Monday’s story about the end of Max’s Art Supplies’ 59-year run made many readers think about what the store meant to them.
Alert reader John Kennedy sent along these thoughts:
When I first returned home, I was going to be an illustrator. This is what I had been in the Air Force and it was what I wanted to do as a civilian. Max’s was the store I went to.
Westport had always been a center of excellence and I was determined to be a success. I thought that to be part of the scene, I must “make the scene.”
So I went in and picked up a shading stomp, some charcoal pencils, a couple of pads and a kneaded eraser. The bill was about $20, but I didn’t have enough money. I started to put some things back, when Max stepped up. He said, “an artist needs his tools. I’ll give you credit.” Max told Shirley to open an account for me. I had no credit. It was 1970. I had just been discharged. With a smile, Max said, “I trust you.”
I walked out with everything. In a month I paid him back.
From that I went on to work for the New York Times company through Golf Digest and Tennis Magazines. Then more magazines. I illustrated a bit, designed books, ran an internet agency. All the time, Max’s was my go-to place. As a director, I could send others to Max’s, and I did.
Then the world changed. With the computer, publishers no longer cared about quality. They took design and excellence, and turned it over to lesser staff to “just get it out.” Illustration was done in the box. All the skill, talent, education and technique disappeared. Today, one by one, the artists are leaving us. They are replaced by wannabe idiots who know nothing, and do little but talk.
Today I will visit Shirley, Nina and Jay. I will bring in coffee and we will once again relive, for one bright shining moment, the years of real and true art.
I am the last of my breed. When Max’s leaves, I will hide and let the world only wonder what true art is. Nobody cares. We are a community, we are the artists, Shirley’s, Nina’s and Jay’s guys. I am the last director.