Thursday, September 12, 2013

The ART of Caricature with Three of the Best: Ken Fallin, Al Hirschfeld, and Glen Hanson!

Dave Douglas , the trumpeter , in today's Wall Street Journal. (Ken Fallin)
"When I started it, I didn't think anybody would notice. It was one of those family things, and after three or four weeks, I thought the joke had worn thin and I stopped it.
And then the letters started coming in. I found myself spending more time answering mail than drawing, so I gave up and put it back in. And kept it in." - Al Hirschfeld on hiding his daughter Nina's name into his work


Happy Thursday,
I hope this finds you doing well and having a great day. This is my first blog in over a week. I took a well needed break in Malibu, although I performed what I think are the beginnings of a new show.
It was great to try out something new for an appreciative audience. It was ME as ME, not Carol!
But now as we careen towards autumn, the holiday season, and the end of the year, it is time to roll up my sleeves and get to work.
One of Hirschfeld's and my favorite subjects! (Margo Feiden Gallary)
I am really excited for my friend Ken Fallin who has a new exhibit premiering tonight at New World Stages.
I thought it would be fun to celebrate him along with two of my other favorite caricaturists today, the master, Al Hirshfield and Glen Hanson.
The Godfather (Ken Fallin)
Ken posted on his wall on Facebook:  "Car-i-ca-ture (kar’-i-ka-cher) n. a ludicrous exaggeration , from the Greek word carrot, which , when eaten on a regular basis can be good for the vision. CA, is short for California, a state known for an abundance of exaggeration, and TURE, ( pronounced CHER)…and if there is any better example of a human caricature, I’d want to know.
Put them all together in a blender, throw them on a wall, and you’d have an exhibition .
So, that is what we did, THAT FACE, the art of Ken Fallin, Broadway, Hollywood, and Wall Street, opened September 12th, 5PM till 8PM, Gallery New World Stages, 343 West 49th Street, New
York City."


I first became aware of Ken Fallin because of his brilliant work doing the artwork for the long running hit, Forbidden Broadway. He also did a caricature for my late friend Dottie Burman's show.

When I was starting out "as Carol", I reached out to Ken to create something for me as a logo. I LOVED/LOVE what he created for me! I am a friend and am proud to call him friend. I also admire greatly the work that he and his partner, Stanley, does for rescue dogs.
 Here are a few testimonials celebrating Ken!
End of the Rainbow, 2012, Tracey Bennett (Ken Fallin)


Nan Gilbert wrote, "It's September 1970, my first day of school at Emerson College in Boston. I am waiting in line at the college's Black Box Theater to get a ticket for a variety show. 
I turn around and standing behind me are two incredibly good-looking young men. 
I said to them, "Wow, you guys are really gorgeous; are you lovers?" Ken, Stanley, and I have been lifelong friends from that day forward!"

From Bradley Kaye, "Ken and I first met in 1995 or so when Gerard Alessandrini was creating Forbidden Hollywood. I was designing the set and I wanted to incorporate Kenny's artwork into stars that framed the proscenium. He and I talked and fax'd (!) quite a lot over a few months. 

When opening night came, I had to meet him. Imagine my surprise when I meet this dashing couple, Ken in his trademark glasses, and Stanley in a wonderful white suit. It was love (or an amazing friendship) at first sight. Since then, although we haven't
The Nance, 2013, Nathan Lane (Fallin)
really collaborated on anything, we have remained close. I know I will always see them when in NY, and I've even crashed on their couch once or twice. ( and if you knew them, that's a real honor.) 

I've watched Ken go from only using his wonderful pen and ink to incorporating photoshop for dazzling color imagery. Ken, to me, is Mr. Broadway, and I couldn't be more proud of him and Stanley."

From Ronda McNeil Davis, "Hi Richard...Thanks for contacting me. 
As for Ken and myself, we have reacquainted on FB after years of only seeing each other at funerals, unfortunately. Our moms were sisters, but distance kept us from staying in contact. I am closer in age to Ken's brother, Ted. I'm afraid I can't be of much help. 

The main thing I remember growing up was thinking how darn cute Ken was and how cool I thought he was for moving up North! I am just very proud of his accomplishments and wish I could be there. He is so talented and I just am honored to be his cousin. We share a love of animals and probably treat ours better than a lot people treat their kids. 

Other than that...I still think Ken is darn cute and cool!!!! Thanks for doing this for him. He deserves it and I love that y'all are keeping the Arts alive! My best wishes to Ken and Stanley!!!"
My very own Fallin! Me as Carol Channing


From Bill DeMoss, "Richard...I don't really have anything scandalous or even particularly interesting to tell. I met the lovely and talented Ken and his delightful husband Stanley on a cruise going through the Panama Canal in December, 2007. My best friend on earth, Bill Miller, had always talked about his great friends that he had gone to Emerson with and this was my first time to actually see them in person. We had a wonderful time on the cruise -- Bill and Ken were both lecturing for their room and board -- and I make sure to try and get together with them every time I'm in NYC. Meanwhile, they're too chicken to come to Texas. The picture is of us along with Ken and Stanley's dear friend and neighbor, Edith, in Acapulco after going from the Atlantic to the Pacific."
Ken, Edith, Bill, Stanley
 I wanted to share how I met Ken Fallin…
First of all I wanted to mention that I live in Davidson, NC, outside of the city of Charlotte. 

About a year and a half ago I discovered Ken’s work through Playbill.com and subsequently bought three of his works: “End of the Rainbow”, Liza in “Cabaret”, and “Lucky Guy”.  I happen to have a wall in a room in my house where I have framed playbills from NY shows I’ve been collecting for a number of years.  Playbill was running a contest where they wanted folks to submit pictures of how they “keep NY alive” after they got back home.  I stood in front of my wall, held Ken’s “End of the Rainbow”, and had my partner snap a picture.  I had Ken’s email from when I placed orders for his works and let him know I had submitted the picture to the contest.  A week or so later he emailed and said “Hey, I voted for you”.  I replied with “For what?”.  I had no idea that I had been picked as one of the top 10 entries. 

  Well, I didn’t win the contest, but it opened a door to a “long distance friendship” that I cherish.  My partner and I had breakfast with Ken a few months ago at Junior’s in Manhattan (see above) and plan on seeing him again, along with his exhibit, when we visit NY again in October.   All I can say is Ken an extremely talented artist and, although well known,  one of the most humble and down to earth individuals I’ve met in a long time.  I’m so lucky to call him a friend.  MWAH to Ken!!!

-Jack ZentmeyerI guess my introduction to the world of caricature is through Al Hirshfield. I was a theater geek kid (STILL AM!). 

As my parents did their Saturday morning rituals(grocery shopping, laundry, paying bills) in Conway, South Carolina, they would drop me off at the Conway Library. 
My first stop was always the previous Sunday's Times
 
Hirschfeld's take on Lorelei! (Margo Feiden Gallary)

I devoured every page of the Arts and Leisure section reading about all that was going on in New York Theater and counting the days till I would be part of it. Of course, the first page was always devoted to the latest Al Hirschfeld hoping for my own one day...alas, it never happened.
(Margo Feiden Gallary)

(Margo Feiden Gallary)

(Margo Feiden Gallary)
Hirschfeld’s 1999 portrait of Liza Minnelli is an example of Hirschfeld’s work in color. It is also a fine example of how Hirschfeld achieved what he often sought: to capture a perfect likeness using a minimum number of lines.
Hirschfeld achieved the uncanny likeness to Minnelli’s stance with only one line; Hirschfeld’s pen never left the page. (Source: Wikipedia)


One night, I caught an interview with Hirschfeld on TV in which he discussed the origin of the "Ninas". Once I became aware of that, I searched till I found them all. 
I was lucky enough to meet him once. He, along with Carol Channing and Charles Lowe were at Julian Brightman's show at Don't Tell Mama. He was so gracious. I regret I didn't get a photo with him that night. 

Carol as Teyve (Margo Feiden Gallery)
On June 21, 2003, The Martin Beck was renamed the Al Hirschfeld Theatre in honor of the caricaturist, and reopened on November 23, 2003, with a revival of the musical Wonderful Town.
This is one of five theatres owned and operated by Jujamcyn Theaters, who purchased it in 1965 from the Beck family

Thanks to Margot Feiden's Gallery for keeping his legacy alive as well as Daniel Kinske, an avid fan, who is writing a book celebrating Hirschfeld.    
Hirschfeld drew for the last time on Saturday, January 18th, 2003. It was the beginning of a pencil sketch of all four Marx Brothers.
It never got beyond the pencil stage - never inked. Hirschfeld's final drawing was a personal commission for Daniel Kinske of both the Marx Brothers and Al Hirschfeld (cited in the New York Post, 21 January 2003.).
This year would have been Al Hirschfeld's 110th! Here's an image of his last drawing (unfinished and uninked), it is fitting it was of the Marx Brothers as he drew them at the height of their film careers in 1935 and way past all of their deaths to this penciled drawing, which was recreating a scene from Monkey Business (Paramount, 1931) with all four Marx Brothers. It was drawn on January 18, 2003. Hirschfeld felt too ill too work on the 19th when Daniel visited there for the sitting (Daniel was to be in the background of the piece) and passed his apologies to his wife Louise. 
Sadly, he died just hours later in the early morning of the 20th--on Martin Luther King,Jr. Day. This drawing laying unfinished on his drawing table and the white snow falling outside his 4th story window and blanketing the city making the Great White Way even whiter. A great man, artistic genius, and whose full breadth of work is still yet to be seen by most... Happy 110th Mr. Hirschfeld. (Courtesy: Daniel Kinske).
 
My friend Bill Reynolds wrote to me this morning to tell me that Hirschfeld is his favorite caricaturist. He writes, " Al Hirschfeld, by enough light years to take it out of the galaxy. 
The caricature to the left is my favorite, despite the fact that I never saw the Ionesco piece on Broadway, but only courtesy of the later AFT film.
One of my oldest friends (and FB friend) Mike Frankel is my favorite rock band photographer and for the same reason. 
Al drew how the artist presented him/herself in the cited role, much as Mike photographed how the band sounded as opposed to what they looked like. (Leading, for example, The Jefferson Airplane to complain to him "We can't see our faces!") No, but in seeing the images you could hear their music. Ditto Hirschfeld and, despite the example presented, most of the Hirschfeld covers that I saw were for shows that I did see on Broadway courtesy of my mother. 
I just picked this example because Mostel is one of my very favorite actors and, despite only having seen the AFT production, Rhinoceros is one of my favorite plays. Somehow, even on film, Mostel manages to transform himself into the titular beast absent any special effects."

My friend Ron Runyan writes, "Al Hirschfeld! Hands down ... He captured not only his subjects likeness in the most simplistic, elegant line - he also captured their soul - he made you know instantly who this person/character was - I don't have a copy at my disposal, but ANY Channing (Dolly or Lorelei) is of course my favorite. Hirschfeld was genius!

The last, but certainly not least, in my trilogy of great caricaturists today, is Glen Hanson. I became familiar with Glen when someone forwarded me a caricature that Glen had done of Carol Channing.

 That particular caricature went on to become the logo for Dori Berenstein's
Glen Hanson
documentary on Carol, Carol Channing: Larger Than Life. I am so proud to have been included in this film. Thank you Carol, Dori, and Harlan! 

Daniel Nardicio was so taken with Glen's work that he asked him to do the art work for his highly successful Fire Island ICON series which just ended it's season with Lorna Luft. Read my blog on Daniel to read what he has to say about Glen and his work.
The Icon Series made headlines last year when Nardicio paired actor Alan Cumming with his longtime friend Liza Minnelli. "Nardicio made gay history" said BroadwayWorld.com of the event, which was also covered by The New York Times, Village Voice and Chicago Tribune. In March of 2013, Nardicio moved the show to Town Hall for a two-night sold-out run.
Hoping to duplicate last year’s success, Nardicio booked a season of gay audience "icons" including A-List comics Margaret Cho and Paula Poundstone, the Pope of filth and auteur John Waters, three-time Tony Award winner Chita Rivera, show business royalty, Lorna Luft, and Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter. Not to get too legit, downtown darlings Dina Martina and Bridgett Everett kept the season edgy in keeping with Nardicio’s raunchier entertainment sensibilities. (Source:http://www.edgenewyork.com)
From the runways of Milan, to Animated TV shows, magazine racks, toy stores, book shelves and even the fragrance isle of your local drug store, Glen Hanson's witty, stylish and sexy imagery is everywhere!
Over the course of his multifaceted career, Glen has predominantly divided his time between the two worlds of illustration and animation.
 His illustrations have appeared in a variety of publications around the world including BRITISH VOGUE and GQ, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, NEWSWEEK, THE WALL ST. JOURNAL, MAXIM, VARIETY and D.C. COMICS and on book covers for RANDOM HOUSE, KENSINGTON, HARLEQUIN, and most recently, the popular "GODDESS GIRLS" series for SIMON and SCHUSTER.
 His roster of advertising clients includes TIMEX, GRAND MARNIER, McDonald's, and SUNSILK shampoo. His development illustrations for MATTEL'S "MONSTER HIGH" dolls set the tone for the brand on packaging, design and the animated spin
Carol and Justin Vivian Bond (Hanson)
off. He has created poster images for the Off-Broadway hit musical ALTAR BOYZ, Seth Rudetsky's SETH'S BIG FAT BROADWAY SHOW and the play MISS ABIGAIL'S GUIDE TO DATING, MATING and MARRIAGE", on CD covers for House Music Label PURPLE MUSIC and BLINK 182's "THE MARK, TOM and TRAVIS SHOW" for which Glen was awarded a certificate of excellence from the AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF GRAPHIC ARTS.
Throughout North America, Glen's images adorn gift set boxes and print ads for BOD men's and women's fragrance products. They have also appeared on the runways of Milan on a series of t-shirts as part of the spring and fall '05 collections of European men's wear designer, ANDREW MACKENZIE. Ads designed by Glen for those collections were featured in both L'UOMO VOGUE and FLAUNT magazines. REV JEANS Italy as well hired him to create a line of sexy t-shirt images and NYC based designer KARA ROSS has used his fashion illustrations to promote her line of high end accessories.
In Animation, Glen started out by designing characters for TV's BABAR, BEETLEJUICE and DARIA cartoon shows. In 2000 he was nominated for an ANNIE AWARD for his art direction and design on MTV's internationally syndicated SPY GROOVE series. He has since developed shows for NICKELODEON, FILM ROMAN, STUDIO B, and DISNEY. He co-wrote, designed and storyboarded a series of animated promo spots for SOAP NET entitled "CRESCENT HOLLOW" and in 2009 he combined all his talents to direct, design and storyboard the animated music video "GHOST TOWN" for UNIVERSAL MUSIC recording artists SHINY TOY GUNS.
 Whatever the medium, Glen brings his unique talent, passion and enthusiasm to everything he creates... writing comics and TV shows, conceptualizing visual merchandise and campaigns for entertainment or corporate clients, or just capturing the likenesses of the famous and the fabulous with his signature style.(Source http://www.glenhanson.com)


Thank you to EVERYONE mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
A special thank you to Margo Feiden for all her cooperation and for the use of the photographs used in this blog

NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!



  
Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!



TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY

Richard Skipper   
Follies, 2011, Bernadette Peters (Ken Fallin)
This Blog is dedicated to ALL THAT HAVE BEEN TOUCHED BY any of these artists and ANYONE who has EVER had a connection with these artists on ANY Level!











3 comments:

  1. Sorry- but Hirschfeld was the king. The others are all poor copies.

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  2. Glen Hanson is a genius. I recognized that immediately which is why I had him do caricatures for my production of Steve Martin's "Picasso at the Lapin Agile." Everybody wanted tee shirts and posters. People stopped in their cars to read the billboard in front of our theatre. I give him much credit for the success of the show. I hope to use him again.
    Stephan
    actor/director Porthole Players
    Newport Performing Arts Center
    Newport, Oregon

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hirschfeld is amazing, but Ken and and Glen are far from being ersatz artists, they are fantastic. Creating caricatures is done often, but creating a scene with levity and wit is more rare--and all three had it, so there ;)

    ReplyDelete