famously gave him it’s best First Book Award in 2001 for Jimmy C, the first time the award had ever gone to a graphic novel.

This week, however, he has broken new entirely ground by taking his poignant drawing for this week’s New Yorker (above) and turing it into an animated short! It’s the first animated work of his I’ve seen (though he refers to 2 cartoons he did in 2007-9 in the accompanying column he wrote, which also may be a first). And? With it he steps right into some pretty deep water. The result is something I recommend you check out here, in full screen.

So, be careful what you say to those you love!

*-Soundtrack for this post is “Little Triggers” by Elvis Costello and published by Universal Music Publishing. It appears on his early classic album, “This Year’s Model,” also highly recommended.

Comments are off, but that doesn’t mean I don’t welcome them, thoughts, feedback or propositions. Send them to denizen@nighthawknyc.com.