"Love the art in you not you in the art"
Several years ago I came across an article in the NY Times entitled : Louis Bannet: the Dutch Louis Armstrong. It told the story of a horn player in Amsterdam during WWII and the amazing odyssey of his survival of Nazi Germany. Another of the chosen musicians to play cheerful marching music for the inmates as they entered the gas chamber. The article also showed a photograph of Louis and his band. One of those dark European noiry 1940's things that I cannot visually resist. This quickly became the inspiration for a new piece- sort of a musical montage tribute in dark browns, blues and blacks. The caption at the bottom read: "The Nazi's barred Jews from nightclubs and concert halls. Mr. Bannet was arrested and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. While waiting to receive the number that would replace his name, he was recognized by an inmate - a Dutch pimp who had been to many of his shows. Louis, you must play for your life. On May 9th 1945, he was liberated." (Jazz Survivor: The Story of Louis Bannet, Horn Player of Auschwitz, Ken Shuldman)
Shortly after that, I received an email from a Casper Bannet in Amsterdam asking how I came up with the idea for the piece and was it for sale. He would be in NYC in May and no, sorry it wasn't for sale but I would make him a print. He only said he was a relative of Louis and was going to see his horn which had been donated to the Jewish Heritage Museum. Would I like to meet there? Absolutely. I really had no idea what to expect. Because he only identified himself as a relative, I didn't want to press the issue. What I saw was the 31 year old handsome warm-eyed grandson of Louis Bannet. He, my husband David, and I spent a great afternoon walking around the museum talking and going out to eat. I gave him his print - he was thrilled and said it looked even better in person. The best part of this story for me is the excerpts from the correspondence that follows:
I just wanted to tell you what a pleasure it was meeting you and what an enjoyable time we both had. I regret that I did not get to introduce you to my son Ari who is exactly your age. You would have hit it off tremendously as he is hip, smart, and like you, a worldly and successful business guy. Had you walked into his apartment you would have seen the "Louis" print front and center on his wall. Know that you have a place to stay anytime you are in the U.S. - stay in touch and I think I will sign this.................
It took me a while to write you back because I wanted to find the right words to describe our time together. Although I still haven't found them I wanted to email you now because it has been too long.
The absolute highlight of my stay in North America was meeting you. I don't know what it was but I felt like we had known each other for 30 years. I was smiling the rest of the day. Normally I am not so comfortable with strangers but in a way we weren't. I will definitely sign this with love,
I was smiling the rest of the day.