A Fortunate Trip
Everyone has a list
of regrets in life. I am very fortunate
I did not have to add a cancellation of the Dicken's family trip to the Alvin
homestead, to that list–but nearly did!
It was the Summer of 2007, and Cathy and I loaded our two daughters onto
a plane to fly cross-country to the Big Apple, to see the Yankees and Mets in
their respective historic ballparks, before moving to their new stadiums, then
drive several hours upstate, to see the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown,
with a stop to see some good friends along the way.
happened to be Chuck Jones Gallery's very own, resident, and genius artists,
John and Andrea Alvin. They had made the generous offer to open up their home
to us in the picturesque countryside of upstate New York, to soften the lengthy
drive from the city to Cooperstown.
The usual obstacles
arose in our efforts to escape the rigors of the frenzied city on schedule, and
upon a closer look at our schedule, made it look like there may not be time to
make the stop at the Alvin’s! Cooler
heads prevailed, and we all agreed we did not want to forgo that important
My daughter Natalie with the Alvin's poodle, the glorious Milo.
The drive in itself
was amazingly breathtaking. We all saw a
part of New York that we deprived Southern California natives never knew
existed. After miles of beautiful
countryside and meadows, and only a few scattered ranch homes went by before
pulling into the driveway of the beautiful red farmhouse that belonged to John
and Andrea. Milo, their friendly poodle
and Andrea greeted us on the porch when we arrived, and we found a smiling John
just inside. The view from all sides
of their home had acres of natural undeveloped land for as far as the eyes
could see, with their closest neighbors being the wildlife that lived on and
around their property.
The Alvin Studio
The tour of their
beautiful home, culminated with what I had been most anxious to see– the art
studio! It was every bit as magical as I
had pictured in my mind’s eye. The large
spacious studio had separate areas for each of them to create the wonderful
works of art I had been seeing from them over the years. Each had a work on an easel, and several
other works in progress sitting around awaiting their turn. Both work areas had a view of two things;
each other, and the pond behind their house.
With the change of seasons as their inspirational backdrop, they would
bring their canvases to life. This was
the home of the infamous, indoor "snow days" of painting that I had
heard them speak so much about!
hamburgers for the lot of us and we all enjoyed them along with cool drinks,
warm conversation and laughter, on that inviting country evening. John's charisma, and storytelling, captivated
all of us for hours. The brilliant stars
of the quiet country night fell upon us, as we were engulfed by his infectious
childlike enthusiasm, and the most wonderful sense of humor, that no one could
resist to be around. After my daughters
reluctantly went off to their beds, Cathy and I went back for more, as we sat
around their kitchen table, and listened to John excitedly talk about paintings
he was working on, or upcoming projects, as well as the book of his artwork,
that was in the early planning stages.
George Washington Slept Here!
But Scott, John, Andrea, Nicole and Natalie did not. (Photo by Cathy Dicken)
His energy kept us
in engaging conversation until the early morning hours, until he insisted we get
some sleep. The next morning, he took us
to "town" the historic part of his city that was active during the
Revolutionary War; complete with a hotel where George Washington actually DID
sleep. We had breakfast at the only
restaurant in town, before taking our walking tour of the local landmarks. The time passed so quickly that it was time
to get back on the road again before we knew it, and wrap up the highlight of
our whirlwind vacation.
Had I had even an
inkling that at that moment in time, I was spending the last time with John in
his home that I would ever have in his lifetime I would have prolonged that
brief capsule of time with him. While
life doesn't offer us that kind of valuable foresight, what I truly and
fortunately can say; I will not be adding a forgone trip to the Alvin's, to my
Posted by Scott Dicken
Rich in Love
John Alvin was a working artist. His movie posters and campaigns transcended the
medium—uniting emotion and promotion unlike any other cinema artist of his
generation. To wit, the term
“Alvinizing” became a popular tag amongst the marketing departments who
John made me laugh—laugh out loud ‘til tears ran down my
face. He listened deeply and offered
advice when asked. He loved a good joke
– blue was his favorite color – and he did have a bit of the devil in him. And heavens, could he talk! About any topic you wanted to talk about, he
knew something about everything.
John, Robert and Andrea at Art Expo, New York 2007
We talked about everything; new projects, old projects, new
friends, old friends and frenemies; there were discussions about food, drink,
the effects of drink, the effects of food, and the consequences of talking too
much. He had several favorite stories,
but each time the telling revealed something new about him—endlessly evolving
and totally captivating.
It was obvious that he loved his wife, Andrea, and daughter,
Farah, immensely. The love he spoke of
was one of deep and abiding affection, frosted with a childlike amazement at
their strengths and talents. Andrea
completed John. No two were ever more
And Farah, Farah was his star; I remember one time watching
John and Farah walk off down the street, hand-in-hand, heads together in some
secret conspiracy, no father more devoted.
John Alvin listens to collectors of his work at a reception for he and his wife held in March 2007 at the Chuck Jones Gallery in Orange.
Of course, there was also John’s relationship with Milo,
their standard poodle. Whenever Andrea
would leave the two of them alone, John always complained that Milo would
reluctantly agree to be friendly since the real ‘master’ wasn’t around and he
would woefully deign to be petted and cajoled into keeping John’s company. “All right, if I have to,” Milo would say
rolling his eyes. At least that’s the way
John told it.
John, you were rich in love and I miss you.
Posted by Robert Patrick