On a Saturday in May I visited an estate sale a few doors up the road and discovered two works by David Campbell, professor of art at the State Teacher’s College at Oswego, and colleague to Roy Lichtenstein from 1957 to 1960. A signed print (48/49), titled Toledo, and a lithograph, titled Loch Ness, both from 1964. On Toledo, the owners cut the signature, date and print run and pasted it on the back to fit the frame. I am thrilled by this great luck. I shall auction Toledo off at the Lichtenstein exhibition in October. All sales from this and my paintings will go to a one time local high school senior enrolled at SUNY Oswego, and intending to major in art history or studio art. The Tyler arts building is going through its second stage of renovation and this will give something back to a place that has been a mentor house to my family for thirty years.
David Campbell is a fine painter. He has a website and prints available for those Oswego affiliations who wish to be as lucky as me. The bulk of art history is lost to the cult of celebrity. Roy was no dummy. He must have known his fame and fortune was lottery-like luck. No one passes through Oswego without humility. Van Morrison has mentioned time and again that his world recognition, and wealth stemming from it, is owed to his early departure from obscurity. He left the small town for the big city, and never looked back.
That is brave, but it isn’t art. Art is work, and like Van Morrison, Roy got recognition in a busy city and then worked very hard to keep it.
To me it always seems like unnecessary struggle, often making a circus or a brand out of a person. To please myself is a daily exercise sweating determination and will power. I cannot imagine any sanity maintained with the pressure to please an entire world.
This discovery of David Campbell work hanging on lower middle class walls next door in small town, 2019 is true art history because it touches my own story in some real way, far beyond fame and money. No one really wants to possess a painting by Lichtenstein for any other reason besides fame and money—whether that be a museum or a mountebank. No one besides members of his family, friends, descendants, subjective hobbyists and connoisseurs, and the occasional historian who feels the need to tell a story, without all the wild speculation and false promotion, should be interested in another person’s art. A museum can hold paintings if they have contributed towards the uplifting (or degeneracy) of civilizations. However, art movements are never art history if promotion was the only reason for their coming to recognition. That’s art marketing, and mostly an industrial invention.
Leo Castelli was a rich art marketer in 1962. Larry Gagosian is one today, and Christies and Sotheby’s, Inc. are the banks of lies. None of it is art like David Campbell is art, yet to express this more clearly, I’ll need another 35 pages of time.
You can buy the book at the opening on October 11th, 2019.
From a letter sent to students dated October 30, 1957:
“Tomorrow is the Day of the Dead and the streets are filled with candy skulls—little candies, big candies, candies of all shapes and colors, candy animals, skeletons, dolls, and baskets. They are the most lovely candies I have seen. But they all taste like plain sugar.
We went to one cemetery this afternoon and preparations were already being made for the celebration. A cemetery here is a very grim place. The people do not buy the lots:they just rent them, so that when the rent is not paid, the bodies are dug up. As we walked around we saw lots of skulls and human bones. Some of the skulls still have hair on them.
The Indian will have picnics at the graves of the recently deceased on Saturday, and that seems to be the reason for all the elaborate candy for which San Miguel is famous.”
The story is that on Monday, December 8, 1941, Hoyt Sherman arrived on the Ohio State University Campus to find the art department gathered in a meeting to discuss how art and design could help in the fight against the Japanese. Later that day Sherman briefed the Chairman of the Art Department on an idea that came to him several years prior while reading about Rembrandt van Rijn.
One day as a young man Rembrandt was studying the interior of his father’s windmill and while looking out a window, noticed how the revolving windmill blades created strobe-like effects, alternately blocking and letting light into the room. While looking at objects throughout the interior of the windmill, he experienced a unique way of seeing a whole space within a sequence of separate views. According to Sherman, this was a red-letter day for Rembrandt, and instrumental in changing the way he would see and compose future paintings.
Sherman believed he could replicate Rembrandt’s method to teach Navy pilots “how to see”. The U.S. Navy accepted his proposal at first, but a few weeks in, scrapped the deal because Sherman was having students stick clay on ship models that the Navy provided to the university, which apparently made a top naval officer very angry that his little kill toys were being muddied.
A year later while working on another military contract with the Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps, Sherman oversaw his experimental course where thirteen male students, (all with no drawing experience), were set in a dark room while a tachistoscope (a rapid fire slide projector) flashed an image on and off the screen in a tenth of a second. Each student had ten seconds to draw the image onto paper in the darkness. This would better equip their eyes to detect enemy aircraft symbols and shapes in a split second.
Sherman called it his “flash lab” where Roy Lichtenstein took classes and entered the war seeing good enough to kill people, yet fortunately for his psychological health, never got the chance to.
All in all, jingo Hoyt Sherman taught Roy Lichtenstein how to see. Roy thought Hoyt was the bee’s knees, and several years later, brought the peace time concept of the flash lab to Oswego. Also, after hundreds of successful World War II sorties bombing the b-jesus out of civilian populations (enabled in part by the practical applications of art used in wartime), the Joint Chief of Staffs of the U.S. military now control money flowing in and out of psychotic bureaucracies such as Ohio State University.
Professor Sherman was an imposter artist carrying a stupid be-a-man-chip on his shoulder. I pity you Roy Lichtenstein for being misled by a charlatan. I pity your innocent future that began with the help of a loser Hoyt Sherman to lead you astray.
I have made a request to the SUNY Oswego powers that be for wall space anywhere on old campus where Roy might have passed en route to class or glass of milk in the student union.
I have 152 hours of labor into the project, yet only a quarter of the way to its finish. This is a good time to post several pieces of my grant proposal, so those interested in acquiring funds can see for themselves that any boob is capable of winning.
Feel free to copy for yourselves. Just change out the names, and see where it can take you. I estimate a wage of $.17/hour.
The world wants artists to shut up, cease art, and work retail for millionaires. I say if you must, then get a job and somewhere to live, and then undermine the millionaires with as much art as you can pop out. Flood the market to destroy the market!
A long-established writer, Ron Throop relatively recently began exhibiting his paintings. They are direct visual counterparts to his writings that ask us to reconsider mankind’s current wayward course, and simultaneously promote the simple pleasure found in creativity, nature, family and friends. With color, straightforward drawing and scrawled inscriptions, Throop’s style initially suggests the work of a naïve artist detached from mainstream 21st century concerns. Upon further consideration, we discover they offer no quaint story or escapist pleasure. As in a children’s story, both the people and animals of the land communicate their complex thoughts which are of the utmost seriousness.
Briefly explain how you estimated/calculated these numbers:
I am an avid promoter of Stuckist painters and have ample outreach through social media and community contacts. I shall create a blog documenting my process with original paintings, articles, and inspired essays. I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and my website to interact with the public on social media. Since this project involves a history of a famous artist who taught at SUNY Oswego, I intend to involve the college to the best of my ability. I have worked with M., director of Tyler Art Galley, on a previous project and hope to garner his expertise through advice and direction. Likewise, I shall seek direction from the Oswego County Historical Society and Special Collections of SUNY Oswego to fashion a 1950’s, early 1960’s backdrop to the Lichtenstein story. I hope to liason with ARTSwego and the Art Association of Oswego in some manner to help with outreach to the community. Finally, the published book will reach audiences of the present and future, as I will seek circulation in SUNY Oswego Penfield Library and local retail outlets.
I actually believe these numbers to be rather conservative estimates. With success, it could attract many more, but no less.
This is a creative local art history project to add color and pride to a region limited in art scope. I shall complete 25 or more original oil paintings inspired by a late 1950’s and early 1960’s Oswego that Lichtenstein might have experienced—thoughts on a lakeside walk, sights while driving throughout the town and countryside, or taking the family out for a movie downtown. I will show these paintings in the autumn in either Tyler or Park Hall/Wilbur Hall on the SUNY Campus. Preferably the latter. Few know that Lichtenstein was hired by SUNY Oswego to teach Industrial Design, not painting. Park Hall is the Industrial Arts building where he would have taught his classes in the late 1950’s.
I will conduct ample research and compile my illustrations and essays in a book specifically for this show, and donate all profits from sales to a chosen SUNY Oswego college scholarship fund that helps fund Oswego County applicants.
While painting and conducting research I will maintain a blog with social media connection to specific Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts.
Lichtenstein taught Industrial Design at Oswego from 1958 to 1960, and although his tenure was brief, there is a wealth of historical fact and fiction that can be expressed, through both visual art and historical research. My next door neighbor Helen, age 89, knew the Lichtensteins, and related a story to me that Isabel Lichtenstein (Roy’s wife), once caused a stir at the Oswego faculty wives’ dinner when she came dressed in red stockings!
Well, as any painter or writer will tell you, that is a story that needs to be told!
Word has it that Roy and family rented a house on West Sixth Street Street in the city of Oswego, and while living here and teaching at the college, he changed his style of painting from figurative to abstract, where he would apply broad swaths of color onto the canvas, wrap a rag around his arm, and drag it to get the desired results. He was also sketching comics during this time, so a feel of this style would be most appropriate for new work that I introduce.
I paint with acrylics on any substrate I feel most suitable. For this body of work I think I would like to mirror Lichtenstein’s choices—closer to the bone, the better. For instance, if Roy painted on canvas, I would seek mid-twentieth century linens, canvas, sheets, etc. and stretch them as Lichtenstein would have. Likewise, and this truly would be a monumental change for me—Like Roy, I would use oils, a medium I have little to no experience with, which will make me feel how Lichtenstein must have felt between artistic realizations. That is, to say the least, uneasy.
While painting and researching Lichtenstein’s life in Oswego, I will connect to the public via a professionally designed blog with links to social media such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I will contact the Lichtenstein Foundation to seek reference and consul, and as mentioned before, work with college and community art and historical interests to learn and also promote the exhibition and book.
Finally, the book will be a work of original art in itself—the story of Roy Lichtenstein in Oswego, and the color added to it with my original paintings commemorating his experience and mine.
Since I will display the work in a prominent building at the college, preferably in a busy thoroughfare, I would suspect the primary audience for the duration of the exhibition to be students, faculty, administration and staff of the college. However, an opening will welcome and push for a large community attendance, especially seniors who will benefit from the memory of an Oswego many share together. I would spend time promoting the event to administrators and residents of local senior housing, but also middle and high school art and industrial arts teachers, with hopes that their interest is sparked and students are encouraged to attend. For a time, Oswego housed and fed a future world renown painter. What a positive story for local youth to see that greatness can be achieved, or at least nourished, in underrepresented geographic locations! Again, connection with the Oswego Historical Society, ARTswego, the Art Association of Oswego, Tyler Art Gallery, etc. will boost an interest outside my reach and hopefully encourage even more to attend. The book, of course, will provide historical documentation, and be accessible for future interest.
Why do this for the community?
It’s just a great local art story that needs to be told.
I am excited about meeting with the Oswego Historical Society, Special Collections at SUNY Oswego, and the several art institutions previously mentioned. Local history is a prime interest here among many, (as I’m sure it is everywhere where people feel deeply connected to a region). Roy Lichtensteins’s Oswego story is good local history, and an artistic embellishment will add a modern, living component that is not often achievable with historic storytelling. I am, as Lichtenstein was for several years during his life, a struggling artist with connections to both the city and college at Oswego. I graduated from the college, yet unlike Roy, made Oswego my permanent residence. A good comparison might be a local resident and wealthy social activist recounting a time in the life of Gerrit Smith, a prominent landowner/businessperson and committed reformer of the mid 19th century.
Also, I intend to interview several living persons who at best know the story of Lichtenstein, or at least are very knowledgeable about Oswego during Roy’s tenure here. For instance, my neighbor Helen may know others who were friends with the Lichtensteins, and can liason an interview(s) for me. I am curious to discover what the local historical society might know, and also Special Collections at SUNY Oswego. I will connect with M., the Director of the Tyler Art Gallery at SUNY who oversees the entire art archive of the college, to find out what he knows about Lichtenstein’s only public exhibition in Oswego—a group faculty show at the college in 1958.
Roy lived at two residences in Oswego. He once hosted art students to display their work in his house on West Sixth Street. I often show the work of other painters in my house. Roy didn’t know it at the time, but he was a burgeoning Stuckist painter, however, the movement hadn’t been invented yet!
My own friends and acquaintances who attend regular home shows, will share their experience and perhaps expand this exhibition’s audience. I’m friends with firemen, administrators, retirees, bankers, professors, air conditioning repairmen, as well as visual artists and musicians. I have no one social circle. Art doesn’t allow for it.
Once again, I will document this process with blog and social media to culminate in a 5 week long exhibition of original paintings and published book.
Outreach and promotion:
Immediately after notification of grant in January, I will purchase a blog with domain name “Lichtenstein in Oswego, 1957 – 1960”, and site specific accounts with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Then I will get to work, posting regularly paintings and process, but also accounts (visual and written) of trips locally where I shall document the ongoing historical research, and discoveries about Oswego in the 1950’s and 60’s, with particular emphasis on Roy Lichtenstein and his connections with the people and places of the time period.
Toward end of research, book creation and completed paintings, I shall begin marketing and advertising the project and exhibition. I will create and send a press release to Oswego County news organizations and pray for free press. I will use some grant funding on postcard and poster promotion, and much of my time networking on social media and taking time to visit elder care facilities, educators, and art historians to pitch the opening event and ensuing exhibition.
January—Purchase and set up blog and social media accounts. Purchase oil paints, gather (sometimes purchase) unique, age-appropriate substrate, and begin painting.
Design and create template for book to be published print-on-demand, and profits to be donated to a SUNY Oswego scholarship fund for Oswego County High School students.
Begin research on Roy Lichtenstein, read biographies, use resources online, set up future meetings with Oswego Historical Society, Special Collections at SUNY Oswego, etc, and form a narrative for book while posting progress online in aforementioned sites.
Write/call the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation in New York City to inquire about photo rights and reproductions. Also get the know on what they know about Roy in Oswego. January – March—Schedule meeting(s) with heads of art and industrial arts departments to inquire and acquire wall space for exhibition. Set exact dates for the exhibition and its opening. January – August—Continue painting, compiling research, setting narrative and typesetting book with prose and several illustrations.
By end of August complete book and send to publisher. August – September—Have artwork ready to hang and begin implementing marketing/advertising plan.
Send out press release to local news organizations.
Create and print postcards and 11 x 17″ posters to distribute throughout Oswego County.
Connect with elder care facilities, research and art institutions, librarians, teachers city leaders and politicians, SUNY Oswego community, SUNY alumni, overall begin the invitation process to all and sundry.
Qualifications and experience:
I have been a full time practicing fine art painter and writer for over 20 years, and have exhibited for 10 years. I have written and self-published 16 books with subjects on art, society, culture, politics and self-liberation. I am proficient in book design, proofreading and typesetting, with knowledge of the self-publishing industry.
I have a heightened sense of work ethic. Since 2016, I have curated three international group exhibitions, and two international solo exhibitions, as well as several of my own. The first of the former I hosted the work of 4 Russian painters and myself and exhibited to the Oswego community in a truly inspirational endeavor (thank you CNYArts!). The second group show was more daunting with work sent from 37 Stuckist painters around the world which I exhibited at beautiful Quintus Gallery in Watkins Glen. Both huge successes, and literally life-changing. The third was an international show representing 12 artists exhibited in my home. Last year I curated the work of Spanish painter, Lupo Sol, exhibited in Hamilton, N.Y. Presently I am curating the work of Lena Ulanova, a Saint Petersburg, Russian painter. I took one of her paintings to New York City and filmed it outside of famous museums and art galleries while asking random people to pose with the piece. These recent exhibitions, as well as several solo shows of my own, have been at my expense, except for the first mentioned. I feel a strong communion with other artists and am glad to help.
Since the project is multidisciplinary I will provide recent work that pays homage to other painters, or provides an example of a non-traditional substrate. For example, the first image will be of painters I promoted in 2016, Alexey Stepanov and Andrew Makarov. I try to capture the unique cultural differences and similarities shared internationally by all artists while they await a train to take them and their paintings to Saint Petersburg. Included will be images of a baby seal and one of a parakeet to provide examples of using substrate to build a concept: a bed sheet and parakeet cover respectively. Also a sample of writing from a book I published for an international exhibition. Lastly, a promotional video (one of 4) I made while curating “Yellow Life Scenes” by Lupo Sol. I wrote and performed the original song. Widely shared across social media.
Please note, the work for this exhibition will be entirely new. Remember, I have never painted with oils! Also, the book will be vibrant, alive and colorful with history and rich illustration. Impossible to replicate for panel with these limitations of past work, however imagine paintings in a similar style to Lichtenstein during this period of internal peace and tumult. History tends to distort the day to day life of any past person, especially the celebrity type. I intend to include the mundane of a painter’s world, expressed in paint and in prose.
Although I will use the bulk of the grant to pay for my time, I will also use funds for oil paints, custom substrate, blog creation and promotional marketing costs. As is probably very common among past awardees, the $2,500 is a huge benefit to any artistic labor of love that sees a majority of time invested pro bono. Basically I see no need to secure additional funding. I plan to donate my time to the project.
A “men only” group to teach coeds romanticism across disciplines.
Just two months prior to this article, some other “men onlys” were out west dressing up pigs in Nevada to see how a thermonuclear blast affected their bodies. They called their degenerate oinking party, Operation Plumbbob, and it was hundreds of kilotons of explosives detonated to radioactively “blend background and foreground to make a complete picture”.
Hindsight is not always 20/20, for we still allow very dangerous modern pig-partying counterparts to walk the earth unscathed by communal scorn and hatred. There are good men and bad men orchestrating the human comedy throughout history. Men only, who are attracted to opposite poles of radical behavior. Both are deeply expressive. One group gives a pig a name and dresses her up for torture and doom. The other goes quiet, into art, and bides time on a men only earth, expressing individual schizophrenia with pretty pictures and things.
One cannot be an artist if one refrains from misanthropic dreaming. The juxtaposition is humanely more enormous than universal space and time. Roy Lichtenstein came out on a winter’s night to help girls and boys seek insight through the practice of sensitive expression. Earlier that autumn, Lieutenant-Colonel Frank P. Ball figuratively (and would-be literally) blew the piss out of every baby born and not yet born in 1957.
You can see the smirk on Roy’s face in the following art faculty photograph, taken from the 1958 Ontarian yearbook for future teachers of New York State children, all marked to die screaming by men only like Frank P. Ball.
And you can dream like me that the smirk is an all-knowing one. That Roy understands how Frank P. Ball will be crying for his mommy in a near future of private prostate decomposition. And nobody, not even Frank’s mommy, can love a loud killing bomb of a man who dresses up pigs and blows them to dust.
The quote in the title came directly from my next door neighbor Helen who knew the Lichtensteins in the late 1950’s. Her husband, Ernie, was a physical education teacher and the soccer coach admitted the same semester and year as Roy—Fall, 1957.
For me this was a big oil adventure in a small studio space. Most days I wore a breathing mask, and on others I just sniffed Turpenoid® until I dreamed I was dozing in a hammock on Maui.
I built the frame, stretched the canvas, composed and painted the piece in 11 hours with a total cost of about 60 dollars, or .0923% of the families’ annual income. I could make 50 paintings this size a year at a cost of $3000 which translates to 4.61% of our total annual income. Actually, $3,000 has been my allotment for the last 10 years. I produce over 150 paintings a year, few ever reaching floor to ceiling proportions (like the one above), and all are done in acrylic which dries fast and stacks more efficiently than oil.
I have never made a financial profit from this endeavor. But I am beginning to see our investment give back exponentially.
In the fall of 1957 Roy Lichtenstein arrived in Oswego to live and teach. By the end of the year he had “completed” just 16 artworks. One 10″ woodcut for a magazine, four day sketches on paper, three mosaic tabletops, and 8 paintings. Gallant Scene II was his largest oil on canvas at 66 inches. For the year 1957, Roy was a painter like I am a Rochester commuter, a city in upstate NY that I visit about 8 times a year.
Lichtenstein graduated with an MFA from Ohio State University in 1949. His oeuvre from then to his arrival in Oswego consists mostly of U.S. history themes with an emphasis on painted stories of the wild west. (The Lichtenstein Foundation has a completed works timeline. Worth a visit.)
Actually, I love many of these paintings, even if several are based off the work of other artists (a pattern he will take up again for Pop). In future interviews Roy will say that he was working with a cubist style, mirroring Picasso, one of his favorite painters. When I look at this early to mid-1950’s work, I don’t see Picasso. I see how Roy Lichtenstein wanted to be known at the time. I also see great painting, and contrary to what one biographer insinuated, that the compositions were “meh” and the technique “meh-meh”, I feel many are far superior to his early 60’s Pop productions. Original, free, enthusiastic… the opposite of Pop.
In 1957 Roy was not a prolific painter. He was a husband and father of two little boys in a world much less freer than the one I live in today. His equally or more ambitious wife, Isabel, would never become the stable breadwinner of the family. The pressures of a suburban society were not going to allow Roy to paint all day using 4.61% of the family income. His society was so much more severe. In 1957 Oswego (or Cleveland), one did not strike up a conversation at the supermarket check out and declare that he paints, not for a living, (not even for joy), and that the wife takes care of all that money nonsense.
Pressures were on Isabel too. See? She wore red stockings to long skirt events.
“1959—Isabel Came to the Faculty Wives Dinner Dressed in Red Stockings and Caused Quite a Stir!”
This, (or something nearly this), will become a large oil painting when the oils arrive.
The quote in the title came directly from my next door neighbor Helen who knew the Lichtensteins in the late 1950’s. Her husband was a physical education teacher and the soccer coach admitted the same semester and year as Roy—Fall, 1957.
I too feel like wearing red stockings wherever I go in Oswego. Now I think I might. Who could tell with the sweatshop of garments I need to wear just to step outside in January!
I am corresponding with local archives to arrange time to visit. I need to research the late 1950’s Oswego scene. Likewise, I have written to the Lichtenstein Foundation hoping to gain permission to use a few images of Roy’s paintings during this time period.
Already I am feeling the magic of historical daydreaming. Roy and I share a connection to Oswego, however slight. Below is a photo of Park Hall, the academic building where Roy and his colleagues taught art to future teachers of America. I walk this view nearly every day in summer, and live less than a tenth of a mile from it. Roy must have pushed out the doors of Park Hall not knowing what the hell he was up to, nor the fame explosion he would experience just a year and a half later.
I want to learn where he lived, the stores he shopped at, and restaurants he frequented. Could he even afford to take the family out on a teacher’s salary? Did his wife Isabel work? Where? How old were his kids at the time?
The paintings will come. I have stretched the first canvas and ordered the oils. Artistically, Roy was in crisis. He would have known he was leaving Oswego and heading to New Jersey for a different life. His painting was going nowhere. I know where my paintings are. I also know that I don’t need New Jersey for a future to come to me. I just need to push through a crisis and find my focus. Roy sought outside encouragement. I seek courage, yet during the process, I wouldn’t mind running into satori once in a while.