Greetings From the Sapphire Lounge In NYC – My First Solo Show

When I started to answer calls for artists I was given an opportunity to have a solo show on the Lower East hip lounge the Sapphire Lounge.  You know when you are new to all this you jump at anything.  My first solo show!!!

Challenge #1 – transporting a lot of paintings from Queens to NYC.  Trying to save money I ended up with a small van and a very interesting driver who was able to fit all the paintings in the van.  Challenge #1 no problem.

Challenge #2 – unloading paintings as the rain started to come down.  Oh no the manager is not in the lounge now…got to wait.  After a half hour the manager’s assistant showed and helped unload.  Challenge #2 no problem.

Challenge #3 – Hang paintings.  PROBLEM!  Okay the manager’s assistant was not really willing to help me.  I was alone and frustrated and always relied on my son.  Now the assistant is an old man from another country that I don’t remember.  He comes look at my work.  He stares quietly.  Then says “I have to get my tools to help you”.  Turns out he is a traditional painter.  He told me he liked my work and my clouds were beautiful.  I guess he was happy to see art that he could understand.  Challenge #3 revised to no problem.

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So we hung it all and I stood back to admire the walls. The manager walks in and says great.  This is my opening night of my first solo show.  Things are good.  Then the manager tells me that tonight is a special night at the lounge:

IT’S GOING TO BE A RAPPER CONTEST!

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My heart sunk as I thought this is really going clash with my landscapes and rap music.  I learned the lesson of match your venue to your art.  But a miracle happened.

I saw the back of a very large man and he was looking at my paintings in silence.  I went up to him.  He was a rapper and he was the organizer of the contest.  We looked at each other and he smiled and said “did you do these paintings”.   I timidly said “yes”.  His smile got larger as he pointed to the big cloud.  “These are beautiful!”  I could not believe my ears.  He was emotional looking at my work.

I left the lounge that night with the rappers thanking me for the beautiful art for their show.  MY WORK TRANSCENDED CULTURES! WOW!

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DON’T PAINT LIKE YOUR INSTRUCTOR FOR APPROVAL

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This is a self portrait of my illustration teacher Max Ginsberg who taught at the High School of Art & Design in NYC. I attended the school graduating in 1970.

Mr. Ginsberg encouraged me to enter the National Scholastic Art Competition. I never would have done it. He told me to enter my charcoal life sketch I did in his class. He saw something I didn’t see in that drawing. I never expected to win an award but I did!! My drawing was exhibited in the lobby of the Lever Brothers building on Park Avenue with other winners !

Max Ginsberg is an awesome painter and is infamous in the world of art. I love the painting of the girls in the subway above. He never told any student that they should paint like him. I couldn’t paint like him ever. But he always pushed an artist who he saw had their own creativity.

I since then have gone to art schools where the students try to imitate the style of their infamous instructors. A lot of instructors bask in this flattery. When a class has a show of their work you can tell who the instructor is. Am I crazy or is there something screwy going on?

isn’t art an expression of who you are?  I love Max Ginsberg because his only objective was to help an artist develop skills and a good basic training in art.

How can you be seen for who you are if you paint like someone else?