2012 Started off better than I could ever expect. My partner JoAnne’s cell phone rang and much to her surprise it was our dear friend and greatest living artist of our time, Will Barnet. I could not think of a better way to start 2012 then to receive a phone call from him – it was very special for both of us. Will Barnet is not only a great artist but a great teacher, mentor and one of the kindest most generous people that God put on this planet. We were planning on having lunch with Will after we returned from the F1 race in Austin Texas but on the flight to Austin we found out that Will had passed away the day before. With the upcoming New Year it’s a bittersweet memory that will remain very dear to us.
To start out this New Year – yesterday, my partner JoAnne and I got a surprise visit from our former studio manager Scott who flew in from Minnesota for Holiday time with his family and brought us some really good news. He just landed a position as product designer for Sportech Inc, working with almost every ATV, Snowmobile and Recreational Vehicle company in the US. We’re so very happy for him.
Another piece of good news is that yesterday our Federal Express truck picked up a 20×24 inch photo of Will Barnet destined to be part of the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. I know Will Barnet looked down with that beautiful smile and was very happy for JoAnne as it was his favorite. In the world of photography it doesn’t get better than that. I’m extremely proud and happy for JoAnne as well as being a little jealous. How wonderful this is for her. JoAnne has a great talent but has always been a little to understated so I choose to sound off for her.
As a man or woman makes the journey from birth to death along the way they meet people who change their life. It’s given with our parents and family. There are maybe 8 or 10 people who radically changed the direction of my life other than my parents of course . Today I will just talk about one – Will Barnet who passed away November 13 at age 101.
My partner JoAnne Kalish had an assignment to photograph Will and she did these amazing and iconic portraits of Will and they became close. One day Will invited us to lunch and on that day I learned more about art, art appreciation and art history in a very short period of time then any other time in my life.
There will only be one Will Barnet – He was a warm, kind, generous, exceptionally talented, and a humble human being. I’ve been known to say the greatest things in life are free. On New’s Years Day 2012 Will Barnet gave us a million dollar gift by merely calling to wish us a Happy New Year. My God does it get better than that?
It seems like nowadays, when you pick up a newspaper, turn on the news, or even meet a friend for a drink there are so many negative stories out there and it kind of drives you crazy. However, every once in a while, you have a totally blown out great day where everything goes right – no negative stuff.That was this past Wednesday. I had the privilege of taking 22 international journalists on a photographic tour in lower Manhattan for Manfrotto. I imparted some of my photographic knowledge and they were gracious enough to bring me up to speed on world issues from many of their respective countries from Italy to China and back again. A great time was had by all. To all of my new friends I met on the walk you have a open invitation anytime to come visit us at the DiMaggio/Kalish Learning Center. Afterwards JoAnne and I were attending Manfrotto’s special event by invitation only – An Evening to Imagine More and what a exciting and motivating evening that was.
My best friend and life partner, JoAnne Kalish, had a day that was equally special. Let me bring you up to speed, JoAnne did one of the finest portraits I’ve ever seen of a world famous artist Will Barnet. I love the portrait so much that I asked her to make me a copy for over my desk so I could always admire it. JoAnne happened to be in Will’s neighborhood on Wednesday and gave him a call to say hello. The two of them spent the afternoon sitting in beautiful Gramercy Park catching up on life, the artworld, his last few shows, recent reviews, her photography and his future retrospective in September at National Academy of Art in NYC. I will end this blog with a quote from Will Barnet – as Will was telling JoAnne that everyone loves the portraits she did of him so much (including him) and that they are being used everywhere from Farnsworth to Naples to the Montclair Museum to the National Academy of Art and for all his catalogs. He told her he had numerous photos taken of him over the years (he will be 100 years old on May 25th) by many great photographers including Arnold Newman but her photograph of him is by far better than even Arnold Newman’s portraits of him. It took JoAnne very much by surprise to hear that, and certainly made her day even more special.