Seeking your photos of Alan Crabb: a new painting in the works

Alan snapshots
Alan Crabb, Messiah 2011

NOTE, 10/21/12
Because of negative feedback and interference I’ve received regarding this project, I will not be informing the public of any progress on this painting. The Flickr group I reference below is now closed to the public. I regret any concern I may have raised, but reserve the right to paint whatever and whomever I will, in the privacy of my own studio.


I’ve sung for a number of years with Alan Crabb, in the Binghamton Downtown Singers and the Sarah Jane Johnson Memorial UMC choir, Johnson City NY. Last week, Alan died, at age 70, and tomorrow I’ll be singing at his funeral, with the rest of his Downtown Singers. It’s so hard to believe he’s gone.

Please help me in collecting photos and videos of Alan, for my use in the composition of a commemorative/interpretive painting of him. As an artist, this is my way of both mourning him and honoring his memory. I’m especially interested in photos of Alan conducting. The portrait will not be a direct copy of any one submitted photo.

One way to contribute digital images of Alan is by uploading them to the Flickr group I’ve established especially for this purpose. Or you can post them on Facebook, and tag them with my name.

I also gladly accept images via CDs, DVDs, and email, as well as hard-copy prints. You may mail them (contact me for the address), or I’ll Alan - Messiah 2011pick up locally, and will return your hard-copy photos after digitally scanning them. I’ll give you a copy of the scanned file as well.

Thank you, for your interest and any help!

This is a personal project, and not under the auspices of, or approved by, the board of directors of the Binghamton Downtown Singers, Inc.

A successful festival, shadowed by sad news

My booth at Window on the Arts
My booth at Window on the Arts

Saturday’s Window on the Arts Festival was a smashing success, both for the festival itself and for me personally. I was a bit concerned about how large (or small) a crowd it might draw, with this year’s relocation away from the central town square to a nearby but not-so-central park; and the night before, the winds and rain came crashing down on the early set-up gazebo tents (mine amongst them). However, the local Binghamton newspaper had given the festival the front cover of its Thursday “Good Times” supplement, the Friday night storms stopped in time, and all began — and continued — well.

Parade of the Puppets opens the Festival
Parade of the Puppets opened the festival, just before the sun came out
End of the Festival Parade
End of the Festival Parade

I showcased my “Feathered and Feline” series of art about birds (mostly owls) and cats — along with a few other pieces, and had matted art prints and art cards of most pieces, as well as many not hanging at this show. I was so busy selling prints, cards, and earrings that I never did have time to set up for on-the-spot portraits. It was so gratifying the way people responded to my cats and birds, and I even sold a larger print of The Flood,

The Flood
The Flood: 10.7×8.3 in., pastels over ink underpainting on fibered buff paper

a pastel piece of last year’s flooding Susquehanna River.

And beyond the sales, everyone wanted to interpret and discuss the art. I just love hearing people’s interpretations of some of my images, especially when they’re not speaking directly to me. “Oh, look,” said one man to his wife about Window, “it’s a cat looking into a mirror, and he sees himself as an owl.” Wow. That’s the one that’s stayed with me.


In the early afternoon, Sweetie brought food, the dog, and a break (after calming me down and packing the car for me in the morning — not to mention helping me set up the gazebo tent the night before). We were both impressed by the quality of the arts and crafts there, as well as the quantity of fifty artisans… and Sweetie is not easily impressed!

Alan Crabb 1942-2012

As I walked around the festival on my break, he took over the sales for a while but called my cell phone, after checking Facebook on his phone, to tell me that Alan Crabb had died. It was not unexpected; Alan had been in the UPenn hospital for a couple of weeks, suffering open-heart surgery and severe complications after a risky heart procedure, but it was still a shock and a sorrow. He was friend and maestro to so many, a beloved high school music teacher in his working years not so very long ago, a gifted world-class tenor, and one of a kind. He was a manic, maddening, arrogant, rude, distracted, and self-centered Welshman with an aura a mile wide: a demanding but gentle mentor to all who sang under his direction, a warm and loyal friend — father of two adult sons from his first marriage (to the first — and so far only — woman mayor of Binghamton) and of a two-year-old son from his recent second marriage to a lovely young violist. Sunday, I felt consumed by exhaustion and grief, and laid low for a day. Rest in peace, Alan Crabb — 1942-2012.

This week I have several projects to start or continue: finish unpacking the car (and clean it), mat and frame my two entries for the upcoming Rude and Bold Women show, get back into the new still life (calling to me now from its easel across the room…), replace the traded-out still lives in the Acme exhibit, design and build the Acme business window, photograph contra dancers for Unlikely Dance, sing Diamonds in the Rough‘s “Eldercare Tour,” and — as if that’s not enough — start a call for images of Alan, with which I plan to build a commemorative/interpretive painting of him. More on that next.