The Painter Gretna Campbell, 1986Copyright Peter Bellamy 2010
This is one of my favorite portraits because the art speaks. It
was a beautiful painting and Gretna was an accomplished painter, She
painted taught lived was married exhibited and so forth. I
liked that there was just the art, no fame, and no ego, just art. Women
artists could be like that - that they had a kind of beauty by not really
appearing to care about the trappings of male ego art. They were
just faithful to the brush and the canvas. Gretna
put me in touch with Robert DeNiro, Sr., the painter and father of
the actor, who I photographed but have never published.
Gerald where are you now? Are you alive? Are you well? Can you still have that loft on the Bowery? Here, you are an abstract artist in the 80s and lived on the Bowery above or near CBGBs. You painted this coat and came out all Superfly for me.
The Painter Margrit Lewczuk 1985 copyright Peter Bellamy 2010
This picture was taken when she and Louise Fishman painted in the meat packing district, when they held out in lofts and the area was deserted except for the meat and hookers,
The buildings were old and dank, not at all like today. There was something murky about the studios, filled with old wood, oil paint dust, and turpentine. Rents were cheap.
The painters drank and painted and formed a community - they struggled with survival and the moral courage to keep painting, drawing strength from only the art itself.
As real estate pressure grew they were forced to move from the meat packing district by intimidation, violence and suspicious fires.
Margrit lost her studio to a fire with many of her great paintings. She paints now, I believe, in Williamsburg with her son, and Bill forming a loving family and creating more beautiful paintings. Margrit Lewczuk is Bill Jensen’s life companion and a wonderful painter; similar in values and approach to him and others, such as Louise Fishman. She was friends with Connie Reyes and Ronnie Bladen and moved in this circle.
The Artist Connie Reyes 1983 copyright Peter Bellamy 2010
The Artist Connie Reyes 1983 married to Ronnie Bladen published in the Brooklyn Rail
There was Connie Reyes A Tribute to Connie Reyes-Corrigan (1929–2006) by Margrit Lewczuk, Bill Jensen,
THANK YOU. CONNIE You showed us that a cat’s life was not so bad. You said everything you do is about art. You gave us all the courage and permission to be ourselves. You could always see the absurdity of this life. ou taught us the Umbrella Dance. You made your sculpture move to the Tenor of the Time, Freedom and counterpoint. You taught us to laugh in the face of Tragedy. You showed us that in Big Business a small fly can make a difference. You helped us remember the price of a skill saw blade. You did not pass us the Torch, you threw it at us. With You went a great era. We will carry on.
The Sculptor Ronnie Bladen 1984 copyright Petter Bellamy 2010
He died in 1988 from cancer. Ronnie Bladen came from Canada and was a mentor to Bill Jenson, He lived in a kind of purity of his artistic soul. Kind of like an anchor or centerboard in a sailboat. A definite father figure. This piece was going to Saudi Arabia or Dubai or something and this was the only chance Ronnie was going to have to see it, because he hated to fly. We all piled into old Volvos to go take this photo to the foundry where the piece was being fabricated. It rained that day.
Portrait of the Playwright Neil LaBute with Edwin Booth as Hamlet copyright PeterBellamy 2010
Excerpt form the play The Mercy Seat
Ben Harcourt: Jesus…you think I was born this way, like some cut-throat pirate of the high seas? Huh? Hell, I’m just trying to muddle through, that’s all, just muddle my fucking way through to middle age, see if I can make it that far. You like trivia so goddamn much, well here’s a little tidbit for ya…I’m faking it. Okay? Totally getting by on fumes. I put my game face on and go out there and I’m scared shitless. (BEAT) I’ve screwed up every step of my life, Abby, I’m not afraid to admit it. Happy to, actually, I am happy to sing it out there for anybody who wants to hear. I always take the easy route, do it faster, simpler, you know, whatever it takes to get it done, be liked, get by. That’s me. Cheated in school, screwed over my friends, took whatever I could get from whomever I could take it from. My marriage, there’s a goddamn fiasco, of which you’re intimately aware. The kids…I barely register as a dad, I’m sure, but compared to the other shit in my life, I’m Doctor-fucking-Spock. No matter what I do or have done, they adore the hell out of me and I’m totally knocked out by that. What kids are like. Yeah… (BEAT) And you, let’s not forget you. Us. Okay, yes, I haven’t done all that I’ve promised, said I’d do, I fuck up along the way. Alright. But I’m trying, this time out--with you, I mean--I have been trying. Don’t know what it looks like, feels to you, but I have made a real go of us and that is not a lie. It isn’t. And so then, yesterday--through all the smoke and fear and just, I dunno, apocalyptic shit--I see a way for us to go for it, to totally erase the past… (BEAT) And I don’t think it makes me Lucifer or a criminal or some bad man because I noticed it. I really don’t. We’ve been given something here, a chance to…I don’t know what, to wash away a lot of the, just, rotten crap we’ve done. More than anything else, ...that's what this is. a chance. I know it is.
Kay: Do you know what the problem is with being sick? It’s that you’re sick. People who are healthy think they know how you could get better because when they imagine what your life is like they imagine having your sickness on top of their health. They imagine that sick people have all the resources they do--and they’re just not trying hard enough. But we don’t. I don’t. I know my sister is only trying to help me but I can’t help it, I think: You suffer for just one day the way I do; I want you to feel like this for just one day. Then you tell me how to get better.