Ivan Karp

The following is a re-post of a blog I wrote earlier this year, after a very memorable encounter with Ivan Karp.

I first met the iconic art dealer/gallerist Ivan Karp of OK Harris Works of Art in 1998. Nicknamed the “Mayor of Soho”, he actually left his neighborhood to visit my North Jersey studio after reviewing my slides, back in the day when artists used slides.  I don’t think I fully appreciated the compliment.

Puffing on his cigar, Mr. Karp looked up and down at a large cityscape that I had spent months on.  Hoping for a glowing response, I was rocked by his one-word assessment of the piece:


Quite a blow for an impatient young painter. But  100% correct.  The work was adequate, not exciting.  I worked the painting for another year.

We met again in 1999 and 2000.  He offered a solo show in 2005 which I was unable to accept while with another gallery.  I met his son Ethan in 2010, who in fall 2011 graciously finalized plans for a spring 2012 show.

In January I delivered three drawings to the gallery.  Walking past some stunning sculptures I was greeted again by the warm smell of cigars and a much warmer Ivan.  As we shook hands  he beamed, “wonderful body of work!”

Heartwarming praise that took a mere thirteen years to earn.

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