Recently, Park West Gallery hosted an event with three of our favorite artists: Peter Max; Simon Bull; and Linda Le Kinff at the Chateau Elan resort just north of Atlanta.
We love Park West Gallery and founder Albert Scaglione because they are unique in the industry. During the late ‘60s, Scaglione was a government scientist working on magneto hydrodynamics which he thought would be utilized in interplanetary travel or supersonic transport. When he learned his work would be used in refining weapons delivery systems, he resigned and soon thereafter Park West Gallery came into existence.
Our first encounter with Park West was also unusual. We were asked if we had something in mind. I replied, “Do you have any signed work by Picasso?” The PW representative asked if there were something in particular we may be interested in-to which I honestly stated, “The cheapest work you have.”
Rather than being asked to leave, we were shown a signed sketch. I informed the PW rep that I could not afford even the least expensive Picasso they had to which she informed us, “We can lay it away for you.” Amazing, three years later, we now have in our possession a signed Picasso. I don’t know of any other gallery that would do such an outrageous thing.
This transaction apparently put us on some PW “serious collectors” list and as such, entitled over 100 of us to attend this most recent event hosted and paid for by PWG.
Chateau Elan is a secluded resort hidden in plain sight of Atlanta. In addition to the inn, restaurants, spa, championship golf course, it is also a full production winery. It has Southern charm, without the confederate flag, welcoming all people with no preconditions.
Rob Ducat, auctioneer-comic-Englishman turned American, was our host and made sure everyone had enough food and drink during our three and a half day stay. Ducat showed us three short films on Peter Max, Simon Bull, and Linda Le Kinff. We were then given hard cover books about each artist. “The Universe of Peter Max” had an appropriate introduction by astronomy sensation and television personality Neil de Grasse Tyson.
The relationship between Peter Max and PW founder Albert Scaglione goes back decades and involves dozens of charity and fund-raising events.
It is common knowledge that Max was the official artist for a World Cup, the Grammys, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, a Super Bowl, and Major League Baseball. Max absorbed many of his values during his stay in China with Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu influences; and prolonged stays in Tibet, spiritual capital of the world; and Haifa (Israel) with their Jewish, Christian, Baha’i influences. Max furthered his universal cosmic studies both in the classroom and with yoga master Swami Satchidananda. Max has reverence for American icons producing works in their honor, as jazz great Duke Ellington, actress Marilyn Monroe, and boxing legend Muhammad Ali. His works also include presidents, leaders of industry, and on the philanthropic side, Max’s efforts assisted in restoring the Statue of Liberty as well as assisting fallen firefighters and policemen victims of 9-11.
Max was the positive visual image of the ‘60s and will always be remembered with that decade along with the Beatles, Muhammad Ali’s draft induction refusal, civil rights struggles in the South, the moon landing, and our unprovoked war in Vietnam.
The night before Max’s Georgia arrival, Rob Ducat booked the Beatle tribute band, British Mania, to perform a concert which lasted well into the night and seemed so Peter Max.
Linda Le Kinff is our granddaughter’s favorite artist. Nina and I have met her before and were impressed with her genuine unassuming nature even though she has studied with master artists in Paris, Italy, India, Tibet, Mexico, Morocco, and Japan. She was the official artist for a World Cup as well as the 2010 Kentucky Derby. Her colors are loud, vibrant, glowing, flowing with a common theme of women with hidden cats somewhere on the canvas.
In addition to explaining her painting philosophy and style, Linda took time to visit with each PWG guest during the event. She also made herself available during the evening dinner and social activities. I remain impressed how this talented artist made the time and effort to cultivate new and sincere friendships answering any inquiry presented to her.
The grandest of entrances was made by Brit turned American, Simon Bull. Bull was raised in an army family and received his education not only in England but Guyana, Hong Kong, Germany, Northern Ireland, Amsterdam, Paris, Bolognia, Dubai, Japan, and the United States.
He has painted President Barack Obama and was licensed to do a segment of paintings regarding the life of Muhammad Ali. In 2007 he represented the famed pugilist at the Vancouver Film Festival. Bull has received numerous awards in England, Europe, and the United States including being selected as one of the official artists for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
During Bull’s early career, his focus was directed to etchings and watercolors which morphed into paintings with vibrant colors directed at the natural world. Bull’s explanation regarding his work was extremely enlightening and immediately evident. Bull made a few connections with me at a personal level.
His painting of Muhammad Ali was showcased with flowing colors that represented South Vietnam during that time period-most appropriate and inspired, yet smooth and amazingly tranquil. For many of us that served in Vietnam, Ali was an inspiration.
I was stunned when Bull explained the moral and religious aspects of his brilliantly colored flowers. After some of our combat missions, I also, for unexplained reasons, drew flowers-usually after the enlisted crew smoked an o.j.(opium joint)-so I don’t know how spiritual that would be considered. What is so phenomenal is Bull’s moral and religious themes are not overpowering; but, they exist for those to see who may be inclined to do so.
Bull entered the arena to the sound of loud, but tasteful, old school rock & roll. He had a commanding and powerful personal presence. As he stood before two blank canvasses, he grabbed a paint brush and went to work. Every now and then he would face the multitude and raise his brush to thunderous applause as we attempted to ascertain what the final product would be. With machine gun precision and surgical accuracy within minutes two masterpieces were concluded.
eSimon Bull is a rock star and now my new friend. Which was what this event was really about: collecting significant works of art, at reasonable prices, and making a personal connection with the artists.
I jokinglu call Park West the “working man’s art gallery.” We know of no other institution that gives clients a paid vacation, allows them to actually meet world renowned artists, presents signed hard cover books by/on the artists, and purchases their works on a multi-year 3% interest lay away plan. Art for the masses, this is a concept we can all live with!