Steve Martin Hopper, Wistful Rockwell Break Auction Records
By Lindsay Pollock
Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Actor Steve Martin's somber 1955 Edward Hopper painting of a pensive woman looking out a dark window sold for $26.89 million this morning at Sotheby's New York, an auction record for the artist.
``Hotel Window,'' estimated to bring more than $10 million, was purchased anonymously by phone.
The previous Hopper record, $2.42 million for the 1930 ``South Truro Church,'' had stood for 16 years.
Just a few minutes earlier, ``Breaking Home Ties,'' a 1954 Norman Rockwell painting of a father sending his son off to college (and made to be a cover of the Saturday Evening Post), sold for $15.42 million, also an artist record.
The work was sold by the children of a neighbor of the artist. Its anonymous buyer bid by phone as well.
The previous Rockwell top price was $9.2 million, set in May at Sotheby's New York.
New York art dealer Howard Godel said that the sale shows ``there's a ton of money chasing the iconic pictures -- and these were iconic pictures.''
The Hopper and Rockwell were part of Sotheby's American painting auction, studded with important 19th- and 20th- century artworks by Mary Cassatt, John Marin and Georgia O'Keeffe. Christie's American painting sale takes place tomorrow.
Few for Sale
Hoppers rarely appear on the market. The artist was not prolific, painting just 366 canvases; he died in 1967. During the 1950s, when he was in his 70s, he produced about five paintings a year. Hopper's longtime dealer, Frank Rehn, who gave the artist his first solo show in 1924, sold ``Hotel Window'' to collector Olga Knoepke for $7,000 ($50,270 in 2006 currency) in 1957.
It was later owned at various times by Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza and dealer Andrew Crispo. Publisher Malcolm Forbes paid $1.32 million for it in 1987.
The painting was exhibited in 2001 at a show of Steve Martin's collection at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas along with a more spectacular Hopper: the 1927 ``Captain Upton's House.''
``Hotel Window'' had been part of the Whitney Museum's Hopper exhibition currently on view in New York.
Hopper ``evokes a certain period and style that other artists don't,'' said American painting dealer Debra Force. ``It's very classic American, but in a modernist context.''
``Hotel Window'' looks something like a film still. It is nighttime, and a seated older woman, wearing a burgundy hat and dress, is waiting for someone who seems unlikely to arrive.
``It's no particular hotel lobby,'' Hopper said of the work (as quoted in Sotheby's catalog). ``I guess it's lonelier than I planned it.''
Artist Donald Trachte, a Vermont neighbor, bought ``Breaking Home Ties'' from Rockwell in 1960 for $900. Because of a divorce in the 1970s, Trachte made a copy of the work and hid the original behind a wall in his studio. His children discovered the original earlier this year.
(Lindsay Pollock writes on the art market for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)
Posted by kmt
Bluegrass in January
From the Bluegrass Blog
Tony Trischka talks about his new CD
posted by John on 11.27.06 @ 7:12 am
Tags: Earl Scruggs, Noam Pikelny, Scott Vestal, Steve Martin, Tony Trischka
We posted last week about the upcoming project from Tony Trischka, Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular, which will feature Tony in duets with Earl Scruggs, Béla Fleck, Steve Martin, Alison Brown, Tom Adams, Bill Emerson, Kenny Ingram, Scott Vestal and Noam Pikelny. It is due for a January 23, 2007 release on Rounder.
At the time, we noted that no audio samples were available online, but Rounder now has snippets from all 14 tracks on their site, in both RealAudio and Windows Media formats.
I had a chance to discuss this new CD recently with Tony, and was especially interested in how he decided on a twin banjo project.
“After doing two electric band albums, I’d approached Rounder about doing a bluegrass album, a la my Hill Country record from the early ’80s. Ken Irwin thought it might be more fun, and have more of a commercial hook if I turned it into a double banjo album. And that’s what it became.
All the duets were recorded live except for the one with Scott Vestal. I was going to have JD on one cut and at the last minute something came up and he wasn’t able to make it, so I cut the track by myself as part of the Sam Bush sessions. After a week or so I decided to have Scott add the double part. He did it at his home studio and when he emailed it back to me, I flipped. His playing is ridiculously amazing.”
Tony told me that the project was exciting, both putting it together, and recording with so many of his favorite players, but that it took a long time to complete, given the difficulty of scheduling nine different banjo players. Still, he says the whole thing was a thrill, and well worth the trouble in the end.
“The biggest treat was getting to record with Earl. It was a huge honor and more than that, a gift. Sitting across from him while running it down I was impressed with the power of his right hand. I’ve heard him live on various occasions, but hearing him from three feet away is another story.”
Another highlight for Tony was working with Steve Martin.
“Getting to rehearse with Steve Martin was also a treat. He’s a great guy and really serious about the banjo. He has a lot of banjo music in his laptop and was sharing some of his favorite tunes with me. At one point he clicked on something and I could hear someone speaking French. I said ‘Clouseau?’ and he said,’Yep.’
While most folks these days have their banjos set up with the tailpiece all the way up, Steve’s is way down, so he gets a crisper, more high end sound. It made for a nice contrast in the double banjo format.”
Tony also recorded with his protege, Béla Fleck, who had studied with Trischka when still a student in New York in the early 1980s. They recorded three songs together for Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular.
“Need I say more about Bela? His playing is completely inspiring and technically ferocious when needed, but sweet and mellifluously tasty when that’s called for. And, as I remember it, it was his idea to speed up the tune “Twilight Kingdom” in the middle. That makes the whole tune. Not only is he a great guy and stupendous banjo player, but a great producer as well.”
Trischka will be touring in the northeast with a band to support the new project in January. He’ll have Noam Pikelny on second banjo, along with Michael Davies on guitar and vocals, Brittany Haas on fiddle and Skip Ward on bass. Plans are in the works now for west coast and southern tours in the spring.
Posted by KMT
Steve is shutting down his official site as of January, 2007. He has just made the announcement there. I am repeating it here for posterity primarily because is answers some rumors and because when his site goes down, this will be lost. Vive la documentation!
Steve's site has been up (with a few hiatuses) since about 1995 or so when it was started by Ken Dickson as a fan site. Eventually, Steve entered the picture and made it official. It has been through several stylistic variations. Hopefully Steve will eventually reopen for his loyal messageboarders.
We will continue here since we are totally unofficial.
Dear fans, posters, friends,
I’m sorry to say that the website is going to go on a lengthy hiatus beginning January 1st. It’s been a great experience for me to eavesdrop on all your interesting and provocative posts. I don’t feel like I’ve been a good WebDaddy. I’ve been, and still am, working very hard on a memoir of my stand-up years and it has occupied my mind for quite some time. On this hiatus, I will rethink my contributions to the site and perhaps it will arise from its cyber-ashes; I do have a few ideas that might be thrilling. Semidivine has done an outstanding job with the site and if it resurrects I would hope that she would be involved.
I’ll take this opportunity to settle a few rumors: I never posted anonymously on the site; there is no movie of Picasso at the Lapin Agile in the works; and I did not submit a script for Pink II (just a few pages), even though there is one in the works.
Regards to you all,
November 27, 2006
Fun with Fossils
Page Six - New York Post
November 23, 2006 -- WHILE Paul Simon and Brian Williams partied with Lorne Michaels and his "Saturday Night Live" crew under the towering tyrannosaurus and brontosaurus skeletons at the American Museum of Natural History's glamorous gala the other night, Steve Martin and Conan O'Brien evaluated the bone structure of all the pretty girls slinking around, none of whom dared touch an hors d'oeuvre. Quipped Martin to writer Gregory Speck as they strolled by the fearsome fossils, "The dinosaurs took the concept of losing weight too far, and look what happened to them."
posted by kmt
Steve wrote Pink?
From Rotten Tomatoes;
MGM Promises More Panther, Bond, Crown, Rocky & Hobbit
Posted by Scott Weinberg on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006, 01:49 AM
Scott Weinberg writes: "It looks like the cash-strapped MGM is about to seriously scale back on its productions, but they still have five strapping franchises on which they'll bet the ranch...
From Variety: "Steve Martin recently delivered a script for the latest "Pink Panther," where his Inspector Clouseau teams up with equally bumbling detectives from other European countries to defeat a continent-wide crime wave. Shooting is expected to start in February.
Quad City Times
Mull gets a warm welcome
By David Burke | Saturday, November 11, 2006
IF you were one of the thousand-plus people who were impressed by Martin Mull at the Figge Art Museum two weeks ago, here’s a message for you.
The feeling was mutual.
Kim Montgomery, a Quad-City native who has known Mull for many years and helped engineer his visit to Davenport, sent a lengthy e-mail here after recording some of the observations by the artist and former comedic actor.
Mull apparently received quite a welcome at several restaurants, including the Duck City Bistro in Davenport and the Bass Street Chophouse in Moline — including plates with names of his movies and TV shows spelled out in red bell pepper puree at the former, and watching the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series in the latter.
And he was apparently like a kid in a candy store at The Source bookshop in downtown Davenport, where he walked out with a thick stack of 1950s-era Life and Look magazines. It cost him $25 to ship them to his home in Los Angeles, but he told Montgomery that a single magazine in his new collection had a $50 pricetag at a collectible shop in New York.
Most of all, Mull told Montgomery he was impressed by the friendliness of people on the street — those who stopped to say hi as they passed by. In New York, Mull and his agent said, such a greeting would brand that person as a weirdo, or a setup for a robbery.
I talked to Mull twice, once briefly before he talked to college and high school art students and teachers (an interesting and humorous talk, even for art neophytes) and once before we taped a video for our Web site. (It’s still available at www.qctimes.com/multimedia.)
Before we started the video, I sheepishly mentioned that I had a well-worn copy of “Sex and Violins,” his 1978 album. (The whole point of his visit, of course, was to distance himself from his recording, movie and television past, and here I bring up a 28-year-old album.)
One of my favorite songs on the album was called “Westward Ho!” a PG-13 accounting of the pioneers. Mull said he co-wrote the song with friend Steve Martin, as part of a film project. Mull, Martin, Albert Brooks, Penny Marshall and several other comedic minds were brought together by filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola to write a satire on American history.
“Then, he decided to move on to a little thing called ‘Apocalypse Now,’” Mull said.
He probably wasn’t ready to tell that story, but between that and his unique pieces of art, he made an impression with me as well.
Quad City Times
Steve Played Banjo
"The" banjo picker champ calls
By David Williams
November 6, 2006
After picking up his second national banjo championship in Winfield, Kan., Mr. Wood is back home spending time in Oconee County giving banjo lessons, playing with local bands and enjoying the life of a musician.
"Most of what I do is give lessons to students in North Carolina and South Carolina and play about 130 to 150 gigs a year," said Mr. Wood, 40. "I don’t spend many nights on the road. Most gigs are close by."
Mr. Wood has no shortage of area bands that welcome him to the stage. He plays with Curtis Blackwell — a former musician with country legend Bill Monroe — and his band the Dixie Bluegrass Boys, The Wild Hog Band, The Lonesome Road Band and Doug McCormick and Southern State of Mind.
Mr. Wood has also spent time in the national entertainment spotlight. Last year, he joined actor-comedian Steve Martin, also an accomplished banjo player, along with Earl Scruggs, Pete Wenick and Tony Ellis at the New Yorker Festival in New York City. The group made an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman.
Mr. Wood and Mr. Martin become fast friends after that meeting and when Mr. Martin recently spent some vacation time at Caesar’s Head in Pickens County, Mr. Wood was invited over for a Sunday dinner.
"I joined him for supper and we played for about three hours," Mr. Wood said.
Mr. Wood started in music when he was 5 years old and sat down at the piano. Ten years later he heard Lester Flatt and Mr. Scruggs’ classic recording "Foggy Mountain Banjo." Mr. Wood has not been able to put the banjo down since turning 15.
He says he practices or plays about six hours a day.
Other titles he has won along the way include the Rockygrass and Merlefest Banjo championships.
The national banjo championship is highly regarded because first-place winners can not compete again for five years. Mr. Wood won the title in 1999, placed third in 2005 and won it again in 2006.
Mr. Wood said the All-American banjo instrument was designed as a five-string music maker in the mid-1800s. In the early 1940s, it was Mr. Scruggs who developed the three-finger picking style.
"The banjo was strummed before Earl Scruggs came along," Mr. Wood said.
In competitions, Mr. Wood said he plays four tunes in the early rounds and two tunes in the semifinals and finals. His fingers on his left hand can step quickly along the banjo’s neck while his right hand picks out music that covers a lot ground.
"Foggy Mountain Breakdown" might be the one tune familiar to most people when it comes to banjo music, but Mr. Wood can just as easily play "What a Wonderful World" and the William Tell Overture. Many would recognize the overture as the theme song to the classic black-and-white television Western, "The Lone Ranger."
Mr. Wood said he likes to keep his appearances close to home — he’s scheduled to be at Just More Barbecue in Pendleton Friday.
Mr. Wood has three CDs, including "Somewhere Over The Banjo," "Banjo Noel" and "Tour de Banjo." Visit www.charleswoodbanjo.com for more information on Mr. Wood.
David Williams can be reached at (864) 882-0522 or by e-mail at williamsde@IndependentMail.com.