July 5th 2012 - WFMZ
Artist/author Victor Stabin views the dictionary as “kind of a sound bite machine,” or “the universe alphabetized.” He’s inspired by its contents and lets his imagination run wild as he weaves his own alphabet comprised of intricate designs and compositions. Even a child could get lost in the intrigue of his ‘Alice-in-Wonderland’ journey of inventive interpretations—and come out loving it and wanting more.
“While his work appears spontaneous, it is carefully realized with much application of thought and incredible balance and technique,” explained J. Brooks Joyner, president/CEO of the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley, where Stabin’s work is currently on exhibit through Sept. 9, in the Art Ways Gallery.
The museum is hosting Stabin during its “Wonderfully Whimsical” half-day summer camp for ages 6-8 from July 9-13, and “Far Out Fantastic” full-day camp for ages 9-12 from July 16-20, organized by the museum’s Jessica Gauthier, community and family programs coordinator. Both camps will focus on the museum’s current exhibition, “At the Edge: Art of the Fantastic,” in addition to the Stabin’s “Daedal Doodle: An Extraordinary Journey through the Alphabet.” According to Gauthier, Stabin will guide the budding artists to design their own whimsical illustrations and stories, as well as fantastic creations.
Working with children is something Stabin is most familiar with. The father of two daughters, Skyler and Arielle, now nearing 10 and 9, respectively, he credits them as the inspiration behind his art form when they were mere toddlers and he was teaching them the alphabet. “As natural language sponges absorbing new words,” he said he took his daughters’ inquisitiveness one step further and created alliterative words and characters, “the product of 8,000 pages of dictionary reading distilled into an ABC book (Daedal Doodle) for the curious of all ages.” His style is reminiscent of Salvadore Dali, Dr. Seuss and M.C. Escher.
As for the title of the book, he explains that ‘Daedal’ is defined as “ingeniously formed or working, skillful and artistic.” Its origin comes from the mythic, Greek architect, inventor and craftsman Daedalus. The magic is in the ‘Doodle.’
Stabin’s exhibit in Allentown also includes an earlier collaborative work project, Daedal Doodle 2.0, involving students from the Panther Valley School District. He received an artist-in-residence grant and worked with 70 students ranging from elementary through senior high school to create their own version of the alliterative book. The grant was made possible through the Arts in Education Partnership of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and administered locally by the Allentown Art Museum. The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.
“The kids were excited to know their work would be shown in a museum,” said Stabin, who had their work on exhibit in his own gallery in Jim Thorpe, Carbon County. “Most of them never even saw a gallery before. I remember my first exhibit in sixth grade, in a strip mall in Queens, NY, facing an alley. Imagine these kids having their first show in a museum. I felt like the Good Witch. Their parents were excited as well.”
Raised in New York City, Stabin studied at the Art Students League when he was 13. He said he was always drawing abstract shapes “without trying imaginatively.” He recalled how his art teacher told him, ‘you do that well,’ but said it took him forever to wake up and say, ‘you really do do this well.’ It doesn’t look like anything else. It’s sort of like penmanship. It was the birth of style.”
As an illustrator, Stabin’s work appeared in Time, Newsweek and Rolling Stonemagazines, the New York Times, Scholastic Books, Random House, and even on KISS’s 1980 “Unmasked” album cover and nine U.S. postage stamps. In recent years, he’s been more of a painter creating eco-surrealistic imagery using other species and his family as his muse.
His alliterations in narrative form can be heard on NPR‘s “Unauthorized Cautionary Tales” serial. He’s even been sought after by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Crayola to speak on his ABC book as a teaching curriculum involving vocabulary skills with conceptual drawing, and his approach to the creative process.
Stabin resides in Jim Thorpe with his wife, Joan Morykin, a restaurateur, and their two daughters. In 2004, he and Joan purchased and renovated a 15,000-square-foot, 170-year-old factory building there, now known as the “Stabin Morykin Building,” home to the Victor Stabin Gallery, Flow Restaurant, Dynasty Gallery, and Artists’ Workshop Space.
June 2012 - Icon Magazine
SKYLER STABIN SPENT APPROXIMATELY one week in her third year putting “acorn” before “Daddy,” “TV” and other words where nuts don’t usually fall. Her skill at growing trees of modifiers greatly amused her father Victor, a hyper-imaginative artist and dictionary lover who squirrels away scores of words almost too fantastic to exist. He decided to animate Skyler’s ABCs by creating an alliterative ABC book starting, naturally enough, with “A is for Anti-Gravity Acorn.”
What began as an entertaining exercise for Skyler and her younger sister, Arielle, is now an alphabetarium and an industry.
Stabin’s recently published Daedal Doodle (58 pp., $24.99) features 26 letters that manage to be animal, mineral, vegetable and architectural fable. Each character comes with a surreal illustration that doubles as a visual narrative. “Apperceptive Achatina,” for example, is accompanied by a drawing of a giant African snail staring into a mirror, conscious of its consciousness.
ICON readers have sampled some of these letters in Stabin’s “Alliteration of the Month” series. They’ve sampled some of these narratives in “NPR Unauthorized Cautionary Tales,” a serial of crazy yarns about Stabin’s crazy creatures written by his equally hyper-imaginative friends. For the next three months-and-change everyone can sample Stabin’s cosmic brain in an exhibit of his sketches, drawings and word lists for Daedal Doodle at the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley.
Raised in Flatbush, Brooklyn and Jamaica Estates, Queens, Stabin, 58, works in a 150-year-old former wire-factory building in Jim Thorpe that he and his wife, Joan Morykin, restored into an arts complex and a restaurant called Flow, where farm to table specialties are served in a dining room with a view of a stream.
During a recent three-hour interview in his warehouse-like studio he revealed the many selves that he siphoned into Daedal Doodle, the many personalities braided as tightly as steel cables made on the premises for the Brooklyn Bridge. The graphic illustrator who created a super-powered comic-strip cover for KISS’s 1980 “Unmasked” album. The educator who this fall will lecture on his illuminated alliterative ABC book at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The nimble word omnivore, or lissome logophile, who eats dictionaries for breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snack.
The cancer survivor who tries to treat every day as his kids’ birthdays, remembering he was once diagnosed as sterile. The emotional ecologist who paints his children guided by, and guiding, endangered turtles. The inventive philosopher who internalized what his late inventor-philosopher father said when his son asked him about his 38th-birthday present: “Vic, every day I’m alive it’s your birthday.”
He was right; he died five months later.
“I owe my fascination with the dictionary and my love of words in general to an experience with an ex-girlfriend I like to call The Mean Girl. I was 26 and we were riding the subway. I asked her for the definition of as many as three words on a particular page I was reading. She made a charmless holier-than-thou comment about my lack of vocabulary, delivered in a dismissive way. She had unique psychic skills; half the impact of the comment was communicated with a roll of her eyes. Man, she really ripped me a new one. I was deracinated.
Now, I never thought I was stupid when it came to vocabulary. I just thought I was a dyslexic who focused on his art. I took this dictionary that my father had bought, put it on a shelf in my studio, and habitually referred to it. I still have it; it’s over there. [Walks to a lectern and opens Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary Unabridged, Second Edition]. It was published in 1958—the year you [aka the interviewer,i.e., me] were born.
I retreated into the dictionary for safety and empowerment. When working (like most artists I know ), I listen to various national and local talk stations on the radio—WNYC, NPR and WBAI. Every time I heard a word on the radio I didn’t quite know I looked it up and wrote it down in my vocabulary book (one of those black and white school notebooks). Or I looked up and learned a word I didn’t know while I was reading. My goal was 300 common words people use but don’t know really what they mean. I realized that working 300 words seamlessly into your conversation, you can seem like the smartest person in the room.
At about the same time I started reading the dictionary I remember reading in a book of American idioms that the average person uses about a 240-word vocabulary—a shockingly low number. The problem I had with using my newly found vocabulary power was wondering when I was being understood, because most people don’t want to ask the definition of an unfamiliar word. I was once at a party having a conversation with someone and asked him what a particular word meant. With faux politeness he asked if English was my second language. I would pay to remember the word I asked—the guy was an asshole.
You know, certain things are thrown at you and they become assets. Some people think they’re counter-intuitive, but to you they’re noble. So I have to thank The Mean Girl, even though she was one of the meanest people I’ve ever had the misfortune, and fortune, to have known. To this day it seems I thrive on criticism.
I get my words from pretty much anywhere and everywhere—not just the dictionary. Some just come out of the ether. Take ‘acorn.’ I think Skyler was obsessed with the word ‘acorn’ because she was obsessed with acorns for a week or so. At the time that’s what she saw when she looked down on the ground—I mean, when you’re three you’re height-challenged and acorns are easy to see, right?
I was listening to Charlie Rose’s interview show and one of his guests said: ‘Oh, that would be just a mere simulacrum.’ And I thought to myself: Oh, how pompous. That said, I wound up using it in the ABC book. I made it part of ‘Seraphim’s Simulacrum.’ The seraphim is for my kids, because they’re my little angels.
A lot of people say my artwork reminds them of the artwork of Dr. Seuss, M.C. Escher and Salvador Dali. I don’t really know Dr. Seuss, but I know the other guys very, very well. Let’s just say I slept with Dali and Escher. That Dali snores and his mustache tickles me. Or Escher snores and his mustache tickles me.
Another influence is Lord Buckley (1906-1960; extremely popular scat-singing poet; extremely influential cool-cat aristocrat). He always spoke with a distinctive beat [clicks fingers]. So I thought of words that seemed cool, that Lord Buckley would have enjoyed saying. Like ‘Eohippus’s Epizoon.’ Or ‘Bifoliated Bonito.’ Words that are just obtuse enough to be hip, especially when said with Buckley’s metering.
The alliteration isn’t as important as the beat. When I started creating the book, I really didn’t think of alliterations. I thought the narrative was going to come out of two rhyming, cool-sounding words. When I came up with ‘Anti-Gravity Acorn,’ for example, I heard some music playing in my head; I heard Lord Buckley. Sometimes I choose three words. Sometimes there are five words because they’re so good you have to go with the flow.
People kept telling me: You know, these characters are so intriguing, you should make stories for them. And that’s how the ‘NPR Unauthorized Cautionary Tales’ series began. Drawing on my personal habits, the creatures in the stories go through their day, somehow interacting with the info coming out of the radio. I wrote the first three stories and showed them to Trina, the ICON Czarina. Andy Lanset from WNYC wrote a story and Marshall Arisman wrote this month’s piece.
The story in the June issue, written by Arisman, revolves around Eohippus’ Epizoon. It involves exploding cans of spaghetti and Bernie Madoff. The protagonist weaves a path of mayhem wherever he goes and becomes a stockbroker, so it has a happy ending.
Some of the words I use turn out to have lives of their own, lives far beyond my control. Take ‘gubbins,’ for instance. It’s an English word that means ‘gadget,’ or ‘gizmo.’ Or so I thought until some English guy walks into the gallery here and sees the word and tells me: ‘You’re not using it right. It really means a feckless idiot.’ Same with ‘nimrod.’ You would think it means ‘knucklehead,’ but it really means ‘hunter.’ Go figure.
I live in mortal fear of people asking me for definitions of really difficult words. I’d be terrified if somebody asked: ‘What does xenium mean?’ or ‘What does nucivorous mean?’ (Words from my book, no less.) I’d better watch out. I may be stalked by word guys the way I was stalked by KISS fans at KISS conventions.
[We move from Stabin’s studio to his next-door gallery complex. First stop is a room of illuminated alliterative alphabet letters conceived by students at Panther Valley High School in Lansford, Pa. Taught by Stabin and funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the project has fanciful entries ranging from ‘Dawdling Dik-dik’ to‘Incontinent Impala.’]
The idea is letting kids know how easy it is to come up with ideas if they use words. Reading the dictionary seeds the imagination—words will become pictures. Like the butterfly wing that created a storm.
One of my role models is [artist] Chuck Close, who is comfortable with being out on a limb, with his work not fitting into any recognizable mold. Being out on a limb is a little lonely for a while, but once you connect to the other branches, you connect for good. When I was an illustrator, I always wanted something I could stick with, and to.
[We visit a room of sketches, drawings and word lists for Daedal Doodle. It’s a kind of command center for Stabin’s space-shuttle brain].
“Here’s the first drawing I did for the book [‘Zooid Zeppelin Zygote’]. I doodled it on the back of a children’s menu in a sports bar at the Chelsea Piers [in Manhattan]. At the time I was showing Jim Thorpe friends around New York and all they wanted to do was watch the Super Bowl.
I’m a doodler like my father. He would doodle gear trains and osmotic pressure devices on napkins. Here’s one of his inventions [Points to his dad’s circa 1972 ‘Osmometer#3’]. Looks like something out of ‘Flash Gordon,’ doesn’t it?
How does my art fit into my legacy? Well, my kids do not want me to sell any of the paintings with them in them. They want to keep the paintings for themselves. They understand mortality, that when I’m gone, the paintings are theirs. You know, I had a health ordeal when I was 44. I learned I had a tumor the size of an orange next to my heart. I was given a 50 percent of living. I had two years of chemo and steroids. During that time I developed anemia and brain fog. I was told that I could never have kids. Then, after all the treatments, my first wife left me. I met Joan five days later, asked her to marry me four months after that, and then learned she was pregnant when I thought I was sterile.
After I got over my ordeal I started doing my own work. Ever since the kids were born, they’ve been the focus of my art because nothing has moved me as much as they do. Nothing is more real than they are.
My kids are animating my life. Yet to them it’s pretty much standard operating procedure. You know, I said to them: ‘Your daddy is going to be on the cover of ICON.’ And they’re in the throes of a sugar rush and all they want to do is get high on sweets. So all they could say is: ‘I want candy!’”
Daedal Doodle: An Extraordinary Journey Through the Alphabet, drawings by Victor Stabin, June 3-September 9, Allentown
Art Museum, 31 N. 5th Street (between Linden and Hamilton streets), Allentown.
May 7th 2012 - Macmillan Dictionary Blog
The Pennsylvania-based artist and illustrator, Victor Stabin has sent us a copy of his delightful book Daedal Doodle. It’s an ‘ABC’ for kids learning the alphabet—but with a difference. Books of this type usually employ familiar objects and animals (‘A is for Apple, B is for Bear’ and so on), but this one is based on rare words which Stabin discovered by scouring dictionaries to find unlikely pairs. These produce bizarre alliterations, accompanied by surreal illustrations. Each picture is helpfully provided with definitions—which is just as well because even lexicographers wouldn’t know most of the words being illustrated.
Two of the less obscure examples are bifoliated bonito (a fish similar to a tuna, with two leaves – you can find it here), and microcephalic minotaur (the mythical creature with a bull’s head on a man’s body, but in this case with an abnormally small head). The whole approach is counter-intuitive, but that’s what makes it interesting. Stabin has used this technique in schools, encouraging students to comb their dictionaries in order to find their own outlandish combinations and then draw pictures of them. By a strange coincidence, his first high-school assignment was in a class of 26 students, so they each worked on one letter of the alphabet.
Only a handful of the 50-odd words illustrated here appear in the Macmillan Dictionary—though we do have zygote, traditionally the last entry in most English dictionaries, which is paired with zooid in Daedal Doodle. This demonstrates both the vast range of English vocabulary (something we’ve discussed before), and the point that most of us, most of the time, get by pretty well with just a fraction of the available resources. It’s all about frequency: microcephalic, for example, occurs just 25 times in our 1.6-billion-word corpus, which makes it an exceptionally rare word. (Though, intriguingly, one of these 25 examples very nearly connects microcephalic with the minotaur: “Professor Henneberg has previously compared the remains against a microcephalic Minoan skull dating from 2000 BCE.”)
It brings us back to the old question of how words get in the dictionary. The strict ‘entry criteria’ we traditionally applied made perfect sense in the days of paper dictionaries: if you added a new item, something else would usually have to go in order to make room for it, so words like microcephalic didn’t stand much chance of getting into a general-purpose dictionary.
But with dictionaries now mainly in digital form, we find ourselves revisiting most of the conventional wisdom that guided us in the past. With unlimited lexical data at our disposal, and crowd-sourcing to complement our own lexicographic efforts, maybe one day children reading Daedal Doodle will be able to check the Macmillan Dictionary for its definitions of the picture illustrating the letter N: ‘nidus naga’s nucivorous nidicolous’.
September 2011 - Icon Magazine
One of the greatest delights to be discovered in the wonderfully funky town of Jim Thorpe is to be found in an old wire factory, circa 1850, that braided steel cable for the Brooklyn Bridge. There, in this 15,000 square-foot historic stone building that moldered through years of decay, Victor Stabin, and his muse and wife, Joan Morykin, are creating a dynamic cultural center that promises to become a major East Coast art destination.
Recently, The Washington Post, referred to it as a “completely contemporary center [which] feels urban enough to be in New York or London.” It includes several galleries, workshops, conference room, shop and a restaurant with a creek running through it. There is farm-to-table, organic cuisine. And in the near future there will be a flexible theater that can be used for performances, cabaret, juried art shows, and so forth. Apparently, the great building can even talk. “Sometimes,” the couple told me when I met them for this interview, “we feel as if our building talks to us, telling us to do this, then to do that.”
Victor Stabin is an artist, author, illustrator and master doodler. His wife is a restaurateur. Before turning to painting exclusively, Stabin was a celebrated illustrator, whose work includes a number of magnificent commemorative stamps for the United States Postal Service, an enormous mural for RCA/BMG’s corporate headquarters in New York, illustrations for the New York Times, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and Timemagazines, and dozens of book and record covers, including the collectible Kiss “Unmasked” album.
Joan, the former Director of Internet Systems Development for Reuters in New York City, supervises the restaurant Flow.
Jack Byer: You’re both New Yorkers. I can’t imagine you ever thought you’d be making a life here in Jim Thorpe.
Victor Stabin: [Laughing] You know that Woody Allen quote: “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans,”
Joan Morykin: I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and the very last thing I ever thought I would do after graduating from college was live in a small town in Pennsylvania-I spent time abroad, lived in Washington, D.C. and then moved to New York City. A friend of mine recently pointed out to me that my high school yearbook even says, “Joan dislikes small lunch portions and small town attitudes.”
JB: You grew up very close to here in the Lehigh Valley in the Penn Argyl School District.
JM: And I have to admit that I never visited Jim Thorpe until after I was living and working in New York City. There was always a big line of demarcation between the Valley and Carbon County and as a kid in high school I always tended to be drawn south or east. We used to spend a lot of time at Lehigh University, which interestingly enough was founded by Asa Packer, Jim Thorpe’s millionaire industrialist who built the stone row house I first bought here as a weekend retreat from New York City.
JB: Victor, your move to Jim Thorpe was one of the major life changes you made after beating a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
VS: Eight months after I married my first wife, I got cancer. My oncologist told me he had never seen this kind of cancer in adults. I was treated for two years with Leukemia drugs that were normally used for children. After I got my last shot of chemo, the doctor gave me a 99 percent chance of survival. I got home and my wife said, “Oh, you’re cured. I’m leaving.” I realized that life is short, and I wasn’t going to mourn. I was going to make the most of my time. I decided to give up illustration and concentrate on my own art. I said I can’t afford not to take this chance anymore. If not now, when.
JB: And then you and Joan met.
JM: On a very hot day in June of 2001 in New York City. I had been invited to a barbecue, but I had just come back from an Uncle’s funeral and I didn’t feel like dealing with people. But my girl friend, who was also going to the party, was insistent. When I first saw Victor he was standing in the street telling terrible jokes and wearing pink socks, long red shorts, and wearing a shirt with the words “Russian baths” written in Cyrillic script.
Interesting enough, five days before, I had ended a long term relationship and five days before that, Victor’s wife had left him. So we wound up almost joking about this coincidence.
VS: Four months after I met Joan, while I was still in the process of being divorced, I proposed to her. We found out she was pregnant with Skyler one month later. Folklore has it that Skyler was conceived on the day I proposed. So Skyler came to our wedding at the Brooklyn Court house.
JM: And sixteen months later, Arielle was born.
VS: I had been told that because of the chemo I was completely sterile and might be for ten years and maybe forever. So before my treatment for cancer, I put sperm in a sperm bank in case I wanted children one day. But I never had to use it.
JB: You have portraits of Joan and Christy, your first wife, hanging side by side in the gallery.
VS: Like the other fifteen paintings in my Turtle Series, they’re very personal paintings. What drives my painting is what is happening in my life. Get rid of my paintings and you get rid of my life. I see Christy’s portrait as the divorce painting. I got married in my forties to Christy, who was twenty years younger than I. For the last few months of our relationship, she would come home every day and pick up the little red slider turtle I had as a pet, say, “Hi, Tom,” give the turtle a kiss, put it back in the cage, and walk by me. I just thought, “Boy, she really loves that turtle.” I didn’t realize how much she didn’t love me. So I did a painting of her holding this pillow, which became the turtle, which I made much larger. I titled it, “Christy and Tom.”
JB: Quite a contrast to Joan’s portrait.
VS: I wanted to do a painting of Joan when she was pregnant. We went to a friend’s pool, and I tied a ten-pound weight to myself with a belt so I could float down, and I got a ten-dollar camera from a pharmacy for taking underwater pictures, and I took these pictures of her in the pool. Three days later she gave birth. It was perfect timing.
JB: Joan, how do you feel about the portraits displayed side by side?
JM: I actually appreciate the contrast. There’s great sadness in Christy as she embraces the turtle. Something is definitely at the end. Her eyes are closed and she looks downward. The background is dark. The few plants are wilting. And then next to it is the painting of me that Victor calls “My Madonna.” There’s just the shadow of the little turtle cast on my pregnant belly. I see the turtle as an emblem of longevity, femininity, water and the future child.
VS: [Laughing] And your eyes are wide open. Whenever we have an argument, I can say to Joan, “Well, your eyes were open at the time.”
JB: And yet you’ve connected the paintings in this series to your concern for the environment.
VS: We’re so disconnected from nature and animals. It’s like being disconnected from an important part of ourselves. Anyway, I was at the Assateague National Seashore in Virginia and came across the Endangered Species Chocolate Bar, which is intended to spread awareness of all the plant and animal species disappearing from the earth.
JB: “Savor chocolate. Save our planet.”
VS: That’s the one. It has a turtle on it, and I just thought this is how I’ll connect my work to the environment. So I’m giving a percentage of the profits from the sale of prints of the Turtle paintings to environmentally-conscious organizations. My goal is to connect with all the different Sierra Club type places and have them show my work and fund them through the sale of my work.
JB: Victor, you’re now forty-seven and your daughters Arielle and Skyler are eight and nine respectively. How do you feel about having children late in life?
VS: Having children has opened up my life in ways that were impossible for me to imagine. I love their delight with everything. When the kids were four and five, they’d run into our rom after they bathed, all clean and shiny, and jump up and down on the bed. Nobody could have been happier than those two kids. I’ve turned that memory into a painting which I think in my magnum opus.
JB: The kids appear in much of your art. I’m especially taken with the painting of eighteen-month-old Skyler looking at an ABC art book. The pages are flipped to the letters “P”, “R” and “S” and you’ve copied paintings by Picasso, Rosseau and Sargent. There’s an abstract painting of a turtle shell behind her. And the floor she sits on seems like a Jackson Pollack painting.
VS: The hardest thing in that painting was copying Pollack. The section took me two weeks. Joan walked into my studio crying. She said, “How are you going to earn a living if you keep on repainting the same thing.” Pollack threw it down; I actually rendered it.
JB: Her foot seems to be touching a puddle of red paint.
VS: It’s touching a print of my Chuck Taylor sneaker print, which I left when my shoe stepped in a puddle of red paint. Her foot to my toe. It’s an art reference to Michelangelo connecting Adam to God and maybe a father’s hope that one of his kids might become a painter.
JM: We’ve given the kids their own Dynasty Gallery where they hang and sell their own work. Interestingly, the girls are left-handed like Victor. They have a two-sided easel in Victor’s studio. They both paint on either side at the same time.
JB: So how are their sales?
VS: [Laughter] The girls sell more prints than most seven and eight-year-olds. The prints they sell remain on he wall and the ones that don’t sell are replaced with new ones. They are very possessive of the space and will not allow other artists to show in their gallery. [Laughter]
JB: Tell me about the Daedal Doodle book, your ABC book for kids and adults, which they inspired. What is a “daedal doodle” anyway?
VS: “Daedal” is defined as something that is “ingeniously formed, skillful and artistic.” It comes from the mythic Greek artist and inventor, Daedalus, builder of the Labyrinth. So a daedal doodle is a cleverly and skillfully wrought drawing.
JB: Which you’ve drawn to match some inscrutable and hilarious combination of words. Like “K” is for “Kaonic Karakul,” and “W” is for “Woubit’s Whigmaleerie.”
VS: Inscrutable to adults, but not to children, they’re simply new words to absorb. Kids will sponge up anything. Just give them a chance.
JM: When Skyler was two years old, Victor taught her how to say, “My daddy is a megalomaniac.” I was horrified. But Victor thought it was funny coming out of a two-year-old’s mouth.
VS: But to this day she knows what the word means and at three years old, she knew what a lepidopterist was and she knew how to spell it.
JB: You must have poured over the OED for months. [Weighing 137 pounds, the Oxford English Dictionary is the dictionary to end all dictionaries because it includes the derivations of words.]
VS: I read the OED the Chambers English Dictionary, and a Webster’s that my Dad bought me when I was four. I read every page of those dictionaries, one letter at a time and came up with adjectives and nouns that lent themselves to narratives and making these pictures. I got depressed when I finished. I didn’t know what to do with myself.
JM: The National Endowment for the Arts gave Victor a grant to go into one of the local schools and talk to 8th graders about the process of putting the Daedal Doodlebook together and the connection of words and ideas.
VS: The kids came up with alliterations as good as mine. Society is trimming art educations budgets, so the curriculum I came up with directly blended language skills with drawing conceptually. I felt I was putting art and conceptual thinking back in play via English, besides encouraging a curiosity for the dictionary.
JB: The Oxford English Dictionary added a new word a few years ago: locavores. It means those committed to food grown in home gardens or produced locally by groups interested in keeping the environment as clean as possible. Ties in with the values of our restaurant, Joan.
JM: Absolutely. My father was one of ten children. His parents, who came from the Ukraine, wound up buying this big farm and raising all of their ten children through the Depression on the farm. What eventually happened is that some of the children subdivided the land and built homes on the farmland. So I grew up in this massive extended family. Everybody had a garden. We didn’t have to farm for a living, but it was something my father always did from the time he was a little five-year-old behind the horses plowing the fields. He actually wound up working for the railroads for over forty years. We were never a family that would go away for two weeks to the beach for vacation. When my dad had vacations, he was just farming the land. It was just ingrained in him. So we always had amazing vegetables in the summer. We had heirloom tomatoes that were heirlooms in our family before the term really meant anything. My family still saves the sees of the tomato every year.
JB: And years ago, Victor was bartering art for free restaurant meals.
VS: Where did you ever hear about that?
JB: You were mentioned in a 1986 piece in New York magazine called “Eat Your Art Out” about artists in New York who bartered their art for free restaurant meals.
VS: [Laughter] I was doing that for a while when I was a kid. There was a Japanese restaurant in the village that was happy to get art on their walls. I could show up with a date and get a meal. It was a sort of fun thing to do.
June 24th 2011 - The Morning Call
Jim Thorpe artist Victor Stabin tapped in to his love for words, talent as an illustrator and desire to expose his young daughters to a rich vocabulary to create his new book, Daedal Doodle.
A self-proclaimed eco-surrealist, Stabin defines at least two outlandish words per letter of the alphabet and adds corresponding doodles for each, resulting in an inventive ABC book that ignores expectations. Daedal Doodle contains extraordinary illustrations, unexpected alliterations and an intricate relationship between the two that lets readers learn unusual words.
Published by Victor Stabin Books ($24.99), the book contains 27 pages of fantastic images and learning opportunities.
Stabin, who was born in New York City, has a few claims to fame. He created artwork for U.S. Postal Service stamps, including a portrait of music composer Henry Mancini. He designed an album cover for Kiss, “Kiss Unmasked.”
With his wife Joan Morykin, he renovated a 15,000-square-foot factory building in Jim Thorpe originally constructed in 1850. Now called the Stabin Morykin Building, it includes art galleries, art workshop space, a theater and the farm-to-table restaurant Flow.
Stabin, 57, shared some of his feelings about the creation of Daedal Doodle. If you visit his book release party Saturday, you can learn more including: what are ganoid gubbins and quodlibetical quahog?
Q: Have you done work like this for children’s books before?
A: Well, I don’t know if this is a children’s book. I show it to people and no matter who I show it to, they think it’s something other than what it is. It could be a teaching tool, and it strikes everyone differently. Some people looked at the book and just got giddy, and some people didn’t know what to make of it.
Q: What made you want to put a twist on typical ABC books?
A: It started with this mean girl I went out with like 30 years ago. I was reading and didn’t know about five words on the page and she was like, “You’re stupid.” So then I would read with a dictionary by me and look up every word I didn’t know. I realized the dictionary is the universe alphabetized. It’s like a mini encyclopedia.
Q: After reading about 8,000 pages in dictionaries, how did you choose which words to include in Daedal Doodle?
A: I would read words, and as I read I had a legal pad and I’d look for adjectives and nouns. I would get about 60 words, then that would get turned into 30 words, then I kept narrowing it down and things just clicked. I wrote down words and some would just say, “Use me, use me.” I wanted words that sounded cool, then I wanted to get words that sounded cool and that I didn’t know.
Q: Have you always loved words this much?
A: Well, since that girl told me I was stupid. And I read the autobiography of Malcolm X. He was in jail and realizes he has to educate himself, so he starts copying the dictionary. He realized the dictionary is a mini encyclopedia, so actually I took his thought. And Winston Churchill said, “It is a good thing for an educated man to read a book of quotations,” and I believe him. It makes you more intelligent. So it comes from Linda, Malcolm X and Winston Churchill.
Q: What did you most enjoy about the process of creating this book?
A: I like getting the idea and finishing the job. And everything in between is almost like being an insect, like how ants work and work and work. But then I feel like a creative genius when I’m done, and that moment is very satisfying.
Q: Are there any common themes in Daedal Doodle that reflect your previous work?
A: I see the connection but nobody else does. As an artist, you get this kind of shape design that just comes out of your wrist almost. One of the things I like to do always is invent little things, things you won’t see in life. Artists make a living by creating a style, but even more important to me was to stretch my abilities with this than to stay in a box.
Q: What makes this a “book for the ages”?
A: The fact that a pregnant woman bought it for her unborn baby and an 80-year-old man bought it the same day. When I do work I want people to understand a narrative, and I feel it’s important to have as much creativity as you can and have as many people understand it as possible. I want a broad spectrum of people to understand it. I’m trying to get people with the funny, the esoteric desire to learn words and the drawings.
Q: What’s the final verdict? Do your daughters like the book?
A: I asked them if they liked it, and they said, “A lot.” They watched me make it for like five years, so they saw many versions of it.
Q: Do you plan to create any other works like Daedal Doodle?
A: I have other books in me that would be doodle-ish, but they wouldn’t be exactly the same thing. I intend to do a book tour now. One of the things I want to do this summer is get in a car and just stop at bookstores and do signings in like ten cities or something.
June 21st 2011 - Times News
To celebrate the release of Daedal Doodle, an open-to-the-public free book party is being held for author/illustrator Victor Stabin.
The book party will be held on June 25 at 5 p.m. in the Victor Stabin Gallery at the Stabin Morykin Building next to Flow Restaurant at 268 W. Broadway in Jim Thorpe.
Stabin will answer questions and sign books. There will be an exhibit illustrating the process of developing Daedal Doodle, as well as a display of his large format original series of turtle-inspired paintings.
Early praise for Daedal Doodle has been received from Susan Orlean of the New Yorker Magazine who called it, “original and sly,” from Leonard Lopate of WNYC Radio, who described it as, “a visual stunner with delightful definitions,” and from NPR commentator Jeremy Siegel who noted, “Looking at this book was reminiscent of the first time I viewed the work of M.C. Escher.”
Daedal Doodle is an illustrated ABC book for children of all ages. The museum-quality fanciful and fascinating illustrations complement a selection of odd and unusual alliterations of each letter of the alphabet.
The project began simply enough. Stabin was reading ABC books to his then three-year-old daughter, Skyler. She adopted the first word of the book, “acorn,” and used it as a prefix to the words that followed-“acorn-bath, acorn-cereal, acorn-daddy.”
So, he decided to make an ABC book for Skyler. For the first page, he drew an acorn floating on a string—like a balloon with its string anchored to the ground—and labeled it, Antigravity Acorn. “I thought it sounded cool,” Stabin said. For the following pages of the book, he turned to an old friend, the dictionary, looking for words that sounded cool.
In the days that followed, Stabin found himself doodling on a napkin while watching a football game. “I drew a picture of a blimp with a zigzag streak behind it.”
Returning to the dictionary, he found an alternative name for the blimp, and it became renamed with what he calls a fun word, “zeppelin.” His vision that it would be organic, move in a zigzag motion, and possess life force lent it towards the title zooid zeppelin zygote. He placed an egg in the middle of the picture and had a zeppelin revolving around it drawn with a squiggly line.
With the letter A and Z created, Stabin was on his way to completing his illustrated alphabet book. For 24 of the 26 entries, he began with a letter of the alphabet, then selected two or three words beginning with that letter—usually exotic words that he did not know. From the words selected came the images.
For two of the images, Stabin adapted drawings that he had used for Christmas cards. Those are the letters H—hedonistic helix where two infants are sliding down a helical plane, and S—seraphim’s simulacrum where two girls hold an unusual pen that scribbles on the horizon.
Stabin creates his word pictures by first creating a series of ball point sketches on paper, selects the most promising among the drawings, and scans the image into his computer where it is finished by air brushing in Photoshop.
“The line work gives it its style,” Stabin explained. “The computer takes away some of its personal style, suggesting that it is a digital drawing, but much of the line work remains.”
Winter 2010 - Local Flair
Founded in February, 2008 by Victor Stabin, and his wife, Joan, the Stabin Morykin Building has truly become a premium locavore destination in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Formerly a wireworks factory c.1850, the space consists of three galleries, a “thing” shop, a farm-to-table organic cuisine restaurant and pub. Visitors will agree that there is plenty of local flavor to “ponder, explore & sample” under one roof.
Stabin, a renowned illustrator and fine artist, found his way to the small mountain town of Jim Thorpe while still dating Joan. At the time working as the Director of Internet for Reuter’s in New York City, Joan felt the Jim Thorpe row house to be a perfect escape from the hectic pace of the city and corporate America. After battling cancer, Stabin decided he would leave the commute behind and stay in Jim Thorpe joined by Joan, who felt as though she had gone as far as she could in the corporate world.
Together they have created a feast for the senses up a winding road in Jim Thorpe where the sights, sounds, and smells within the building invite you to stay and relax. The zoning process was difficult, but guided by the philosophy of “let the building tell us what to do”, the couple hired a “Motley-Artist Crew” of workers that helped to make the amazing space of the building come to life. Stabin reminisced and laughed about having to teach “spackling 101” at one point during construction. What started from the idea of a gallery space quickly turned in to a special place open to all.
Knowing the gallery would always have shows and opening that required catering, the couple decided to create their own restaurant and pub to accommodate the need. “If we were going to create a restaurant,” Stabin said, “it might as well be really good.” And really good FLOW is. Featuring organic farm-to-table cuisine for lunch and dinner, the chefs prepare each meal with rustic simplicity.
Stabin said, “Trattoria 903 used to have the best lunch in the area, but now we have the best lunch: House-made Apple Tree Dairy Chevre Potato Pierogies and Friendly Farms Free Range Chicken Breast served with Friendly Farms Corn Risotto, Grilled Kauffman’s Farms White Peaches and Foie Gras Butter make up just a sampling of the small, but confident menu. Main courses range in price from $10.00 (for the Starving Artists Special, of course) to $28.00. Reservations are accepted with early bookings suggested, especially on weekends. Call 570.325.8200 and ask for the table for two by the glass box overlooking the creek that “flows” through the restaurant…it’s my favorite.
Stabin’s artworks have appeared in major publications suck as Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, Rolling Stone and have also appeared on more than a dozen postage stamps commissioned by the USPS. His recent Turtle Series was inspired by a snorkeling trip in the Caribbean, during which Stabin swam with a sea turtle for 30 minutes. When the turtle left his side, Stabin felt a sense of longing. The Turtle Series paintings hope to represent and nurture the relationships between man and animal, with 10% of sales benefiting species preservation.
The limited edition prints are housed in the Victor Stabin gallery. The Dynasty Room houses the work of Skyler & Arielle Stabin, daughter’s of Victor and Joan, who show their art and are a part of the sales process. At only five and seven years old the girls are already learning the business. Named after it’s first contributor Marshall Arisman, the Arisman Room showcases new work by Victor’s students. The “Thing Shop” acts a gift shop of sorts and brims with all-things Stabin; there his cards, books and small prints are available for sale. The Stabin Morykin Building has plans for flexible performance space debuting in 2011, the Hiatt Center will offer rotating shows in the venue.
June 18th 2010 - The Washington Post
Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, is a town that offers so much to do that it might scare people. With rafting, mountain biking, paintball, gallery hopping, hiking, museums, shopping, concert venues and steam train excursions, its understandable if some people worry that they’ll be sucked into a vortex of guided activity if they visit.
I’m here to tell you otherwise: You can have a great time in Jim Thorpe even if you don’t want to do anything. For me, a nice stroll up Broadway, a beer in a classic Pennsylvania tavern or even just a browse through racks of used books outside an antiques store make this town of 5,000 about 40 miles northwest of Bethlehem worth a visit.
Before we go any further, let’s answer the question that’s on everybody’s mind: How did Jim Thorpe get its name?
In the early 1950s, when the place was two adjoining towns, Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk, it was looking for a shot of publicity. It soon heard that the third wife of the late Jim Thorpe, the great Native American athlete, was offering his remains to any place that would build a fitting memorial to him. Mauch Chunk was ready, willing and able. The body arrived on Feb. 8, 1954, and the first monument was built soon after. And on May 18 of the same year, Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk were merged and renamed Jim Thorpe.
The town has seen it all. During the early 1900’s the flood of tourists riding the Switchback Gravity Railroad—the railway that hauled coal from the mines at Summit Hill down to the town and that many consider the nation’s first roller coaster—made it second only to Niagara Falls as an American tourist destination. Yet when the Great Depression hit and the railroad was sold for scrap, the place became destitute. Things started turning around in the late 1970s, when artists began buying the old stone rowhouses, Lehigh Gorge State Park was created and the current community started taking shape.
One recent morning, I strolled up the route of the Switchback Gravity Railroad. Today, with the rails removed, it’s a pleasant journey for hikers and mountain bikers. Roughly paralleling West Broadway, it leads up a steep slope with views of the town. Back in the day, the Gravity Railroad would hit 60mph rolling down this hill. It must have been quite a ride.
I left the path at the top of West Broadway and visited the Stabin Morykin Building, a cluster of art galleries in a repurposed garment factory with a hip restaurant and cocktail bar attached. There’s plenty of interesting work on the walls but the most fascinating aspect is the center itself. Beautifully rebuilt and completely contemporary, it feels urban enough to be in New York City or London.
As I walked back down the hill, it was the houses that grabbed my attention: typical Pennsylvania working class at the top, becoming more affluent as you approach Market Square and the train station. Many of the homes had been converted into small shops. Most of the stores sold decorative objects: prints, jewelry, woodcarvings and old household items.
At noon on a spring Saturday, I greeted the owners as they set up shop on their front porches. I stopped, admired some old hand-cranked eggbeaters and passed them by. Ditto for the used books and the bath and body-care stuff. I’m noty much of a shopper.
Later on, I visited the Anita Shapolsky Art Foundation, a small museum named for the New York art dealer who set it up in an old church. When I walked through the door, the woman in charge cried out, “This is an art museum!”
Of course it was. The abstract impressionist paintings by Ernest Briggs and Seymour Boardman on display had an exuberance and energy that fit the town and set the mood for the rest of my day.
Looking for something to eat, I went to a friendly local tavern. Pennsylvania has a long tradition of great beers on tap and solid meals serve alongside. At Antonio’s, a place that somehow combines a classic beer bar and pizzeria, I ate a huge plate of pasta at the bar while drinking Yuengling Lager, the legendary local beer. Within 15 minutes, I was talking beer, food and history with the regulars.
Evenings bring a whole new set of choices. Bars and cafes have entertainment, the Opera House and Penn’s Peak theater host nationally known acts, and meals at fine-dining restaurants are a possibility. But a pleasant stroll, a modest dinner and some conversation with the locals is enough for me. Remember, there’s plenty to do here. You’re free to rent a bike, raft the river or hop a steam train. There’s always something. Just don’t feel that you have to do it all.
May 8th 2010 - Times News
Ten years in the making, “Keep Your Eye on the Ball,” a four-foot high by eight-foot wide oil-on-linen surrealistic painting is finally finished and currently on exhibit at the Stabin Morykin Building.
Hopefully, is the reaction from artist Victor Stabin who has been tinkering with the design since beginning the work in 2000, at a time when there was even odds that this would be his last project.
“People are mesmerized by the painting—staring at it for two minutes,” Stabin notes. “Most people visiting the top museums in the world only view a painting for three to six seconds. I don’t even invite them in to see the painting—they walk into the room and they get stuck. It’s really quite a compliment.”
Perhaps what they get stuck in is the time warp that began when Stabin was undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma.
“I was feeling so weak that it was hard to wear a wristwatch,” he explained. “I was pretty jumpy and distracted by the discomfort, and anemic because of less oxygen to my brain. It’s not easy being around someone on chemo and getting steroids all day.”
“They were giving me a percentage to survive. I felt that if I was going to do this, I would have to do it now.”
Stabin had been thinking about this painting for decades. Some 25 years ago, he received a photograph of a seal and two pelicans in a row boat. The seal was looking at a ball.
Seeking a respite from his illness, he rented a summer home on Fire Island, a barrier reef that creates the Great South Bay between Long Island and the Atlantic Ocean.
“I lived on the narrowest part of the island, less than a tenth of a mile wide and from my house I could see the ocean and the bay. I was constantly looking at the bay—especially at night. This is not a day at the beach. It is a night at the bay. Stabin’s alternative name for his painting is “A Night at the Bay.”
He was 45 years old when he started the painting. He wanted to feature the seal in the row boat looking at the ball set against the Great South Bay as a background.
He drew inspiration from the classical surrealists. He remembers as a youth getting $35 from his aunt which he used to buy a book of Salvador Dali’s art. He kept it huddled against his chest as he rode home on the New York City subway in fear of it being stolen.
“Now I realize muggers don’t steal art books,” he joked.
Painting while undergoing chemotherapy was equally a surrealist experience. Like Dali’s oozing clocks, time appeared distorted to Stabin—even the more so as he was literally painting for his life. “Tomorrow may never come,” he said. “It gave me a sense of destiny.”
Stabin gave up all his illustration projects and concentrated on the painting for a year to create what he called his first iteration.
“It was complicated but sparse compared to what it is now,” he said. “Books with fluttering pages floated on top of the bay. I spent a lot of time on the painting but I could never settle on it being finished. For all the work that I put in it, I just thought, I really don’t like it. I look at it now and I actually do like it.”
From time to time, for five years, he reworked the painting. Over the following years, Stabin overcame his cancer, divorced, remarried, and moved to Jim Thorpe, where he and his wife, Joan Morykin, started the Stabin Morykin Building and the Flow Restaurant. The many commitments took him away from completing his painting.
The painting hung in his studio. It looked at him and he looked at it.
“Four months ago, after it was on the wall for an easy five years,” Stabin said, “I’m going to finish this.”
“Painting is something that can only be done with a certain amount of solitude and piece of mind,” he explained. With his Stabin Morykin Building and Flow projects up and running, he was psyched to finish his 10-year painting project.
“I was looking at it and felt it was dead,” he said. “I wanted to do something completely different. I made the sky red and added yellow to the clouds. It took me about two months and here we are.
“I’m not going to work on this anymore. If I want to do anything like it, it will be another painting.”
In his final iteration, Stabin introduced turtle figures into the painting integrating it into a developing series of about a dozen turtle-themed paintings. He plans to create signed and numbered prints of the painting “Keep Your Eye on the Ball.”
Victor Stabin’s paintings may be viewed at the Stabin Morykin Building, 268 W. Broadway, Jim Thorpe, PA (570) 325-8284.
February 4th 2010 - Keystone Edge - James Williams
Victor Stabin hears it all the time from the curious folks in rural Pennsylvania who jump out of their car with the out-of-state license plate or accent: “What’s this place doing here?”
“This place,” in Jim Thorpe, Carbon County is something these visitors might expect to see closer to their urban homes. To be sure, the Stabin Morykin Building’s farm-to-table restaurant and bar, Flow, and adjoining art gallery, has sophistication befitting a city-dweller. Its home is a scenic borough of less than 5,000, a tourist destination that has sometimes been called the “Switzerland of America.” The complex—housed in a renovated 19th-century stone factory and brought to life by the husband-and-wife team of Stabin and Joan Morykin—makes Flow an even more impressive destination.
“It’s geographically interesting, sometimes beautiful,” says Stabin of Jim Thorpe, re-named for the great Olympic athlete in the 1950s (and because Mauch Chunk didn’t exactly roll off the tongue). “People arrive here with a sense of hopefulness.”
In 2009, Jim Thorpe ranked No. 7 on Budget Travel magazine’s list of America’s Coolest Small Towns and was also rated as one of the country’s Most Adventurous Cities by National Geographic Adventures magazine. While the borough of 5,000 has never been short on historic sites, natural wonders or food and drink, Flow and the art gallery are giving Jim Thorpe a more updated and even more welcoming feel.
“There’s a lot going on at one time,” says Stabin, an internationally known commercial illustrator and artist.
The same could be said of that old building at 268 West Broadway. It began in the 1840s as a water-powered Wireworks building, built by one of the town’s founding families, the Hazards. After a silk company and then a steam laundry outfit occupied it for nearly 125 years, the building began to fall apart. It was saved by a collection of community business leaders who recognized the building was historic. They purchased the building for $1,200 at a county sale, made repairs to the roof and renovated the interior, and in 1948 the Mary Ann Mfg. Co. moved in, created 100 jobs and stayed for some 25 years. Since the company left in the 1970s, the building was used by a toy factory and more recently as a warehouse for adult toys.
Stabin and Morykin, however, saw in it a much different kind of adult fantasy.
“The building spoke to us,” Morykin says.
Getting it in shape to speak to others would prove difficult. Parts of the 15,000 square foot factory hadn’t been used for more than 20 years. Windows were broken or boarded up. Plus, there were some in Jim Thorpe who would rather have seen the building demolished to make way for more parking spaces. Despite the mountain of work ahead, Stabin decided to rent studio space there from what he called a “difficult” landlord. Before long, he and Morykin bought the building for $164,000.
Renovations took nearly four years, starting first with the installation of the art gallery. That was the easy part. Then the husband-and-wife operators decided to stop giving away wine and food at the gallery and went about converting what amounted to a concrete bunker with 18-inch walls into a kitchen. If that weren’t daunting enough, they also engaged in a year-long zoning battle.
The restaurant opened in January, 2008, just as the recession was settling into its place on top of everyone’s mind. It now employs 20 and the gallery is the first in the state licensed to serve alcohol. The Mauch Chunk Creek flows underneath the dining area–the water is visible through a well-manicured hole in the floor, hence the restaurant’s name–on its way to the Lehigh River. Reviews have been kind, some even glowing, helping attract a different kind of tourist and keeping the usual ones interested.
Morykin helps ensure all of Flow’s food is from farms and other providers within a 50-mile radius, while its wine and brews meet the same criteria. In addition to totally organic and local cuisine, Flow features an in-house bakery and outdoor dining.
As for the building’s art, that’s where Stabin’s genius comes in. A New York City radio host once said of the artist: “Somehow, Stabin’s been able to bypass thinking and paint sweet dreams directly.” His work is considered inventive and ethereal and his work has appeared in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times and Rolling Stone, and he was commissioned by the U.S. Postal Service to design commemorative stamps.
At Flow, the fingerprints of Stabin and his artist friends are all over, from the Dynasty Room, The Thing Room and hundreds of illustrations, paintings and sculptures. Stabin and Morykin’s own young children have sold their work here. Also as part of the Stabin Morykin Building, there are regular classes held at the site in photography, plein air painting, yoga and storytelling, and Stabin, who runs a mentoring program, plans on converting his next-door studio into a performance space for theater and music.
In his own press packet, Stabin’s work is described as “a moment of transcendence, where one is transported to unexpected places.”
Not unlike 268 West Broadway, and perhaps more so today than through all its incarnations in 170 years.
May 9th 2009 - Times News
In the first of what Bill Allison, vice president of the Mauch Chunk Historical Society, predicate will be many awards ceremonies, former Carbon County Planning Director Bruce Conrad and the married couple of Victor Stabin and Joan Morykin, owners of the Flow restaurant and directors of the Stabin Morykin Building, were honored for the risks they took and the accomplishments they achieved in the revitalization of Jim Thorpe.
“Tonight, the Mauch Chunk Historical Society is here in support of the people who are willing to step forward and go beyond what is expected, to pull together unusual situations, and be leaders in Jim Thorpe,” Allison said.
He called Conrad a, “Lone voice in the wilderness,” when in the 1970s, he took a depressed but not a depressing downtown Jim Thorpe and turned it into the first National Historic District. Conrad was instrumental in the purchase of the defunct ConRail short line at Jim Thorpe as well as a property investor and the owner of the cockroach restaurant.
Speaker of the House Keith McCall congratulated Conrad on the award and added his recognition with a proclamation from the state of Pennsylvania, which was also given to Stabin and Morykin.
“Congratulations to Bruce on this award,” McCall said. “It is richly deserved for what he did in a community that really needed a hand up. Bruce had a vision. That vision is what se Jim Thorpe on its road to recovery.”
“We talk about heritage tourism today,” McCall continued. “At that time it was not well known by anyone. Jim Thorpe was a jewel in the rough and it took somebody to have a vision to see that jewel, pick it up, shine it up, and expose it. That’s precisely what Bruce Conrad did.”
After receiving the award, Conrad spoke.
“I have always told people who ask me what our town was like when I got here, that it was severely economically depressed, but absolutely full of life, joy and good will,” Conrad said. “It is people that matter, and the people who make a community livable, not buildings, businesses or government departments.
“The people you remember even decades later and long after they may have died are not the famous people you have met, or the richest but the ones who caed the most about you.”
Among Conrad’s accomplishments in Jim Thorpe are: helping to save the Opera House, creating the Historic District, organizing the Main Street Program, helping rebuild the Dimmick Library, nominating the Canal and the Switchback to the National Register, and saving Carbon County’s railroad.
“When I came here I was welcomed by the wonderful people of Carbon County, and I have never wanted to leave,” he concluded. “I would only hope that I may be able to say that I have you with the same generosity and love you have always shown me.”
The couple of graphic artist Victor Stabin and journalist Joan Morykin accepted their awards with Stabin acknowledging the accomplishments of Conrad.
Morykin recounted the tribulations of gestating the Stabin Morykin Building.
“I know many of you have been supporters of this project from the beginning and I see a lot of faces here that I know had personally spent countless hours attending various meetings on our behalf. Thank you all for coming out tonight,” Morykin said.
“Artists need old buildings,” she explained. “These buildings usually need lots of love and attention-in our case, an exorbitant amount of attention.”
Stabin had been renting studio space in the former wire mill building when it came up for sale. Attorney Tony Roberti encouraged them to make an offer.
“The next thing we knew, we were the proud owners of 15,000 square foot dilapidated old factory building. Holes in the roof the size of quarters, lots of moisture damage, missing and broken and boarded up windows and we were also suddenly the landlords to a 4000 square foot ‘adult sex toy’ distribution center,” she joked about the former occupants that had been ignored by the borough while they were delayed into near bankruptcy by a zoning board, which current Borough Council President described as “reluctant to see the town change.”
“Friends of ours who were in the construction trades just laughed at us,” she noted. “Then they began to help us.”
They thanked Gerry Kmetz for letting Stabin use his wood working shop and playwright Joe Hiatt for serving as foreman for the resurrection of the building.
“We’re proud to say we’ve had visitors from over forty states and many different countries,” said Morykin.
“My plan was to just paint,” said Stabin, an internationally accomplished freelance artist, a Newsweek cover illustrator, and a designer of U.S. Postage Stamps. “I looked at this building and I thought to myself there’s a lot of possibilities here. I’m not a real estate person, but I’m going to go for it because I didn’t want to look back and say, what would have happened?”
“This piece of real estate has helped me expand my creativity beyond what I ever thought,” Stabin concluded.
November 18th 2008 - Times News
Ladies, gentleman and children of all ages are invited to the opening reception for a gallery exhibition of the youngest artists in Pennsylvania.
The opening reception is Saturday, Nov. 22 at 4 p.m. at the Stabin Morykin Building—268 West Broadway in Jim Thorpe. The reception will celebrate the opening of the Arielle and Skyler Stabin Dynasty Room in the Victor Stabin Gallery.
Arielle, 4, and Skyler, 6, are the daughters of artist Victor Stabin and his wife, Joan Morykin. The couple owns the Stabin Morykin Building.
The work, chiefly of Stabin, is exhibited with Morykin managing the operations.
The project was precipitation a few years ago when Stabin picked up his oldest daughter, Skyler from day care. The teachers had been asking the children about their fathers.
“They asked Skyler what her daddy did,” said Stabin. “She said, ‘My daddy puts batteries in things.”
He was taken by the fact that his daughter didn’t have any idea what he did in his art studio.
As he and his wife developed the rooms within the building, Stabin thought, “it would be good to have a little gallery where my kids could show their work and sell their work as limited edition prints.”
Realizing that his artwork was very abstract to his children, Stabin thought if they could have their own mini art gallery, they might gain an appreciation of their dad’s work.
Then again, he was hoping that if they really like art, he might be able to found a family of artists like the Wyeths. Often, Arielle and Skyler played in Stabin’s studio as he works.
When Skyler was 18 months old, Stabin bought her a small easel from Ikea.
At the age of 2-1/2, Arielle came to Stabin and said, “I want to paint. I want to paint.”
He dressed Arielle and Skyler in his old shirts as smocks, set up the easel and gave them paint and brushes, and they began to paint like daddy.
“They both enjoy the process of painting and drawing,” said Morykin.
Both girls are left handed, as is Stabin.
Morykin says that “only 4 percent of girls are left handed,” so she wonders if they inherited her husband’s talent for art.
Stabin has selected from the works of his daughters and has made prints that will be numbered in a limited edition of 100. All the prints are reproduced on a digital printer on a double weight radiant white mat paper and are framed. Even as prints, the girls are reluctant to have their word sold.
“It’s a ubiquitous problem of artists,” said Stabin, “They get attached to what they work on.”
He also sees it as a chance to teach his children about money.
“We will be selling framed prints of their work a nominal prices in the gallery,” Stabin said. “It will probably not pay for itself, directly, but it will give them an education that is unique at that age.”
Stabin and Morykin hope to interest kids to attend the reception or the exhibition. They distributed 500 invitations at L.B. Morris Elementary School in Jim Thorpe and are talking with the art teacher about future exhibitions of the work of local child artists.
At the gallery opening, Joan Elizabeth Goodman, author of Ballet Bunnies will hold a book signing and present a children’s Ballet Bunnies exercise class beginning at 4:30 p.m.
The Arielle and Skyler exhibition is slated to continue until after the New Year.
March 14th 2008 - Times News
State Rep. Keith McCall presented a citation from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to Jim Thorpe artist Victor Stabin commemorating the March 6 release of a set of four “American Scientists” by the United States Postal Service. McCall urged that a coal miners postage stamp be issued and that Stabin be the designer.
The USPS receives 500 requests a day from artists who ask to be considered for a commission to design a stamp. “To get that kind of commission with the Post Office is not an easy task,” McCall said.
This is the third release of stamps designed by Stabin. The USPS has previously released a stamp honoring the legendary composer and Pennsylvania native, Henry Mancini, and an earlier release of four postage stamps from the “American Scientists” series. Up to twenty stamps will be released in this series.
“While Victor Stabin’s art has already received well-deserved national and international attention, the House of Representatives wanted to specifically honor him for his artwork featured on postage stamps honoring some of America’s most distinguished scientists, including his recent commission to add four more pieces of art to the series that he first created in 2005,” noted McCall.
“We hope to keep Victor on the job designing stamps, as lawmakers from our area have requested a stamp be issued honoring coal miners, and it only makes sense for an artist working where anthracite was first discovered to create the art for that stamp.”
Bob Canton, an aid to Rep. McCall added, “Every year we have been sending Pennsylvania House resolutions to the U.S. Congress to say we have so many different postage stamps honoring artists, superheroes, and animated characters, isn’t it time we honor some real American history, and honor coal miners? The time is long overdue. We are going to advocate for that-more fearsome than ever.”
When asked, “why a coal miner stamp is important?” Canton replied, “America wouldn’t be America without coal. Pennsylvania coal is what powered the industrial revolution. Pennsylvania coal powered the stokers that created the steel, built the bridges, built the ships. Everything about America comes back to Carbon County. It’s time for a stamp to honor the men who made it possible.”
McCall noted, “The coal mining industry fueled the industrial revolution of this entire country. It is probably one of the most dangerous jobs, yet we can’t get recognition for what they have done. I think it is important that the Postal Service relook at how they make those decisions honoring people that we think should be honored—not just coal miners but all the men and women of the country.”
The citation was presented to Victor Stabin at the Stabin Morykin Building in Jim Thorpe, home to Stabin’s studio and art gallery featuring the words of Stabin with periodic exhibits of pieces from local and national artists.
“Jim Thorpe is an outstanding destination for outdoor sports and history, but we also have one of the most diverse and creative artistic communities in the entire state,” McCall said. “I hope people from all over the state and beyond will take a trip here, to visit Stabin’s gallery as well as our many other galleries and artist’s shops.”
October 27th 2006 - Times News
Jim Thorpe artist Victor Stabin won the top prize in the NEPA Regional Art exhibit for 2006, a biennial art show featuring the best work by artists from northeast Pennsylvania and surrounding counties in New Jersey and New York. Stabin won the $1,000 Best of Show cash awards and an award for a one-person exhibit next year at the AFA Gallery in Scranton.
The exhibit runs through Nov. 15 and is being held at four galleries throughout Lackawanna County: the AFA Gallery in Scranton, the Hope Horn Gallery at the University of Scranton, the Linder Gallery at Keystone College and the Mahaday Gallery at Marywood University. Stabin has works in both the Mahady and Hope Horn Galleries.
The juror for the 2006 Regional is J. Susan Isaacs, curator at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts in Wilmington and professor of art history at Townson University in Maryland. Professor Isaacs selected Stabin’s artwork as the “Best in Show” from among hundreds of entries submitted earlier this year. Jim Thorpe artist Joel LeBow also had two watercolors accepted into the show which are on display at the Hope Horn Gallery.
This year’s Regional also featured a full-color catalog of the works accepted into the exhibit. The catalog will be available at each of the venues free of charge.
The NEPA Regional for 2006 is funded in part by the Lackawanna County Council of the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the Scranton Area Foundation. For more information, please call (570)348-6278 or (570) 941-4214.
March 4th 2005 - The Advocate
GREENWICH — Victor Stabin felt a sense of serendipity when his wife pointed out an exhibit celebrating Barbara McClintock and other women scientists at the Bruce Museum.
Stabin had just finished a two-year assignment to illustrate four postage stamps, one of which bears the image of McClintock, a Nobel Prize winning geneticist who formulated groundbreaking genetic theories working with corn. The stamps go on sale in April.
“Everything is connected in some way,” said the 51-year-old illustrator, who was about to make a trip from his home in Jim Thorpe, Pa., to Stamford on business.
McClintock, who won the Nobel Prize in 1983 in the category of physiology or medicine, discovered in the early 1950s that genes on chromosomes “jumped” or rearranged themselves, changing physical traits such as color and size.
Yesterday, Stabin walked into the “Great Women, Great Science” exhibit at the Bruce Museum, and looked at a collection of McClintock’s scientific equipment, including her Bausch and Lomb microscope, her Nobel Prize declaration, and dye and slides she used to study corn chromosomes.
He brought large mock-ups of his stamp series, which will include Josiah Willard Gibbs, a thermodynamicist; John von Neumann, a mathematician; and Richard Feynman, a physicist.
Stabin said his selection as the artist to illustrate the scientific stamps felt appropriate to him, because of his father’s work in nuclear research.
Stabin said his father worked on the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb, and later worked at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee developing scientific equipment to measure radioactivity.
“It’s kind of brought me full circle back to my dad,” he said. “I grew up knowing about measuring molecular weight through osmosis since I was 12 years old… I think maybe it gave me a technical edge in my drawing which comes across.”
In an illustrating career of more than 25 years, which includes painting corporate murals and designing album covers for musical luminaries such as the rock band Kiss and assorted jazz greats, Stabin said being chosen to design postage stamps was humbling.
“Where else can you get your work reproduced 87 million times?” he asked rhetorically. “In a hundred years someone will open a book and my stamp will be there.”
Dr. Carolyn Rebbert, the science director of the Bruce Museum and a geologist, said that the exhibit was conceived in response to still under-appreciated female scientific pioneers, and a concern about waning interest and achievement in science among American youth compared with other nations.
“You look at the headlines about how we’re falling behind in science,” Rebbert said. “We need to create the next generation of scientists who will help keep us competitive.”
The “Great Women, Great Science” exhibit will run until April 10, and also includes educational displays on Marie Curie, a pioneer in understanding radioactivity, Annie Jump Cannon, who created a system for classifying stars based on the observable light and geologist Inge Lehmann, who formulated a theory of Earth’s solid inner core.
February 16th 2005 - The Morning Call
Fresh off the success of producing the artwork for the Henry Mancini stamp, he anticipates the U.S. Post Office will release four more of his stamps this spring.
If Victor Stabin of Jim Thorpe was looking for a stamp of approval as an artist, he got it in April when the U.S. Postal Service released a 37-cent stamp with his image of music composer Henry Mancini.
If Stabin was looking for an encore, he will have it this April when the Postal Service releases four stamps designed by Stabin for American scientists: physicist Richard Feynman, thermodynamicist Josiah Gibbs, geneticist Barbara McClintock and mathematician John von Neumann.
“I get a lot of face recognition,” he said since publicity came out about the Mancini stamp. “It’s kind of exciting,”
Stabin said he was an illustrator for 25 years. He provided many submissions to postal figures, trying to catch their interest, but never received a reply. “It’s the only job I never got that I wanted to do,” he said.
Then, about 2 ½ years ago, one official saw Stabin’s work in a book and contacted him. He was told his composition ideas and style would be perfect for stamp design.
Stabin fondly calls stamp work a “vanity job.” Publicity has been good.
And he admits it’s quite a kick to receive a letter with his stamp affixed.
He also jokes that the $5,000 he was paid for the job probably has nearly been returned to the government in taxes, the many sheets of stamps he bought as souvenirs and the 200 or so Christmas cards he mailed, of course bearing the Mancini stamp.
Before the stamps, Stabin’s best-known work in mainstream circles probably was the album cover he did for Kiss, “Kiss Unmasked.”
But in the stricter art world, Stabin is a painter who describes his work as realistic painting with a mystical edge… Norman Rockwell meeting Salvador Dali, if you will, he says.
Stabin most recently teamed with his wife, Joan Morykin, to focus on print reproduction. They have the Stabin Morykin Gallery at 31 Race St. that has been open for 1 ½ years.
Meanwhile, they recently bought the building at 268 W. Broadway that houses his studio. Stabin said the building has room for six to eight galleries, and its his intention to fill those galleries to provide a cluster or artists. To be known as the Stabin Morykin Building, the situation will be similar to the Banana Factory in Bethlehem, he said.
Coupled with other galleries in Jim Thorpe, he believes the borough will continue to emerge as a hub for artwork.
With the borough alive, a thriving print business and the four scientist stamps about to be released, life is good for Stabin. And, he says, he has four more scientist stamps on the way for 2006, which he is not permitted by the Postal Service to discuss, and probably more beyond that.
“I came to Jim Thorpe [from New York] and all this began to blossom for me,” he said.
August 21st 2004 - Times News
The main branch of the Jim Thorpe Post Office had a special cancellation last Saturday to honor Jim Thorpe resident, Victor Stabin, designer of the recently released Henry Mancini commemorative stamp.
“We are thrilled,” said Jim Thorpe Postmaster Ruth Latshaw. “Did you ever wonder where a stamp came from or how it was designed? That’s what Victor Stabin is here for—so the people of Jim Thorpe and Eastern Pennsylvania can talk to him and find out what goes into making a stamp.
“The Henry Mancini stamp design is unique,” Latshaw continued. “Look at the silhouette of the audience at the bottom, the picture of the Pink Panther, and including the popular titles as he did. Mancini’s one of our most celebrated artists and having Victor do the stamp celebrating him is just a thrill.”
When the doors to the Jim Thorpe Post Office opened at 10 a.m., neighbors, friends and philatelists lined up to purchase pages of the Mancini stamp and special cancellations offered by the Jim Thorpe Post Office, then waited their turn to receive Stabin’s well wishes and signature. By the time he completed his hundredth signing, his wrist started to ache—and there were hundreds to go before the event ended.
Passersby, outside the Jim Thorpe Post Office, knew something was going on inside as Ben Wolf, a saxophonist from Lehighton wailed the Pink Panther theme on his alto saxophone. He followed with a string of popular Mancini songs from his movies such as the Peter Gunn Theme and Charade.
“Mancini’s tunes are part of America’s popular music,” said Wolfe, who was hired by the Post Office to entertain during the signing. “And I never miss an opportunity to play the saxophone.” Stabin’s wife, Joan Morykin had heard Wolfe play the Pink Panther Theme and recommended him to the postmaster.
Postmaster Latshaw had contacted Stabin in March, about a month before the Mancini stamp was unveiled at a national ceremony hosted by Senator John Glenn in Los Angeles on April 13, 2004.
A clerk at the Jim Thorpe Post Office noticed that Stabin was sending a number of items express mail to California and using the Post Office’s corporate account number. “When I contacted him, he told me he was designing a stamp but couldn’t tell me which stamp it was,” said Postmaster Latshaw. The Post Office required Stabin to keep his designs “hush-hush.”
But as far as the Mancini stamp goes, Stabin wants everyone to know. He sees the signing as his moment, or to quote Andy Warhol, his “15 minutes of fame.” Hearing this, Stabin joked, “Andy Warhol was noted to come to the opening of an envelope.”
Next door neighbor Blaine Summitt had Stabin sign his stamps noting, “I think this is a very big deal and I have been looking forward to this for a very long time.”
“I find it to be very flattering,” said Stabin, more seriously. “Today I was someone special. It is nice to be appreciated. I’m thankful that it came.”
August 4th 2004 - Times News
Victor Stabin has gone postal—and in the best way. The fiftyish Jim Thorpe artist/illustrator has achieved what he had only dreamed about—having his work on a U.S. postage stamp. The child, once called a daydreamer by his teachers, had grown to become a daydream achiever.
During Stabin’s 25-year career as a freelance graphic artist whose clients included New York Times, Newsweek, and Time Magazine, the one thing that eluded him was the chance to design a stamp for the U.S. Post Office. “I must have knocked on their door 50 times,” Stabin recalled.
In 2002, Stabin stopped taking commissions and decided to focus on selling limited edition proofs of his original art. “As soon as I stopped, the Post Office called me to do a stamp. It was the one job I always wanted to get,” said Stabin. “I hesitated for a moment and said to myself, ‘Are you crazy? You have to take this job.’”
Stabin was invited to design the 37-cent stamp commemorating film composer Henry Mancini. The Mancini family had rejected the initial design by the illustrator selected by the Post Office. The original submission was a portrait of Henry Mancini. The Mancini family wanted more than a portrait. They wanted to place him in the context of the cinema.
Stabin designed a stamp depicting Mancini on the movie screen with rows of audience in silhouette. Behind Mancini is a list of his compositions—these include “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Peter Gunn,” and “The Pink Panther.” The lower left corner sports a cartoon image of the Pink Panther pointing to the composer. The Mancini family felt it was just what they were looking for.
Stabin’s success with the Henry Mancini stamp has blossomed into an additional twenty stamps of American scientists of note and Nobel Prize winners. He has been commissioned to design four each year for the next five years.
The Mancini stamp was issued on April 13, 2004. Stabin was invited to attend the dedication at the Los Angeles Art Center. Reluctant at first to leave his wife alone and their infant children and travel across the country for the event, he decided to accept when he learned that Senator John Glenn would host the dedication.
“Glenn was my hero. I was thinking of not going to Los Angeles for the unveiling. I didn’t know how significant it was going to be. The Mancini family got behind it.”
“I was seven years old when he was flying around,” Stabin noted. “I remember what I was doing when he was in orbit. I felt it would be something I would regret if I didn’t attend.”
In front of a 25-foot wide blow-up of the Henry Mancini stamp, Senator Glenn spoke of his relationship with the Mancini family, and then called Stabin to stand and take a bow. As he bowed, the University of Southern California Marching Trojan Band played Mancini’s Pink Panther theme.
“Placing his image on a commemorative postage stamp will serve as a lasting tribute, just as his music is a lasting gift to the world,” said Henry Mancini’s wife, Ginny.
Stabin brought with him a copy of his original artwork called Buoyance-an illustration of the Earth floating in space. “I brought it to L.A. to get his signature,” explained Stabin. “I gave him one. He was generous and sweet.”
“When I gave him the illustration, Glenn asked, ‘How do you want me to sign it?” remembers Stabin. “I was unaware that he meant, ‘To Victor, all the best, John Glenn.’ I just wanted his signature and got confused. I said, “Why don’t you sign it Scott Carpenter.” Glenn laughed. Carpenter was Glenn’s back-up pilot for America’s first manned orbital flight.
Stabin discovered his passion for art while in kindergarten when another child marked up his painting. “I got furious. I don’t remember having a reaction where I cared that much about anything,” he said.
Stabin also thinks being left-handed contributed to his art. “Michelangelo and Leonardo DaVinci were left-handed. In art school, I was told that left-handed people think a little bit different,” he noted.
July 29th 2003 - Times News - Ron Gower
Why would an artist who has had a lot of success in New York City, having work published in the New York Times on a regular basis and on Newsweek magazine covers, move to Jim Thorpe?
“He got tired of polishing someone else’s apples and wants to focus on his own vision,” says his wife.
The artist is Victor Stabin, who has opened the Stabin Morykin Gallery at 31 Race Street, Jim Thorpe. His wife, Joan Morykin, also sacrificed major city contacts by moving here. She had worked for the Reuters Agency in New York City. Reuters is a news bureau headquartered in England.
Stabin, who recently was commissioned to do the artwork for a commemorative stamp by the U.S. Postal Service, has the theme “Riparian Solitude” featured at the local gallery.
He uses culturally universal symbols in his artwork.
Especially utilized for his paintings is the turtle. He said the turtle represents “many things” in his artwork, including femininity and water.
The turtle, a revered symbol in many of the world’s mythologies, is the central motif in most of Stabin’s work.
He said, “In Hindu mythology, the tortoise Chukwa supports the elephant Mahapudma, which upholds the world. Native American cultures see the world as a huge turtle floating on the waters. In Chinese mythology, the turtle is one of the four spiritual or auspicious creatures, and represents the northern regions and the element of water. In most cultures, the turtle is regarded as a manifestation of feminine power and fertility.”
Stabin infuses femininity and water, conjuring figures and surroundings that convey these universal mythologies.
His goal is to create images that transcend their dream-like qualitites and possess a quirky sense of reality. “It is this reality that appeals to the collective subconscious blind to class, race, gender, and species,” he said.
Stabin’s work has appeared on numerous occasions in the New York Times, serving as illustrations for section-break stories. It also has appeared on the cover of various magazines, including Newsweek. He has done an album cover for the rock band Kiss.
Most impressively, Stabin recently was commissioned by the U.S. Postal Service to do the drawing for a commemorative stamp to be released in 2004. He said he is not able to state who is featured on the stamp, but it is “a famous Hollywood luminary.”
He reminded me that to be featured on a stamp, the honored individual must have been dead at least 10 years.
His wife is a native of Pen Argyl. She has lived in New York City about 10 years. The couple moved to Jim Thorpe at the end of April.
Morykin said she is not an artist. “I am the director accountant, business manager”, she said. Stabin, who has worked all his adult life as a full-time artist, said he will continue in this capacity, noting he will be working out of his Jim Thorpe residence instead of a New York City location.
July 8th 2003 - Times News
Paintings by artist Victor Stabin will be on view at the Stabin Morykin Gallery, 31 Race Street, Jim Thorpe, beginning July 19.
Stabin uses culturally universal symbols—animal deities, often juxtaposed with chaste girl-children to create environments that are as much tender, adolescent dreams as forays into solitary intimacy. Stabin’s striking realism invokes this series “Riparian Solitude,” in which he explores the seduction of the aqueous fantasies, as natural as the course of water.
The turtle, a revered symbol in many of the world’s mythologies is the central motif in most of Stabin’s work. In Hindu mythology, the tortoise Chukwa supports the elephant Mahapudma, which upholds the world. Native American cultures see the world as a huge turtle floating on the waters. In Chinese mythology, the turtle is one of the four spiritual or auspicious creatures, and represents the northern regions and the element of water. In most cultures, the turtle is regarded as a manifestation of feminine power and fertility. Stabin infuses femininity and water, conjuring figures and surroundings that convey these universal mythologies.
The artist’s goal is to create images that transcend their dream-like qualitites and possess a quirky sense of reality. Stabin notes, “It is this reality that appeals to the collective subconscious—a subconscious blind to class, race, gender and species.” WNYC’s midday talk show host Leonard Lopate notes, “Somehow Stabin’s been able to bypass thinking and paint sweet dreams directly.”
Stabin recently completed paintings for a series of stamps to be issued by the U.S.Postal Service in 2004.
Stabin was born in New York City in 1954. He graduated from the High School of Art & Design in Manhattan and studied at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles and the School of Visual Arts in New York City where he later taught.
There will be a reception for the artist from 6-8 p.m. on July 19.