[Over the next several months leading up to the celebration of our 15th Anniversary in October, Joe’s Pub will be highlighting drawings from archival artist Michael Arthur who has captured the likes Amy Winehouse, Pete Townshend, Alicia Keys, Carly Simon and many more on our stage. Read about Michael’s story, and stay tuned for details on how you might earn the opportunity to work with Joe’s Pub as an archival artist by submitting your artwork via Tumblr.]
Speaking strictly from the point of view as the person drawing performers at Joe’s Pub, the piano is sometimes a challenge. Almost everyone else in a band, moves, offering multiple perspectives, etc, but the piano player is a stationary figure and frequently I find that he or she is sitting with their backs towards me. It’s a limitation, but limitations are also creative challenges. Alan Toussaint has played many shows at the Pub over the years and it’s a little daunting to capture a legend. In this case, although his back was to me, the drawing ended up being one of my favorites. Toussaint is a great story-teller and often peppers his shows with long stories of his adventures and youth; he’s come a long way and lived a rich life and he’s mostly done it seated at a piano. After this particular show, his grand-daughter took the drawing (drawn up in the booth) from me to show to him. He looked at it and said, “well, that’s a God’s-eye view, son.”
Joe McGinty is the band-leader of Loser’s Lounge and I’ve had more good times over the years with him and his friends’ musical tributes to various songwriters than I can count. Joe holds court down stage right, facing out over his keyboards. I always enjoy the challenge of Losers Lounge shows because there are so many guests and I like to capture everyone in a show if I can. At a certain point I realized that I hadn’t really done a solo drawing of McGinty, who’s really a New York treasure.
Over the years, Michael and Jamie Leonhart have become my friends and—I am grateful to say—sometimes collaborators. They are both brilliant musicians from a musical family. My second music video was done for Jamie’s wonderful adaptation of a Rumi poem, Who Says Words and Michael has invited me to draw along with him, live on stage on several occasions. Jamie was one of the first people to actually purchase one of my Pub drawings. At a certain point I realized I hadn’t gotten a drawing of both of them together and that’s where this one came from. Who Says Words.
Captions by Michael Arthur.