John Sloan and A Tower in New York

A while back at a John Sloan show at the Westmoreland Museum of Art in Greensburg, I noticed a tall brick Victorian tower in one of the paintings. I had been to “The Village” many times yet hadn’t noticed this building. I wondered if it had been taken down, but somehow I had the sense it was still there.

This morning I was far away from New York in the days of the Ashcan School, having first visited the Thomas Hope show at BARD Graduate Center and then off to the New York Historical Society for a tour of some objects in the visible storage. On the way back it was early enough for the Village to be a stop. Only minutes before I had mentioned the building as seen in the Sloan painting and leaving the A train at Washington Square, there it was. As luck would have it, it’s a library and so inside and up a winding staircase we went.

I’m not sure if Sloan ever went up those stairs, but chances are he had. I do recall that he and other artists would sometimes climb an interior staircase in the nearby Washington Square Arch when door hiding it was left unlocked.

A while back I wrote a chapter in a book called Literary Trips about Ayn Rand’s life in New York. How many stories there must be.

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage. When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city. With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s. The result will be a book with a video component. We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url will point to the latest updates on this weblog.

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