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In Memoriam: Famed Elvis photographer Alfred Wertheimer

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Written by LINDA DEUTSCH, AP Special Correspondent   
Thursday, 23 October 2014 09:11
Alfred Wertheimer, 'The Kiss,' 1956. Image courtesy of archive and Phllips de Pury & Co. LOS ANGELES (AP) – Alfred Wertheimer, the photographer whose portraits of Elvis Presley documented the birth of a music legend, has died.

Wertheimer, who was 85, died of natural causes Sunday at his New York apartment, said Chris Murray, who owns Washington, D.C.'s Govinda Gallery, which counts Wertheimer among its artists.

Wertheimer was 26 when he was assigned to photograph the unknown 21-year-old singer. He traveled with Elvis from New York to Memphis by train and produced a series of now famous black and white portraits that were the subject of exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution and the Grammy Museum.

“There has been no other photographer that Elvis ever allowed to get as up close and personal in his life through photos as he did with Alfred,” Priscilla Presley said Tuesday. “I'm deeply saddened by the death of Alfred Wertheimer. He was a dear friend and special soul. I feel he was a gift for all who knew him especially, Elvis Presley.”

Among the most famous shots: The Kiss, a photo of Elvis nuzzling a woman fan backstage. Photographs of Elvis recording Hound Dog and Don't Be Cruel, reading fan mail, eating alone, staring out a train window, playing a piano in an empty studio and walking by himself on a deserted New York street depicted a solitude that later was surrendered to fame and mobs of fans.

Murray, who first exhibited the photos at Washington, D.C.'s Govinda Gallery where the photos are still shown, curated an exhibit of his photos for the Smithsonian and edited several books of the photos. His work has been shown in museums and galleries throughout the world. Wertheimer's photos are about to be exhibited at The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography in Moscow, his first Russian exhibit.

“Alfred's photos were about America in 1956, the lunch counters, the trains, the stores where Elvis looked in the windows and wondered if he could ever buy those things,” Murray said. “Apart from his recordings, the photos are the most important vintage documents of Elvis' life.”

He quoted Wertheimer as telling him: “I was a reporter whose pen was a camera.”

With his pictures appearing on calendars, in books, on memorabilia and clothing, the capstone of his career was the publication last year of Elvis and the Birth of Rock And Roll, a limited edition published by Taschen.

“Alfred Wertheimer always used to say, ‘If your pictures are boring, get closer.’ And he lived up to that rule, getting inside Elvis's world like no other photographer ever could,” said Nina Wiener, co-editor of the Taschen book.

At a book signing last year, Werthheimer recalled that he shot in black and white because RCA, Elvis' label, refused to pay for high-priced color film and processing, uncertain if Elvis was going to be worth it. The photographer shot one roll of color that he paid for himself.

Jack Soden, CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises at Graceland in Memphis, called Werthheimer a great part of the Elvis legacy.

“The young Al Wertheimer collided with the young Elvis Presley at just the most unique time in 1956,” Soden said. “Al's photographs captured the beginning of a new era in popular culture and have continued to define the young Elvis over all the decades since.”

Werthheimer had humble beginnings. His family fled Hitler's Germany when he was 6 and settled in Brooklyn, where his father was a butcher. As a boy, he received his first camera from his brother and became fascinated with recording images.

He studied drawing at Cooper Union, graduating with a degree in advertising design. But photography was his passion. When drafted into the Army, he compiled a photo essay on his company and was assigned as a photographer for the Army newspaper in Heidelberg, Germany.

Back home, he began a freelance photo business and was hired by RCA to photograph singers. His fateful assignment in 1956 left all the other pictures in the dust. He would say later that he received a two-week assignment and it lasted nearly 60 years.

Wertheimer is survived by his nieces Pam Wertheimer and Heidi Wohlfeld.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-10-22-14 0231GMT

Alfred Wertheimer, 'The Kiss,' 1956. Image courtesy of archive and Phllips de Pury & Co.
Last Updated on Thursday, 23 October 2014 09:28

In Memoriam: Legendary designer Oscar de la Renta, 82

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Written by SHELLEY ACOCA and JOCELYN NOVECK, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 22 October 2014 09:45
Oscar de la Renta during a visit to Madrid, Spain. Portrayed by foto di matti in the Hotel Ritz. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license. NEW YORK (AP) – At his Fashion Week runway show in September, Oscar de la Renta sat in his usual spot: in a chair right inside the wings, where he could carefully inspect each model just as she was about to emerge in one of his sumptuous, impeccably constructed designs.

At the end of the show, the legendary designer himself emerged, supported by two of his models. He didn't walk on his own, and didn't go far, but he was beaming from ear to ear. He gave each model a peck on the cheek, and then returned to the wings, where models and staff could be heard cheering him enthusiastically.

De la Renta, who dressed first ladies, socialites and Hollywood stars for more than four decades, died Monday evening at his Connecticut home at age 82, only six weeks after that runway show. But not before another high-profile honor was bestowed on him: The most famous bride in the world, Amal Alamuddin, wore a custom, off-the-shoulder de la Renta gown to wed George Clooney in Venice. Photos of the smiling designer perched on a table at the dress fitting appeared in Vogue.

De la Renta died surrounded by family, friends and “more than a few dogs,” according to a handwritten statement signed by his stepdaughter Eliza Reed Bolen and her husband, Alex Bolen. The statement did not specify a cause of death, but de la Renta had spoken in the past of having cancer.

“While our hearts are broken by the idea of life without Oscar, he is still very much with us. Oscar's hard work, his intelligence and his love of life are at the heart of our company,” the statement said. “All that we have done, and all that we will do, is informed by his values and his spirit.”

The late `60s and early `70s were a defining moment in U.S. fashion as New York-based designers carved out a look of their own that was finally taken seriously by Europeans. De la Renta and his peers, including the late Bill Blass, Halston and Geoffrey Beene, defined American style – and their influence is still spotted today.

De la Renta's specialty was eveningwear, though he also was known for chic daytime suits favored by the women who would gather at the Four Seasons or Le Cirque at lunchtime. His signature looks were voluminous skirts, exquisite embroideries and rich colors.

Earlier this month, first lady Michelle Obama notably wore a de la Renta dress for the first time. De la Renta had criticized her several years earlier for not wearing an American label to a state dinner in 2011.

Among Obama's predecessors favoring de la Renta were Laura Bush, who wore an icy blue gown by de la Renta to the 2005 inaugural ball, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, who wore a gold de la Renta in 1997.

“We will miss Oscar's generous and warm personality, his charm, and his wonderful talents.” Bush said in a statement. “My daughters and I have many fond memories of visits with Oscar, who designed our favorite clothes, including Jenna's wedding dress. We will always remember him as the man who made women look and feel beautiful.”

A statement from former President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky, said: “Oscar's remarkable eye was matched only by his generous heart. His legacy of philanthropy extended from children in his home country who now have access to education and health care, to some of New York's finest artists whose creativity has been sustained through his support.”

De la Renta made just as big a name for himself on the Hollywood red carpet – with actresses of all ages. Penelope Cruz and Sandra Bullock were among the celebrities to don his feminine and opulent gowns. His clothes even were woven into episodes of Sex and the City, with its style icon, Carrie Bradshaw, comparing his designs to poetry.

One actress who wore a de la Renta gown to this year's Oscars was Jennifer Garner.

“Mr. de la Renta loved women,” she said on Monday evening, wiping away tears. “And you saw it in every design that he did. He honored women's features, he honored our bodies. He wasn't afraid to pull back and let the woman be the star of the look.”

De la Renta was also deeply admired by his fellow designers. “He set the bar,” designer Dennis Basso said on Instagram Monday night. “But most of all he was a refined elegant gentleman.”

The designer's path to New York's Seventh Avenue took an unlikely route: He left his native Dominican Republic at 18 to study painting in Spain, but soon became sidetracked by fashion. The wife of the U.S. ambassador saw some of his sketches and asked him to make a dress for her daughter – a dress that landed on the cover of Life magazine.

That led to an apprenticeship with Cristobal Balenciaga, and then de la Renta moved to France to work for couture house Lanvin. By 1963, he was working for Elizabeth Arden couture in New York and in 1965 had launched his own label.

He told The Associated Press in 2004 that his Hispanic roots had worked their way into his designs.

“I like light, color, luminosity. I like things full of color and vibrant,” he said.

While de la Renta made Manhattan his primary home, he often visited the Dominican Republic and kept a home there. Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour was a frequent visitor and she has said traveling with him was like traveling with the president.

He also had a country home in northwestern Connecticut. Gardening and dancing were among his favorite diversions from work. “I'm a very restless person. I'm always doing something. The creative process never stops,” he said.

As a designer, de la Renta catered to his socialite friends and neighbors – he and his wife, Annette, were fixtures on the black-tie charity circuit – but he did make occasional efforts to reach the masses, including launching a mid-priced line in 2004 and developing a dozen or so perfumes.

He was an avid patron of the arts, serving as a board member of the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall, among others, and he devoted considerable time to children's charities, including New Yorkers for Children. He also helped fund schools and day-care centers in La Romana and Punta Cana in his native country.

The Dominican Republic honored de la Renta with the Order of Merit of Juan Pablo Duarte and the order of Cristobol Colon. In the United States, he received the Coty American Fashion Critics Award twice, was named womenswear designer of the year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2000 and also received a lifetime achievement award from the CFDA – an organization for which he served as president in the 1980s.

Besides his own label, de la Renta spearheaded the Pierre Balmain collection from 1993-2002, marking the first time an American designed for a French couture house, and he was awarded the French Legion of Honor with the rank of commander. He also received the Gold Medal Award from the king and queen of Spain.

De la Renta gave up the title of chief executive of his company in 2004, handing over business duties to the Bolens, but he remained active on the design end, continuing to show his collections during New York Fashion Week.

De la Renta also is survived by an adopted son, Moises, a designer at the company.

De la Renta's first wife, French Vogue editor Francoise de Langlade, died in 1983.


Associated Press Entertainment Writer Ryan Pearson in Los Angeles also contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-10-21-14 1211GMT

Oscar de la Renta black silk taffeta ball gown having boned bodice with padded bust, slightly dropped waist, and layered full skirt with accordion pleats and ruffles. This dress will be sold at a Charles A. Whitaker Auction Co. auction on Nov. 1. Image courtesy of and Charles A. Whitaker Auction Co.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 October 2014 10:10

Louis Armstrong remembered in unique photo exhibit

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Written by ULA ILNYTZKY, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 22 October 2014 08:32
Louis Armstrong, 'Satchmo,' signed program from the 1950s. Image courtesy of archive and Alexander Historical Auctions. NEW YORK (AP) – Louis Armstrong sometimes referred to Jack Bradley as his “white son,” inviting him to private rehearsals, recording sessions, on the road, his dressing room and home. Bradley had unrestricted access to his hero for 12 years, documenting him through thousands of photographs and saving Armstrong's sound recordings, fan letters – and even handkerchiefs.

“It's the finest and largest collection of Armstrong material in private hands – without any doubt,” said Dan Morgenstern, the former longtime director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University. “It has everything from the trivial to the extraordinary, and a lot of it came from them being together.”

Select items from the monumental collection are on view in a new exhibition opening Tuesday at the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, Queens.

It covers the last 12 years of Armstrong's life and features photographs never before published, scanned from original negatives. Due to space limitations, the museum is showing a tiny fraction of the material that includes 2,600 recordings, 2 cubic feet of newspaper clippings, 1,000 fan letters, 1,900 photographic prints – and 6,000 images found on negatives or contact sheets.

“This exhibition is the first foray into making some of these images public for the first time,” said Ricky Riccardi, the archivist for the house museum, a modest brick building where the great jazz musician lived for 28 years and died in 1971. “This is the start of really examining the unique relationship between Jack and Louis.”

The museum, which plans to break ground in the spring on an exhibition center across the street, acquired the collection in 2005 – crammed inside Bradley's Cape Cod home. It already has the largest publicly held archival collection devoted to a jazz musician in the world.

The longtime friendship with Armstrong was “the greatest thing that ever happened to me,” said the 80-year-old Bradley, a collector of all things jazz who met the performer through a friend, Jeann Failows. Failows helped Armstrong with his fan mail.

Amstrong asked him to come along to “things that the general public would not know about,” Riccardi said. “Just by being his friend he was privy to this information. He was the only photographer at some of these sessions.”

A sign of their closeness can be glimpsed in a 1968 postcard Armstrong sent Bradley and Failows addressed “Dear Children.” And a 1969 note from Armstrong's wife Lucille informs Bradley of their new telephone number – the same one still used at the museum today.

Among the photographs is a rare image of Armstrong and Miles Davis, who was sometimes portrayed as resentful of Armstrong, smiling together. Another poignant photograph, taken weeks before Armstrong's death, shows the ailing performer at home playing along with his old recording of Trees.

The museum is offering eight selected prints from the collection for purchase through its new print-to-order feature. The two photographs are among them. The exhibition runs through March 29.


If You Go...

LOUIS ARMSTRONG HOUSE MUSEUM: 34-56 107th St., Corona, Queens, New York City; or 718-478-8274. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, noon-5 p.m. Adults, $10; seniors, students, children, $7; children under 4 free. By subway, No. 7 train to 103rd Street-Corona Plaza.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-10-21-14 1211GMT

Louis Armstrong, 'Satchmo,' signed program from the 1950s. Image courtesy of archive and Alexander Historical Auctions.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 October 2014 08:52

Jeffrey Greer joins Heritage Auctions as VP of marketing

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Written by Auction House PR   
Monday, 20 October 2014 12:59
Jeffrey M. Greer. Heritage Auctions image. DALLAS – Heritage Auctions has announced that Jeffrey M. Greer, a longtime collectibles marketing executive with more than 25 years of visionary leadership, is the firm’s new vice president of marketing. Greer will oversee Heritage’s multimillion dollar global marketing efforts, brand management and strategic communications campaigns.

“Heritage stands apart for its aggressive advertising and marketing campaigns and Jeff is the executive to lead us into the future,” said Greg Rohan, president of Heritage Auctions. “His experience, personality and entrepreneurial approach to reaching new clients will be crucial to our success.”

Jeff honed his collectibles marketing experience with Beckett Publications, helping to build the world’s most trusted sports collectibles magazines and marketplace. Through market research for business development, Greer led strategic marketing initiatives to help Beckett magazine sales reach 2 million copies per month.

At Heritage Auctions, Jeff will lead the firm’s team of professionals responsible for brand messaging, collateral, direct mail campaigns, auction catalog design and production, as well as the firm’s public relations strategies across 38 categories. Greer is a lifelong resident of Dallas and a graduate of Southern Methodist University with degrees in marketing and journalism.

“I am thrilled to be working with and for collectors again – the opportunities are dynamic and endless,” Greer said. “Heritage is the place to be in the world of fine art and collectibles and I look forward to helping that legacy grow for many years.”

Jeff Greer may be reached at 214-409-1692 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Jeffrey M. Greer. Heritage Auctions image.
Last Updated on Monday, 20 October 2014 13:14

Holly Sherratt joins Heritage Auctions’ West Coast staff

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Written by Auction House PR   
Friday, 17 October 2014 13:01

Holly Sherratt. Heritage Auctions image

DALLAS – Heritage Auctions has announced that Holly Sherratt, with more than 20 years of fine art experience, has joined the firm’s growing West Coast office in San Francisco as a consignment director of fine art. Sherratt brings extensive experience in the auction and retail marketplace for American, modern and contemporary and California art as well as building strong relationships with collectors, museums, institutions, and fiduciaries.

“Holly has made art her life’s work and we’re excited to add her extensive experience helping collectors and institutions acquire premier works,” said Greg Rohan, president of Heritage Auctions. “She is unique among her peers in that she seamlessly moves between auction world, ecommerce, museums and nonprofit organizations. She is a recognized leader in these areas and we think she will be a tremendous asset to our clients.”

Sherratt has more than a decade of experience appraising and vetting property for auction. She previously served as a specialist in modern and contemporary art at Bonhams Auctioneers and was the founding director of the firm’s Made in California auction series. She also worked in business development at the Internet’s leading art retailer in addition to partnering with museums in the United States and United Kingdom as head of museum programing.

Sherratt received her bachelor’s degree in Art History from the University of California, Los Angeles and master’s degree in Visual Studies (Art History and Critical Theory) from the University of California, Irvine. She trained at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Laguna Art Museum. Holly also completed coursework at Loyola Law School and received the distinguished American Jurisprudence Awards for both legal writing and criminal law before transferring to graduate school.

Sherratt also is an active member of the San Francisco arts community. She served on the board of directors of Contemporary Extension at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and enjoys lecturing at local universities and arts organizations.

“This is an ideal opportunity to work with local collectors again,” Sherratt said. “I enjoy helping people curate collections and invest in art that they love. I am also excited to work with such a friendly and esteemed group of experts at Heritage. I am honored to be a part of this extraordinary team.”

Sherratt may be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 1-877-HERITAGE (437-4824), ext. 1505.


Holly Sherratt. Heritage Auctions image 

Last Updated on Friday, 17 October 2014 13:10

Indiana U. statue of WWII journalist Ernie Pyle has typo

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Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 17 October 2014 08:51

'Brave Men' by Ernie Pyle, Henry Holt and Co., 1944. Image courtesy of archive and Dargate Auction Galleries.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) – Ernie Pyle's statue needs an edit.

A bronze statue of the famed World War II journalist on the Bloomington campus of Indiana University misspells the word “correspondent” by dropping an “r.”

University officials found the mistake Wednesday, two days before the sculpture is to be formally dedicated, the Herald-Times reported.

Sculptor Tuck Langland says it won't be easy to correct the misspelling, which is located on Pyle's jacket, but it will be done – just not by Friday.

“We're going to fix it,” said Langland, an IU-South Bend professor emeritus of sculpture.

The statue depicts Pyle sitting on an ammunition box with his typewriter, notes and a coffee cup on a table. Langland has said the scene is meant to show how Pyle spent so much time during the war with average soldiers.

The school commissioned the larger-than-life piece as a way to pay tribute to Pyle, who attended the university in the 1920s. It sits outside Franklin Hall, the future home of the Indiana University Media School.

It's not the first time an object inspired by Pyle's heroism has needed a correction. In 2002, toy maker Hasbro Inc. produced new packaging for a G.I. Joe doll modeled after the war correspondent because the original packaging said Pyle attended Indiana State University.

Pyle, who grew up near Dana, Ind., left Indiana University in 1923, just short of finishing a journalism degree.

He was a roving columnist for the Scripps Howard newspaper chain during World War II, reporting on the lives of front-line soldiers fighting across North Africa, Italy and France. He was covering the war in the Pacific when he was killed on April 18, 1945, by Japanese machine-gun fire.


Information from: The Herald Times,

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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'Brave Men' by Ernie Pyle, Henry Holt and Co., 1944. Image courtesy of archive and Dargate Auction Galleries. 

Last Updated on Friday, 17 October 2014 09:07

Late Catawba potter remembered for the small things he did

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Written by ANDREW DYS, The Herald of Rock Hill   
Friday, 10 October 2014 09:19

Examples of late 20th century Catawba Indiana pottery, these miniatures by Sara Ayers (1919-2002). Image courtesy of archive and Brunk Auctions.

CATAWBA INDIAN RESERVATION, S.C. (AP) – No other group on this earth makes pottery the way the Catawba Indians of York County make it.

Using clay hand-dug from Catawba River banks, Catawba pots and jugs and other pieces are worked and fired by hand with no wheel—nothing but millennia of heritage and DNA and spirits to guide them.

Miniature versions of Catawba pottery are even more rare. Small as thimbles or bird eggs, the tiny pieces that fit in the palm of your hand had disappeared for a century until Edwin “Red” Campbell decided to revive the craft.

Those miniatures live on today, even if Campbell does not.

Campbell, son of the late Catawba master potter Nola Harris Campbell, died earlier this month after a long battle with cancer. He was 59.

But, as former Catawba Chief Gilbert Blue said recently at Campbell's funeral, “What Edwin did will live forever.”

Chief Blue was talking about the tiniest pots a Catawba has ever made in the scores of centuries the tribe has made pottery. The Catawba style predates the arrival of white settlers in the Americas. It is as old as human beings on this stretch of earth.

Tiny twin-spout wedding jugs unique to the Catawba style were revived by Edwin Campbell. He created many other tiny pottery pieces—pipes, gypsy pots, loving cups— that are of the same style unique to the tribe as the larger, more traditional jugs that are on display at places such as the Louvre and the Smithsonian Institution.

Campbell found a niche with the miniatures and became “famous for his smaller pots,” said Dr. Wenonah Haire, director of the Catawba Cultural Center on the tribe's reservation in eastern York County.

The jugs were so small that Campbell would fire and harden them in tin cans.

“There are no shortcuts in Catawba pottery,” Haire said. “Edwin had to use his fingers only, the touch of his fingertips, to turn that Catawba River clay into something that will last forever. There are no molds. No wheels—just expertise.”

Many of Campbell's works are on display at the Cultural Center and in a collection at USC-Lancaster.

Campbell was a carpenter by trade. He was not supported by wealthy patrons of the arts. He made his pottery for the love of it, and because it was part of his heritage as a Catawba.

After the funeral, Catawba Chief Bill Harris spoke of how Campbell had brought back miniature pottery.

“We as Catawba people are proud of what he did,” Harris said. “To bring back that was gone for a century or more, so that the whole world can see the Catawba way.”


Information from: The Herald,

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Examples of late 20th century Catawba Indiana pottery, these miniatures by Sara Ayers (1919-2002). Image courtesy of archive and Brunk Auctions. 

Last Updated on Friday, 10 October 2014 09:29

Texan Wendy Lambert crowned champion auctioneer

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Written by Association PR   
Tuesday, 07 October 2014 15:29
International Auctioneer Champion Wendy Lambert. Image courtesy of NAA. DALLAS – Voted on by a group of her peers, Wendy Lambert emerged from a field of 92 competitors to take home the prestigious title of International Auctioneer Champion. Not only is Lambert able to tout the impressive title, but will also serve a year as an ambassador for the National Auctioneers Association.

Founded in 1949, the National Auctioneers Association is the world largest professional association dedicated to professional auctioneers. The association is composed of about 4,000 individuals from countries all over the world. Members are required to follow the NAA Code of Ethics.

Only two individuals, one male and one female, are voted as IAC winners. Auctioneers are judged on their stage presence, their chant and an interview portion. The judge panel consists of seven judges, of which at least two are women.

“It feels like such a blessing to be honored by people who are invested in your career and who do the same thing you do,” Lambert said of her victory. “I want to use the gift of the microphone to help bless other people. Be it through raising money, speaking at conventions or simply encouraging others, I will do it. This is something I’ve wanted since first starting my career, I could not be more proud to represent my industry’s top organization for the next year.”

Lambert is a native of North Texas and entered the auction industry in 1994. Working alongside her husband, Doak Lambert, she has engaged in all aspects of the auction business from planning, marketing, and now calling bids for auctions. She was named the 2013 Texas Champion Auctioneer. Her formal education includes a degree in Education from Abilene Christian University. She is a former educator, leadership trainer and personal executive coach. Lambert has trained extensively in consulting for fundraising and charity events. She holds the elite designation of Benefit Auctioneer Specialist through the National Auctioneers Association. Lambert has worked with charitable organizations such as Make a Wish Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Hospital and Texas Rangers Law Enforcement. Wendy and her husband, Doak, live in Coppell, Texas, with their three children.

The competition was conducted as part of the NAA's 65th annual International Auctioneers Conference and Show, which took place in Louisville, Ky., July 8-12.

International Auctioneer Champion Wendy Lambert. Image courtesy of NAA.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 October 2014 16:37

Comics experts Joe and Nadia Mannarinos join Heritage

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Written by Auction House PR   
Monday, 06 October 2014 10:42
Nadia and Joe Mannarino. Heritage Auctions image. NEW YORK – Heritage Auctions has announced the husband-and-wife team of Joe and Nadia Mannarino is joining Heritage Auctions and will head the company’s East Coast comic books and original comic art category, including building and conducting Heritage’s first auction of European comic art.

“Joe and Nadia Mannarino have been key figures in the world of comic book collectibles for nearly 40 years. They are literally the no. 1 team in comics that I have always wanted to work with but haven’t until now,” said Jim Halperin, co-founder of Heritage Auctions. “I’ve known them personally for 30 years and have done extensive business with them over that time. Their fairness, honesty and knowledge of every aspect of the medium is second to none, which is why they are so well-respected by both collectors and professionals.”

The Mannarinos’ career reads like a who’s who of the business. Throughout their careers they have worked many of the greatest names to ever grace the comics pages, from Frank Frazetta and Jack Kirby to Carmine Infantino and Jim Steranko. Their reach extends from the Golden Age of comics into the silver, bronze and modern ages.

“More than 40 years of collecting has never quenched our enthusiasm and passion for this wonderful medium,” said Joe Mannarino. “When Heritage made the decision more than a decade ago to expand, Jim Halperin personally asked us to join the Heritage family and help launch the comics category. The timing then was not right, but now it has come full circle and the opportunity is perfect for all of us.”

Besides their influence on the overall business, Joe and Nadia are also two of the greatest collectors the hobby has ever seen, with their personal collection exceeding more than 20,000 total items, including rare comic books, original comic art, toys, posters, Disneyana, premiums and comic strip art.

As collectors and dealers, the Mannarinos have had direct involvement with many of the finest pedigree collections to have come to market and Joe was most recently in the news as a previous owner of the highest graded copy of Action Comics No. 1, which sold for a record $3.2 million dollars. They have created a comprehensive research library relating to Comic Character Collectibles and have appeared as industry experts on numerous networks, including CNN, MSNBC, PBS, VOOM and the Discovery Channel.

Joe and Nadia’s collective resume is extensive and impressive, including principal owners of All Star Auctions and Comics and Stories; exclusive comic collectibles consultants for Christie’s from 1992 to 1997, where they inaugurated and conducted seven record-setting comic collectible sales; acting agents for some of the most prestigious artists to have ever worked in the medium, including Angelo Torres, Jerry Robinson, Joe Simon and Mort Drucker; publishers and authors of Christie’s East comic collectibles catalogs; perennial special advisors and contributors to the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, the universally acknowledged reference work in the field; charter and founding members of the American Association of Comic Book Collectors Committee for Authenticity Certification and Grading; members of the American Institute of Conservation for more than 20 years; author of the CAAR rating system as published in the Overstreet Guide to Collecting Comic and Animation Art, Gemstone Publishing, Oct. 2013; and authors of the definitive feature on high-end transactions in the Comic Collectibles field, Collecting at the Top, which appeared monthly in Gemstone Publishing Overstreet’s FAN Magazine.

Nadia has also been a member of the American Appraisers Association since 1999.

The Mannarinos will be at the New York Comic Con, Oct. 9-12, at the Javits Center in New York. They will be at the Heritage booth greeting friends and accepting consignments.

Nadia and Joe Mannarino. Heritage Auctions image.
Last Updated on Monday, 06 October 2014 15:51

Larger memorial placed at Jack Kerouac's gravesite

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Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 03 October 2014 09:40

Jack Kerouac, photo by Stanley Twardowicz. This is one of the last photographs of the Beat generation author before his death in 1969. Image courtesy of archive and PBA Galleries.

LOWELL, Mass. (AP) – The Lowell gravesite of native son and Beat generation writer Jack Kerouac is now easier to find.

Workers on Tuesday erected a 3,000-pound granite marker in Edson Cemetery near the nondescript grave marker at the final resting place of the On the Road author and his wife, Stella. Kerouac died in 1969 at age 47.

The memorial is engraved with the Lowell native's signature as well as the words “The road is life.”

John Sampas, Kerouac's brother-in-law and the executor of Kerouac's estate, was behind the effort to put up the 3-foot-tall memorial.

“I thought it was a great monument to Jack, and I know that Jack would love it,” he said. “I know that he wanted to be recognized in his hometown, and this is another way of doing it.”

Kerouac is “the most popular resident we have,” Lowell Parks and Recreation Commissioner Tom Bellegarde said.

The Cemetery Department's office even has directions to the gravesite for visitors, cemetery clerk Jade Bernis said.

Visitors often leave notes and other memorabilia, which Sampas collects.

“Right on the stone,” he said. “Little notes of appreciation. They love Jack.”

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-10-01-14 1555GMT


 Jack Kerouac, photo by Stanley Twardowicz. This is one of the last photographs of the Beat generation author before his death in 1969. Image courtesy of archive and PBA Galleries.

Last Updated on Friday, 03 October 2014 09:55

Ai Weiwei says tax case demonstrates China's dark side

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Written by DIDI TANG, Associated Press   
Monday, 22 September 2014 10:46

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Image courtesy of New Mexico Arts, Department of Cultural Affairs.

BEIJING (AP) – China's best-known dissident artist, Ai Weiwei, has accused his country's Communist government of losing its principles and using underhanded ploys to try to silence critics.

The artist, whose supporters say he was hit with a $2.4 million tax bill in retribution for his outspokenness and activism, also criticized fellow Chinese artists for failing to speak up while he was singled out.

Yet Ai said he was optimistic about the country's younger generation in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press this week at his Beijing studio, where he talked about the English-language version of a Danish documentary released this week about his tax case.

“Before, I was naive enough to think that a political regime, a strong society, would never use unsavory means in legal cases. If you bring a charge against someone, you do it in the normal way. You should not defame and frame someone and silence their voice,” Ai said.

The outspoken artist has been virtually silenced in China over the past couple of years, though he occasionally speaks to foreign journalists, and Ai said he was warned by police not to conduct the AP interview or face unspecified consequences.

“From what we see today, (the government) has completely lost its basic principles,” he said, referring to the frequent declarations of Chinese leaders that ruling Communist Party members are honest and above-board people.

The 86-minute film, Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case, by director Andreas Johnsen, opens with 2011 footage of Ai emerging from 81 days of detention amid a throng of journalists. Already a longtime government critic, he had been detained with other activists and dissidents amid calls for social and political reforms in China following the Arab Spring uprisings, but then was let go without charge.

After his release, authorities slapped his company with a $2.4 million bill for back taxes and fines in a closed-door hearing. Ai unsuccessfully fought the tax assessment in court.

“The legal system is not legal,” said Johnsen, the film's director, who chronicled Ai's judicial fight, his hopes and frustrations, and his everyday life under tight government surveillance. “They were just making the rules along the way according to what they needed.”

In recent years, Chinese authorities have increasingly targeted activists and dissidents, as well as their relatives, on nonpolitical charges such as disturbing public order or business-related misdeeds, instead of free speech and political dissent charges that would draw international condemnation.

Last year, a Beijing court convicted the brother-in-law of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiabo on business fraud charges and sentenced him to 11 years in jail.

The iconoclastic Ai has been outspoken in art and commentary since his youth, something he likely inherited from his father, a famous poet who frequently ran afoul of authorities.

As part of his artwork, Ai has been photographed giving the finger to Tiananmen Gate, the symbolic heart of China's political establishment.

Ai wrote scathing commentary via social media from 2005 until 2009, when his microblogs in China were shut down. He especially angered authorities with his high-profile campaign to highlight the shoddily built classrooms that crumbled in a 2008 earthquake and killed thousands of students.

The 57-year-old said he did not seek to be an activist.

“All my feelings and viewpoints are genuine. They are all opinions that I, as an individual or as someone linked to artwork, would normally have,” he said. “But because of repeated crackdowns and bans, I have been turned into someone unusual, and I have become a kind of activist.”

Ai himself has turned many of ordeals into art.

In May 2013, he released an obscenity-filled music video mocking state power called Dumbass. He said it was inspired by his eight-day detention in which he was guarded by men in close proximity as he ate, slept, paced, showered and even sat on a toilet.

He also produced a six-part diorama reconstructing scenes from his jail cell. Other works include surveillance cameras and handcuffs, symbolizing the repressive regime he is living under.

The government has blacklisted him from any mention in state media, and he is not allowed to post anything on China's social media. Authorities also have confiscated his passport so that he cannot go abroad where he might speak freely.

His tribulations – reported by foreign media – have raised his profile overseas, and Ai said he is thankful for the support from foreign artists and organizations. Yet he says he has been disheartened by the indifference of fellow Chinese artists.

“The biggest trauma is not how I was treated in jail but how I saw that the Chinese artists, as a group, pretended that nothing happened,” Ai said. “They are still celebrating some fake performances in auctions and international art markets, but they show complete indifference to this society or what's happened to an individual member of their profession. That would be impossible in any other society.”

Ai said he believed the people's pursuit of freedom and happiness will eventually prevail.

“I may have underestimated myself. Given how seriously the government is treating me, it seems I do make a difference. Every day, there are young people who approach me to shake hands with me, to have photos taken with me or to seek an autograph,” Ai said. “They all voice their support.”

When news got out about his hefty fine and tax bill, about 30,000 people expressed support online and offered donations and small loans totaling more than $9 million yuan ($1.5 million). In the documentary, money folded into paper airplanes was flown over the wall into his studio. His tax bill is now paid.

“The government cannot suppress them all,” Ai said. “They are all normal people.”


The documentary is available at

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-09-19-14 1450GMT


Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Image courtesy of New Mexico Arts, Department of Cultural Affairs. 

Last Updated on Monday, 22 September 2014 12:18

War bride's visit to RMS Queen Mary tops bucket list

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Written by KELLY DICKEY, The Herald Bulletin   
Monday, 22 September 2014 08:42
The RMS Queen Mary, launched in 1936, is now a hotel in Long Beach, Calif. Image by Mike Fernwood, Santa Cruz, Calif. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license. ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) – Shortly after her second husband died two years ago, Anderson resident June Allen discovered a box she didn't realize she had. Tucked away were all sorts of memorabilia from her arrival to the United States on the RMS Queen Mary as a war bride following World War II.

Little did she know that little box would help catapult her into the national spotlight and make one of her dreams come true.

Last month, Allen flew to California to visit the Queen Mary and was interviewed about her experiences by CBS journalist Tracy Smith. Allen's piece appeared yesterday on CBS News Sunday Morning yesterday.

“Afterward, she gave me a high five and said, ‘June, you did a great job.’ And I said, ‘I sure hope so,’” Allen told The Herald Bulletin.

Smith's husband is a producer on the show, and when Allen mentioned she watches Sunday Morning every week and loves the theme song, he whipped out his phone and showed her that it was his ringtone.

“They were just gracious and wonderful,” she said.

Allen said that when she was flown out to California for the Sunday Morning taping, she was also interviewed by a reporter from the L.A. Times. That story, she said, is scheduled to run Sunday, too.

It was something she never expected to happen, especially not at the age of 87, yet she found herself returning to the grand ship the same week as her birthday.

“Believe me, at my age to go through all of this, it was an unbelievable thrill,” she said.

Allen's first time on the Queen Mary was when she boarded the ship in 1946 in England. A young war bride, she made the voyage to New York at the age of 18.

For more than six decades, she wanted to return to the ship, which has since been retired and permanently moored in Long Beach, Calif.

But it was that box of items she had long forgotten she saved that has turned her into quite the traveler.

In the summer of 2013, she made arrangements to visit the ship. Workers told her dozens of soldiers and war brides used to travel to the Queen Mary, but none had in a long time.

“I said, ‘I'm not too old to travel, I'm not in a nursing home, I'm not dead and I'm coming,’” Allen said.

Her travels didn't end with that first trip. She's already been there several times in the last year, and before she got the call to be interviewed on Sunday Morning, Allen made reservations to return to the Queen Mary in November.

Allen said that brings her travels to five trips in 13 months – four to Queen Mary and one to Ellis Island in New York.

“It's unbelievable. It's like a fairy tale,” she said. “I just wanted to go back as a part of my bucket list.”

She said she never could have imagined the opportunities she's received. She's become friends with Queen Mary crew members, been featured in a short documentary and made her television debut on one of her favorite shows.

“All I did was come over on a ship 67 years ago,” she said. “This has been the most exciting year of my life.”


Information from: The Herald Bulletin,

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-09-19-14 1318GMT

The RMS Queen Mary, launched in 1936, is now a hotel in Long Beach, Calif. Image by Mike Fernwood, Santa Cruz, Calif. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.
Last Updated on Monday, 22 September 2014 08:51

Thomas Crow to present 2015 Mellon Lectures at Nat'l Gallery of Art

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Written by Museum PR   
Thursday, 18 September 2014 14:58
Thomas Crow, 64th A.W. Mellon Lecturer in the Fine Arts at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, spring 2015. Image courtesy of National Gallery of Art WASHINGTON— The Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery of Art has announced that Thomas Crow, Rosalie Solow Professor of Modern Art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, will give the 64th annual A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts.

The series, titled Restoration as Event and Idea: Art in Europe, 1814‒1820, will be held in the West Building Lecture Hall at the National Gallery of Art on March 15, 22, and 29 and April 12, 19, and 26, 2015. This year, with the East Building under renovation, the Gallery plans to broadcast the lectures in real time to audiences all over the world via a live-streaming video feed.

Professor Crow will consider the period 1814‒1815, following the fall of Napoleon. During this time, artists throughout Europe were left uncertain and adrift, with old certainties and boundaries dissolved. How did they then set new courses for themselves? Professor Crow's lectures will answer that question by offering both the wide view of art centers across the continent—Rome, Paris, London, Madrid, Brussels—and a close-up focus on individual actors— Francisco Goya (1746‒1828), Jacques-Louis David (1748‒1825), Antonio Canova (1757‒1822), Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769‒1830), Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780‒1867), and Théodore Géricault (1791‒1824). Whether directly or indirectly, these artists were linked in a new international network with changed artistic priorities and new creative possibilities emerging from the wreckage of the old.

About the A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts:

Since 1949, the A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts have presented the best in contemporary thought and scholarship on the subject of the fine arts to the people of the United States. The program itself is named for Andrew W. Mellon, founder of the National Gallery of Art, who gave the nation his art collection and funds to build the West Building, which opened to the public in 1941.

Past speakers have included Sir Kenneth Clark, E. H. Gombrich, Michael Fried, Helen Vendler, and T. J. Clark. For a full list, please visit:

About Thomas Crow:

Thomas Crow is known for his interest in the political and social dynamics of the production of art and in the role of art in modern society, as well as for his close reading of a wide range of individual works, often in conversation with each other.

His newest book, The Long March of Pop: Art, Design, and Music, 1930‒1995, will be published by Yale University Press in 2015. Among his extensive list of published books and articles are Emulation: Making Artists for Revolutionary France (1995; revised edition, 2006); The Rise of the Sixties: American and European Art in the Era of Dissent (1996, 2005); The Intelligence of Art (1999); Modern Art in the Common Culture (1996); Painters and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Paris (1985); "The Practice of Art History in America," Daedalus 135 (spring 2006); and "Marx to Sharks: The Art-Historical ’80s," Artforum 41 (2003), among others. He is a contributing editor of Artforum.

Professor Crow is also the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship; the Charles Rufus Morey Prize of the College Art Association; and the Eric Mitchell Prize for the best first book in the history of art, among other accolades. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Currently the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship, Crow will spend the fall as a fellow at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, working on the subject of the lectures.

Before his appointment at the Institute of Fine Arts, he was director of the Getty Research Institute, professor of art history at the University of Southern California, the Robert Lehman Professor of the History of Art at Yale University, and professor and chair in the history of art at the University of Sussex.

General Information:

The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden are at all times free to the public. They are located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, and are open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Gallery is closed on December 25 and January 1. With the exception of the atrium and library, the galleries in the East Building will remain closed for approximately three years for Master Facilities Plan and renovations. For specific updates on gallery closings, visit

For information call (202) 737-4215 or the Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) at (202) 842-6176, or visit the Gallery's Web site at Follow the Gallery on Facebook at and on Twitter at

Visitors will be asked to present all carried items for inspection upon entering. Checkrooms are free of charge and located at each entrance. Luggage and other oversized bags must be presented at the 4th Street entrances to the East or West Building to permit x-ray screening and must be deposited in the checkrooms at those entrances. For the safety of visitors and the works of art, nothing may be carried into the Gallery on a visitor's back. Any bag or other items that cannot be carried reasonably and safely in some other manner must be left in the checkrooms. Items larger than 17 by 26 inches cannot be accepted by the Gallery or its checkrooms.

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Thomas Crow, 64th A.W. Mellon Lecturer in the Fine Arts at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, spring 2015. Image courtesy of National Gallery of Art
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 September 2014 15:36

Maria Shriver buffed from Schwarzenegger portrait

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Written by JUDY LIN, Associated Press   
Tuesday, 16 September 2014 08:44
Arnold Schwarznegger at the 2012 Comic-Con in San Diego. Image by Gage Skidmore. This file is licensed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license. SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – An endearing gesture by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to include an image of his wife Maria Shriver in his official portrait has been covered with a splotch of blue paint.

Former Schwarzenegger aide Clay Russell said Friday that the official portrait of the two-term governor once featured a lapel button showing Shriver's face.

However, the painting unveiled Monday in the state Capitol has a noticeable patch over the lapel of his blue jacket.

“It was actually a cute gesture when he had it done,” Russell told the Los Angeles Times about the image of Shriver in the painting.

He added, “It's too bad they couldn't remove it without creating a smudge that got a lot of attention.”

The realist-style painting by Austrian Gottfried Helnwein was finished during Schwarzenegger's first term in office then sat on an easel in Schwarzenegger's Oak Productions office in Santa Monica. He paid for the portrait himself at an undisclosed cost.

After Schwarzenegger left office, embarrassing revelations emerged about an affair he had with his maid that produced a son. Schwarzenegger and Shriver later separated.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Adam Mendelsohn did not immediately respond to an email sent Friday seeking comment.

True to his outsized life, Schwarzenegger's portrait is larger than those of other modern-day governors. It measures roughly 4.5 feet wide and 6.3 feet tall and will eventually hang on the third floor of the state Capitol.

It features an image of a youthful Schwarzenegger – a onetime bodybuilder – standing in front of the official California seal.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-09-12-14 2106GMT

Arnold Schwarznegger at the 2012 Comic-Con in San Diego. Image by Gage Skidmore. This file is licensed under the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 September 2014 08:52

Director David Lynch returns to Philly for exhibition debut

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Written by STEVEN REA, The Philadelphia Inquirer   
Monday, 15 September 2014 15:02
American film director David Lynch. Image by Sasha Kargaltsev. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. PHILA., Pa. (AP) – Never mind the world outside David Lynch's studio window: the sun beaming on the Hollywood Hills, the sprinklered lawns ringed by dry chaparral, the open-top tourist vans prowling for homes of stars.

Stationed at his long desk, chain-smoking American Spirits, tossing the butts on the concrete floor, the celebrated filmmaker and artist is time-traveling to 1960s Philadelphia, recalling his 5 1/2 years in a city that seeped into his soul. The patina of grime-blackened buildings. Kitchen ovens filled with expired cockroaches. A murdered boy just beyond his stoop. “Smiling bags of death” at the morgue.

“Philadelphia is my greatest influence,” says Lynch, 68, in a buttoned-to-the-neck white shirt and khakis, his eyes crinkled and clear, his silver hair in a Gumby whoosh.

“I loved the place – as well as hated the place. … There was a kind of anything-can-happen feeling. But the things that could happen weren't going to be good.”

But they were good. On Saturday, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts – his alma mater, the polestar that drew him to Philadelphia in 1965 – opens “David Lynch: The Unified Field,” an expansive survey of not just the work he did there, but also the paintings, drawings, constructions and multimedia installations he has created in all the years since. Art quaking with memories and dreams of Philadelphia, just like his films (Oscar-nominated four times) and television work – the cult breakthrough Eraserhead (1977), the hallucinogenic Americana of Blue Velvet (1986), the coffee-and-cherry-pie procedural of the TV series Twin Peaks (1990-91).

The show is big, more than 80 works (with a sidebar collection by Lynch's friends, teachers and contemporaries) occupying better than half of the second-floor exhibition space. Lithographs, watercolors, mixed media on wood and canvas, small pieces, giant pieces, pieces with titles that reflect his obsessions, but also his splendidly askew humor: Arm of Sores, My Head Is Disconnected, I Not Know Gun Was Loaded Sorry, I Find It Very Difficult to Understand What Is Going On These Days.

“He's been so successful in film that sometimes I think it's kept people from taking his painting seriously,” says Jack Fisk, the Academy Award-nominated art director who has known Lynch since high school in Alexandria, Va., and who persuaded him to come to the academy, where Fisk had enrolled.

Robert Cozzolino, curator of “The Unified Field,” has been working with Lynch and his staff, and his L.A. gallery, Kayne Griffin Corcoran, for several years to frame a show that, he says, would not “fall back on the film narrative” or “make the films the index everything is compared to …

“Somebody was finally taking his work as a painter, as a maker of drawings and prints, seriously.”

For the creatives, 1960s Philadelphia and 1920s Paris were not so very different, says Fisk. Both had “the right convergence of artists, writers, musicians. People were doing completely different things, and everybody was pushed to do more … all searching for identity.”

At the academy, he and Lynch joined a circle of artists experimenting with new forms, new ideas. Among them were Murray Dessner, Tom Palmore, Ben Kamihira, Eo Omwake. James Havard, older, established, was an unofficial mentor. “We were rebelling against everything Thomas Eakins had built,” Fisk says. “Nothing against him, but we were trying to find out what art was.”

Lynch has told the story of his epiphany before, but it bears retelling.

He was slabbing paint on a landscape one night in one of the capacious studios. “It's a painting, mostly black, but it's a garden, and so there's some green that's coming out of the black. It's a garden at night,” he explains.

“I'm sitting back and I'm probably taking a smoke. In those days, you could smoke everywhere. This is like the most beautiful thing in the world to me,” he says, holding the object of his digression aloft. “It's a nightmare world now. But anyway” – he laughs, moving back on point – “I'm taking a smoke … and I'm looking at this painting, and from it I hear a wind. I hear a wind. And from it I see the green start to move. And I'm not taking drugs. It's really happening, but I'm not on drugs. The green is moving and I hear a wind. And the next thought is, Oh, a moving painting. And that's what started it: It's sound and picture. …

“So the first thing I did was Six Men Getting Sick and I had the sound of a siren.”

Six Men Getting Sick (Six Times) was his first film, a stop-motion animated short in which crudely drawn figures do just as the title says. Colored liquid gushes from their guts, everything catches fire. Shown on a jerry-rigged 16mm projector in continuous loop, the 1967 film won the academy's student competition for experimental work.

Visitors to “The Unified Field” will find the one-minute film behind the academy's central lobby, installed in a black-box room and projected, as it was originally, onto a three-dimensional sculpted screen, featuring plaster casts of Lynch's head.

The day after his “moving painting” moment, Lynch was off and running from the dilapidated row house he shared with Fisk at 13th and Wood, down to the Fotorama store on 16th Street to get a movie camera.

“The cheapest one, a little Bell & Howell windup,” he recalls. “It held 100 feet of 16mm film. … it had a little turret of three lenses. I loved that camera.''

More ambitious work and a better camera – a $400-plus Bolex – followed. The Alphabet (1968) combined animation and live action, a four-minute recitation decidedly un-Sesame Street in nature. A woman (fellow artist Peggy Reavey) lies in bed, with a soundtrack of whistling wind and a baby's wail. At the climax, she vomits blood.

The Grandmother (1970) came next: A 33-minute flambé of animation and live action – also with an eerie soundscape – about a boy who plants a seed and grows a grandmother. It won the attention of the American Film Institute.

The next year, he moved to L.A.

Lynch's time in Philadelphia divides into three chapters, defined by his addresses: 13th and Wood; the 2400 block of Aspen; the 2400 block of Poplar.

At the first, in a precinct of warehouses and light industry, Lynch established his graveyard-shift routine. He'd wake by 4 p.m. to have breakfast next door at Pop's Diner before it closed for the day. He'd return to the studio in the rowhouse he and Fisk rented (no heat, but two working fireplaces), or go to the academy or to Peale House, the old Belgravia Hotel that the academy had bought and rechristened. Around 2 a.m., he would break for another meal, usually at the White Tower hamburger joint at Broad and Race. He'd go to bed as most people were getting up.

Catty-corner to his house was the city morgue. One night, a guard let him in.

“He said, ‘Ring the bell at midnight,’” Lynch says, recalling “a little entrance room, linoleum tile floor, cigarette machine, candy machine, little entrance desk, and a corridor going back and a big iron door.”

In the cold room, Lynch saw about 20 bodies “kind of in bunk beds.”

“I just sat with them,” he says. “It wasn't like a thrill or any kind of weird thing. It was a life experience. It makes you think about many, many things.”

He never again visited the morgue. But he often passed its loading docks, and observed workers hosing down the zippered rubber body bags, which had handles on either end.

“They bring the bodies back to the morgue, take the body out,” Lynch recounts, “and they hang the bags with the zipper open, and the handles would go on these pegs and then they'd hose them out. … They looked like they were smiling. Sometimes they had water dripping out of their mouth.''

Lynch deployed that image – like so many Philadelphia impressions – for the Season 2 opener of Twin Peaks. Yes, the smiling bags of death.

Fisk recalls Lynch's telling him about one morgue room filled with “pieces of people. It was etched in his mind.”

And re-etched in Blue Velvet, when Kyle MacLachlan's character finds a human ear in a field.

In 1967, Lynch and Peggy Reavey were married. In April 1968, they had a daughter, Jennifer (who grew up to be a filmmaker and TV director). They moved into a brick trinity on Aspen Street.

Lynch had left the academy. “The realization came that being a father and being married, I needed to get a job,” he says. “I remember the day before I went to work, I was sawing wood, and I was almost crying – I loved sawing wood. I was sawing a 1-by-3 pine, and I was thinking my freedom was gone, and tomorrow I go into lockup.”

But lockup wasn't so bad.

Lynch got a job with his friend, the gallerist Rodger LaPelle, making prints of drawings by LaPelle's wife, Christine McGinnis, in the couple's carriage house in Germantown.

“They supported themselves on Christine's animal prints,” Lynch says. “I'd print alongside Dorothy McGinnis, Christine's mother – we called her Flash – and Flash turned me on to The Edge of Night and Another World. ... We'd watch TV and print.”

Thus, another piece of his Philadelphia experience was socked away for later use: the loping cadences of soap opera, reworked in Twin Peaks.

The Lynches' last Philly house was also their biggest, 2416 Poplar – a number that Eraserhead fans know as Mary X's address. “Twelve rooms, full earthen basement, oil heat, three stories,” Lynch remembers. The real estate agency asked $3,500 – $600 down.

“I think I bought it that day.”

Lynch has called Eraserhead, the film he spent five years making once relocating to L.A., “my Philadelphia Story.”

The stark, cracked factories. The haunting thrum. A protagonist who works at the LaPelle printing plant and is suddenly confronted with the prospect of fatherhood – though the child's species is up for discussion. (A 1972 ink on paper in “The Unified Field” is an eerie rendering of the Eraserhead baby.)

Family is a theme that runs through Lynch's art and films. He has been married four times (his second wife was Mary Fisk, his best friend's sister). In addition to daughter Jennifer, he has two sons, and a 2-year-old daughter with his wife, Emily Stofle, an actress who appeared in his most recent feature, Inland Empire (2006).

He also had a relationship with his Blue Velvet star, Isabella Rossellini.

“He loves family,” says Jack Fisk. “When he first married Peggy, he'd go every weekend to play horseshoes with her family.”

But in Lynch's work, the family unit is almost always frayed, and freaky.

“I don't understand all of it,” Fisk says, “but I think that he was so normal growing up” –son of an Agriculture Department scientist and an English tutor – “that it embarrassed him. …

“He was conflicted, because there was a craziness in him.”

In his studio, Lynch is making a small box. There is a painting in progress. He is constructing a lamp. He takes his art seriously – but not himself.

He practices Transcendental Meditation 20 minutes each morning and evening, and oversees a foundation to spread the word. He has his own brand of coffee. He composes music. He is a photographer. From 1983 to 1992, he drew a comic strip, The Angriest Dog in the World, syndicated in alternative papers. And he shows up on TV. In last season's Louie, he was an entertainment industry veteran who coaches Louis C.K. when he's auditioning to replace Letterman.

“David has more of a sense of humor than about any artist I know,” says Fisk, who remembers how Lynch used to wear two ties at once when he lived in Philadelphia.

Lynch plans to be in the city for the week of the academy opening. He's set to appear at a members-only preview there on Friday, at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute Saturday (sold out), at the Prince Music Theater for the Philadelphia Film Society on Wednesday (sold out), and at the Free Library on Thursday (sold out). He also has agreed to meet with the folks who rechristened his old stomping ground around 13th and Wood the Eraserhood.

But Pop's Diner is gone. So, too, Buck's Hardware, where Lynch found everything he needed for his constructions. White Tower was bulldozed. The city morgue is an annex for Roman Catholic High. The ghost factories are loft apartments with rooftop pools and nearby businesses selling artisanal pizza and craft beer. There's talk of making the old Reading Viaduct a park.

Lynch considers this news.

“You see,” he says, shaking his head ruefully, “that's the end of the world.”




Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer,

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-09-13-14 1700GMT

American film director David Lynch. Image by Sasha Kargaltsev. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 September 2014 11:15

Reclusive artist Robert Indiana doesn't show at HOPE Day

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Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 15 September 2014 14:04
LOVE Park in Philadelphia's JFK Plaza features a Robert Indiana sculpture. Image by Smallbones, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. VINALHAVEN, Maine (AP) – Reclusive artist Robert Indiana was expected to make an appearance outside his island residence Saturday to take part in a celebration of his art around the world on his 86th birthday, but he didn't emerge from his home, disappointing dozens of fans.

The event was called International HOPE Day and took place in cities across the world. Indiana was expected to make a public appearance outside his home and studio on Vinalhaven Island, where dozens of fans had hoped to get his autograph on commemorative prints that they purchased from event organizers outside his home.

Kathleen Rogers, Indiana's publicist, said he is in poor health and isn't used to being around large groups of people.

“We'd envisioned a much smaller event” when Indiana initially agreed to appear, she said. “I think he was just overwhelmed with all the people.”

The artist is best known for his “LOVE” sculpture, in which the L and a leaning O sit atop the V and the E. His “HOPE” piece was done in the same arrangement.

Indiana is known for being reclusive. He once stood up President Barack Obama at the White House. Another time he made a crew from NBC's Today show wait three days on the island before he would let them interview him.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

AP-WF-09-14-14 0132GMT

LOVE Park in Philadelphia's JFK Plaza features a Robert Indiana sculpture. Image by Smallbones, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Last Updated on Monday, 15 September 2014 14:14
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