Mort Künstler’s exhibition at The Hecksher Museum of Art

Mort Kunstler is best known for his incomparable paintings of Civil War events. However, he earned his stripes as an illustrator for pulp fiction magazines with his illustrations for men’s pulp adventure magazines published in the 50s, 60s and 70s. For the first time, more than 80 of Mort Künstler’s remarkable original artworks, some shown in magazines and books but many of them never published before, are exhibited together in The Hecksher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington, NY. The exhibition titled “Mort Künstler: The Godfather of Pulp Fiction Illustrators” are now on view until Nov. 17, 2019.

To see and hear more about the exhibition in Mort Künstler’s own words, click here for the YouTube video preview

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A press release from his office says:

Long before blockbuster superhero movies, those looking for an adrenaline rush turned to adventure magazines featuring exciting stories and thrilling illustrations. As the go-to-artist and illustrator, Mort Künstler’s work graced hundreds of magazine covers, stories, and books, firmly establishing his prominence in the pulp fiction genre.

Originally featured in magazines such as Stag, Male, and For Men Only in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, the illustrations brought to life headlines that screamed adventure. The images of men in combat, women in distress, and nature threatening man immediately caught the reader’s attention. “You try to pick a moment that will entice the reader and catch their attention and make them want to read the whole text,” explains Künstler. “The whole goal is to make them stop and go, ‘what’s going on here?'”

 

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Jet-Sled Raid on Russia’s Ice Cap Pleasure Stockade

Kunstler was so good, that there were instances when his carefully detailed illustrations actually inspired a story, rather than the other way around. During his long career, Kunstler illustrated stories for many authors, including Mario Puzo, author of The Godfather, who wrote in the same magazines under the pen name of Mario Cleri. Kunstler illustrated Puzo’s The Godfather long before the movie franchise. His vision came amazingly close to how the characters eventually appeared in the movies. 

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The word Künstler means artist in German. His father kept the original spelling, with the umlaut over the u. His father was an amateur artist himself and at the age of 2 ½, his parents knew Mort was an artist. By age 12, he was painting murals at his grade school PS 215 in Brooklyn. After high school, his main focus was not art. He was a good athlete and sport dominated his life at Brooklyn College. He played basketball, football, a diver on the swimming team and hurdler on the track team. After three years at Brooklyn college, he transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles on basketball scholarship. But came back home after one semester because his father got sick. Mort went on to attend Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He graduated from Pratt after seven years of college with a Certificate in Illustration but never earned a college degree. Between commissioned painting, movie posters, magazine and book covers, Mort has never been out of work. Now at the age of 92 he is still painting.

Mort works in oils, but his favorite medium for illustrating is Winsor & Newton Designers Gouache. Back in the 60s and 70s, Mort was averaging 3 magazine covers a month, along with other illustrations that went inside each magazine. Mort also illustrated for Field and Stream, Outdoor Life, Readers Digest, National Geographic, and Mad magazine. Mort also did movie posters for The Poseidon Adventure and The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. His career spans over 70 years with about 5,000 paintings to his credit.

The Heckscher Museum is producing a catalogue to accompany Mort Künstler: “The Godfather” of Pulp Fiction Illustrators, and publication of a companion book on Mort’s men’s adventure art will be released during the exhibit. A traveling exhibition is being organized as well. Artist appearances and signings to be announced.

Since I’m out of town and cannot possibly go see the exhibition, I purchased the companion book which arrived the other day. What a wonderful book with pages of bright photos in vibrant colors!

For more information, visit The Hecksher Museum of Art website or Contact Kunstler Enterprises, Ltd., 800-850-1776, email at info@mortkunstler.com, or visit their website: www.mkunstler.com.

 

 

Captain Kidd and his Buried Treasure

Capt. William Kidd

 

William Kidd, also known as Captain Kidd was born c. 1645, at Greenock, Renfrew, Scotland and died on May 23, 1701 in London. He was a 17th century British privateer and semi-legendary pirate who became celebrated in English literature as one of the most colorful outlaws of the time. Fortune seekers have hunted his buried treasure in vain throughout succeeding centuries.

It is believed Kidd went to sea as a youth. After 1689 he was sailing as a legitimate privateer for Great Britain against the French in the West Indies and off the coast of North America. In 1690 he was an established sea captain and shipowner in New York City where he owned property at various times. He was hired by Lord Bellomont, who was then governor of New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire to rid the coast of enemy privateers.

In London in 1695, mainly on the recommendation of the prominent New Yorker, Robert Livingston, Captain William Kidd received a royal commission from the British King, William III, to apprehend pirates who molested the ships of the East India Company in the Red Sea and in the Indian Ocean. Kidd’s ship, the “Adventure Galley,” was fitted out at the expense of several notable Englishmen, including Richard Coote, earl of Bellomont.

Kidd sailed from Deptford on Feb. 27, 1696, called at Plymouth, and arrived at New York City on July 4 to take on more men. Avoiding the normal pirate haunts, he arrived by February 1697 at the Comoro Islands of East Africa. It was apparently some time after his arrival here that Kidd, still without having taken a prize ship, decided to turn to piracy. Under the term of a privateer’s contract, no pay for captain or crew was provided unless prizes were taken.

In August 1697 he made an unsuccessful attack on ships sailing with Mocha coffee from Yemen but later took several small ships. His refusal two months later to attack a Dutch ship nearly brought his crew to mutiny, and in an angry exchange Kidd mortally wounded his gunner, William Moore.

Kidd took his most valuable prize, the Armenian ship “Quedagh Merchant,” in January 1698 and scuttled his own unseaworthy “Adventure Galley.” When he reached Anguilla, in the West Indies in April 1699, he learned that he had been denounced as a pirate. He left the “Quedagh Merchant,” at the island of Hispaniola where the ship was possibly scuttled. In any case, it disappeared with its questionable booty and he sailed to New York City in a newly purchased ship, the “Antonio” where he tried to persuade Bellomont of his innocence.

In an attempt to avoid his mutinous crew, who had gathered in New York, Kidd sailed 120 miles around the eastern tip of Long Island, and then doubled back 90 miles along the Sound to Oyster Bay. He felt this was a safer passage than the high-trafficked narrows between Staten Island and Brooklyn.

Kidd arrived in Oyster Bay on June 9, 1699, and anchored offshore. Justice White and Doctor Cooper helped to transmit a message to Kidd’s wife in New York, without exposing Kidd and his location. This secrecy was in vain, however, for his location in Oyster Bay was revealed, and just over a month later he was imprisoned in Boston before Bellomont shipped him back to England for trial.

On May 8 and 9, 1701, he was found guilty of the murder of Moore and on five indictments of piracy. Important evidence concerning two of the piracy cases was suppressed at the trial, and some observers later questioned whether the evidence was sufficient for a guilty verdict.

Although Richard Coote, the Earl of Bellomont, had been instrumental in securing Kidd’s commission as a privateer he later turned against Kidd and other pirates, writing that the inhabitants of Long Island were “a lawless and unruly people” protecting pirates who had “settled among them.”

Kidd was hanged at Execution Dock, in Wapping, London on May 23, 1701 where his body was placed in a cage and left to rot for all to see along the River Thames and to serve as a warning against other pirates. Actually, he was hanged two times. On the first attempt, the hangman’s rope broke and Kidd survived. Although some in the crowd called for Kidd’s release, claiming the breaking of the rope was a sign from God, Kidd was hanged again minutes later, this time successfully.

Some of his treasure of gold and gems which he buried on the island was recovered from Gardiners Island at a spot now marked by a bronze plaque. John Gardiner, Lion Gardiner’s grandson, cooperated with the British in surrendering the booty, which some accounts placed at 20,000 pounds sterling, which would be worth millions of dollars in the late 20th century.

Pirate Captain William Kidd’s ship, the Adventure Galley, was anchored off Treadwells Neck in the 1690s, according to reports at the time. Proceeds from his effects and goods taken from the “Antonio” were donated to charity.

In years that followed, the name of Captain Kidd has become inseparable from the romanticized concept of the swashbuckling pirate of Western fiction. Some old maps indicate a point marked as Kidd’s Money Hole. But rumors that some of Kidd’s treasure remains buried on the beach at Fort Salonga have never been substantiated.

 

Sources:

Britannica

Long Island, People and Places, Past and Present

Hometown Long Island by Newsday

 

 

Leaves of Grass – A Special Edition

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While looking for something to read next, I came across a signed copy of “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman published by David McKay (Copyright 1900). On the front matter, there is a picture of him with a handwritten note on the bottom “David McKay from his friend Walt Whitman”.

 

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I browsed through the book and a page was earmarked and there was the poem “O Captain! My Captain!”, one of the favorite poems of our class in Literature in high school. I didn’t know who Walt Whitman was at that time. I was thirteen and English was not my favorite subject. For me I like Math the best. I had no idea why the class loved the poem so much except for the fact that our English teacher, Mrs. Brual, read it to us with so much emotion that we began to like it. She was the principal of the school and the best English teacher we had. Little did I know that someday I would be living in Long Island in a town very close to where Walt Whitman lived and finding out that he was one of the best poets in the U.S.

Read on. It got interesting later.

O CAPTAIN! my Captain, our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;

But O heart! heart! heart!

O the bleeding drops of red,

Where on the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

 

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;

Rise up–for you the flag is flung–for you the bugle trills,

For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths–for you the shores a-crowding,

For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

Here Captain! dear father!

The arm beneath your head!

It is some dream that on the deck,

You’ve fallen cold and dead.

 

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,

My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,

The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,

From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;

Exult O shores and ring O bells!

But I with mournful tread,

Walk the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen Cold and Dead. 

But that’s not all. Inserted or rather attached inside the book are onion skin papers (three of them) with Biographical Note of Walt Whitman written in his own handwriting from May 31, 1819 to 1888 where he wrote “Mr. Whitman is now in his 70th year”. The paragraph ends with “He resides in Mickla St, Camden, New Jersey”.

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There is another piece of paper attached somewhere in the middle of the book where he addressed sending a couple of copies to David McKay’s children.

Few years ago, I took the book to an Antique Roadshow in Charleston. We had the ticket for the late session. When I showed it to the appraiser, he took one look at the book without opening it and gave me $10 for the book. I was very disappointed to say the least. He must be so tired and in a hurry since they were doing the appraisal since early in the morning. It was a long day for them and there was still a long line and it was almost closing time. At that time, I was not aware of the handwritten notes inside. The book has a rough edges and if you flip the pages, it does not really come out unless you go page by page individually. It somehow clings to the other pages. It’s really hard to find it right away. I had to be careful and thorough. I did not see the biographical note till today. I saw the note about the copies to the children a week ago.

When we went to the Antique Roadshow, I did not know what to bring. We have so much antique in the house so choosing one which is easy to carry is what we wanted to do. I just saw the book in one of the bookshelves and since it was an old book and Walt Whitman was a famous poet, I decided to bring it over.

I only discovered the notes recently. There must be a value to it since it looks like this is a special copy intended for his publisher with all the written notes in Walt Whitman’s own handwriting. I’m intrigued and would like to find out if it is worth anything. If not, I still have a special book signed by a famous poet.

 

Until next time. Stop and smell the roses.

Rosalinda Morgan

Farewell Clarence Michalis, the Longest Serving Mayor in NY State history

Clarence Michalis

Lattingtown Mayor Clarence Michalis in front of the village office sign. (April 9, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

Clarence Fahnestock Michalis of Locust Valley, the former Mayor of tony Lattingtown, died on March 30th. Clarence Michalis was 96 years old. Born in 1922 to Clarence G and Helen C. Michalis, he lived in New York City and Garrison, NY. He graduated from Buckley School, St. Paul’s School and Harvard College and then entered the U.S. Navy where he spent the next three years as a lieutenant and navigator on the U.S.S. Hall in the Pacific. He worked at First National City Bank, and was CFO of Bristol-Myers Co., former chairman of St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, Cooper Union and Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation.  

He was the longest-serving mayor in New York State history and emerged victorious in the last Village election in June 2013. At that time Clarence was 91, and had held the office for 44 years. He defeated Nicholas DellaFera, the 23-year-old challenger on June 18th, 2013, winning handily (376-87), and inspiring the largest voter turnout in 4 decades. Of the election Michalis noted, “It was a simple case of age and experience trumping youthful zeal.”

As a dedicated civic leader, he was mayor of the Village of Lattingtown for 48 years, past president and trustee of the Nassau County Museum of Art, active member and former president of Piping Rock Club, former commissioner of the Locust Valley Fire District, commodore of Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club, trustee of the North Shore Land Alliance and member of the Union Club, New York Yacht Club and Holland Lodge. 

In his last years as Mayor, when most 90+ would be slowing down, Clarence still had his fingers on the pulse of the area. It was Clarence who first cautioned Loriann Cody about the possible closing of the Rottkamp Farm in Glen Head (the problem has fortunately been resolved and Rottkamp remains open.)

When his failing health forced him to step down as Mayor in early 2017, he maintained his sense of humor saying, “I used to see many politicians, now I see many doctors.”

Michalis was much loved and admired. At the time of the election, Diane Fagiola, wife of current Lattingtown Mayor Robert Fagiola, said of him, “Clarence knows how things work – how roads are built and how to fix them, about storms and the damage they cause. He knows about wet-lands, mosquitoes, trees and wildlife. He can fix a diesel engine – still. He knows how to cut costs but not quality, and he’s balanced thousands of budgets. He also knows a lot about people – what bothers us, what moves us, what motivates us. He’s a brilliant leader. If I were caught in a storm at sea, I’d like to be in Clarence’s boat.”

Mayor Peter Quick of the Village of Mill Neck said, “I have never met a man more dedicated to his community than Clarence. He is a sage in terms of advice and the ultimate gentleman of Lattingtown. His experience is unparalleled. If he were running against me, I would vote for him.”

Loriann Cody of the Locust Valley Leader last saw Clarence on Sunday evening, June 25th, 2017, when he was honored for his 48 years of mayoral service at the Lattingtown home of Diane and Robert Fagiola. One U.S. Congressman, one State Senator, one Assemblyperson, one Nobel laureate, six mayors, local village trustees, family members and friends were among the more than 80 who toasted Michalis.

Clarence is survived by his wife of 64 years, Cora Bush and four children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held on Friday, April 13th at 1:00 PM at St. John’s Church in Lattingtown. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Merchant’s House Museum and the North Shore Land Alliance.

Until next time. Let’s keep on exploring.

Rosalinda

 

Source: New York Times, Newsday and and The Locust Valley Leader, April 4, 2018 by Loriann Cody.

 

 

 

Some Prominent People from Long Island

Long Island has its own share of prominent people who have called Long Island their home. Here is a list of those people who had made a name for themselves and have lived in Long Island for most of their lives or part of it.

Gone but not forgotten:

Oleg Cassini

Oleg Cassini – Couturier most notably for First Lady Jacquiline Kennedy. (Oyster Bay Cove, NY)

William Floyd

William Floyd – Signer of the Declaration of Independence. (Brookhaven, NY)

Barbara McClintock

Barbara McClintock – Winner of 1983 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for her work on the genetic structure of maize. (Huntington, NY)

Robert Moses

Robert Moses – Master Builder for building major buildings, roads, highways, bridges, parks, etc. which change the face of New York state. (Summer Home – Gilgo Beach, LI)

Jacquiline Kennedy

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis – Former First Lady of the U.S. (Southampton, NY)

Theodore Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt – 26th President of the U.S. (Oyster Bay, NY)

Louis Comfort Tiffany

Louis Comfort Tiffany – Stained Glass artist. (Laurel Hollow, NY)

William Kissam Vanderbilt II

William Kissam Vanderbilt II  – An avid collector of natural history and marine specimens as well as other anthropological objects for his Marine Museum. (Centerport, NY)

Consuelo Vanderbilt

Consuelo Vanderbilt – Vanderbilt heiress whose mother Alva married her  to indebted, titled Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough, chatelain of Blenheim Palace for the royal title in exchange for a marriage settlement of $2.5 million (approximately $67.7 million in 2015) in railroad stocks. (Southampton, NY)

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman – Poet of “Leaves of Grass”, “O Captain, My Captain” and others. (Huntington, NY)

 

Still living with us:

Billy Joel

Billy Joel – Entertainer (Centre Island, NY)

One of his songs is titled “Rosalinda” (not me, his mother).

 

Mort Kunstler

Mort Kunstler – Civil War Painter (Oyster Bay Cove, NY)

I love his paintings. I have two books about his Civil War Arts and own two of his prints shown below:

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Until next time. Let’s keep on exploring.

Rosalinda