Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Charlotte



When I was 26 and living in Santa Monica, a friend invited me to a barbecue in Belair. Barbecue? I dressed in kelly green painters pants, a shell pink cotton crew neck and Jack Purcell sneakers. The reason I remember my outfit so vividly is because the party I actually walked into was jammed with a well-heeled international crowd dressed in Valentino, Albert Nippon, etc. Marty Ransohoff was hosting the opening night party for the first American Film Market.

I settled into one of the sofas so as to not feel quite so conspicuous and proceeded to experience one of the most memorable evenings of my life. I struck up a conversation with the man sitting next to me, an entertainment lawyer. It turned out that he had known my father slightly as an upperclassman at University of Pennsylvania where my father had studied law. Because my father had died several years earlier at the age of 73, it was the only time I ever met anyone who had known my father as a young man. He said, "Your father had a huge mind."

Later in the evening, Marty noticed me looking at one of the paintings on his walls, learned that I was a painter and set things in motion for my first two commissioned paintings of his two step-children.

At some point, a Dutch producer chatted me up. When he learned that I was an artist, musician and songwriter, he took out one of his business cards, wrote a date, time and place on the back, told me that my name would be at the door and that, no matter what, I must attend the screening of a film called "Charlotte". I did, and it opened a new world to me.

After the screening, the producer invited me to dinner with the director and a few others. I gave one of the group a lift to the restaurant in my messy VW Bug. He said, "I used to have one of these!" It turned out that he was one of the top Dutch Bankers at the time and the rest of the group had a good laugh when they saw him climbing out of the passenger seat.

The producer sat me next to the director, Frans Weisz, with whom I began a long friendship. (We last visited in 1997 at the Ghent Film Festival which gave me a chance to lay eyes on the Ghent Alterpiece.) Before the end of the '81 Film Market, Frans gave me a copy of the very heavy Viking publication on Charlotte Salomon and her paintings.

And that's how I first learned about Charlotte Salomon. Because I have so much to say about Charlotte Salomon, and how I discovered her, I'm writing two posts. This post is all about me. In my next post, I'll tell you all about her.

NB — The film clip embedded at the top a) does not do the film justice and b) completely spoils the outcome. Charlotte's fate is not the point, it's her life! However, it is the only example of the film that's available online so it must do.

Charlotte Salomon Part 2
Visit Landscape into Art to see my current paintings.
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