We all have certain people in our lives—without whom those lives would most likely have taken very different paths. For me there’s one person who stands out above all the rest, and his name is Sol Schwartz. I have often spoken about how my growing up in Brooklyn was a formidable influence on what I was to become. When I was a student at Sheepshead Bay High School (quick aside: Larry David was one of Sheepshead’s more notable graduates) Sol was a young teacher overflowing with energy, ideas, and inspiration he wanted to share with his students. I don’t think anyone was more inspired by Sol than me. More than any other person, Sol is the reason I became a designer. In fact, while my parents were making plans for me to attend law school (unimaginable!), Sol met with and somehow convinced them it would be a better idea to allow me apply to art school. Then he encouraged me to apply to the best: Cooper, Yale and Pratt. I ended up attending my #1 choice, Cooper Union, the experience of which in the end totally transformed my life. So I have a lot to thank Sol for. This month Sol has been accorded an honor that has been long overdue: the Norman Rockwell Museum is giving him a solo show “Sol Schwartz: Drawing in the Dark“.
One of Sol’s great loves has always been drawing from life. This particular show focuses on the drawings he’s created of artists at live performances during summer seasons at Tanglewood, Shakespeare & Co., the Berkshire Theater Festival and Jacob’s Pillow. He does these drawings of musicians, conductors, dancers and actors in the dark, while he is in the audience watching them perform. His love for the theater arts permeates every line he draws. With his drawings from Tanglewood one can almost hear the music—the line work being imbued with an energy and life that would not be possible in any other medium.
Sol is one of those artists who cannot help themselves from constantly drawing (I think he might actually draw in his sleep!). His series of nudes drawn with pastel on colored paper are reminiscent of the old masters. When I saw these recently I couldn’t help but look up an old self-portrait I had done in Sol’s classroom just to compare it with his work, and see if I saw any influence.
Looking at it (and looking back) I think my “drawing” skills may have left a bit to be desired, so I hope in that regard I wasn’t too much of a disappointment to my teacher! Sadly I won’t be able to make it to the opening at the Norman Rockwell Museum, but for anyone in the Stockbridge, Massachusetts area the opening will take place on Saturday, July 9th. Those who can make it will have the extra added pleasure of listening to Sol give a commentary on his work at 6:00 PM. As a former student of his, I can honestly say that listening to Sol speak is something you won’t forget!
You can purchase Sol’s book “Drawing Music – The Tanglewood Sketchbooks” through Amazon.