I remember Ivan

It was a beautiful autumn day in NYC as I stood in front of Ivan Karp’s OK Harris Gallery gathering my nerve to walk in and finally meet the man who had juried my work for a prize in a national show.  I took a very deep breath and in I walked.  Sitting behind a desk was a gentleman with a kind smile and he stood to greet me.  I immediately blurted out breathlessly who I was and that I had made an appointment.  He warmly reassured me that he was expecting me.  Needless to say I was thrilled with this nod of recognition and welcoming.  He led me to a desk where I laid out my portfolio, a few slides, photographs of paintings and a resume.  He examined each piece thoughtfully and said that I could walk around and look at the show while he considered the work.   As I walked through the gallery, studying the works, I realized with a bit of queasiness in my stomach that what I was looking at didn’t really fit my type of work or on the other hand my work really wouldn’t fit into this gallery.  As I examined the works more closely I could see I was looking at some very unusual photographs of **********shots with various things inserted into them.   They were oddly pretty with flowers and other objects centrally displayed.  I was looking at work influenced by or produced by Robert Mapplethorpe and becoming more fascinated with these strange *******images by the moment when Ivan came up beside me.  I was embarrassed and I think he sensed this but briefly said something to the nature that this is the kind of work his gallery is focused on right now but thought my work to be very strong and to stay in touch with any new work I do.  My heart sank but I was not surprised at this response.  I left the gallery after the strangely pleasant yet enlightening engagement with my very first NYC gallerist, feeling optimistic.  Now I know after several years have passed and many roadblocks and hurdles that I have managed to survive through, that this encounter left its mark in my memory of memories.  Sadly my correspondence ended with Ivan after a couple of years as I became seriously ill and nothing seemed important anymore except surviving the ominous disease of cancer.  When I learned of his passing I was sitting in my studio and had just looked over at my bookshelf where framed in a little plastic frame is a hand written note I had received from Ivan.  A treasure I will always cherish as much as I treasure the brief encounter I had with the master gallerist in his OK Harris Gallery.  Our paths crossed but briefly and the experience left a profound impact on my karma.  Thank you Ivan Karp, may you always rest in art. LB

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Linda Bigness is an internationally exhibited artist who maintains a gallery/studio in Syracuse, New York. Her work has been exhibited in several prestigious solo and group shows that have involved notable jurors such as art critic Clement Greenberg, Ivan Karp, director of OK Harris Gallery in NYC, and Tom Piche, director of the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art. In addition, Bigness’ large scale paintings are often selected and commissioned for corporate and residential clients, including the Turning Stone Resort, Merrill Lynch Corporation, Haylor, Freyer and Coon, and Bausch and Lomb. She continues to exhibit professionally at several venues with artwork featured frequently at the Nan Miller Gallery in Rochester, NY. Presently she is working on her latest book and exhibition about abstract art and the contemporary processes used by working artists today. Part of the research for this book is taken from the workshops she teaches and her oil painting and mixed media collage experience. For over 30 years Bigness has used her expertise to share with others the unique beauty and processes of her chosen medium through writing, teaching and professional exhibits. Her first book “Paint It, Tear It, Create It” offered the reader insight into visual abstract thinking through the process of collage into painting. She continues to explore the abstract through surface manipulation using encaustics and oil and is currently working on a new series, the “Journey Stones Revisited,” a reflection upon her extensive travels throughout the United States and Europe.

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