Arno Sternglass was a hero to me (along with Ken Laundry and William Carlos Williams). I loved the way he just kept on drawing what he wanted, the way he wanted, right up to the very end. I even named one of my dogs after him (there was a remarkable physical resemblance).
My wife and I bought a couple of his paintings, but for every one we bought, he'd give us six more.
Arno was a disciplined artist, and some of the discipline came by way of Lila, who was both his biggest fan and most discerning critic. One day she walked into my house and pointed at a pair of Arno's older drawings (these two):
and she said, "Look at how much better you used to be!" It didn't seem to faze him. I guess only one's wife or close relative can get away with that. Some day, I'm sure Lila will read one of my books and say, "Look at how much better you used to be!" And she'll be absolutely right. She always is.
Personally, I love his newer works.
And I love his older ones.
Arno made his name as an innovative illustrator. Somewhere I have a copy of a New York Times Magazine cover that he did, but I can't find it right now. I do have this record album:
In 2006 Arno took me on a tour of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and showed me his favorite paintings. It was as if he were introducing all his old friends. He was surprisingly, endearingly inarticulate in explaining why he loved those paintings, but the love was clear. He could be be articulate on other matters - and he had a "GOD DAMN IT!" that left no doubt.
He painted landscapes:
He was fascinated by what he called "architectural drawings:"
In the 1950's he'd go to the playground in Central Park and sketch children:
If you could see this painting in person, the girl seems so alive that I expect her to walk right out of the frame and into the room:
I've used the word "love" five times in this post. Normally when I repeat myself, I start editing. Not this time. The word belongs here - five times. When Arno and Lila returned to Manhattan near the end of Arno's life, they lived directly across the street from the famous LOVE sculpture, which was the first thing you saw from their bedroom window.
Arno died in 2007 at the age of 80. We miss him. We are still surrounded by his paintings - and his joy.
Update: There's more Arno Sternglass here.