Art Students League of New York

The League was started in 1875, and its history is reflected in the incredible work that’s displayed throughout the joint. I liked the portrait of Georgia O’Keefe as a young woman, and the bust of Aaron Copland as a mature composer. The independence showed in O’Keefe even at that young age. There was a great deal of contemporary work too, especially from the era of the 1913 Armory Show.

Just south of Central Park on 57th, the building is five stories and quite stunning. Also has a great vibe. Some of these places can be oppressive because of a strange air of decadence and snobbery. Not the League; it’s all creative passion and relaxed camaraderie–which is as it should be. People of all generations pursuing their dreams.

I loved the multitude of studios and disciplines, which I toured barefoot, tired of wearing shoes. This was something of a concern to my guide, but she got over it. Met a brilliant Argentine figure painter in one of the studios. Lovely woman. I asked her if she could Tango; she smiled and said Sure. We talked for awhile. It was evident she was very dissatisfied with her life here. We both wanted to go out for coffee and become better acquainted, but I wasn’t about to touch that. Instead I just wished her luck and went to a Swiss coffee bar on my own, where I could write for awhile, catch up on e-mail, and loiter. Nice place.

Signing started at 7:00, and went very well. About 100 people attended: curious, enthusiastic, just looking for suggestions or a little guidance. Well I know how to help with that. The Argentine had told me she wouldn’t be able to attend, which was better really. Again I couldn’t get away on time, but it’s more fun to stay, talk and sign books. So I did. Finally got to my hotel around 11:00. Freaking exhausted. A very good day.

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