Searching for the Manhattan Series
Just got back from a trip to Ohio visiting my husband’s family. Even though we were essentially revisiting his recent roots, I felt a stirring of my own beginnings. One of our favorite places to visit in the Cincinnati area is a store called Half Price Books. Simple concept, you can find wonderful second hand books, first editions (I once found a book devoted to the dinner parties hosted by President and Jacqueline Kennedy detailing the menu, guest list, musical selections, and of course, what Jacqueline wore. Pause for nostalgic nerdy squeals of delight.) During this trip, I picked up a copy of Patti Smith’s memoir, Just Kids, and took a trip back to the eighties, at a time when brilliant scruffy artists were gathering in the streets, finding their respective paths of creative expression.
At a family gathering in suburban Cincinnati , Tim retrieved a handful of his old paintings that his brother. One of them is a gem from the 1985 Manhattan Series. I have a real fondness for the bold gestural strokes and affectionate renditions of city architecture from this series. When Tim propped these paintings along the wall in front of the Whitney Museum, the magic of the times made him immune from security guards who would surely shoo him away today. The link above will land you smack dab in the midst of Tim’s Mary Boone project that describes his entrance to gallery world. I’ve had this baby hanging in the foyer and it never fails to evoke a sense of peace and nostalgia. There were thirty pieces in the original series, Tim sold 12 off the street in front of the Whitney, the remaining panels followed him to galleries in SoHo. I wonder where they are living now? My own creativity went underground in a serious way when I joined the Unification Church in 1981. Each soul has its reasons and its path. I remember feeling disgusted with the artists we visited as part of my foundational studies at School of Visual Arts. I judged them to be materialistic and commerce oriented, not at all matching my vision of the arts. My Own Art Ideal included enduring truth. timeless beauty and most likely hunger with a dash of poverty thrown in for good measure. Closer to the life Patti Smith was living at the time. Brava, sister!
Still, I doubt I would trade those years of celibacy, repression and spiritual bliss for living on the street, finding my artist’s voice and playing roulette with AIDS. All roads lead to the center if you keep on walking. Although I wouldn’t mind having my 35 mm SLR Minolta back – I impulsively gave it away during a missionary trip in South Korea. Nothing like an old camera that has the imprint of your hand on its shutter.
Images: 1. Acrylic on Panel, Manhattan Series, Tim Folzenlogen, 1985 2. Ditto 3. Reverse side of panel of Manhattan Series, 4. Portrait of Mom at Mid Century from my SVA photography class, Renee Folzenlogen, 1980. 5. Video: Patti Smith reading Fire of Unknown Origin
p.s. I realized that I resonate now with Patti Smith’s memoir and her poetry (the little bit I have read so far) because she goes after the subject of death head on, which feels right and natural to me.