Volume 17, Number 46 | April 8 — 14, 2005

Downtown Express file photo by Elisabeth Robert

Artist Andy Jurinko in his Lower Manhattan studio. Some of his paintings are currently on display at Klatch cafe nearby.

Maiden Lane cafe hosts Downtown artist’s paintings of ladies

By Ronda Kaysen

The women hanging around the cozy Downtown cafe Klatch, have a sultry look about them.

The one sunbathing on a beach in a blue bikini seems unaware of the woman lounging on a stone bench in wide-legged white trousers, soaking up a day of spring. The young black woman in a Rolling Stones tank top and white bandana can’t help but grin, thrilled at a joke long since over.

The women, six of them and a little girl spinning on her tricycle, are Downtown artist Andy Jurinko’s darlings from the 1980s. Jurinko recently brought the selection of candid paintings — many of which were set Downtown — out from retirement for a month-long appearance at 9 Maiden Lane.

“Of course, I like this one for obvious reasons,” he said, pointing to the bikini-clad sunbather. His favorite of the paintings, he said, is of a young black woman with cornrows and a turquoise skirt walking along a Manhattan street, a shadow draped across her path. The street is Liberty St. — directly below Jurinko’s 120 Cedar St. loft window — and the shadow marking her way is from the ill-fated Deutsche Bank building, at the time Bankers Trust.

“Pretty soon it won’t be anything,” he said of the 30-story building, which was badly damaged and contaminated during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation purchased it last August in order to demolish it and Jurinko, referring to the last few weeks as “the calm before the storm,” has been anxiously awaiting its demolition.

Jurinko is best known for his paintings of Major League baseball players, many of which were published last year in “Heart of the Game,” an illustrated homage to the American League of the mid-20th century. A National League version, also published by Sport Classic Books, is planned for next year.

With all 600 of his baseball paintings long since sold, Jurinko has returned to painting women. “I’m trying to get away from the baseball stuff,” he said.

The settings for the portraits on display at Klatch have changed dramatically since Jurniko painted them more than twenty years ago. The woman in the white trousers, enjoying a moment of sunshine, a splash of yellow flowers behind her, is sitting in the plaza of what was once the World Trade Center. Another sunbathing woman is seated on a folding chair on the B.P.C. esplanade, a neighborhood that has changed radically since that summer afternoon.

“You feel like an ant in an architect’s model,” said Jurinko of the sweeping changes his neighborhood has endured since he first moved to it in 1977 when the W.T.C. was still young and B.P.C. was little more than a beach.
Even the paintings themselves are not permanent; Jurinko often misses them once they are sold, left with only slides to document them. “Make sure you photograph them,” he advised, because, “Once it’s gone, it’s kind of gone.”

Slides are impermanent, too, as Jurinko learned Sept. 11, 2001 when two feet of debris blasted into his apartment from the collapsing World Trade Center. Many of his slides, newspaper clippings and drawings of paintings long since sold were lost or damaged. “We all threw things away that we wished we hadn’t,” he said of the grueling cleanup effort that followed. “They’re the personal moments that tie your life together.”

Ronda@DowntownExpres.com

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