Danny Allen’s tiny little masterpiece, Sunny Ducks re-framed and re-matted for the exhibit, It Came From the Vault at the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery. Photo by Rachel Deaton.
The exhibit label for Danny’s painting. Photo by Rachel Deaton.
Part of the reason the book launch was so amazing, was the fact that it piggybacked onto a very successful art opening at the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery. The museum was a mob scene, and I’m told the museum shop did very well selling copies of my book. I certainly signed enough of them…!!!
The exhibit itself is a show well worth seeing—but truth to tell, no one can really SEE an art exhibit on opening night. Opening exhibits are so crowded that there isn’t time nor the room to linger over the art you want to examine. And at this particular opening people were also reconnecting over Danny Allen’s painting with so much to say, share, laugh and cry over, that the human connection took priority over the show. I’m tentatively scheduled to do a book signing and reading back in Rochester in mid-May. (More details will follow.)
Bill Whiting talking with Danny Allen’s 87 year old mother, Bernice Allen at the opening. Photo by Rachel Deaton.
There is no price that can be placed on the value of reconnecting with people from the past. I hugged Dan’s mother, Bernice and we laughed and cried. Nothing will ever bring back her son, but there is validation in seeing his work honored and hanging on the museum wall.
So many old friendships were reconnected that lyrics from several old John Lennon songs kept going through my head “come together, over me” and “in my life I loved them all.” (I admit it, I’m sentimental.) It was as if Danny’s own presence directed everyone who loved him to celebrate together, because healing has been a long time coming.
An Early Work Late in Life opened to a page showing a drawing of Dan’s late brother, Robert, his sister Christine and a group portrait of the Lowden family—the artworks depicted on these two pages were all done during Danny Allen’s teenage years.
This tiny carriage house is the space that Danny and I shared as an art studio in the early 1970s. Eva Weiss and Bill Whiting. Photo by Richard Reisem.
This past weekend presented so many outstanding moments for me—that there were too many to count, but one very special flash of nostalgia was visiting old Cornhill with my friend, Eva Weiss. The tiny carriage house we’re standing in front of was Danny Allen’s and my art studio four decades ago. We were photographed by Richard Reisem, who is one of the foremost authorities on historic Rochester, so we couldn’t have asked for a better tour guide.
When I was a young man, I left Rochester, New York with my tail between my legs. I returned to a welcoming warmth I’ll hold dear as long as I live. Life can be painful. Writing about life’s pain makes a person relive that pain—it also gives a person a second chance to relieve that pain and find what can be salvaged.
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Thank you, Katherine, Susan, Eva, Sarah, Tim, James, Josef, Richard, Michael, Norman… the staff of the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery… Truth to tell, there are too many people to thank, so forgive me if I’ve forgotten anyone. But above all, thank you to Bernice Allen and the beautiful and gracious family she has given us—she is the soul of all that is good.
I have held my book in my hands.
An Early Work Late in Life – Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/DannyAllenArt?ref=hl
Books are on sale at the Memorial Art Gallery’s Museum Store for $29. It Came from the Vault: Rarely Seen Works from MAG’s Collection
March 17–June 9, 2013 500 University Avenue · Rochester, NY 14607-1484 585.276.8900 · 585.473.6266