Hi all–I’m traveling, visiting with sisters, so I asked my husband Mike to chip in a guest post — I’ll be back soon, in the meantime, I give you Mike.
Me and Brad and Roy
by Mike Knezovich
Our favorite neighborhood watering hole and restaurant – Hackney’s Printers Row – draws us frequently (probably too frequently) because it also draws an eclectic, articulate, smart, accomplished and just-plain-nice group of folks from the neighborhood. Attorneys, artists, architects, research scientists, computer programmers, linguists, stock market mavens … you can learn a lot sipping a beer at Hack’s.
One of the Hackney’s denizens Beth and I have learned a great deal from is Stephen Bradley Gillaugh, who goes simply by “Brad.” Brad moved to Printers Row – from Los Angeles – to retire after a long, illustrious career in the art world. He worked for decades in NYC – at the Museum of Modern Art and at the famed Leo Castelli Gallery. Later, in LA, he managed a big corporate art collection (when corporations used to have such things). Brad doesn’t brag, but over time (and libations) Beth and I have gotten lots of inside chatter about the likes of Rauschenberg and Warhol and even Truman Capote. (I’m not telling, so don’t even ask.)
We also learned that Brad has a fantastic art collection, displayed in his apartment, and that he has so much art that some of it has been left in boxes and shipping tubes because there is no room to display it. One evening Brad said he didn’t even remember what he had stored. Beth took exception to this and suggested he go through his stuff, get it framed, and then loan it to friends to hang.
As we know, Beth can be, err, persistent. And so Brad, one day, decided to go through his forgotten works. He found prints and drawings by Roy Lichtenstein, Roger Brown, and other notables. But instead of framing them, he’s gone on a generous donation campaign, giving them outright to friends in the neighborhood.
Including us. He had us over one evening to select from his overage. I took a fancy to the one he’d guessed I’d like — a print of a poster Lichtenstein did for the 1967 Aspen Winter Jazz Festival. It now hangs in our living room.
And I love it. So much so that it inspired me to visit the Art Institute of Chicago to take in the Lichtenstein Retrospective that runs through September 3. It turned out to be a terrific show—but it was all the better because I walked the gallery with Brad.
Along the way, I learned that Lichtenstein was a kind, even-tempered man, not the stereotypical high-maintenance hell-raising artist. He did drawings – studies – that became the basis of his paintings. He didn’t sell the drawings (many of which are in the retrospective), but “around the holidays,” Brad says, “he’d come into the gallery (Castelli) and give them to staff as gifts.” One of them – a study of entablatures – he gave to Brad, signed with a personal note.
I learned that Lichtenstein was easy to work with — as opposed to another prominent artist, who, Brad says “traveled with an entourage and would go through two bottles of Jack Daniels every time we set up a show.”
I learned that Brad had actually handled one of the sculptures in the Lichtenstein exhibit ( it’s a big, metal art-deco-ish piece called “Modern Sculpture with Glass Wave” if you take in the show). Brad pointed at it and groaned, saying only that it was “god-awful heavy” to move around.
The show is spectacular, especially if you – like I did – think only of the famous Pop-Art pieces for which Lichtenstein is known. He did a remarkably wide range of
work, most all of which I found engaging and fascinating. If you’re in Chicago, I hope you’ll go.
And for those of you who know Lichtenstein and may be thinking Brad…Brad…no our Brad is not THAT Brad. But I’m glad he’s our Brad, and I marvel at the people Beth and I are lucky enough to call our friends.