KickStarter.com Fundraiser Project for the Book

4th revision mastheadFBHere is the preview link for my KickStarter.com fundraising project to help finance my book, ‘An Early Work Late in Life’ due out in spring of 2013. KickStarter allows me to offer incentives to people who chose to donate to my project to help meet my financial goals. I may add additional incentives as they become available. Fundraising is for this project has a $12,000 goal and will only be open for a 30 day period. Click on the link below for details.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1149501600/1467318020?token=8afb8f0f

The book project itself is not entirely on schedule due to access to new information about the life of Danny Allen, as well as access to previously unlocated examples of Dan’s artwork that has just surfaced and been made available for the book. All these changes have put the book designer (understandably) behind regarding the original schedule. Digital galleys were supposed to be ready yesterday (1/26/13) but there was no reasonable way to hold her to that date given all the unforseen developments that have transpired. With modifications comes reasonable cost increases. So I have decided to join KickStarter.com to help raise money for the project. Here’s hoping.

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This project has already made a significant impact on more lives than my own. I had the pleasure of having a lengthy long-distance telephone conversation with Danny’s brother, Lee yesterday, and learned even more about the mysterious Danny Allen. There is a lot of love in this project, and Danny’s neice, Rachael created this assemblage for her Aunt Christine, who is Dan’s sister, and was only nine or ten years old when Danny died. We may not find all the answers in this book, but it won’t be for the lack of trying. Rachael, congratulations on a job well done with your framed assemblage pictured below. I know your Aunt Christine will treasure this remarkable and thoughtful gift forever.

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New Finds and Progress

Sepia ink drawing with notes and math. Possibly a page from Dan's journal, ca. 1970. In a private collection.

Sepia ink drawing with notes and math. Possibly a page from Dan’s journal, ca. 1970.                      In a private collection.

Although I’ve been searching for people to share memories about Danny Allen and examples of his art for year or better, stories and lost pieces are just now starting to surface at the 11th hour. The first set of galleys are due very soon, and if they’re late, it won’t be the the book designer’s fault — It will be my fault as a result of necessary changes required in the text when new information about Danny’s life surfaced. My book designer, Katherine Denison (of Denison Creative in Rochester, New York) has been remarkably patient with me. This book is, after all, a project that by definition has grown organically as art is located and information is shared.

Having learned about the unsettling fate of the artwork that had been in Diana Wilber’s collection, (see earlier post) I can’t help but wonder what became of two other collections where the owners have since passed away. I have no idea what became of artist, Ramon Martinez’ collection, including his own art. I’ve also wondered what became of David Lortz’ collection and his own work. I do know, however that David had a son, and some of David’s collection is accounted for, and is in the possession of a fellow artist and friend.

I have provided for my art collection in my will, and specifically noted that everything by Danny Allen (in my possession) be returned to the Allen Family. We never think about our mortality or the idea that we might become incapacitated. It’s not a pleasant topic, but a necessary one. Art needs to be mentioned in a person’s will if it’s going to survive and be enjoyed by future generations.

On a more cheerful note, several more friends and collectors of Dan’s work have been located and art is being scanned today at Denison Creative for inclusion in the “addendum” of the book. An Early Work Late in Life is told through my eyes and with quotes and memories from Dan’s friends and family. The last word, however belongs to Danny Allen himself in an addendum of what has been salvaged of his poems from his journals. Dan gave Eva Weiss a Xerox copy to read, and she wisely saved it. Any additional art located will be used in that section of the book. Above is a piece just sent to me by a mutual friend, who also has two of his surreal graphite drawings. I need to keep some things under wraps so there are remaining surprises when the book is finally released this coming Spring. Thank you Leah, Ruth, Arthur, Wendy and Albert for all getting back in touch with me and sharing memories and scanning what you have in your collections. It was wonderful talking to each and every one of you.

Respecting Art and What Survives

Danny Allen, graphite drawing about the size of a postage stamp. Now in the collection of Clinton/Millinger. This is similar to dozens of drawings Diana Wilber owned.

Danny Allen, graphite drawing of two faces, each about the size of a postage stamp. Now in the collection of Clinton/Millinger. This is similar to dozens of drawings Diana Wilber owned.

Clearly there is good art and bad art according to differing opinions. But who among us is genuinely qualified to determine which is which? Art is subjective with one piece appealing to the sensibilities of a certain person and the same piece being completely lost on someone else. I can imagine an individual looking at Edvard Munch’s masterpiece The Scream and thinking, “well this is unpleasant and not comforting to the eye.” And they’d be right, but it remains a masterpiece for the quality it depicts of frustration, quandary and despair reflective of the era in which it was painted. It could easily have been thrown into the trash if it had fallen into the wrong hands – as it is, it’s been stolen repeatedly.

People sometimes give me old discarded paintings they no longer want, and tell me to paint over them if I like. I can’t do it. Those paintings wind up stored, and my opinion of them as art is of no value. Those paintings are of value to whoever takes a liking to them later on in the future.

I was heartsick to learn yesterday that Diana Wilber’s entire collection of artwork done by Danny Allen, along with all his writings (which didn’t rightfully belong to her) were discarded into the trash years ago by Diana’s caretaker before Ms. Wilber was committed to a nursing home. Some people have no sense of esthetics or are too insensitive to the real value of art to know enough to protect items that define an era. What was discarded is irreplaceable, and frankly brought a tear to my eyes. I was in disbelief when I received a call from a person representing Diana’s estate in response to a letter I sent. Diana Wilber had the largest collection of anyone I knew of Danny Allen’s fine little graphite drawings. I can only hope someone trash-picked them and that at least some of that art will one day surface, preserved by pure happenstance.

Art has been destroyed in house fires, including some of Dan’s work. Art survives by luck or by love. But the loss of these pieces in Diana Wilber’s collection is devastating to me personally, as much of it didn’t actually belong to her. She took pieces that weren’t rightfully hers and now their fate is sealed.

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Looking Into Funding and Distribution

BookJacketStudyAs I face the inevitable reality of paying to have a self-published book realized as a three-dimensional object people can hold in their hands, turn the pages and read; the cost factors are starting to frighten me. I’m going to look into ways of funding creative projects. It was just pointed out to me that there are websites that fund projects of various kinds through an online method. I’ve never done it before, nor have I written a book before, so everything is uncharted waters.

I once illustrated a children’s book for a known publishing imprint, and found my experience with the mainstream publishing industry to be so insane and off-putting that I ruled out ever going through a commercial publishing house ever again. Traditional publishing is going the way of the typesetter if you ask my opinion. But that still leaves me facing issues like funding and distribution.

Above is a “facsimile” of what the book will look like once completed. I’m going to have to settle for soft-cover and not hardbound with a jacket, as the cost factors are prohibitive. I also nixed doing the book in large-print which had been a very important element to me, but doing-so increased the number of pages, once again driving up the cost. I’m looking into online fundraising sites to help defer my expenses. Per usual, I have no idea what I’m getting myself into. But I never do. It’s probably better that way. More of an adventure.

An Image from a Private Collection & A Comparison

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Several new pieces of artwork by Danny Allen surfaced in a collection in North Carolina. I should probably have withheld publishing this one and kept it under wraps until after the book is published, but I was too excited by it. This is a 1972 graphite drawing that Dan did utilizing white pencil to create highlights. It’s a wonderful. This is one of the most delightful pieces I’ve seen. I don’t recall it, but he did it while we were living together.

Comparison

In the same collection there’s a print of a piece that was gifted to me by R. James Cromwell. This print shows what the piece looked like prior to aging before the paper yellowed. Dan had a terrible habit of using non-archival things like LePage’s mucilage glue and masking tape with his mats. But the again, some of his best drawings were done on shopping bags and discarded cardboard.

Graphite Bonanza

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I’ve located two prime graphite drawings by Danny Allen, and a watercolor, all owned by Dan’s and my mutual friend, Wendy Lippman, now living in North Carolina. Wendy and I reconnected and she’s sending me high quality scans on disc via FedEx. I can’t wait to see them, as she’s included some snapshots of friends from the old days. We had a great phone conversation.

I also had a remarkable telephone conversation with Danny’s sister, Jacklyn who provided this early graphite drawing from 1967 showing an ideal ‘Mod’ woman with the Carnaby Street look so popular in the 1960s. The model is of no particular known person. It could have been drawn from a fashion photo or entirely made-up out of Dan’s photographic memory. The piece is graphite on dark cardboard. The graphite pieces yet to arrive are less realism, and more surrealism for the lack of a better term.

I’m still trying to contact a woman named Ruth Cohen of Rochester, New York, who I’m told has prime examples of Danny’s graphite drawings from the surreal period. Hopefully there’s more to come.

I continue to search for people from the past and examples of Danny Allen’s artwork

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It’s a long shot, but I’ve been searching for relatives and associates of Diana Wilber. Diana is a long time resident of Rochester, New York, and had a collection of Danny Allen’s graphite drawings. Unfortunately Diana is now in a nursing home due to Alzheimer’s disease. I’m told that a woman named Jeanie Cimento was at one point looking after her. I was hoping if I could find Jeanie Cimento, I might be able to obtain more scans of Dan’s work if she has Diana’s things.  I’m also told Diana had/has a sister who was or still is married to a man named Richard Hersch, who was a ceramics professor at RIT’s School of American Craftsman. I’m still pursuing that connection.

In addition, I’m also trying to find an old friend of Danny’s by the name of Gail Schwann (or Gayle Swan, Swann or Schwanz). Trying to locate these people is like searching for needles in a haystack after all these years. I know that Gail has a son named Mooie. Again, I have no idea if I’m spelling any of these names correctly. I’m hoping if I can locate any of the people I’ve mentioned, that I might get access to scans of the graphite drawings.

A while back I’d been in touch with an old friend named Wendy Lippman, and I’m sure she’d be willing to provide scans of her collection, but her email address has gone dead. Wendy has some wonderful pieces by Danny Allen.

Attached is a tiny, unsigned and undated graphite drawing by Danny Allen the size of a postage stamp. Danny gave it as a gift to our mutual friend, Gary Clinton. Gary has two pieces of comparable size, and framed them beautifully so they match as a set. There were so many more pieces of various subjects done in this same technique. I only hope they still exist. I further hope I can locate some of them.

1/8/2013

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