1977: some Finished Business for a change…

by Alden Cole on August 18, 2015 · 1 comment

“Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread.” – Richard Wright (4 Sep 1908 – 28 Nov 1960)

12.22&23:1977WPIn addition to the pieces of “unfinished business” from 1977 that I’ve reviewed lately, there was a good amount of “finished” work that spring, including the drawing used in the two flyers at left for my friend Harold Stover’s concert series. I was also still working for publisher Samuel Weiser designing book covers; and sometime that year I began working with a free-lance typesetter by the name of Peter Moore. He had been hired by Weiser to design the insides of the books I was designing covers for, and he needed a paste-up artist to turn galleys of running-type into printer-ready spreads. And thus I acquired an exacting new skill that came in very handy over the next three decades; one of the less-exciting but technically-demanding trades that kept me solvent during periods of shifting back-and-forth between stable-and-unstable that characterized my life in New York City living close to the edge during the ’70s.

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson (25 May 1803 – 27 Apr 1882)

It was interesting for me to note today while preparing this post, that of the thirty-six flyers I designed for Stover’s Second Church concert series, thirty of them used my hand-lettered calligraphy, whereas only six of them, including the two above (numbers 22 and 23 of the 36) used press-type, that boon to budding graphic designers. Eventually I even used professional typesetting, thanks to my learning experiences with Peter Moore, one of the more unforgettable characters I met in NYC who was definitely in search of his fifteen minutes of fame plus – as a singer. Having just googled his name, I don’t think he made it…

TreeofTransformation900The Tree of Transformation • marker and pastels on paper 23″ x 29″ • collection of Buck Jenkins, Bend, Oregon.

That same spring of 1977 as I commenced my learning of mischtechnik to further my skills as a painter, I was also working on a variety of drawings, including the one reproduced above in b&w for two of Stover’s flyers. The original was done with a fine black marker on felted paper suitable for pastels. After stating then splitting the b&w image for reproduction, I colorized the intact original with pastels, as seen above – one of my very few works in that particular medium; possibly completing the colorization as late as 1979. In early July 1984, while spending a couple nights in Anchorage Alaska en route to Camp Denali in Alaska’s interior to visit my brother Wallace and his family, I met photographer Buck Jenkins at the home of talented fellow artist Steven Edwin Counsell who coincidentally shares my birthday. While giving my new-met friends a taste of my artwork through the medium of an impromptu slide-show, Buck stopped me when we reached this particular work of art with a welcome question: “Is that piece still available?” And I was delighted to be able to answer “Yes”. I don’t remember any longer what price we agreed on, but he gave me a check that night, and I shipped the art to him as soon as I returned home to Portsmouth NH later that month. What a treat! Another piece of art that was out of my hands, no longer my responsibility; now in the hands of an appreciative collector.

24.12:19:77XmasTo pick up my Slow Motion Memoir where I basically left off with the posting of July 9, my living situation was about to change again. I had been living in my friend Harold Stover’s apartment in the Broadmoor at Broadway and 102nd Street in Manhattan for the summer, debating whether or not I was actually going to move to San Francisco in the fall. Financial insolvency put an end to that particular delusion. With Stover’s imminent return, I was once again faced with the question of “Where Next?” When he called in mid-August to see how my plans for moving west were proceeding, I had to admit that I was not San Francisco bound after all, and would start looking for an apartment in New York ASAP. He told me not to panic about finding a place immediately; he even suggested that we might be able to tolerate each other as room-mates for a few weeks. That few weeks stretched into almost two years. What a friend!

24.12-19-77ArtGSWPSo it was that in the fall of ’77 I was living with a roommate for the first time in over a decade. It was quite the learning experience for us both, solidifying one of the great friendships of my life. During the fall I drew this b&w pen & ink drawing for Stover’s Christmas Concert at Second Church, seen reproduced above on goldenrod paper, the signature color of the series. Interesting to note that of the thirty-six flyers designed for Stover, this was the fourth of twelve total in which the artwork stood independently on its own, instead of providing just a background over which the calligraphy was superimposed (ofttimes to the detriment of legibility). Every creation is an experiment, teaching what solutions work better than others. And I’m still learning…

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

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