Friday, May 26, 2006


In 2004 I received my second invitation to The White House. This time it was Laura Bush who invited me for breakfast because my paintings were included in “The Art In Embassies Program.” When she shook my hand she said, “I love your work and I want George to have one of your paintings in The White House.”

When I got home I sent a thank you letter to Laura Bush with a CD of paintings. I received a letter back from Laura Bush’s Chief of Staff telling me that “…works by living artists are not considered for acquisition.”

I would have been better off with a knighthood.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


While in London I managed to squeeze in The Royal Ballet (La Fille Mal Gardée), The Royal Shakespeare Company (Breakfast With Mugabe), The Royal Opera (Götterdämmrung), The Royal Haymarket Theatre (Dame Judi Dench in Hayfever) and The Royal Academy of Art. The only thing I missed was The Royal Horseguards.

In England theatrical producers and artists are treated like royalty. They are knighted by The Queen! In America they get invited to The White House. In 1968 Richard Nixon saw my Broadway show "GEORGE M!" with Joel Grey and Bernadette Peters. He invited me to bring it to the White House and to produce his inaugural gala. I produced a show in The Washington Armory on the Saturday night before the Monday inauguration. There were ten thousand people in the audience including members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, members of Congress, members of the Supreme Court, leaders from around the world, and president-elect Richard Nixon.

The show lasted nine hours and included some of the biggest names in the entertainment business. For the finale Buddy Epson, the cowboy movie star, stepped forward to speak the closing words: "I am delighted and honored to have been invited here to the inauguration. And I think I'll stick around for the impeachment."

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Dear Friends. I am back in the U.S. of A, looking the wrong way crossing the street and suffering withdrawal symptoms for English breakfasts while eating my organic granola. In London I hung out with some of England’s best known artists, many of whom are abstract painters. When John Hoyland said: “I try to make the pictures paint themselves. You can’t force a painting: you have to coax it,” it made me think of something Joel Grey once told me: “We don’t do this business it does us.” Could it be that the creative process is the same in all the arts?

Thursday, May 04, 2006


I am still in London! I was supposed to return to New York a week ago but my friends are having exhibitions. John Hoyland is having five. I caught his first Private View at Neville Keating Contemporary Gallery, and if I stay into next week I can catch his second at Beaux Arts. Freddie Gore and Janet Nathan are in the Summer Exhibition at The Royal Academy. Gwyther Irwin is at Redfern, and Tony Whishaw is at The Arts Club.

Maybe if I stay long enough I can have a Private View of my own…

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


In 1990 Frederick Gore, C.B.E. Chairman of the Exhibitions Committee of The Royal Academy was visiting New York and came to look at my paintings. He selected forty for my first exhibition in London and he arranged for two of them to be on the front and back cover of Arts Review, Britain’s art magazine. Freddie invited many of Britain’s leading artists to my Private View, and he bought my painting At the Circus.

Freddie and I became friends. I was a frequent guest of Freddie and his wife Connie in their house in the hill village of Bonnieux in Provence. Freddie and I painted Van Gogh’s orchards, sunflower fields, and olive groves. In the evenings we talked of life and death, religion, and the history of art not necessarily in that order. In the early morning I wrote down everything that Freddie had said the night before. I considered myself his apprentice.

Freddie was strict when it came to critiquing my paintings. One day we were painting the olive orchard of Stephen Spender, the English poet. We had pitched our easels on a high rise so we could look down on the orchard. In the distance were the white Les Alpilles, the mountains where Dante wrote The Inferno.

When we stopped to look at each other’s paintings, I saw that Freddie had created a masterful work with color, depth, size of tree trunks, etc. I, on the other hand, had concentrated on the color of the earth and mountains leaving the olive tree trunks spindly. Freddie spoke in a serious voice: “The trunks of the trees look like crow’s feet! If you did more drawing you wouldn’t make this kind of mistake.” I started to thicken the trunks of the olive trees. “What are you doing?” asked Freddie. “I’m doing what you suggested.” “Leave it exactly as it is,” said Freddie. “Some people might like it.”