the letter/parade 33 continues / by Philip Tarlow

4:30pm update: below, a photo of parade 33 at the end of my painting day today. there is a quality about this one. my figures are developing. the painting as a whole has a certain hopper-esque  quality. while i am not, obviously comparing myself with that great american painter, he, like archile gorky, whom i mentioned while working on parade 34, is a painter i have long admired. i feel my sensibilities are in alignment with his:

figures in a space pregnant with silence. strangers who are together but apart. people who are unaware or unconscious of the moment. only the masters can be aware all the time, so this is not a criticism, simply an observation. together with the sculpture and the bare, late autumn trees, they emit a certain melancholy.

8:28am update:  OK, so here's the letter i promised yesterday. i had to think about it, because this is very personal. since one of my visions for this blog is transparency, i think i'll post it now, along with this commentary i sent my son dimitri, as a window onto who his dad philip was just 2 weeks before meeting his mom on mykonos. (i will post new pics of parade 33 once i get to my studio & begin painting)

Yesterday, I received an email from Noah, the son of my best college buddy, Jeff. Noah searched online and found me, though he wasn't sure he had the right Philip Tarlow. 

Jeff died in 1995, he informed me, and he found this letter while going through his dad's stuff. It was written while hitchhiking down the beautiful Yugoslavian Dalmation coast, relatively pristine at the time. 

My friend Joe and I had been hitchhiking through Europe. In Spain, we separated, realizing it was easier for one person by himself  to get a ride than two. Our agreement was that we would meet in Athens, and if one of us arrived first in Athens, he would leave a note for the other about where he'd gone next. I stopped in Corfu, where I serendipitously met and spent 4 days with Henry Moore, his wife and daughter Mary, with whom I became close. 

I was having a fantastic time with the Moore family and was very tempted to stay on, but, cognizant of my agreement with Joe, I reluctantly left and took a ferry to Piraeus, where I hopped the subway for Athens.

When I arrived, on about August 14th, Joe's note at the American Express office said he'd gone to Mykonos, and to take a ferry and meet him there. I couldn't find him, but met Marina, sitting at a table at an outdoor coffee shop with 3 friends, and the rest is history.

I thought you'd enjoy reading this letter, which sheds light on exactly who I was in that moment, just before meeting Marina. I was very American and very much still a teenager, although I was 23. Still rebounding from the shock of my parent's divorce and deep into my quest for a path to make Bonnard and Vuillard's celebration of the everyday relevant to the now of 1963, I fell in love. Yes, with Marina, (we communicated in French, and my French was sketchy, so I didn't ever fully understand what she was saying) but as well with a gestalt

the now of 1963 Athens was, for a 23 year old New Yorker, equivalent to a European nineteenth century now.. A now of dressmakers, hat makers, construction workers who carried bricks on their backs. A now of strong family bonds,where there was not, as yet, the distraction of T.V. and life happened on the streets and in the squares. Politicians held forth on balconies and liberation from the Nazi and Italian Fascist oppression, as well as the stresses of a civil war lasting well into 1953, were fresh memories for most Greeks. 

There was deep gratitude at simply having food on the table and for the fact that there were no longer people, thousands of people, dying in the Athens streets of starvation. And a celebratory atmosphere in all the arts, of finally having the freedom to create in relative peace. There was a beautifully collaborative spirit that had mostly disappeared from the New York art world. It was like heaven.

A very seductive environment for a disillusioned Jewish boy from Brooklyn!

9:15 am: about to meditate, make mikela's second cup, then go to my studio to continue work on parade 33, which looked like this yesterday afternoon. it's 32x32" and based on photos taken of the MOMA sculpture garden.