I'm fanatical about the work of Al Hirschfeld. You can likely see his influence in my work, and I'm sure you know that it's one of my primary goals to carry on the traditions that Mr. Hirschfeld exemplified. So I was incredibly honored to be asked by David Leopold, Hirschfeld archivist and Creative Director of the Hirschfeld Foundation, and his Archives Manager, Katherine Marshall-Eastman, to be their first guest on the wonderful Hirschfeld Century Podcast. At the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center we chatted about my work and background and influences and more, all through the filter of our love for Hirschfeld's astounding and vast oeuvre.
The works that we discuss that were created by Hirschfeld are posted on the podcast page, but the varied pieces by me (early and more recent) are posted here. Ladies and gentlemen, as we chat about Hirschfeld's work from over eight decades, I offer you a little scrapbook of almost 25 years of fledgling Squigs history:
Ah, humble beginnings! This is my first show sketch. What I might have lacked in ability, I hopefully made up for in heart and gratitude. (Note: A much younger Lindsay Mendez is represented therein.)
As we discussed on the podast, there is only one of Hirschfeld's compositions that I directly quoted (plagiarized?). Here's Guys and Dolls at the Covina Valley Playhouse – of the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Covina – styled after Hirschfeld's 1950 original Broadway drawing:
In 1996, I took part in a production of Damn Yankees at a wonderful dinner theater in Claremont, CA. My commemorative sketch for this was a series of rudimentary baseball cards, a predecessor to my current venture: The Lights of Broadway Show Cards™:
When Al Hirschfeld passed in 2003, I was in the ensemble of a fantastic production of On the 20th Century in Los Angeles. After we heard the news, I brought all of my Hirschfeld books to the theater and joined my show family in perusing Al's work.
Here are a couple early experiments in adding color to my illustrations:
In 2007, while I was living in Los Angeles, I had the pleasure of taking part in a revival/revisal of Cole Porter's Can-Can at the Pasadena Playhouse, helmed by the wonderful David Lee (TV's Frasier, Wings, etc.):
Flash forward to after I had moved to NYC. A 2013 reading led by Megan Hilty and Aaron Lazar led to a 2014 "Broadway-bound" production at the Paper Mill Playhouse starring Kate Baldwin and Jason Danieley:
As we chat about on the podcast, I've had the chance to visit a few of the regional theaters that Hirschfeld periodically drew in the summers, actually performing at The Cape Playhouse in Dennis MA that Al drew in 1938. Here is a testament to my detective work seeking what the man saw in order to draw:
And as we talk about on the podcast, there are still times I quote Hirschfeld in my work. In a nod to Al's wonderfully frenetic sketches featuring multiple limbs and poses (Danny Kaye, Leonard Bernstein, etc.) here is Jesse Tyler Ferguson in the one-man show Fully Committed:
Hirschfeld often drew crowds: first nighters, deli customers, teeming throngs in Times Square. Once, he got letters over showing a lone nun in one of these sketches (as they typically travel in pairs). I tipped my hat to this in this piece that appeared in the Wall Street Journal:
So there's a rather random meandering through my artistic life. I'm so grateful to have had the chance to chat about Al and his influence on me and multitudes of others. Thank you David and Katherine for welcoming me on the podcast. I'd love to gab with you any time. (And thank you Al Hirschfeld!)
If you haven't already, please visit the Hirschfeld Foundation page to learn more about Mr. Hirschfeld.