It took a long time to decide how to do the Fraunces Tavern area. I was finishing a canvas of the Lower East Side streets and at the end of my work day I would drive to Pearl and Broad Streets and look at various angles. There was so much to see and so much I wanted to include. The clouds over the skyscrapers were magnificent, but if I were to include that height, the Tavern would be too small. If I were to show one side of the street, I would have to sacrifice something as equally special on the other side. Each choice demanded that something be given up.
Not until Estelle Weber, the woman in the red blouse, showed me the inside of a stockbroker’s office, did I realize the incredible tensions under which the financial district works. That's when things began to fall into place. Most of the people I saw on the street were working in buildings similar to Estelle’s, and yet in and around the Tavern, time seemed to stand still. This spot was so different from the rest of the area, and yet it coexisted perfectly with it, and that’s how the composition would have to show it. After this, everything fell into place and I began.
Fraunces Tavern was once the meeting place of the Sons of Liberty and George Washington gave the farewell address to his soldiers there. In 1904, it was sold to the Sons of the Revolution, and now in 1979, it is still owned by them. The two top floors house a museum and the first floor a restaurant (Fraunces Tavern Museum and Fraunces Tavern Restaurant).
Jeremy Shelbourne is the director of the museum. He is shown walking toward the front in the center of the canvas, wearing a brown suit and carrying a briefcase. His background includes a military career, as well as a career in marketing, publicity, and business administration, and a lifetime interest in history and the arts. He is the director of the tavern’s five building complex and was of tremendous help to me whenever I needed information.
In back of him toward the left is Paul Roman, the chef at the tavern. He was trained at the Culinary Institute of America and worked under Maurice Chantneau, who at that time was the most decorated chef in France. Paul is one of the finest American chefs in New York City and one of the youngest.
Fitos Vasiliou came from Cyprus a little over two years ago, and I placed him and his wagon in front. Actually, his wagon never stood there. It was always across the street to the right of the painting, but since that spot was not in the canvas, I played with reality a bit.
Richard Shenk is the young man buying a hot dog and Tim Langdon (young man with a mustache) is in back of him. Celia Gavelman is the lady next to him on the right. She was born in Manila as Celia Santayana, moved from the Philippines to New York City, married Norman Gavelman, and at the time had been living here for seven years. Since she worked with a Marine and Engineering design company in the area, we saw each other often and became friends.
Further to the right, pushing the Bear Stearns wagon, is Thomas Rist and next to him is Miguel Rivera, who is the young man with the mustache.
Elbert Thomas, the building superintendent, and Ronald Hall, his assistant, are placed exactly where I first met them. They are at the left of the entrance, Elbert in green, and Ronald in white overalls.
Ciro’s Pizza was in an empty rundown building when Arturo Di Christo first opened it. He believes that it was once a furniture store. As it was, this store turned out to be one of the key elements in planning this composition. It’s red awning and white walls gave light to the age of the street. “Artie”, the owner, is shown standing in front of it, and Billie Thurgood, one of his employees, is sitting on the steps.
When I first met Dorothy M. Smith, she worked at Lehman, Kuhn, and Loeb at water Street. I was in need of some rust red color near Off Track Betting, and she wore just that.
In the painting, that is the large cream colored building in the background. Next to her stands Wayne Seagarden and Robert Driscoll, both of whom were bond messengers returning from the New York Clearinghouse.
The dark haired girl crossing the street to the tavern is Marina Samaziza, who is one of the hostesses there. The waiters on the tavern sidewalk are Iraklis Kremmidas and Konstantine Vavisas. The man in the cap is a messenger whom I would see every day, and he would always ask how things were going. His name is Ned Kirsh.
Sid Elkins of Brooklyn walks in front of the red car, carrying a briefcase, and Kay and Jerry Lauren, with their daughters Jill, Amy, and Stacey are on the right side of the street.