A half century ago in Cleveland, when I did not even know there was such a thing as an ArtWorld, or a PhotoWorld, I started wandering into an unpretentious gallery on Euclid Avenue, and seeing work on the walls, by young upstarts named Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, Christo and experiencing for the first time, performances of a young violinist/singer named Laurie Anderson. These were to be my first tastes of a visual and creative universe that was going to engage me ever since.
In 1978, I was even given the opportunity to show my portrait photographs of Minor White in The New Gallery , when it had moved to it’s next location, on Bellflower Road. Starting early, doing portraits of these artists, thoroughly absorbed me, and a few years later, became the source of my livelihood. When I moved to NYC in 1984, and began to work for the prestigious German magazine, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , the weekend supplement of the daily paper by the same name, almost the first assignments I had from them, was spending almost a month with Roy Lichtenstein as he was doing his 65 foot mural on 7th Avenue for the Equitable Building, going to Florida to the studio of James Rosenquist making photos for a story about him, and later doing an extended portrait of Leo Castelli at his home and gallery.
Actually being paid to make photos of these art world luminaries, and having that work published in magazines around the world, was a dream come true, for this Cleveland kid, who had studied literature in university. Of course, I never told the art directors, that I would have done the work for nothing, just to get to meet these artists, and hang in their studios, but somehow it all worked out anyway.
Here are a few examples of portraits of artists associated early with Cleveland’s New Gallery, from the Castelli Gang and beyond, which has grown up to become the gem of an institution, the Museum of Contemporary Art–MoCA Cleveland.
Abe Frajndlich: Portraits of our Early Years
March 15 – July 28, 2019
11400 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106