Connections in Line The Art of Sol Schwartz
Connections in Line The Art of Sol Schwartz Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Dedication This book is dedicated to two Lamed Vovniks who I was fortunate to know and love Lillian Linder Schwartz and Elayne Bernstein Schwartz My wives
Prologue Several years ago I attended the Gala dinner at Jacob’s Pillow, the great dance center in the Berkshires. Across the dinner table sat an intense man who, during the meal, spent most of his time scribbling on a page of the gala program. Every once in a while he briefly glanced at me before resuming his scribbling. I wondered, “What’s he doing?” and thought he might be a writer, working on his great American novel, in a frenzy to get every word down before his inspiration faded. Finally my curiosity got the better of me. I got up, walked over to him, put out my hand and said “I’m David. What are you doing?” He replied “Sol,” shook my hand and showed me the sketch he had made of me. “What do you think?” I replied “It’s great. Except you’ve made me look ten years younger.” Sol laughed. “You’re complaining about that???” AND THAT’S HOW I MET SOL SCHWARTZ. Sol is an artist, classically trained at Brooklyn College with most of the New York School of Painting – Mark Rothko, Clifford Still, Ad Reinhardt et al. He also studied drawing with the great anatomist, Robert Beverly Hale, at the Art Students League. Sol had to set that aside for 35 years to support his family, but was able to resume his art career when he retired. I recently met Sol after coming back from the wonderful replica of the Lascaux Caves in the Dordogne region of France. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the artist’s work done over 17,000 years ago and urged Sol to go see it. Sol: “I’ve seen it.” Me: “You’ve seen the replica?” Sol: “No. The original, before they shut down the caves to protect the drawings.” AND THAT’S SOL SCHWARTZ. David Bakalar Former member, MassArt Board of Trustees
President’s Foreword The vibrant drawings of Sol Schwartz are a fitting way to begin my inaugural year as the 11th president of Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) – with energy, passion, and new connections. Founded in 1998, the President’s Gallery is proud to showcase work by artists and designers from the MassArt community, neighborhood groups, and honored individuals. Polly Apfelbaum, Matthew Carter, Lee Friedlander, Kiki Smith, William Wegman, and many others have exhibited in the gallery in addition to institutions such as Partners in Health and Artists for Humanity— I am pleased to include Sol in this group of noteworthy artists. Sol Schwartz: Connections in Line is a sampling of spontaneous and energetic portraits that capture the spirit of music and movement for performers and audience members, noted philanthropists and artists, and encounters with everyday people. Sol sketches from the audience, backstage, and during rehearsals at the Berkshire’s renowned performing arts centers: Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow, Shakespeare & Company, and the Barrington Stage Company— often with little or no light to guide his hand. For the past decade he has sketched thousands of studies that have captured the enigmatic Christo, the grace of Yo-Yo Ma, the fluidity of Mikhail Baryshinikov, and the rapt attention of those in the audience. The heartfelt passion reflected in Sol’s deft line is a reminder of how the arts can inspire, enlighten, and enliven both creators and patrons. By sketching in public Sol creates connections through his artwork, meeting luminaries, arts supporters, and many others by drawing together the moments, people, and their artistic creation. I hope in my presidency to create such moments of connection through inspiration and creative ingenuity. We are fortunate to count Sol among MassArt’s friends. Dawn Barrett, President Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Artist’s Introduction “Connections In Line” is the title of this exhibit. Dawn Barrett, the new President of MassArt coined this phrase to describe my work. She told me after looking at my work that my lines connect to create my portraits, figures, and landscapes, and they connect me to the places I have been and the people I have met. I thought this was a very interesting way of describing my work and agreed that this should be the title of this show in the president’s gallery. One of the earliest works I did was found in a flat file I have in my studio in Sarasota Florida. I am a pack rat. I submitted this drawing of my mother’s kitchen in the back of my fathers hand laundry, as part of my portfolio, to gain admission to the High School of Music and Art. The lines connect to describe the icebox, the water pan under it, a can of Bab-O, the plate of milk for the cat, and the pad I did this drawing on. This is where I spent a good part of the first 18 years of my life.
A year after being admitted to High School of Music and Art now having discovered museums, galleries and art history, I did my first oil painting on cardboard. An homage to Braque and Picasso done entirely from my imagination and no longer connected to my early environment. I realize now that there are two elements to my art, one is what I see, and the other is what I imagine. I sharpened my drawing skills at the Art Studentâ€™s League studying with the great anatomist Robert Beverly Hale. I also studied at Brooklyn College with Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still and Ad Reinhardt and learned that an artwork can simply contain color or form without any real object. [Abstract Expressionism or non-objective painting ]. I came to computers about 40 years ago and used a mainframe to provide college and graduate school information, scholarship information and job information that was accurate. I created a non-profit counseling center in New York called Options that has provided thousands of young people with successful careers. This experience enabled me to utilize computers as a new art media. Many of the drawings I do are on scrap pieces of paper which I scan into the computer, alter, add color, and reconstitute within the computer. The resulting print is an original work of art unlike any reproductive process that has preceded it, since the artist in the past was restricted by the media of etching, lithography , woodcut and silk screen to the original image. This final image is created within the computer. This process will be demonstrated in this exhibit.
This is a portrait of David Bakalar that I did at the Jacobâ€™s Pillow Festival Gala. It was done on the Jacobs Pillow program with ink and red wine. As you can see in the next two images I added color to the first image and then transformed the drawing within the computer to make it appear to be a sculptural form. Since David Bakalar is a noted sculptor I attempted to portray him as a sculpture in the third version. My wife Elayne used to say to me, that when we went out it was like having a puppy, since I was always sketching people around me and they would come over and we would connect. This is one of the connections in line that Dawn Barrett referred to, and it was this connection with David Bakalar and through his efforts, that enabled me to have this exhibit at MassArt.
Early Work One of my first paintings in high school was an oil on cardboard still life and my first abstraction. There was also a large linoleum cut called “Death and the Maiden.” I did a head in the subway on my way to school with crayon on a shirt cardboard. This was followed by drawing at the Museum of Natural History. The underlying structure of animals are bones and drawing them was both fun and very instructive. Some creatures have their bones on the outside like the horseshoe crab. I converted these drawings to color in paintings of horseshoe crabs and fish. Then came abstractions on the New York Times of more fish and then Seltzer bottles and shells. Then a self portrait at twenty and suddenly I was a father with two children with drawings of them at age four and two. Then a painting of Ernest Bloch’s cello concerto,“Shelomo” played by the great cellist Laszlo Varga. On the cello is the inscription from King Solomon [Shelomo],“All is Vanity.”
The following are other early oil paintings of a string quartet, a tree, and watercolors of local landscapes combining line and color and some using only color.
Music I started my career as an illustrator at the Tanglewood Music Center. I kept a diary of drawings of all the artists I saw. Sometimes on the programs, sometimes in sketchbooks. Someone at Tanglewood caught me at it and asked me if I would do a book for them and that was my first book called “Drawing Music.” Since this is a place that hosts the greatest musicians in the world and the students who study with them, it was my great privilege to be able to sit in on rehearsal and capture a sense of their music when they performed. What follows is a selection of drawings done over a 10 year period. The drawing on the right is of Bryn Terfel - the Metropolitan Opera’s great bass baritone. The drawings include Malcom Lowe and Emanuel Ax, Joseph Silverstein, Joel Smirnoff, James Levine, The Juilliard String Quartet, Kurt Masur, Charles Neidich and Garrick Ohlsson. The drawings following are of a former graduate of the Tanglewood Music Center, Rafael Popper-Keiser, a cellist now prominent in the Boston area, followed by Elliot Philips, a noted trombonist. The last in this group is the Eskind Zaretsky Trio.
Malcolm Lowe joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra as concertmaster in 1984, becoming the tenth concertmaster in the orchestraâ€™s history, and only its third since 1920. He is captured here performing a challenging and emotional violin Sonata by Richard Strauss, which he presented with pianist Emanuel Ax.
Joel Smirnoff performing with a TMC String Quartet
Always observing the world around him, Sol Schwartz created a likeness of musician Heath Marlow while volunteering at the Koussevitsky House at Tanglewood, and his drawing caught the eye of Joel Smirnoff, first violinist of The Juilliard String Quartet. Little did Smirnoff know that Schwartz had already filled a sketchbook during the quartetâ€™s rehearsals at Ozawa Hall. Schwartzâ€™s individual drawings of Joel Smirnoff (first violin), Ronald Cope (second violin), Joel Krosnick (cello) and Samuel Rhodes (viola) impressed the ensemble, and were requested for use on the cover of an upcoming CD. Their portraits were assembled digitally, and are seen here from left to right.
Juilliard String Quartet
Yo-Yo Ma playing the John Harbison ode to William Schuman on his death. The cellist is the artist and the orchestra is the Dragon, Death.
Yo-YoMa Yo-YoMa rehearsing the Haydn Cello Concerto
Eskind Zaretsky Trio
Theatre My work in the theatre started at Shakespeare & Company many years ago. Tina Packer is the founder and creator of Shakespeare & Company. Here she is reading a few lines from Romeo & Juliet in her magical way. These drawings demonstrate the change that took place in my work because of the computer. The drawing of Tina is an unaltered drawing in pen and Conté pencil. The drawings in Joan Ackerman’s play “The Taster” were done with a Japanese brush-pen and were also unchanged. The first drawing is of Tom O’Keefe, the King, the second of Rocco Sisto, the Taster and the third of Maureen O’Flynn, the Queen. The next drawing of John Douglas Thompson was done directly on a Playbill program. In this case, the drawing was scanned into my computer and the color was added with the computer. The “Sweeney Todd” set of drawings were done in the dark during the musical. These black and white line drawings were scanned into the computer, converted into color and recreated using image editing software, (both Painter and Photoshop) into a new image. This is the 21st century innovation in art, just as the cave paintings were 50,000 years ago.
Dance In the woods, in Becket is the World center for dance. Every summer Jacob’s Pillow hosts the greatest dancers and choreographers, and I have been privileged to see them and draw them. I will often draw on a program and because it is usually pitch black I don’t get to see the drawing until the lights go on, like the one on the right. Dancers don’t sit still. They are usually flying through the air and it is a trick to try and catch them in motion as you will see in the following drawings from Jacob’s Pillow. Because the action is so swift I simply look at the dancers and let my hand go. It catches them almost automatically. High speed drawing in the dark is a challenge, but a lot of fun when it works. What follows are drawings of individual dancers, choreographers and their companies.
Savion Glover danced for Katherine Dunham at her party.
Katherine Dunham 93rd Birthday Party honoring the great dancer and choreographer Katherine Dunham She sat on stage viewing all of her dance protĂŠgĂŠs performing her work.
Bill T. Jones Dancers
Bill T. Jones
Nuria Pomares Rojas
Yo-Yo MA and Mark Morris Dancers Cello Suite No. 3 J.S.Bach Ozawa Hall June 30, 2003
Cloud Gate These dancers from Taiwan pushed 3 tons of sand around on the stage as they danced and built a fire in a bowl . The figure on the right had a large pole and brush which he used to push the sand around as if he were father time. These drawings were done with a Japanese brush in the dark.
Portraits Norman Narotsky has been a noted painter in Bercelona over the past 60 years. We attended the H.S. of Music and Art together. Jasha Levi, Yugoslavian author and freedom fighter. Loet Velmans survived the Japanese death march and wrote a book about it titled, â€œLong Way Back From The River Kwai.â€? He is now 89. Tyler Stovall was a young man in France when I drew him doing research on his dissertation. He is now Professor of History and Provost at The University of California at Berkeley . Lou Steinberg done in line and wine lives in Lenox. Renee Bressett has five children, works at Home Depot and has the most beautiful blue eyes. This is another example of taking a drawing and turning it step by step into something that could only be done within the computer. Robert Strassler is a noted historian who has written the definitive work on Herodotus. Harold Mantell has produced films on a wide range of subjects, from the 1967 New York Yankees to the Nobel Prize-winning poet, Pablo Neruda. August Lindt was the Swiss Ambassador to the United States who negotiated the Cuban Missile Crisis between Kennedy and Khrushchev. Gillian Lindt was the Dean of the Graduate Schools at Columbia University. Arin Arbus, Obie award winner for Othello with John Douglas Thompson.
Julie Taymor, fabled author and director of “The Lion King,” “Spiderman” and the film “Frida Kahlo.” Lester Speiser, Adirondack poet. Walter McTeigue, portrait painter. Paolo Calabi, was Robert Mondavi’s wine chemist and a classmate of Primo Lavi. Paolo was a Finzi-Contini. Christo the artist who wrapped Central Park. Doctor Abraham Chachoua is the director of the NYU Langone Oncology Center. Jeremy Comins, a noted sculpture. Doctor Eli Newburger, tuba virtuoso and Harvard Medical School pediatrician. Daniel Klein, playwright and author of “Aristotle and an Aardvark” and other best sellers. Milbry Polk, author and explorer.
Dr. Abraham Chachoua
Ted Casher Jimmy Mazzey
The Figure Drawing the figure is considered the most difficult work that an artist faces. Underlying the drawing is a knowledge of Anatomy ,of bone structure and musculature. In addition there is the drawing of the figure itself in proportion,and the placement of the figure into the existing space. The model is more than bone, muscle and flesh. There is a person sitting in front of you and since the work is generally so daunting, it is an additional challenge to portray the model as a real person. In drawing the figure the artist must be inventive in “connecting the lines.” As an example see how the line color varies in the drawing as it moves down the figure. The breast is drawn with a sanguine pencil and heightened with a white conté pencil, when the line reaches the top of the hand and knee, it changes to a black line with the addition of a sepia wash under the knee.
Varying the line and making the observer’s eye work to fill in the missing spaces is part of the challenge of making the figure come alive.
These figure drawings were selected from a few models who vary in both physique and personality. Candace is the heavy-set model who always wears some jewelry or a hat and radiates a positive aura. Carol was a former contortionist for the Ringling Brothers Circus and she is a thin, serious model with a pensive persona. My challenge in drawing these models is first to deal with the anatomy of the figure in an accurate way, and then to try and catch something of their personality. In looking at each drawing you will see that I have used a variety of media to capture them as real people. A pencil line that is disconnected allows your eye to fill in the missing spaces. Note that all of the lines are curved. Straight lines flatten the figure. The drawing of Candace on the next page is done entirely with a brush.
Whenever I travel I carry several small sketchbooks and a portable small Windsor and Newton watercolor set and a box of Caran Dâ€™ache water soluble crayons. The line drawing of Osaka Castle with watercolor is an example. The Imperial Palace in Kyota was done with the water soluble crayons in a drizzle. The rain helped to turn it into a watercolor. It was the first day the cherry blossoms opened. A friend I had connected to by drawing him,Stanley Davis was traveling with the Surrey Opera company on a tour of Japan, and so I joined them for a delightful five week tour of Japan,filling several notebooks, one is on exhibit in the case. I include drawings of one of the Opera singer Betsey Beaty and our guide Reiko. The owner of a small ryokan in a town at the foot of Mt. Fuji was a grandmother named Fuyuno Osada, Obaasan. Followed by a drawing of Fuji when it finally came out of the clouds for a few hours. The next two are watercolors I did in Yugoslavia. The Neretva valley looking down on a marsh of yellow grasses in water with a black canoe, a small village. The black stone mountains on either side were denuded of trees by the Venetians who had owned Yugoslavia during the time of Othello and built their ships from the trees that had covered the mountains. The fabled city of Dubrovnik, since this watercolor, has been partially destroyed during the recent Serbo-Croat war. I have spent a good deal of time in France in the Province,this is a cafe called La Remise with a marvelous group playing and singing of all things ,American folk songs.
The final drawing with watercolor is of the Sydney harbor and Opera House. The drawings I have done during my travels around the world have connected me both to the people I have met and the places I have been. There is enough material from my travels for several books and another show.
ÂŠ2012 Sol Schwartz solschwartz.com ISBN: 978-1-4675-4225-8 (Hardcover); 978-1-4675-4224-1 (Softcover) Design/production, Studio Two studiotwo.com
Early Work Music
Theatre Dance Portraits The Figure
Travel ISBN #978-1-4675-4224-1