Alan Witschonke
May 2008
Farewell, Mr. Rauschenberg
Lincoln, 1958
I searched the recent Drawger archives and could not find any articles about the passing, on Monday, of Robert Rauschenberg so I thought I’d post a small tribute to a great artist. The iconic and prolific photographer, printmaker, sculptor and collage artist was one of the seminal figures in Modern Art. In Mark Feeney’s excellent obituary in Wednesday’s Boston Globe, he says, “where Abstract Expressionism brought American art to new heights, Mr. Rauschenberg presented it with new possibilities.” He describes how, despite Rauschenberg’s considerable accomplishments and fame, he was devoid of pretense and enjoyed poking fun at other artists who took themselves too seriously. The most memorable example of this was his piece entitled, “Erased de Kooning Drawing” (1953), which was just what the title suggests. Rauschenberg studied at Black Mountain College in the 1940’s with Josef Albers. Rauschenberg called him “the most important” teacher he ever had, in part because he learned to do “exactly the reverse” of what Albers taught.

Rauschenberg was a huge early influence of mine. I remember when I was in high school, (a long time ago), taking the train into NYC from CT and cruising the Madison Avenue galleries in search of my faves, including Mr. Rauschenberg. I even experimented with his technique of transferring photos to paper by applying silkscreen adhering liquid, (potent stuff), to the paper, placing a magazine photo face down and then rubbing the back of the photo to transfer it.

So let’s raise a glass to Mr. Rauschenberg. “I’m curious”, Rauschenberg said in a 1997 interview. “I’m still discovering things every day.” Amen.
Summer Rental, Number 2, 1960 (it's not upside down!)
Retroactive I, 1964
Booster, 1967
(unknown title), 1972
Pull, 1974
TIME cover, 11/29/76
Hollywood Sphinx, 1991
Ledisi Rocks
I did this portrait of Jazz/R&B singer Ledisi Young ( for the Recording Academy and it was published in the program book for the 50th Grammy Awards which took place on 2/10/08. I meant to post it then, but didn’t get to it. I was reminded of it recently when I got the schedule for the Burlington (VT) Discover Jazz Festival from 5/30 – 6/8.   Ledisi will open the festival on May 30th. It looks like a great line-up, including Josh Redman and the legendary Ornette Coleman.

For those who don’t know her, Ledisi is creating quite the buzz. Her 3rd album, Lost & Found (Verve), was nominated for two awards: Best New Artist and Best R&B Album. Her sound has been compared with that of Ella Fitzgerald and Erykah Badu. She seems equally at home scatting for the Count Basie Orchestra or fronting her own 12-piece R&B band. She’s also been described as having a “hip hop-spiced” sound. She took an independent approach to starting her career by self-producing her 1st albums. Without the backing of a major label, all sales were from the internet and word-of-mouth. Now she’s branching into film. Her music is the soundtrack for a speakeasy scene in George Clooney’s new movie “Leatherheads.” She also has a small acting role in the movie.
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