the Backroom



Happy 80th Birthday Muhammad Ali

by Chris Murray on January 17, 2022  |  Comments Off on Happy 80th Birthday Muhammad Ali

David Murray meeting Muhammad Ali at Govinda Gallery, with gallery director Chris Murray, on the occasion of the opening of Howard Bingham’s exhibition, “Muhammad Ali, A Thirty Year Journey.” Photo by Chester Simpson.

Knockout: The Art of Boxing, edited by Chris Murray, featuring the photographs of Ken Regan

Full page advertisement in The Washington Review, signed by Muhammad Ali and Howard Bingham.

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Carlotta Hester’s “Rapture”

by Chris Murray on January 12, 2022  |  Comments Off on Carlotta Hester’s “Rapture”

Carlotta Hester creating pieces for “Rapture.” Photo by Max Hirshfeld courtesy of Addison/Ripley.

Carlotta Hester’s “Rapture” Canvases Evoke Jazz Improv

By Maddie Rennyson

Walking past Addison/Ripley Fine Art at 1670 Wisconsin Avenue, bright splashes of acrylic on canvas might catch your eye. In her latest show “Rapture,” painter Carlotta Hester’s expressionist evocations of improvisational freedom light up the gallery.

“Rapture – that is what I felt when I was making the work,” Hester tells The Georgetowner. After another tough year of navigating these unprecedented times, Hester found solace in the connection between brush and canvas. While painting the colorful collection, she felt like a jazz musician, improvising her next stroke as she went along, and getting in the zone with the colors and the movement of the work. She used this time to create as a space for meditation to escape what was going on outside of the studio.

Hester has already gotten a joyful response to her work. Members of the community, other artists, and students have come into the gallery and commented on how uplifting and bright the paintings make them feel. This is how Hester felt as she was painting them as well.

In addition to her career as an artist, Hester is also an art teacher at Maret, known for its exceptional visual arts program. This profession holds a special place in her heart as she was first inspired to pursue her passion for art by her own high school art teacher, Stephanie Jones. Hester now has the opportunity to pass on that inspiration to the next generation of young artists.

Hester loves all art media and enjoys exploring different types of projects, especially through teaching her students. There was a period during the pandemic where she was teaching virtually which posed some challenges given that the students did not have access to all their usual materials or the studio space. However, they were still able to practice their still-life portraits by having models pose on the screen. “I love art because I love making art,” Hester says, and is living out her passion of being able to create her own work while also helping others unveil their talent and explore their love for art.

In partnership with the Govinda Gallery, Addison/Ripley will be showing Rapture through January 22.

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Happy Birthday Ted Russell!

by Chris Murray on January 10, 2022  |  Comments Off on Happy Birthday Ted Russell!

“Wink,” Ina Balke, 1964,  Photograph by Ted Russell.

Book cover for Bob Dylan NYC 1961-1964, Ted Russell with Chris Murray, Rizzoli.

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Happy Christmas and New Year from Govinda Gallery

by Chris Murray on December 24, 2021  |  Comments Off on Happy Christmas and New Year from Govinda Gallery

Watercolor by Stuart Sutcliffe

 

George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe, John Lennon, “Truck”, Hamburg, 1961. Photo by Astrid Kirchherr.

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Bob Colacello and IT JUST HAPPENED

by Chris Murray on December 17, 2021  |  Comments Off on Bob Colacello and IT JUST HAPPENED

My favorite photography book this year is IT JUST HAPPENED Photographs by Bob Colacello 1976-1982. (Ivorypress 2021) The book features Colacello’s photographs taken while working with Andy Warhol over a period of several years. Bob was the editor of Warhol’s Interview magazine.  Among the notables Bob photographed with his Minox 35 EL, are Peter Beard, Candice Bergan, Garech Brown, Cher, Ahmet Ertegun, Richard Gere, Martha Graham, Caroline Kennedy, Roy Lichtenstein, Christopher Makos, Rudolph Nureyev, Larry Rivers, Ringo Starr, Andy Warhol, and many others. Each photograph in the book has a hand written caption by Colacello.

ivorypress 2021

Larry Rivers, Francois de Menil, and Andy Warhol, New York, 1976. Photo by Bob Colacello.

It was a great pleasure for me to have organized one of the very first exhibitions of Bob Colacello’s photographs at Govinda Gallery in 1990. I have also enjoyed a life long friendship with Bob as we became great friends while attending Georgetown University in Washington D.C. together in the 60s, and remain so today. One day in 1980, Bob accompanied Andy Warhol to Washington as Andy was attending a dinner at the White House with President Carter and the First Lady. Here is a photo Bob took of me with Andy in his room at the Watergate Hotel while relaxing before his White House dinner.

Chris & Andy at Watergate, 1980. Photo by Bob Colacello.

Exhibition card from 1990.

Here are a few vintage prints of Colacello’s from that exhibition in 1990, from the Govinda Gallery collection, featuring Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall, Roy and Dorothy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol at Home on East 66th St.

 

 

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Carlotta Hester Exhibition…Rapture

by Chris Murray on November 30, 2021  |  Comments Off on Carlotta Hester Exhibition…Rapture

Photographed by Max Hirshfeld

 

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Mick Rock, 1948-2021

by Chris Murray on November 19, 2021  |  Comments Off on Mick Rock, 1948-2021

I love Mick Rock. Plain and simple. He was a pillar of the Govinda Gallery history and scene. We were more than colleagues and friends…we were kindred spirits. He had a wicked sense of humor, and a voice and manner that one would never forget. He had talent that went on forever. And if Mick loved you, you were most fortunate to be able to know that love. It is no wonder he was loved by Syd Barrett, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Freddie Mercury, Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and so many more.

Iggy Pop, Back Bend, 1972. Photo by Mick Rock.

The Saatchi Gallery Magazine, Art & Music, Issue 13, Spring 2011. Cover Photo by Mick Rock.

I had the distinct pleasure of hosting Mick Rock’s first exhibition at Govinda Gallery, “Mick Rock, A Photographic Record,” during the spring of 1999, an amazing retrospective of the photographic work he had produced up to that point. It was a show of high impact, and everyone at the opening was thrilled to meet Mick. I got along well with Mick right from the start for a lot of reasons, but he knew well my connection with Andy Warhol and his exhibitions at Govinda, and he had great respect for Andy as an artist. Mick thought of his work as art, and so did I.

Later that year I was invited by Tommy Hilfiger to attend the opening of The Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition “Rock Style.”  I had assisted Tommy in getting the book Rock Style published for the Met exhibition. Some of Mick’s photographs were included in Hilfiger’s book. Mick was there with his beautiful and longtime partner and wife, Pati. We roamed the exhibition together and had a hilarious, terrific time!

Mick Rock and Chris Murray at Met Costume Institute, 2013. Photo by Sueraya Shaheen.

During the spring of 2002 we launched Mick’s first limited edition book, Moonage Daydream: The Life and Times of Ziggy Stardust with an exhibition of the same name. Govinda Gallery was the exclusive U.S. distributor for Genesis Publications for 20 years, publishers of the finest quality limited edition signed books. Publisher Brian Roylance was my great friend since the 80s. With his book and Mick’s photographs, we produced a blockbuster event and exhibition. Mick was as big a star that night as the musical artists he documented.

Queen II Album Cover, London 1974. Photo by Mick Rock.

In the spring of 2004 I organized an exhibition in Liverpool at the Matthew Street Gallery called, “Killer Queen,” featuring Mick’s remarkable photographs of Queen. I travelled to Liverpool, along with Mick and his great pal Dean Holtermann. Mick and his work took the town by storm. And we had an absolute blast at the opening and otherwise. Enjoy this short video Dean made with us in Liverpool. Thanks Dean!

Freddie Mercury, 1974. Photo by Mick Rock.

I also had the pleasure of introducing Mick to David Adamson at Adamson Editions, the premier fine art pigment printer in the world. For Mick, I produced his two photos of David Bowie and Freddie Mercury as mind blowing large format pigment prints. Mick was knocked out by the quality and scale of those photographs. They were an essential part of the ground breaking museum tour, “Sound and Vision: Monumental Rock & Roll Photography,” which I curated and co-organized with The Columbus Museum, and that travelled to six major American museums. The Columbus selected Mick’s unforgettable photograph of David Bowie with a saxophone as the emblematic image of that museum tour for the banners, poster, invitation and billboard. Mick was delighted. Mick went on to introduce his friend and subject Lou Reed to Adamson who went on to print Lou’s photographs. One afternoon after working at Adamson Editions, Lou came by Govinda to see Mick’s exhibition there at the time. It was great to meet Lou and welcome him to the gallery, due to his friendship with Mick Rock.

Sound and Vision Emblematic Image used by Columbus Museum for Banners, Poster, Invitation and Billboard. Photo by Mick Rock.

 

Lou Reed with gallery director Chris Murray enjoying Mick Rock’s contact sheet images of Reed. Photo from Govinda Gallery Archive.

The last time I was with Mick was at a party I threw for him in Washington in November, 2019, not long before the pandemic arrived. Mick was giving a lecture and slide show along with photographer Henry Diltz at City Winery here in Washington. The after party I threw in their honor was at my friends Patricia, Fabio and Russell’s nightclub “Dive.” It was a late night, wild and fabulous time! Mick was in his element. The music on the sound system reflected the musical artists depicted in Mick’s photographs, and he was surrounded by fans. Mick rocked! We had a sweet embrace at the end of the night, with a few jokes regarding the evening, and made plans to see each other in NYC before long. Who knew the pandemic was on the way shortly after, and that it would ultimately take Mick from us.

Govinda Gallery Director Chris Murray and photographer Mick Rock in the green room at City Winery.

It was just before the summer I purchased the most recent print of Mick’s for the Govinda Gallery collection. It was of Miley Cyrus and became the cover of her most recent album Plastic Hearts.  It was the first recording that Miley considered to be a Rock & Roll album for her. Mick’s photographs had such a style that they defined rock in so many ways. Young musical artists came to Mick to photograph them for their musical identity. The photo of Miley demonstrates that so well. Mick was delighted I acquired that photo for my collection , and I am so glad I did.

“Miley Cyrus, Plastic Hearts,” New York City, 2020. Photograph by Mick Rock.

‘Out-take’ from Mick Rock’s photo shoot of Miley Cyrus, 2020.

In Mick’s last email to me, he wrote of the importance of a spiritual life, and how spiritual practices like yoga and meditation meant a lot to him. He knew I shared that interest. He then wrote this to me, “You were one of the very first entrepreneurs to see the potential in selling music photography as art, and our friendship has always been about more than just commerce. You are my friend, no doubt at all.”

Govinda Gallery Director Chris Murray with photographer Mick Rock and Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation. Photo from revamped.com.

Mick’s photographic legacy will be with us a long, long time…and his kindness, talent, love, and friendship will reside in my heart forever.

This personal tribute is dedicated to Mick’s beloved wife and daughter, Pati and Nathalie.

~Chris Murray

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Invitation to Carlotta Hester’s Exhibition of Paintings, “Rapture”

by Chris Murray on November 12, 2021  |  Comments Off on Invitation to Carlotta Hester’s Exhibition of Paintings, “Rapture”

You are invited to Carlotta Hester’s exhibition in Washington D.C. at Addison/Ripley Fine Art in Georgetown. This exhibition features her most recent work, and continues through January 22.

 

 

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Senator John Warner…A Great Man Of Service and a Fine Artist

by Chris Murray on November 9, 2021  |  Comments Off on Senator John Warner…A Great Man Of Service and a Fine Artist

Much has been written, and rightly so, about Senator John Warner since he passed on a few months ago. But not many people know that Senator Warner was also a talented and accomplished painter. I was fortunate to know John Warner as an artist, because of my friendship with his wife Jeanne. I had the opportunity to invite the Senator to exhibit his work at Govinda Gallery. John painted privately, and very much appreciated my offer. We never did have a chance to organize that exhibition, but his beautiful paintings will always remain in my minds eye.

In just a couple of months it will be the 50th anniversary of Senator Warner starting his tenure as the United States Secretary of the Navy in 1972. I post these photos in honor of a remarkable life of service to so many, as a person of great artistic talent, and as a friend. In these difficult times, political leaders would be well served to remember the generosity of spirit of John Warner.

Chris Murray with Senator John Warner at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Meyer. Photo by Carlotta Hester.

Senator Warner showing Chris Murray memorabilia and awards at his home in Virginia. Photo by Carlotta Hester.

Govinda Gallery Director Chris Murray enjoying paintings by John Warner at his home. Photo by Carlotta Hester.

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The Sunday Times Feature Story on Donovan and the Climate Summit

by Chris Murray on November 3, 2021  |  Comments Off on The Sunday Times Feature Story on Donovan and the Climate Summit

Donovan was born and grew up in Glasgow, where the world leaders are now gathered at the crucial climate summit. The Sunday Times in Scotland just published a terrific story on Donovan and his wife and muse Linda, who, for over four decades, have been raising consciousness regarding protecting and preserving Mother Nature. Much of that work is detailed in this story by Jean West. Donovan told me that being born in Glasgow he knew all too well about the Industrial ‘Revolution’ and the mess that has been made on our beautiful planet. His last album, aptly named Eco Song, is a compilation of his songs about the environment. Check out the video for the song, “Diggin the Future Now,” at the end of the article.

Bard of Atlantis brings his call for change to a new generation

As world leaders fly into Glasgow for Cop26, the Cork-based star Donovan heralds the second coming of the protest song as he gifts school children his new green youth opera

Jean West | Sunday October 31 2021

Donovan and his wife Linda’s work has led to Slow Down World, an eco-opera

In 1999 Stephen King wrote Hearts in Atlantis, an anthology about the baby-boomer generation and its failure to honour its ideals. His titular inspiration appeared to spring from Donovan’s song about that mystical land submerged by the sea.

Written in 1968, Atlantis mourns a disconnect from Mother Nature with urgency: “Wake-up, wake-up . . . As the elders of our time choose to remain blind/ Let us rejoice and sing/ And dance and ring in the new.” For King, Donovan’s lyrics were “a warning — as true and emotionally wrenching now as when first recorded”.

Today Donovan, whose psychedelic Mellow Yellow, Sunshine Superman and Jennifer Juniper became seminal Sixties hits, is rattling the same sabre with even more urgency. In lockdown, inspired by the children’s climate movement, he wrote Slow Down World — an original eco-themed opera for school pupils and college students. Today he is offering the libretto free for teachers to download on his website.

Donovan hopes the opera will one day grace stages in London and New York

The Celtic balladeer is so passionate about the public engaging with the energetic new work, composed with his grandson Sebastian Dean and inspired by the startling Fridays For Future school marches, that he is throwing in backing tracks and stage directions as a contribution to saving what he often calls Gaia — “the source of all life”.

Slow Down World is an inspired discourse between four young activists who meet after a climate strike and demand a radical new green curriculum. It dramatises last year’s reflective Eco-Song album, compiled by the singer and his campaigning muse and wife, Linda Lawrence. The 21-track recording pulls together the poetic lyricist’s ecological musings from over 50 years. The couple have dedicated the opera to Greta Thunberg and her followers.

From his home near Cork, Donovan, 75, explains: “When Greta began her career, Linda and I were surprised there were no songs for her or any other Sixties artists supporting her.”

He recalls his own support of Sixties civil and women’s rights, the environment and against nuclear arms: “But our street protest moved swiftly on to stage, radio, TV and film. We need to get the children’s climate movement ‘offa da street and on to da stage’.”

He believes his birthplace of Glasgow, as a hub of the industrial revolution, is part culprit for the global temperature rise. The “disaster” started with the industrial and technical revolutions — seen originally as saviours of humanity — leading to two world wars and the nuclear bomb. “The libretto is designed for youths to explore the deeper levels of why humans have created this mess and to help us save the world from ignorance and greed.”

Only now are we “digging” the true scale of things, and the arrival of Covid “has bonded humanity in one single purpose: to be aware and take care of each other”. He has hopes for Cop26 but pressure must remain after delegates leave. “This is Mother Nature’s wake-up call for humanity to review what social community is really about.”

His timing — as world leaders gather for the UN summit — is auspicious. When better to lobby for a Sixties-style protest movement to assist the ailing planet?

Donovan has long sought to raise human consciousness since meeting the transcendental meditator Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India. His teenage charisma impressed the producers of Ready, Steady, Go while today his flowing white curls and gentle eloquence present something of a Merlin. But Donovan’s brand of wizardry extends beyond fanciful lyrics fused from Gaelic, Sanskrit, pop and beatnik cultures. His opera is threaded with hard-hitting tracks like Diggin’ the Future Now, referencing melting polar ice-caps, a burning Amazon and rising oceans and , which goes: “No teacher is teaching/ No plan is far reaching/ The hawks of greed are screeching/ Poisoning our day.”

Eventually, Donovan hopes, the opera will grace stages in London and New York, but for now school assembly halls are his target because any government “redesigning of education to save the earth will not be in place in time” to reintroduce “praise, honour and true natural-law teachings”.

Working with his grandson, a 29-year-old composer and singer, keeps the project for 16-18 year-olds contemporary. They hope a podcast will ensue.

Donovan, who famously taught Paul MacCartney the chords for songs like Blackbird – itself a civil rights melody – is also calling on Scottish youth theatres to breath life into the libretto for audiences across the country immediately after COP26. “This message cannot be forgotten – act today.”

The songwriter is on a bit of a green-themed roll just now. Tales of Aluna, an animated series developed with Linda, was showcased at the MipCom TV festival in Cannes.

Developed by an Australian production company, the 26 episode cartoon for six to eight-year-olds, about a little girl living in the last bit of Atlantis has strong educational content.

Donovan’s “Yellow Submarine,” it fables how a musician and his entourage crash onto a desert island cared for by Aluna and mystical Barabajagal. Sustainability issues are thrown up as little minds are encouraged to consider their actions. It is based on the love story between Donovan and Linda who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last year.

With both projects Donovan is responding to Thunberg’s recently voiced fears for COP26: “We will hear many pledges that – if you really look into the details – are more or less meaningless….The COPs as they are now will not change anything unless there is big, massive pressure from the outside.”

The popstar adds: “Greta is now looking for the same urgency to be applied to Climate Change as happened with the pandemic. All nations – one focus. Prevention must be taught in schools.”

He adds: “I saw clearly as a child in wartorn Glasgow that modern humans have no respect for Mother Earth . It was my duty to sing out the warning of poisoning the planet from my very first recordings.”

Once dubbed the British Bob Dylan, Donovan made his mark on popular culture, and Dylan’s jealous jibes in D.A. Pennebaker’s famous documentary about the American folkie’s British tour hasn’t impacted his longevity. He graciously dismisses the incident as partly driven by the different drugs the twenty somethings were experimenting with at the time – Dylan with “amphetamines” and Donovan, “hashish”.

The songwriter survived polio as a child and was raised on proletariat verse and wisdom from his socialist, poet father before transporting it on a magic carpet ride through rough sleeping and performance in Cornwall with exotically-named friend Gypsy Dave, past bigger stardom and screaming fans. His epic friendship with The Beatles, bonding over guitar styles, his own secret chord progressions and spiritual endeavour is legendary. George and Donovan were closest. Says the singer: “George would always say: “It’s always nice to see you Don – you never ask any questions.” He was a wit too: “He would say: “If I’d known I was going to be a Beatle, I’d have tried harder.””

Donovan recalls their trip to India to study Transcendental Meditation. He remembers John spying a paparazzi photographer on the roof whilst washing his hair and chasing him through the jungle: “John shouts: “You bugger, I’m after you” and, with his hair all soapy, starts chasing him through the jungle. He was swaggering like a Liverpool sailor.”

The band’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Something, Dear Prudence and Julia were, he says, influenced by his friendly tutoring.

Today Donovan lights up when relaying the love for his adored Linda. She had been in a relationship with “the Gaelic creator of the Rolling Stones, Brian Jones,” Donovan’s friend, and they had a son, Joolz. He believes “karmic destiny” pulled them together after the musician’s death and he became the child’s stepfather.

He believes a similar Divine guidance has also informed recent times: “The worldwide arrival of Coronavirus has bonded humanity in one single purpose: to be aware and take care of each other.”

The pioneering peaceseeker hopes this will now extend to the climate emergency and that the warning shots from Atlantis will at last reach their timely target.

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