1987: my first year in Philadelphia

by Alden Cole on January 2, 2017 · 0 comments

The Slow-Motion Art Memoir continues; Drawn in Portsmouth; Revised in Philadelphia – a September 6 posting – was the most recent in this ongoing series revealing my life story.

solongbienvenuwpat left, my adios to 2016 and bienvenu to 2017, utilizing artworks created during my first year in Philadephia, thirty years ago. Further below you’ll find an image of how these two artworks were originally used – as book-covers for a couple of interesting books by Robert Anton Wilson, published in 1987.

Holiday season 1986-7 was my first Christmas/NewYear celebrated in Philadelphia, my having arrived seven event-packed months earlier, on the first of May. Impossible to describe all that happened during 1986; such a year of intense change, which commenced while I was still living in the small coastal city of Portsmouth, NH, working for Samuel Weiser Inc, a publisher specializing in books on western occultism and eastern esotericism. Given my penchant for dissatisfaction with whatever work situation I was in at the time, which stimulated an itch for change, I picked up and moved once more, heading south, this time to Philadelphia to study with a spiritual teacher. “No matter where you go, there you are.” Whew! what a shock to the psyche that was; leaving a small New England tourist town and seeking habition in a big city again, looking for a job. What to do?

comsictrigger12wpI was lucky. As far as a place to live, John Hansen (JMH hereafter) whom I moved to Philly to study with, co-owned a building across the street from his home at 6th & Greenwich Streets in South Philly. There was a two-room apartment with a small kitchen and bath on the second floor just waiting for me to move into. As far as a job, David Janssen, whom I met early on through JMH, and who worked in the graphics industry, referred me to Lenore Pittenger, head art director for Roberts & Raymond Associates, a full-service advertising agency specializing in pharmaceuticals and publishing. R&R indeed! By mid-June I was working as a full-time free-lance production artist at a drawing-board with a parallel-rule, pasting up mechanicals for print advertising, giving form to Lenore’s vision, as well as that of her two young assistants, Lisa Volpe and Kim Scarpello. I was making decent money because the agency was busy; lots of projects were going on simultaneously which made for a good amount of overtime, which allowed me to establish a savings account for the first time since I was a kid. It was a reminder me of how sweet it was to be working at an hourly rate, after the frequent long days working salaried for Weiser’s, with the all-too-often feeling of being overworked and under-appreciated, despite the cushiness of my working circumstances in those offices by the sea in Cape Neddick, Maine. “You never know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”

cauldronlwpCauldron Lady • oil on linen canvas 38″ x 26″ • collection of JMH

The painting at left (featured in a daily email on 21 Nov ’16) was the first painting done for my own enjoyment and edification after moving to Philadelphia, early in the fall of 1986, in answer to a request by my teacher JMH. After its creation and being acquired by JMH, the art was used as the cover for a book published by my former employers in Maine, Samuel Weiser Inc. with whom I maintained an ongoing relationship.

centuryspellswpThe book-cover derived from the painting above is featured at left. During this first year in Philadephia I was doing relatively little artwork for my own pleasure; I was working full time, devoting a fair amount of my potential leisure hours to making money by working overtime. These changes provided one of the most truly interesting and challenging transition times in my life, difficult to describe adequately. This is primarily due to the complexity of my altering emotional states, as I came to a better understanding of my internal conflicts, and my life situation. I had to learn to be a student again, while making a living “with my left foot” by being a commercial artist, yet allowing time for fine art. As this memoir progresses in the next few days/weeks, I’ll be reviewing a number of these sketches, in both b&w and color, which I created as a comp artist drawing what were known as ‘tight pencil sketches’ which were the means for an advertising agency to ‘pitch’ an idea to a client, before the ease of computer generated imagery, with its immediate gratification, which eventually made my job as a paste-up artist obsolete.

To be continued…

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: