Back in 2005, about 3 months before my first child was born, my wife and I took a trip to New York City. She is a Monty Python fan and really wanted to see Spamalot on Broadway and I had the connection for good seats so away we went. After we checked into our hotel we wandered around the city. We walked everywhere and took in the sites. Before we knew it, we were in some kind of arts district with a lot of galleries. We strolled into a gallery (Plum Blossoms) and I read the written description of the show currently up. To my amazement I recognized the name of the curator – Tim Evans. The last time I saw Tim was about 10 years earlier in Oakland CA. Tim is from the same town in Missouri as me, Jackson. He’s a couple years older but every now and then he’d let a little skate punk like me hang out with him. Not only is he an accomplished and talented artist but also a great musician and has played in many bands over the years.
So we walk through the gallery and take a look at all the cool artwork. This show was mainly of Japanese artists and the work was so detailed and varied. A mix of design, video and representational, now that I think about it, the kind of stuff that’s pretty mainstream now but not so much back in 2005. Akino Kondoh and Keiji Ito work really stood out.
While walking around I notice Tim standing behind the gallery counter so I go up and say hi. Naturally he was surprised to see me and we talked about what the other had been up to. I asked him if I could snap a photograph of him and he was cool with that, later I did a painting of it. He suggested we go see the current show at the Japan Society which we dutifully did. After catching up we said goodbye, I couldn’t believe the chances of actually seeing someone I knew in New York City. My wife and I headed to a diner for some pie.
The next day we found the Japan Society and hung out there for the morning. They had a huge exhibit going on dedicated to Japanese Pop Art which included everything from pornographic comics to Godzilla.
Close by the Japan Society is the MOMA and we had to go see that although there’s no way to see it all in an afternoon or a lifetime. It was pretty amazing and cool to see all kinds of paintings I had only read about. After a few hours we walked out and I spotted a hot dog vender across the street. I got a hot dog and turned to look at the MOMA. I noticed right next to the MOMA was this incredible looking building, then I realized this was the American Folk Art Museum and my interest peaked even more. Needless to say I’m extremely interested in Folk Art primarily because it’s the art I practice. Not that I’ve studied Folk Art, although I have read a great deal about it, but just by being a self-taught painter and American to boot, I'm practicing American Folk Art. Unfortunately there was not time to visit the museum as the afternoon was turning to evening and the museum was closing. Not to be completely foiled in my ignorant discovery, I snapped a photograph for a future painting, finished my hot dog and off we went back to the hotel.
The rest of the trip was quite fun. Dinner at a Brazilian restaurant, late night pizza in Times Square, more gallery walking in SOHO, spotting John C. Reilly talking with people on the street (I so badly wanted to take his photograph but didn’t cause he noticed me and got that frighten celebrity look in his eye), seeing Billy Crystal push a fan back and yell at her for coming to close to him, watching Spamalot with the original Broadway cast, wandering around Central Park and seeing the spot where John Lennon was shot (although that part was not fun, very sad).