Sometime last year I had a chance meeting with Curtis Cates at Gallery Onetwentyeight in the Lower East Side. He came to the gallery initially to show the gallery director, Kazuko Miyamoto, his latest project. He was armed with the coloring book, Masterpieces, which included 60 black and white drawings of famous paintings and a large number of completed pages. His goal was to have 60 people; friends, friends of friends, artists & non-artists, musicians, etc each interpret one page of the coloring book in their own style. I asked him if he had any extra pages and to my surprise he said that he still had the Mona Lisa page, which was perfect. I immediately had an idea to make mine monochromatic, black & white and to use text, but initially couldn’t think of anything witty enough. And then, again by chance, while looking through an art magazine I saw the perfect text “Are you looking for Immortality? Call me!” and immediately thought of the Mona Lisa coloring book page. It fit perfectly! For me and I’m sure for most of the participants, this coloring book project brought us back to childhood and to one of our first artistic experiences. The result was an eclectic mix of styles as diverse as the original masters themselves.
Curtis Cates, a native of Lubbock, Texas, is a musician, street photographer, collector of street art, amateur archivist and network news crew member. He has been a documentary producer (‘Peace Through Understanding: The 1964/65 New York World’s Fair, ‘Tex and Gene,’); public access TV producer and star (‘Hillbilly Peckers’ Barbecue TV Hour’); and video editor (‘Ramones: Around the World,’ Kelly Lamb’s ‘Geisha Girl’ and ‘Origami’). He co-created video support for such exhibits as ‘Margot Fonteyn in America: A Celebration’ at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, ‘Ukulele Fever’ and ‘Pedal to the Metal: A History of Children’s Pedal Cars,’ Stamford Art Museum, and ‘Milt Hinton: A Memorial Exhibition of His Jazz Photographs 1938-86,’ Flushing Town Hall). Curtis also co-curated a show on art and industry at the 1964/65 World’s Fair for the Queens Museum of Art and restored and archived episodes of Marc Miller and Paul Tshinkel’s ART/new york interviews with such artists as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Mapplethorpe and Keith Haring. He has lived and worked in NYC for the last 35 years.