Brooklyn-born and bred artist David Levine is probably best known for his caricatures, which have appeared on the pages of the New York Review of Books for over 40 years [as well as numerous other publications, including Esquire, The New Yorker, Playboy, Newsweek, and Time]. But, for reasons that must be obvious if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, I really prefer this body of work, which captures candid Coney Island moments in watercolor.
I was sitting on my portable stool with my cardboard portfolio spread across my lap as a table, my paint box, water cup and paper assembled professionally. I was painting the comfort station near Stillwell Avenue, a squat, turret-like structure circled by curved stairways that lead from the boardwalk to the beach on either side. People occupy the steps while cleaning their feet and dressing.
Suddenly, a hand clutched my shoulder. An elderly man steadied himself and, looking over my shoulder, inquired, “What are you painting?”
We were both right in front of it. “You tell me,” I said. He looked about and said, “Oh. The shit house.” This was a gift.
My gallery director, looking over the works for my next exhibition, selected the painting I have described and asked, “What is this called?” “The Shit House.” “We can’t sell someone a picture with that name.” So I called it “The Necklace.”
According to his official bio, “Levine was trained by his parents to question authority and to love the underdog.” So, there’s that, too. Truly, a man after my own heart…