Dr. F DiCori Orchard St
I met Dr. DiCori when I was painting my first oil on Orchard Street. He loved the Lower East Side and spent many Sundays walking and enjoying the noise and excitement of this shopper’s street. He is shown wearing a grey suit and walking up the street with his dog. Doing this painting for him was a joy because he gave me the freedom to do it as I wanted to.
Mike Tageda stands on the left side of the painting- a tall young man in a yellow shirt. He was born in 1952, arrived in NYC in 1965 and went to George Washington High School. He worked for Kallman Singer on 17th Street for 2.5 years and told me that he loves Migdalia Ortez. He knows how to do everything at the Adlers, for whom he now works.Under the Adler sign is the family who owned that business and for whom I did the 26th painting that tells the story of my time with them and their history.They became dear friends and we are still in touch with the surviving members.
It is not easy for me to write about this painting. Through it I met the Adlers and began a close friendship with the family. Half a year after this painting was finished they had left the street and I find it difficult to pass by their store. I miss them very much.
The first painting of Orchard Street was finished and I was ready to begin the second one; an empty canvas in my right hand, my paint box in my left, and an easel under my arm. I looked for a spot in which to paint. I was very early and the street was deserted. There was a store with its steel shutters down and it was closed for vacation. I set up my equipment when...“Lady, please move.”I was surrounded by boxes, crates, and racks of clothing- the shopkeeper next door had rights to use the space during his neighbor’s vacation. I moved. There was a store with no outdoor stands and a large sidewalk in front of it. I asked for permission to work there.“Sorry lady, you’ll block my window.”One more try...“Sure lady, if you pay me some rent.”Now, nearly two years later, I have become a part of this street and of its people. If not for Irving Adler I would not have been there long enough for that to happen.
Irving Adler stands on the left hand side of this painting, exactly as he stood when I walked up to him on that day. I knew that if he said no, I would give up. It was so difficult to ask,so painful to be refused, and so very bitter to know that there was no alternative for me. Some paintings can be done in studios and some can not. In order to paint Orchard Street as it should be painted, I knew that most of it would have to be done on the street itself.“I’d like to do a painting here. Could I work in front of your business?” He nodded his head.
Max Adler began this business in the latter part of the 19th century. When he passed away, his son Irving took over the store and continued running it. Working with him every day were his wife, his mother, and his aunt. They are painted next to him. Millie, his wife, is wearing a blue smock and is leaning over the farthest end of the outdoor stand. Eva, his mother, is on Irving’s right side and her sister, Tillie, sits on the box next to the wall.They met my children when they came down to see Orchard Street. They met my husband, and my mother, and they worried when the weather was too hot or too cold. I kept my materials there and it was no longer just a friendship... it went so much deeper than that.Mike Tegeda is the tall young man standing next to Millie. Mike, who lives in the Bronx, works for the Adlers. He had come to America in 1965,went to George Washington High School, and worked on West 17th Street. Then came his job at the Adler’s, but it was really more than a job. Their relationship was unusual. Mike felt himself to be a part of the business and of the family, and the Adlers felt the same way.Across the street, wearing a white shirt and speaking to a customer is Louis Irizarri. He was born in Puerto Rico on Christmas Day in 1928 and he came to America in 1945. He married in 1949 and is the father of four sons.“I remember when I first came here- I worked washing windows for $6.00 a week, but in a lot of ways life was better then. You could walk in the streets at night and when your apartment was hot, you could sleep on the fire escape and nobody was afraid. I have four boys and they’ve never known that.”He really didn’t work across the street but in the shoe store next to the Adlers. But I wanted him in the painting because he became so much a part of it. There was no room for another figure on the right hand side, so I asked his permission and moved him there.This painting was begun at the start of summer and when it was finished, I moved to a different section of the street for the next painting. By that time I was no longer a stranger on the street and could work in other spots without problems. In early fall, I returned to work in front of the Adler store again.In September, Irving Adler had a heart attack. The months went by and he began to regain his strength. I remember the day when they told me that he’d be coming back soon.Sometime after the beginning of the new year, I came to Orchard Street to plan another painting and found out that he had passed away two weeks ago. I walked away from the store to where no one could see me and I cried until I thought I had myself under control. When I went back to the three women in the store, I found that I still had a lot of tears left in me.They sold the store and I feel lonely whenever I pass by.