Amsel tribute show from 2007; details on abandoned book project.
Since creating this site, I've had occasional conversations with artist and fellow Amsel fan, Randal Tolbert. He just provided me with some images of an Amsel tribute exhibition in North Carolina he curated back in 2007, before (and unrelated to) the 2009 retrospective in Philadelphia. While the show did not feature any original pieces, it did contain a lovely assortment of posters and album covers, and was done with the participation of several Amsel colleagues and family members.
Randal kindly provided the following details about the show, and addressed the single most-requested topic I get inquiries about from fans: the possibility of an Amsel retrospective art book.
When you love collecting, as I always you collect what you love and what you can afford. As a kid, I collected "Peanuts," "Famous Monsters from Film Land," and every "TV Guide" I could find with Richard's art on the cover. I was just blown away by his work, then I began to seek him out and when I saw the first "Raiders" film poster, I HAD to have it. As I got older, I found other items Richard did and then I amassed a huge collection of his print work. As an artist myself, I was in awe of his talent and though I was trained in a different capacity in fine art, I felt what Richard was doing blurred the lines the art world frequently establishes.
For some unknown reason, when I moved to NYC, it didn't occur to me then to look him up, this was about 1981. What was I thinking? Dumb. Then when I read about Richard's death and the auction of his work, I began to think about a coffee table book.
After making nice with Christie's and doing various other detective work, I found and got in touch with Gary Bralow; went to meet him and discuss the possibility of this idea of a book. I began to put together a dummy, which I worked on with Gary and tracked down pieces I didn't know existed, then sadly toward the end of Gary's life, the project seemed to come to a standstill and a lot of my work on it was lost, which had been in Gary's possession. I'm not completely sure what happened to it.
Sometime later, with two years prep work, begun in 2005, I began to organize what I felt was a very deserving exhibit for Richard which was to travel to various libraries and art schools. I met and talked with at length all these people who had worked with Richard in a professional capacity, as well as curator from "The Illustration House" and "The Illustrator's Society." Not only was Richard prolific in such short a time but was greatly admired and respected. I felt his work was slipping away from popular culture and ranked up there with Peak, John Alvin, Saul Bass, Byrd, Struzan and others. So the inspiration for the exhibit was born.
The first show was in the spring of 2007 with both hung and cased pieces in North Carolina and was a smash. With contributions from Jerry Alten (TV Guide and others there), RCA, Michael Amsel, Tony Walton and many others. Most people were very kind and then unfortunately, some claiming rights to Richard's work got upset with me ... and so rather than rock the boat, that was the only show.
Richard's work still continues to inspire young artists and illustrators everywhere and I hope one day a comprehensive traveling exhibit of his work along with a catalog will occur, so others can be exposed to a wonderful artist. That would be my wish.
More on this show is featured on the EXHIBITS & SHOWS page.