I've admired Stone Roberts' work for some time. But last night, at the Museum of the City of New York where I saw his quartet of paintings depicting New York life with his uncanny attention to detail, I swooned. It is hard to choose which of the four is best but my vote has to be his depiction of Grand Central. The painting is entitled "Grand Central Terminal: An Early December Noon in the Main Course, 2009-2012." It was commissioned by William Louis-Dreyfus, who said last night he intends to share the painting with the world in several ways, just as he was doing by loaning it for the exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York.
Fact is, this oil painting on linen is so iconic, it could be reproduced on postcards and I swear every tourist to New York would buy one. The money could go to finance the cost of shipping and handling the painting itself for exhibitions throughout the world. It was amazing to stand in front of the work and consider that I had just walked through that very spot only hours earlier, on my way to catch the Madison Avenue bus to the museum. I feel I know every one of the individuals in the picture. Truth is, I have seen--and so have you--someone who looks exactly like that girl in the miniskirt and boots. And the man with the ladder. And the businessman with the briefcase. They are all types and they are all quintessential New Yorkers.
The other works are wonderful as well. Probably my second favorite is Roberts' depiction of the outdoor market at Union Square, where I am delighted by the parade of humanity every weekend. So many vignettes of drama, so many transactions, so many fascinating people. Stone Roberts captures all that life, all that detail, down to the reflection of the dog in a rain puddle.
The conversations last night at the exhibition included mention of just how proud one felt of being a New Yorker, of imagining oneself in one of Roberts' pictures. New Yorkers like to think there is something magic about this great City, and that by living here they too are touched with some of that magic. This exhibition proves that Stone Roberts in a Houdini that has captured that magic and given it to us to reflect upon.
You can't look at any one of these paintings without being tempted to strike up a conversation with someone standing near you, whether you know them or not. So I guess Stone Roberts' art includes the skill to initiate conversation among total strangers.