Danny Allen & Diana the “Witch”

Danny Allen and Diana Wilber in a photograph by Eva Weiss on or around 1970.

Danny Allen and Diana Wilber in a photograph by Eva Weiss on or around 1970.

Before anyone jumps all over me, Diana Wilber herself claimed to be a witch. This is not a value judgement or slur on our beloved hippie earth mother. That was how Diana defined herself.

My dear friend (and superb photographer) Eva Weiss came across these photos of Danny and Diana while shuffling through old negatives looking for a whole different set of images. Eva sent these to me this morning with an apology for not having discovered them prior to publication of the book. No apologies are necessary. We’re talking about people and incidents that took place four decades ago. And as I’ve maintained all along, artwork and images of Danny will continue to surface now that the book has been published.

The photo captures the way I recall Danny as looking from day to day. So often when Dan got in front of the camera he put something odd on his head–but this series of photographs captures both he and Diana as I remember them in my mind’s eye. Eva pointed out in her email, for me to me to take note of the adoring expression Diana has while glancing down and Danny. Like everyone else, Diana was smitten with our enigmatic Dan.

It’s an odd sensation to see old photos of loved ones who were our contemporaries and finding that they really do look like old photos. Some of that is Eva’s retro-esthetic in how she approaches photography–but some of it is the bleary eyed distance of time.

An enlargement of a contact strip of photos of Dan and Diana. Eva Weiss ca.1970.

An contact strip of photos of Dan and Diana. Eva Weiss ca.1970. I hope to include these photos when I finally get around to digitizing the book.

The First Anniversary of the Book Launch

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Danny Allen (to the viewer’s far right) with two friends during a Rochester Sunday brunch.

Danny Allen’s sister, Chris reminded me the other day that it’s been one year since the launch of An Early Work Late in Life. Today is St. Patrick’s Day–and one year ago today Chris, along with a great number of Dan’s and my friends from our Rochester days were on our way to a reception to honor the book and remember Danny (as if any of us who knew him could ever forget).

The book has been a personal milestone for me in that it recalls other early milestones of my youth shared with Danny. In honor of Dan (and St. Patrick’s day) I’m posting these two photos that weren’t used in the book, but are worth sharing. We won’t go into what Dan appears to be doing in these pictures–but I think we all know. He will always be loved and missed. But at the same time, many of us feel more of a sense of resolution now that a portion of Dan’s life has been documented. I still love you, Dan–even after all these years.

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Another view of Danny Allen (to the viewer’s far right) with two friends during a Rochester Sunday brunch.

 

A Limited Number of Books Has Surfaced

BookJacketStudyturnedA limited number of books have surfaced. And while I’d like to hang on to a good number of them, I now have more than plenty to keep on file. I’d been under the impression that all the books were gone–but four cartons were discovered and delivered to me this past week. I haven’t opened the cartons yet to inventory them–but I believe there are approximately 24 books to a carton. Once those books are gone, that will be all.

I will not be reprinting An Early Work Late in Life but I’m still planning on digitizing it in the near future (when I get my act together). It has been a hectic and scattered year.  Meanwhile, If anyone would like a printed copy, please contact me through this blog–or send a check for $34 payable to: William Whiting at 223 South Delhi Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107. (Note: The books are $29.95 plus $4.05 for shipping and handling.)

Two Croquis Sketches by Danny Allen Have Surfaced

NewDanDwg1Two 1973 croquis sketches by Danny Allen have just surfaced. For anyone unfamiliar with the term “croquis” it’s an arts term that means “quick figure drawing.” Sometimes in art classes a model will be hired to hold a series of short poses and the students will try and capture the attitude of the figure within a limited, set time period. Dan was particularly good at producing drawings of this sort. I’ve returned a sketchbook to the Allen family containing similar drawings–and I’m reasonably sure these are from that same sketch pad. I don’t believe these were done in a classroom setting, but probably at home. Friends posed for Dan. I certainly did–and I was sometimes startled to discover that Dan was merely referencing the figure and would change the gender to suit his purposes.

I was going through my junk-email today, and was about to dump all the spam messages when a name from the past jumped out at me from the subject line. I decided to open the message out of curiosity to see if by any chance it was the same person I’d lost touch with decades ago–and indeed it was. The most surprising part of the message were two attachment photos of the drawings featured in this post. The drawings had surfaced among my friend’s stored belongings while he was in the process of moving, and he was writing to tell me he was sending them back to me.

NewDanDwg2Apparently his new fiancee’s family take a dim view of any kind of nudity, so he was never going to be able to display the art. He’d heard through mutual friends that I’d written a book about Danny Allen, so he decided to send the drawings to me rather than burying them over again in storage. I don’t see anything shocking or erotic about either piece, but if nothing else, art is subjective. I’m just glad to have them sent my way. I want to check out their condition and then send them along to the Allen family for their collection. You never know what will turn up–especially with someone who’d been as prolific and creative as Danny Allen.

Reframing One of Danny’s Drawings

Kylie with framed drawing photoProperly framing artwork is one of those things that can only be done correctly when you’ve got access to the the right equipment and workspace. When framing Danny Allen’s drawing The Egyptian, I wanted to accentuate his strong use of line. I also wanted to “float” the drawing within a mat contrasting it against a backing board rather than using a mat that was laid on top of the edges of the drawing. Some of Dan’s line work comes almost to the edge of the paper. Also some of the edges of the paper are torn–and curiously enough I kind of liked allowing all those edges to show. The technique for floating a piece like this is tricky. The conservator applied tabs to the back of the drawing–but since the mat wasn’t going to cover the edges of the drawing, slits had to be accurately cut into the backing board and the tabs fed through the board and taped in place on the reverse side.

DSCN3617I chose a black acid-free backing for the drawing, and a mat that was close in color to the paper Dan used–but that mat also has a black core which makes for a seamless contrast. The principles of framing are relatively simple with the proper tools. I took the drawing to a studio/gallery in Philadelphia called Frameworks. FrameWorks Gallery – 2103 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103 – 215.567.6800 http://fwsgallery.com. I’ve worked with the owners and staff at Frameworks for years, and trust their judgement, craftsmanship and advise. I’ve done many of these same framing techniques myself, but without those aforementioned proper tools you’re much better off taking your art to a professional framer. To illustrate just how confusing framing can be, I’ve made a little video I’ve titled “Picture Framing Made Confusing.”

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The book is available through PixelPreserve at: http://www.pixelpreserve.net/bookstore/

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/DannyAllenArt?ref=hl

Taking Small Victories Where I Can

In the window of one of the Philadelphia Public Library branches (Rittenhouse Square).

In the window of one of the Philadelphia Public Library branches (Rittenhouse Square).

Today I’m taking my small victory laps where I can. Last night I received an email from my friend, Arden Kass, who is a very respected and talented Philadelphia writer and playwright. She was walking past the Rittenhouse Square branch of the Philadelphia Public Library and noticed that my book is featured in the window. I’m not sure how they acquired it, but I’m not asking any questions. I’m just glad to see that it’s available to library goers.

I’m still working on digitizing the book to make it available online for readers who prefer computerized devices to turning paper ages. Only a very few printed copies remain available. The digitized version will require some redesign to make it fit into the necessary formats.

The book is available through PixelPreserve at: http://www.pixelpreserve.net/bookstore/

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/DannyAllenArt?ref=hl

The “Egyptian” Drawing Receives Conservation

Danny Allen's 1973 India ink drawing, 'The Egyptian' being inspected while still under Plexiglas from the original frame in which it arrived.

Danny Allen’s 1973 India ink drawing, ‘The Egyptian’ being inspected while still under Plexiglas from the original frame in which it arrived.

One of my favorite drawings from Dan’s portfolio is a quick India ink sketch he did titled The Egyptian. I received this drawing as a gift twenty years after Dan died. It arrived at my home via FedEx out of the blue with no immediate explanation. The sequence of events as to how all that came about is covered in the book. This is a treasured piece for me, and it needed and warranted conservation.

Susan carefully checks the strength of the paper and decides to utilize the existing backing and Plexiglas to flip the drawing so that she can safely have access to the back of the piece to mend any weaknesses and tears.

Susan carefully checks the strength of the paper and decides to utilize the existing backing and Plexiglas to flip the drawing so that she can safely have access to the back of the piece to mend any weaknesses and tears.

The drawing was framed poorly when I received it, but I wasn’t in a position to make any changes to it. It wasn’t until I unframed the art to have it photographed for the book that I realized what poor condition it was in. I contacted a local paper conservator named Susan Duhl to do the repairs. She very kindly agreed to perform the conservation in my studio so I could photograph her at work.

Heat sensitive mending tissue is applied to the back of the drawing to bring torn edges together. The mending tape is reversible should there ever be a reason in the future to remove or replace it.

Heat sensitive mending tissue is applied to the back of the drawing to bring torn edges together. The mending tape is reversible should there ever be a reason in the future to remove or replace it. This particular mend required access both from the front and the back of the drawing, but none of the mending tissue will show.

There are certain codes of ethics that apply with conservation–most notably that one does no harm, and whatever repairs are made must be reversible. There were a variety of issues happening to this drawing: creases, tears and a chemical interaction with the old mat-board originally used as a backing. In fact there was a ghost image of the drawing on the now discarded mat showing how the acids in the old board had interacted with the paper and the ink. The drawing is very, very fragile.

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Mending tissue is also used to create “hinges” for the framer to use to invisibly adhere the drawing to it’s new backing board. Note how the India ink shows clear through to the back of the paper. The ink and the old mat board were having an acidic reaction to each other. The new backing my framer will use will be acid-free.

While it may look as if Susan is merely taping the drawing together, it’s much more than that. She used a heat-sensitive mending tissue that can be removed in the future if necessary. It’s also a tissue that does not discolor the paper.

The next step is to take the art to a trusted framer. To be continued…

For anyone in the Delaware Valley seeking the services of a professional paper conservator, I highly recommend Susan. She can be contacted at the following:

Susan Duhl
Art Conservator/Collections Consultant