Thursday, October 10, 2013

We Called Him Tortoise Because He Taught Us

Sometimes, I can't sleep. Throughout my twenties, I have used this as ammunition to paint, watch odd films from the sixties (I'm looking at you "The Touchables") and during these late night ruminations....Research.
There was one spring break that I spent eagerly looking up all of the abandoned subway stations in New York. Their history, their architecture.
There is always room for The Beats in my researching travels.
And then there was last winter...Just a week or so before turning twenty five, I was home and the old question struck. What had happened to my beloved deceased professor's mural, hinted at in resumes and recollections? I looked for the bank it apparently belonged in, I found none. I researched his name, I only found former students like myself, proudly displaying his name and talking occasionally of their time with him. I was strangely dismayed. Here was an artist, a great artist whose time on earth had ended but whose work remained...Yet where was his work?
I should explain. I'm from the Art Student's League and I studied under Eric Alberts and Anthony Palumbo. Two very different teachers, two very different artists, whom I miss terribly. So, I do what anyone does when they miss someone. Google their name. Anthony Palumbo happens to the one whose mural may or may not still be somewhere in this giant city. The thought of this regularly aggravates and pleases me.
...As does the thought of all of those murals hidden in abandoned subway stations.
So, back to winter. I looked at google, the pages of artists who were grateful for their time with this man....As a teacher. Well, that's all well and good. So who was his teacher?
His teacher was Reginald Marsh. The infamous social realist.
Suddenly, I had a thought. How far back could I go with the teachers of my teacher's teachers?
"We called him tortoise because he taught us"

Three hours later, I had a very rough tree detailing my professors "lineages". Starting as they both had, the students of social realism:

Then the Social Realists...

The Ashcan School...

The Impressionists...

The Academy always weaving it's stodgy way in and out...
And finally landing somewhere in France in the 1700's with Rococo.


I was elated, here was something I had not expected. It wasn't the mural that I wanted...It was the history, the comfort of knowing what a long lineage we all come out of that I needed.

So perhaps one day, I will find that mural. Or maybe someone looking for Eric Alberts or Anthony Palumbo's work will stumble upon this post and be both strangely dismayed and relieved.

Or maybe even happy?

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