Who Are You, Jack Whitten? By Jack Whitten


Jack Whitten in the early seventies on the corner of Broadway and Broome Street, New York, New York.

“… My first studio in New York was a storefront at 369 East 10th Street between Avenue B and Avenue C. Stanley’s Bar was on the corner of Avenue B at 12th Street. The Lower East Side in 1960 was a thriving young art community and Stanley’s Bar was our favorite meeting place. Every night of the week I could speak with Ishmael Reed, Calvin C. Hernton, David Henderson, and other members of the Umbra Group of Poets and Writers. Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg often frequented the bar on off hours. Stanley, the Polish owner, knew Charlie Parker who was also a visitor in the early fifties. I loved to hear Stanley’s stories about Charlie Parker spending hours playing the jukebox and playing Polish polkas! Stanley, like Mike Fanelli who I would meet later in the sixties when I moved to the Lower West Side, was a friend of the artist. You could always get a hot meal on credit, cash a check without having a routine identification card; this was important because who had a bank account? The first time I ever showed a painting in public was at Stanley’s…a small group of collage paintings from 1963. The first painting I ever sold was to the superintendent of the building where my studio was: a Spanish fellow who often came in to admire what I was doing and paid $35 for a small 1961 painting as a Christmas present for his wife. Edios Group was a small artist co-op gallery on Avenue B in the mezzanine of the Old Charles Theatre. Stanley Moskowitz, one of the founders invited me to participate in a group show. I showed a series of collages made from rags that had been soaked in acrylic medium with oil paint applied on top. They were very earthy with siennas, raw umber, burnt umber and blacks. The Black painters that I associated with were Joe Overstreet, William White, Bob Thompson, Emilio Cruz, Lawrence Compton and Haywood Bill Rivers. The good thing about the Lower East Side even with all the political rhetoric of race is that young artists, both Black and White, used the local bars such as Stanley’s to interact. This was important because the uptown gallery scene and the 10th Street co-op galleries were mostly White. …”
The Paris Review
W – Jack Whitten
NY Times: Jack Whitten, Artist of Wide-Ranging Curiosity, Dies at 78
art21: An Artist’s Life – Jack Whitten (Video)
artnet
YouTube: Jack Whitten on Mapping the Soul

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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