Getting in line for Al.

As you all know, I am crazy for Al Hirschfeld's work. He is among the artists that really blew my mind as I was diving into my craft. It's such an understatement to say that I still marvel at his line, economy, layout, etc. I'm so incredibly happy to say that there is an absolutely brilliant exhibit of his work (and life) at the New York Historical Society, now through October 12.

 The entrance to Hirschfeld land!

The entrance to Hirschfeld land!

I can count on one hand the times I've walked into an exhibit and had the breath taken out of me. As I hit the first room of the exhibit, there was one drawing representing each of the decades in which Al captured Broadway. The 1950s? Guys and Dolls. The 1960s? Fiddler on the Roof. The 1970s? Man of La Mancha. Etcetera. All originals. Sketches I'd only seen in books. This exhibit features frame after frame after frame of original work (and a few lithographs) that I just want to dive into.

 Al's original ink sketch of   Guys & Dolls   (the only of his sketches I deliberately plagiarized when I did the show back in 1995). The Lunts in   The Visit  .

Al's original ink sketch of Guys & Dolls (the only of his sketches I deliberately plagiarized when I did the show back in 1995). The Lunts in The Visit.

The collection draws from many collections: The Hirschfeld Foundation and archive, The National Portrait Gallery, private collectors, celebrities, and more. My friend Billy Stritch has lent one of his Hirschfeld originals which was very cool to see. There is an original of Carol Channing and George Burns that George had bought for Carol and inscribed it with "Carol, I love you. George."

There are interactive bits to the exhibit. A video, and a barber chair and desk you can sit at and doodle. And at the exit is a series of blown up images from Hirschfeld's oeuvre that represent shows currently running on Broadway.

I felt incredibly honored that David Leopold, curator of the exhibit and Hirschfeld's archivist for many years, invited me to the opening gala of this incredible exhibit. His deep knowledge of Al's work and his kind words about my own doodles have been invaluable to me as I do my best to carry on traditions so exemplified by Al Hirschfeld. There will never be another Al. But I'm so honored that he thinks of me as one of those picking up where he left off. Thank you David!

 Billy Stritch and the Hirschfeld from his collection.

Billy Stritch and the Hirschfeld from his collection.

 Me and Nina. This is Al's daughter whose name was featured in countless sketches.

Me and Nina. This is Al's daughter whose name was featured in countless sketches.

 Me pointing at the man of the hour. Photo credit: Walter McBride for BroadwayWorld.com.

Me pointing at the man of the hour. Photo credit: Walter McBride for BroadwayWorld.com.

 Am I a Hirschfeld fan? Why do you ask?

Am I a Hirschfeld fan? Why do you ask?

And as fitting for a world-class exhibit of the work of this world-class artist, there is swag available. Tee shirts, totes, mugs, cocktail napkins, etc. And the big jewel in the crown is the brand new book The Hirschfeld Century, written and curated by my pal David Leopold.  It features many of the pieces in the exhibit and so much more.  And the stories. Oh, the stories! David can spin a yarn, and most of these tales he got directly from the horse's mouth.  I can't recommend this book highly enough if you're a Hirschfeld fan, or just a fan of Broadway or pop culture or politics.

Get to The Hirschfeld Century exhibit at the New York Historical Society on Central Park West.  You'll kick yourself if you miss it. Seriously. Click HERE for more info.