In Acknowledgement of Friendship
I would like to especially thank Prof. Herbert Reitboeck and Hartmuth Pesch of Marburg and Vienna for their gracious support in helping this artist rebuild what was initially a primitively constructed website.
We had for a number of years casually met at our friend Lucia’s house during Herbert’s semi-annual returns to Pittsburgh, where Herbert four decades before had started his career in artificial intelligence and perceptual psychology. Then in the autumn of 2005 Herbert learned I had written a memoir.
What most surprised him was my longstanding friendship with Herbert Simon, the godfather of computer sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, who while I was still an undergraduate became my earliest supporter and patron. With that knowledge came a subtle shift in interest in this artist whose portraits at Lucia’s Herbert had enjoyed for a number of years without fully grasping the greater significance of the body of work that was already more than four decades in the making.
Although always cordial towards me; I was suddenly struck by a new sense of courtesy quietly expressed. Respect is something I am unused to, and once again, like that of Herbert Simon many years before, I became friends with a scientist.
When Herbert and Hartmuth found their apartment in Vienna, I gave them what I thought was a suitable home warming gift in the portrait of a woman that I imagined might be appropriate for the city of Gustav Klimt. With that present, which was simply that of an artist finding a home for one of his works someplace more exotic than Pittsburgh, I was surprised to be told that Herbert and Hartmuth were committed to helping me with my website. And they have.
But I wish to further acknowledge something perhaps of even greater import arriving with this friendship. That while we have been working together as German, Austrian, and Jew, a dialogue has been entered into that explains why they were so supportive of my Holocaust imagery, and it has made more vivid the tragedy that fell on so many other people also branded as marginal, degenerate, alien, and enemy.
With Herbert’s enthusiasm spreading word of my website a circle widens that now includes Herbert’s dear friend back in Marburg, the great physicist Richard M. Weiner, who once I met so briefly at Lucia’s without truly knowing who he is. His autobiography Analogies in Physics and Life tells of ‘Czernowitz, a City of People and Books that No Longer Exists (1930-1945)’. And so we find ourselves curiously crossing paths where physics and art and life meet and each of our stories completes the others.
One doesn’t wish to be obsessed with sadness, and none of us are, but the subject will not go away for it is too significant to just forget. That there is evil in the world is something we must come to terms with. Richard Weiner’s personal account of the Holocaust and its post-war continuation in Stalinist Russia/Romania remain as lessons for all of us.
Making art is a serious endeavor. It may follow many different patterns, but at its root must always be an understanding that its expression supports the view that every life is a miracle and part of a greater miracle. We make art to remind us of our humanity and our need to remain compassionate. If we can but remember that; we make room for laughter and friendship to enter our lives, and that in itself is a miracle.
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The following photographs by River Gibeaut were taken during “Unblurred” (in what is quaintly spoken of as the Penn Avenue Arts District in Pittsburgh), Friday night November 6, 2009 in a grand barn-like space of the International Children’s Art Gallery atop a three story building reminiscent of the SOHO of the early seventies in New York City. It is a place around the corner from my Coral Street studio where I usually end the day over drinks and conversation. But on this evening Cary Simons hosted an exhibition of my recent paintings from late summer mounting Mourning and To Leap into the Arms of the Eternal each on their own wall and lit as if in a sanctuary. By chance Herbert and Hartmuth were visiting and caught sight of their friend in any number of his guises.