sneak preview of NYC History panorama

sneak preview of NYC History panorama, photo by Christopher Lovi

The opening reception for the 400 Years of Manhattan exhibit is on Friday, February 6, 2009 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Salmagundi Club. The Club is located at 47 Fifth Avenue in New York City, call 212-255-7740 for more information.

Also on display will be an exhibit featuring the importance of NY’s waterways as well as an additional Dutch history themed exhibit of smaller works.


n-vdp2Saturday morning was cold and windy. The panel caught in the wind a fluttered around in the air, but it returned back down to ground and arrived in one piece at the Salmagundi club.

Later I went out to Brooklyn to help Naomi Campbell with transporting her painting. Using her wheely gizmo, we took the subway and carried it up and down the stairs of the various subways, arriving just before closing time at the Salmagundi Club.  Naomi is pictured here with, Leendert van der Pool,  the artist and organizer of the History Panorama.  the Show opens Monday and the official opening is February 6th, 2008 at Forty-Seven Fifth Avenue | New York, NY 10003 | 212-255-7740 |

bb4 Thought I had finished then noticed I had missed the floor boards, flag poles and some cables to the right and left. This is a complicated construction.

George Washington, NYC was Capital of US, oil on canvas, Tom Taffee

George Washington, NYC was Capital of US, oil on canvas, Tom Taffee

Statue of Liberty, oil on canvas, Tom Taffee

Statue of Liberty, oil on canvas, Tom Taffee

 Profile (2 panels): George Washington and the Statue of Liberty, oil on canvas by Tom Taffee

A lot of people did not know that New York City was the first capital of America so I decided to do this portrait of George Washington at his first inauguration in 1789.


The statue of liberty was supposed to be dedicated in 1872 to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Unites States but sat for ten years until school children collected enough pennies to pay for the base of the statue an interesting story so I decided to do this painting.


This Friday and Saturday, January 23 and 24, are the drop off dates for getting your panels to the Club. Please remember to paint the edges of the panels with black acrylic so that they can be easily touched up if necessary when the exhibit goes on tour.

The panels will be assembled and photographed on Sunday.  I will post photos of the exhibit here as soon as they are available.

bb-progress-1bb-progress-2-sThese two photos show the progress over the past couple of weeks.  The photos were taken with my camera phone, hence the quality is not that great.  The left shows the remains of the under painting in the foreground.  At this stage I had the planks of wood going horizontally, as they are today, but in the etching dating from 1883, I noticed they were vertical, so I am in the process of covering them up. 

For the sky, which was originally  blue, I worked in between the steel ropes with a mixture of Indian yellow and little cobalt blue with a small pallet knife, preserving the shape of the cables.  My aim is to give the painting an impressionistic look, a style that was fashionable around 1867-1886.


In the photo on the right, I blocked in the figure and shadows.  I added the girl, which I took from an 1883 painting by Albert von Keller Kleine, entitled Pariserin 1883.  She was originally facing away from the light, so I changed the lights to dark shadows,  and the dark to lights.   I added the dog as she was looking down, (he came from a puppy food ad.) The dog, I feel gives the girl a focal point and adds a touch of sentimentality which the people of the 19th century loved so much.

Flatiron Building, oil on canvas, Michael Budden

Flatiron Building, oil on canvas, Michael Budden

Profile: Flatiron Building, oil on canvas, Michael Budden

I choose to depict the Flatiron Building for a couple of reasons. First it is considered one of the oldest skyscrapers in New York and I found its shape interesting snuggled in between Fifth and Broadway. Certainly one of the tallest when completed around 1902.


The second reason is that I did a small painting for the Salmagundi Club Thumb Box Exhibition in 2007 and the club purchased the painting for their permanent collection. For that reason, seeing the Flatiron will always bring a special feeling to me.


I enjoy painting challenging light situations and I choose to portray the building almost silhouetted enshrouded in mysterious light, possibly evening or morning light representing the “Dawn of a New Era”. I’m sure when the building was built most people felt a mysterious feeling about it. I read that the locals even bet on how far the debris would fly when the wind knocked it down. Picking up the panel was a challenge becuse of my fear of driving into the city alone so it started out on the right foot. I drove in, no problem, and parked near the club. Got the panel to the car and had time to spare to walk around for a little look/see. Once home I figured I would paint in acrylics which I used to do as a wildlife artist. These days Im using oils so I figured painting something this large in acrylic was going to be a challenge because I like softness and that is hard to achieve with acrylic. Since I teach high school art I took the painting to school to share some of this with the kids. I was able to sneak some time during school to block in the panel and start the building process but soon realized that I was going to have to change to oils which meant taking it home to work on in the studio. With the ceiling in the studio only about 7 1/2 feet high I had to paint the bottom of the painting in a very umcomfortable position on my knees which also gave me a chance to pray this would all work out. I tried to portray what life might look like in the early 1900’s.