Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Happy 100th Birthday Grand-Pere!

Although I never really got to know him (he died when I was 4), the influence of my grandfather's art and life on my life and art is massive. From a child I was exposed to all his iconic and surreal B&W photos, stacks of his LIFE magazine covers, and his collection of artifacts from around the world like African sculptures, Picasso plates, and Dali drawings. His old work studio was my art Mecca as a child, and remains a place where I still go in NYC when I need to tune out, tap in and work on my own pieces. Its also fitting that May 1st (the day before his birthday) was a day of national rallies by immigrants around the country (The one in SF rocked!). Philippe Halsman was on the last boat out of France before the Nazis invaded. He was hooked up with an emergency artist visa by Eleanor Roosevelt, thanks to Albert Einstein's help. So I'm down for the immigrants. I've got that D.I.Y. spirit from my grandfather, a hard working artist who arrived in NYC with 2 suitcases and a family to support and made it to the top of his field based on determination, refinement of craft, and creative freedom. He also cast a huge shadow for me, which I felt I needed to work my way out of to create my own art. His daughter, my mother, was an art teacher and not only raised me to be an artist, but also gave me the opportunity at a young age to help select Philippes work for exhibitions based on criteria like composition and contrast. Its no surprise that aside from my own art making practice I still enjoy the challenge of curating shows. So anyway, Happy birthday Grand-Pere, and thanks via the virtual universe to the cosmic universe for your legacy and inspiration!

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