Day Ninety-Two/Image Ninety-Two

“Afloat” Image. Ceres Gallery. New York. Solo Show.

Peter Forakis. Once on vacation in Northern California, my husband, daughter and I had the great pleasure of meeting Peter Forakis. Not that long ago.

We did not meet him in his famous days. We met him selling his galvanized sculpture in his front yard in Petaluma. Upon seeing this rusted stuff in the front yard, we halted the car and did a U turn. We did not know he was Peter Forakis. Artist and founder with Al Held of the cooperative in New York called “Park Place”, a type of minimalism in the 1960s. A rebellion against Abstract Expressionism. More about Peter Forakis here.

He came out, an older man, very expansive and welcoming. He wanted us to be happy. We could tell that. He had a very large personality.

He took us in the house and unveiled his resume along with some very interesting photographs of outdoor sculpture he had done. One of them, the biggest outdoor sculpture in the United States, called “The Gateway”, located on Fulton Industrial Boulevard in Atlanta. He wanted us to check on it when we got home.

Other things of interest came up. Upon looking at his resume, I saw he exhibited with Willem DeKooning, Jackson Pollack, among many other famous artists in a drawing show at The Guggenheim Museum. Many other big museum shows, many other famous artists he was with!

We ended up becoming friends. He and I. We talked on the phone all the time. And one day, I decided to ask him if I could come out to Petaluma and study with him for a few days.

We had quite a time. He was painting cubes then. Made out of cardboard. He would paint them one at a time, by hanging them up with a rope, and hitting them with paint as they swung around. He called this true abstraction. Six sides. So together we painted cubes. He would ramble and talk and get excited and critique my cubes. Continue rambling and getting excited. He loved to work.

The day we painted the cubes outside, his favorite place to work in his studio, he talked to me about so many things: Andy Warhol, (“those wigs!”), his days in New York City, his children. About black and white being the same color, about never, ever wasting paint! He considered swishing your brush in the water after you have worked with a particular color long enough, a sin. “Paint the truck!”, he would say! I would have to take my brush with purple on it (being tired of using the purple), and put the excess paint on the truck. The truck he bought with the Pollack Krasner Award money he had received recently. (It was not an old truck. But it was a colorful one.)

Peter passed away in 2009. There was a very large obituary in The New York Times. I could tell many stories about Peter. But he would want me to impart only one thing here: This was of most importance to him: “Do not doubt yourself!” He would actually get mad at me for ever expressing doubt.

And although he would be pleased I wrote this blog to my artist and writer followers, he would be mad that I wasn’t doing my artwork right now. At this very minute.