The New Icon of Modern Robert Loughlin, 1st Edition
8" x 8" softcover, perfect bound book, published in 2010.
Edited by Dimitri Levas, famed Art Director of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation and with an introduction by the one and only American culture critic and curator Carlo McCormick. This 47-page book includes an artist's interview and biography and over 30 artworks illustrated in full color.
Signed by Gary Carlson, The Brute Himself!
Love Notes from The Brute
After Robert and I met in 1980, I decided to transfer to Miami. Robert had only been in New York a year, but had East Village friends galore as he was the lead guitarist in a band called "The Decorators"
I transferred from JFK to Miami. hoping Robert cared to come along. And he did!
In Miami, Robert bought art magazines like Flash Art, Art in America. Flipping the pages, Robert would point out all the friends he had in these magazines. While I was loading Pan Amercian Airline jets, RL for the first time, in his life, picked a brush up and discovered he too was an artist.
After 15 years with PAA I resigned from Pan Am and we moved back to his Manhattan artist friends.
Auction House Owner, David Kellen wrote items RL spoke of:
I first met Robert going to the 25th street flea market. Robert was a large presence, running around buying things as well as constantly finding thrown away items to paint his iconic "Brute" image on. He was garrulous, charismatic, exhausting as he ran around, seemingly friends with everyone and at the same time loving to get into a debate. His painted images were everywhere, you could buy a painted pizza box for $150.00. Suddenly he was gone, no one expected he would get hit by a car at night and the legend was no more. His memory lives on the countless works he created. Slowly his prices at auction grew, and now a painted pizza box could sell for $5000.00 at auction. I expect his prices to continue rising, he was an original, and he has a tremendous following. The recipient of the Certificate of Authenticity on this particular work, was a former gallery owner in the NYU area that sold Robert's works when Robert was alive. Gary, who issued the Cert was Roberts longtime boyfriend, husband and roommate, and retains the Rights of Reproduction issued by NYS courts.
Robert Loughlin (1949-2011)
Robert Loughlin was born in Alameda, California, on a Naval base. At an early age, Loughlin became interested in culture and spent many hours of his childhood listening to the family's FM radio. He left school after the sixth grade in order to take care of his brothers and sisters. During the late 1960s, Robert had already established a love for design and for being a free-thinker. He lived in a Geodesic Dome in Canyon, California, and was part of the Berkeley Riots. In the 1970s, Robert opened two stores in San Francisco, California, specializing in American Industrial Design. During this period, Robert was a pioneer in Mid-Century Design and produced its first show in the United States. Robert was also co-owner of the first punk supply store in San Francisco, and became lead singer in his no- wave band The Decorators along with the artist Arch Connelly. In 1980, Robert relocated to Miami Beach, Florida, and opened a design store. It was during this period that Robert began painting. In the early 80s, Robert moved to New York City and became part of the burgeoning art and social scene. Robert opened the Executive Gallery on E. 10th Street and Arch Connelly served as gallery director. Robert developed a reputation and became someone whom high society turned to in order to uniquely decorate a home with haute design. Clients of Robert included Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Robert Mapplethorpe. It was also during this time that Robert began showing his artwork and was noticed by the New York art world. His work is widespread throughout New York City. His signature icon, the squared-jaw man with a smoke called the "brute", has appeared all over the city on signs, doors and walls. Robert would incorporate his grittiness into his art. He ransacked antique stores, thrift shops, flea markets, galleries and estate sales and emerged with treasures that he used as his canvas. Nothing was sacred: furniture, wood, metal, plastic, glass, textiles, vintage advertising boxes, even someone else's paintings. Unfortunately, Robert left this world too soon when was struck and killed by a car near his home on Tuesday, September 27th 2011, in North Bergen, New Jersey. He was 62 years old. Today, Loughlin's collectors include some of the biggest names in the New York and Hollywood social scene, encompassing the design, fashion and art world. Such significant collectors have included the late floral designer and event planner Robert Isabell, movie director Joel Schumacher, clothing designer Helmut Lang, the fashion house Jack Spade, artist Donald Bachler and interior designer Thomas Jayne. Recently, some of his furniture pieces were purchased by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA.
Robert & The Brute — A Love Story
(My First Sight of Robert)
Artist Robert Laughlin was standing with his young friend Larry Foss, who I later discovered carried a Bull Constructor for the Cockettes. My focus was the young friend until Robert dismissed Larry. The bar was closing, so Robert and I closed in on each other. At RL's Hells Kitchen walk up: stopping outside, he sprayed "The Decorators" on the side of a deli across from his apartment. Leaving as the sun was peeping, I said to Robert, "I work today so Let's meet tomorrow on the top of the Empire State Building Robert."
(Day After the PROMISE)
At the time I met Robert, I was working much late-shift overtime at Pan Am, and that day after our meeting was no different. I wasn't going to take overtime, but I forgot about the promise when my lead man yelled up to my 747 belly. "Do you want overtime?" I hesitated. "If you accept: ”Triple time and a half Gary.” Right after I accepted, I remembered again the promise to RL about the the Empire State Building. A sudden longing surged inside me, but now how would I ever find him?
(A Plan to Seek-out Robert)
I lived in a Kew Garden Queens airline commuting house with pilots and stewardesses. Reading for bed that evening; I dressed again. There was this incredible loss feeling burning inside my sole. A pilot had giving me access to his new sports car, Snapping the key off the kitchen hook, and stepping into the blue racer: away my heart and I went.
Remembering his apartment was near 10th Avenue in Hell's Kitchen and thinking back before Robert and I went to his apartment; he sprayed graffiti of "The Decorators" on a wall of a deli that was across from his apartment. I decided I would drive up 10th Avenue looking down the side streets for Robert’s tag-graffiti.
(Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Form)
Stopping at White Castle near home for a slider and sitting across a juvenile Italian staring at the borrowed 280ZX; I pretended not to notice. Just finishing licking the ketchup-mustard off my lips the kid approached asking if he could have a short ride. Missing a beat, I said “you have to take all your clothes off.” “Sure” was a surprising answer. Driving to Manhattan I found my new friend easy talking mostly not seeing his face. The thought hit me that leaving him in the muscle car was not an option as I did not want a pilot pissed-off about a missing car.
(Ground 0 with an Around the Block Brat)
Driving with Tony on the way to Manhattan he was telling me how his dad and brother were the Mafia. Because he was afraid that I would become stimulated by his naked body, I figured. As we arrived in Manhattan his story seemed very plausible and complicated. Tony resolved the blue-280ZX-racer problem as we pulled in front of the Hells Kitchen apartment by slipping on shorts and tee. “I’m coming with.” “OK but you can’t let my friend see you.”
(Recursion-stoop on a Warm Summer Night)
Sitting on the step-stoop waiting for a tenant to come and open the door so we could walk behind, I started thinking about the Dilemma that I had put myself.
I remembered when ‘Danza look-alike’ first started talking mafia was soon after I told him I lived with flight attendants in an airline commuting house. Now I realized the kids Mafia talk “motivation” was that he intends see the girls for himself. Telling Tony, I was not allowed to have visitors was a waste of time.
Finally, a couple arrived, and, like that, my copilot was no longer beside me but had his foot in the ajar entrance door. Tony D. wanted my Loughlin reunion over and back to Kew Gardens NOW.
(Strength in Moment)
On the second floor landing a door was a jar, and cold conditioning blast-bit my back as I started up towards Roberts third floor with strong feelings that I was about to die as my life was getting too uplifted-pleasant. Turning to the kid behind, I stage-whispered “stay there, have just you head showing through the railing.” I walked to the door knocked, herd whispers but no answer. “It is Gary, and I am sliding my number under, so call me tomorrow.” RL had a trick.
When we arrived back at the House; the little-monster-boy followed me in. looking right I saw two pilots watching TV. No longer worried about ‘the shadow’ I dashed to the basement where Tony would never follow. The trip was pressing my mind but calming me was Robert had his (trick) which neutralized my missing the Empire State Building reunion. Laying back I could not sleep; but then Betsy awoke me calling me to take a call on our hallway payphone. It had to be Robert, no one else had my number. Well, Pan Am scheduling did.
Wait Versus Weight
Hanging up the phone, I dressed, garbed the keys off the kitchen hook and was in the z80 headed for Manhattan. Taking longer than I expected with bad traffic I pulled into Hell’s Kitchen hoping RL was still waiting and voilà he was on his stoop.
He climbed in the car never bringing up Empire State Building Build. Instead, he retrieved a vase from a brown bag, handing it to me. “Feel the weight; everything great has a great weight.” It would be over 20 years before telling me he waited three hours on the building top.
Under Full Sail
Robert and I started going shopping together in my blue 1967 Plymouth Station Wagon I had used for spending time on my 34ft cabin cruiser parked in the hamlet of Oyster Bay L.I. Built for smuggling whiskey from the Bahamas to Florida in the 1930’s it ended in Oyster Bay where a retired Lt. Cmdr. had kept it ship-shape for many years before his untimely death. We piled up a bunch of 280Z parking tickets dating; wigging-out the pilot, so the Plymouth was again my it-car. (Mid summer 1980)
The Big Wig-Out
My marrow was startled shopping a long Island thrift store. Robert browsed store aisles and a bit behind I him was always the puppy following when I decided to stop and start looking at items for myself. Right away Robert turned and started screaming that I was so paranoid that a lady's department was “a-taboo” Then back at the boat his anger exploded till he grabbed his days treasures deep-sixing them over the side. For my part, I was beyond caring about RL’s denigrating. I was no longer that youth that did “Seattle real estate” and then lousing it all. I was alive thank God.
Swimming in a Cocktail Glass
Our early days were not demonstrative, so no intertwining of fingers, but Charlie Pride's Crystal Chandeliers was our mantra. One or the other of us would suddenly start singing, "The crystal chandeliers lit up the paintings on our walls, the marble statuettes are standing stately in our halls." Also, Gary was exposed to RL’s popular culture world, as my Pan Am black work shoes, black Levi's pants, and white t-shirt with short hair, had me ready for a “Holiday in Cambodia.”
Trip to Jerusalem
That one and only time I snuck Robert inside my PAA commuting pad was to show RL a medal deco table I had been bragging about next to my bed. His veridic was not unkindly made “cheap middle-class deco.” Over the next 31 years it was often redelivered, but harshly so, for what I had brought to our table. That day had a brilliant Loughlin-maneuver that would change both our lives: when not looking, he unlocked my basement window above that table.
My '68 Blue Plymouth Had Its Tank Full
I had put in my Miami transfer request and then forgot. Suddenly it was time to hit Interstate 95, so I gave away our Oyster Bay cruiser, telling RL about the transfer. He did not say much., I did not speak to the kid that day as his pad was phoneless. It became late as I fell in deep sleep, waking up early morning. Sitting on the bed edge with no Robert, I realized how a part of me RL was now. Turning around to strip the bed; “There was Robert.” He crawled in the unlocked basement window that dark-thirty.
Stop and Go Driving
That morning heading south our radio came alive with John Lennon’s Starting Over. This was us: leaving everything and everyone behind as we crossed the Manhattan bridge onto Canal Street. We had not made the Holland and 95 when RL yelled STOP at Canal Used Office. He came out saying he bought 40 Eames fiberglass armchairs. Robert undid the legs roping them to the wagons top then stacking the shells in the empty back. Now there would be a detour to the Warhol Factory.
Smiling Until My Teeth Hurt
From the used furniture, we went directly to the Warhol Factory in Union Square. I parked the Plymouth where there was 'no parking', deciding to take a chance with expensive NYC tickets. On the third guarded floor we passed Brigid Berlin after Andy nodded us in. Standing next to Warhol was his off-site silk-screener Rupert Smith who I knew before I met Robert; going to Mr. Smith's Happening Parties in abandoned lower east parking garages. I would always buy Moët for Rupert and myself at these happenings. Mr. Smith refused to take me up to Warhol’s. Now I was in the factory face-to-face with Warhol and Rupert thanks to Robert. Waving to Mr. Smith “HI RUPERT!”
Our Head on the Target
I knew Andy liked Robert as he always seemed to perk up when RL walked onto the factory floor. In hindsight I believe the attraction to Robert was that he was transparently honest with a brilliant quirky mind. We received $900 for the forty am armchairs which today would seem like a deal for Warhol, but 1980 was before people cared about modern so actually, Warhol was generous. Vincent Fremont signed Warhol’s check for us; then we went away to Warhol’s ‘Chemical Bank.’ Cash in our fists we headed deep into the south.
For You, for Me, for Modernity, Forever
We left Manhattan through the Holland tunnel taking I-95. I drove from late morning to 3:00 AM. Traveling ‘dark’ Robert could not use his powerful sonar searching out thrifting locations. When I could drive no more, we found a vacancy, dropping off fast asleep. Waking early and pulling drapes I saw the blue ridge mountains tainted with roses drenching the morning sun. Tired I had not noticed the pool at our door front; “Robert, I wonder if we can swim in our underwear?” A twisted smile formed on my lips, He made life interesting with good old joy and financial peace. Robert spoke "This move is going to be so healthy poopy.” My life was wonderful again too. “Let’s get wet poopy.”
Wheels Spinning Back Atcha
Our Miami bound wagon had stolen WA plates: I took a flight to Seattle just for the purpose of lifting them off a parked car with the sideline of injecting drugs with a Japanese American friend. Back then I was doing a lot of overtime but drinking every night, tipping very heavily. Once a bartender asked me his name and when I said I did not know, he said you're the only person I know that can tip $50,00 and not know the bartender’s name. Then I noticed my left arm was windmilling out the Plymouth window. The last Seattle year before RL was pure angst.
Heck-yeah, “A Fortune Beyond Counting”
Not far from Florida Robert spotted an antique store at an i-95 turn off. There was a gas station a couple of blocks from that shop, stopping at the pump Robert took off tee and shorts with Bambi legs. I went into the station’s pitstop men's room, finding a sticky floor: pulling a long chain on a ceiling cistern and with water rushing, I thought this was my new life! Robert has washed away my past and I was sticking with him.
(1980) American Modern Miami Beach
Once in Miami Beach RL immediately began looking for a place, we might rent, and in a half hour he found the Washington Street ‘Henry Hotel’ with a for rent on the glass lobby door. It had terrazzo floors with one corer window of rounded glass bricks. We were told the rent for the lobby would be $350.00, so Robert said “we shall park here till we can move in.” No longer thinking for myself, it did not don on me sleeping on a busy street in a station wagon with stolen plates was problematic.
Healthy Miami wasn't healthy in the beginning. My pay records never showed, plus Robert had a SF client who did deco windows at Burdines; but seeing him, he told RL that he no longer worked for the outfit and wasn't interested in expanding his glass collection. So, we slept in the car, then ran across spectacular power-white sand into breaking waves to bath, returning with boils about our body.
Robert was forced to be at the airport with me while I worked. Always spying on me when my crew and I took our break at McDonald's: filled with soaring white ‘Eero Saarinen’ tulip table and chairs, which RL referred to it as the "Cafe Knoll. At the end of my shift, we met at the fabulous black terrazzo art-floor on the international concourse. Then back to night parking at the Henry Hotel on Washington Ave.
Got The Look
After the ocean bath, we crawled in the back of the station wagon and were soon fast asleep. Sometime during the night, a bright light flashed in my face, and I realized it was the police. I had worried about my stolen WA plates from day one. After one of the officers asked for my identification, I handed him my Pan American ID card which I believe was the smartest thing I did all day. I told him about my job transferring from Manhattan where I loaded cargo. Why don't you park your car at the Pan Am lot where it is safe? My PAA identification saved the day; so away we went to the tropical plush Pan Am lot.
When is a Home Not a House?
Robert and I were three straight weeks without my pay and living in a car; while borrowing from crew members to eat. On the months 4th week Robert circled a calendar showing his faith I would have a payday then. About 4 days before the circle date Robert said I should go to the Henry hotel management saying that we would have, first and last month’s rent on that circle date for our ‘Futurerama’ store front. I did not believe this would fly, but did so, to sidestep a Loughlin verbal Tomahawk. “Voila, everything worked to script.”
Peace on Earth and a New Ferrari!
When we moved into the Henry hotel Lobby, Darling Robert started shopping Ocean Boulevard and discovered the New Yorker was renovating, getting rid of their 1930’s ‘Wolfgang Hoffmann’ tubular. Being the price was hauling it away, in less than a week after moving into Futurerama it was wall to wall American modern. By selling Warhol three Ocean Boulevard hotels of Hoffmann, Andy bestowed Robert a nickname “The Chairman.”
(No More Kicking in Bar Doors)
After my evening shift Robert and I would head out finding Miami Beach gay bar’s. Robert was an excellent dancer but all the gay bars in 1980 Miami Beach had a 1950s feel. No one wanted to dance so excellent dancer Robert would get out on the floor and hypnotize everyone. One time he went to the jukebox and put on a “Yoko Ono,” and soon someone kicked the box a good one. When Robert was back at our table, he said “that's why Yoko had so many scratches. Afterword Mr. Loughlin started collecting records and paintbrushes. Never having painted before he canvas executed the first thing he saw, our ‘Nakashima’ coffee table.
(RL's First Rodeo)
Robert and I had discovered buying items around Miami Beach and on highway US-One towards Palm Beach. We had a large space in that Henry hotel lobby, but it was filling fast: more importantly it was depleting the Pan Am paydays, so we needed a local client. The ‘Burdines’ department store gentleman was no longer an option, suddenly Robert, “I have the telephone of someone that might work.” After, RL said, “we are to meet this lady at the Welcome to Miami Beach sign.” Arriving RL spilled coffee on his crouch, SHIT, then pointing, “She’s got a helicopter: I hope they do not think I am ridding on that-thing?”
(Moon the Liftoff)
Parking in the green field we soon were standing in front of Frankie and her handsome pilot. He was about 35 years old and if wearing military fatigues, you would not doubt that he was your leader. Frankie, though, was in olive green, with shoulder epaulettes but the material was silk and only suggested military. When Frankie said we were going to go shopping in Palm Beach Robert was on the peak of rudeness, but Wolfson diffused it explaining that the craft was new and in trouble would go "woosh to the ground". Many times, Robert would treat Frankie less than cordially, but she would always just laugh it off saying “oh Robert”.
(Much more than Fairbanks AK)
The first helicopter ride since Vietnam and I knew Frankie was telling the truth when she said the outfit would go woosh to the ground. Between the pilot and the copilot was a lever used to disengage the blade If the craft was in trouble, then the flowing air would force the blade to reverse causing drag and slowing the descent. The first thing Mrs. Wilson said after liftoff was “you name a city and I'll tell you what we own there.” I said “Fairbanks” she. “Coca-Cola Bottling”. Much laughter on my part. Frankie, “this is a serious game”.
(Are You the Owner?)
Arriving at Palm Beach I heard Frankie say something about the police helipad and the pilot questioning her. But in the end, it was the helipad that we descended on. When we arrived, an officer came out of the office saying, “lady you can't park here” and Frankie said, “I'll be right back”. Away we went to a parked town car. The logistics of what was going on that day is still above my head.
Robert was adamant that we go to the Salvation Army and with bit fuss Frankie relented. Then RL pointed “Gary that's what a mansard roof looks like.” Frankie smiled and touched lightly on my arm with knowing. We were now allies of this genius-monsters’ fierce opinions; the only thing missing was music. In the distance I spotted the Army. I wish I could remember the driver, as it is so strange revisiting old thoughts.
(Our daughter of the moon.)
Even before the car stopped skippy Loughlin was out the door and Salvation swallowed. By the time Frankie and I entered Robert had already found three Angelo Lelli Triennale floor lamps. Frankie: “I will go pay for them”. RL: No, that is not how it works. I pay, then you pay me Frankie!
(Is it called Gitche Gumee?)
Back at the pad we took off with the Lelli’s sticking out from the copter’s backend. In the air Frankie asked me if I had time for lunch on a little island before work? I said I had to be at PAA by 1:00 PM. Frankie “then its lunch we go.”
(Island in the sun.)
The island that the restaurant was on was glittering, small, and when we landed Robert asked Frankie if the pilot was going to eat with us. She replied that there was only room for one helicopter on the pad at a time so the pilot would have to be in the air while we ate. Then added, “don't worry about him he has his nude beaches.”