Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ray Prohaska and Friends, Part 2

Tony Prohaska writes, "Ray was a member of the Society of Illustrators from the time he moved permanently from Chicago to New York, sometime after the ‘29 Crash. Through the S.I., Ray became friends with all the illustrators in N.Y. at the time, but his particular favorite, almost a father figure, was Arthur William Brown. Ray and Carolyn were constant companions with “Brownie” . He was a frequent visitor in the early day’s of their life in Amagansett."

"Their particular friends in those days included Al Dorne and his wife Edna, Bob and Aggie Fawcett, ……and I’ll think of the others as I go along."

"Al Dorne though, would not go below 14th St. Carolyn said she thought it had something to do with not going out of his father’s precinct. Supposedly, his father was a cop."

"Ray was also friends with many of the artists at the 10th Street Studios, where he kept a studio. (They had an apartment across the street, where I lived as an infant.) Ray became buddies at 10th Street with John Alan Maxwell. Ray liked to drink and chase women... [and] was accused by Johnny’s wife of leading him astray."

When I found this ad it occurred to me that Tony's dad might have pressed some of his illustrator friends into service to pose for the reference photos. Tony replied, "I'm pretty sure the young man on the left was a local kid,"

"... but he may have also used a professional model or two, or even as you say, one of his friends, for one or more of the older guys..."

"The guy with the pencil moustache looks like Johnny Maxwell."

Then I found the scan below of a Ray Prohaska original, from a 1950 story for the Saturday Evening Post on the Heritage Auctions website. I had to ask Tony... did he pose for this piece?

He replied, "Yeah, the posing. I hated it. Seemed like I was doing it all the time. I sort of felt that every one of his jobs had a kid who just happened to be my age. He had big, old fashioned lights, including one that was like a theater light. It was..., "hold still, just one more.." and then, another roll... and of course there was sitting on some stranger's lap, male or female.., balancing on one foot to look like I was running, of course there were telephone books as props..."

"No, there were no other illustrators that used me, ....other than after I was grown, when I did a few posing jobs for Al Moore, (a teriffic guy!) who had the studio across the hall from the one that Ray inherited from Brownie, at 33W. 67th. (I eventually got him kicked out of there for a couple of parties I gave... and some rowdy visitors, to put it mildly)."

"That boy with the dog was both me and my friend Mickey Miller... He just turned 67 and is a commercial fisherman."

Tony adds, "My parents were great friends with Leonard Starr. My father and I modeled for two of his characters, circus performers... my character was Tony Abbott. For years afterwards my friends called me 'The Boy Cartoon'."

* Tony Prohaska has put together an extensive website devoted to his dad's life, where you can read a very thorough biography and see many more examples of the artist's work. Go to The Art of Ray Prohaska for more.

* Thanks to Heritage Auctions for permission to use the scan of Ray Prohaska's original art above.

* My Ray Prohaska Flickr set.

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