I Love NY
Milton Glaser, the graphic designer who created the iconic I Love NY image that uses a heart for the word love, died recently. Thanks to his passion, he was working until the end, well into his 90s. An interview shortly before his death included some insights about creativity and New York City that resonated for me.
He said “New York is full of diversity and complexity. It’s a mind-set, and we’re proud of what that represents. The word used is toughness, but it’s also a combination of cynicism and generosity. It’s unprecedented anywhere in the world.” I refer to it as energy, that blending of perspectives, cultures, needs, languages, food, architecture, interests… and that energy is what I love to paint.
New York’s energy is unlike anywhere else. Perhaps because it’s my hometown – ok, my birthplace, since I lived there only as an infant – I like to claim a special connection. It makes me feel alive in ways nowhere else does. We were lucky to spend a month there, soaking it all up, before the pandemic hit. The resulting series of paintings served as a catharsis for me in the early months of our social isolation.
According to Glaser, “an odd combination of intuition and intelligence” is required to do creative work. “The part that is logical is only half the job. The other half is truly intuitive and comes out of some part of the brain you can’t control.” I loved this explanation. It explains why I abandon realism once the bones of my paintings are in place, and go with my gut the rest of the way. It’s the energy, not the photograph, that I want to capture and share with you. This painting is a perfect example. It’s the moment I turned a corner onto 5th Avenue and, surrounded by the lights and crowds of midtown, spied the Empire State Building.