Interpreting “de Kooning and Friends” at Sag Harbor Whaling Museum | Sag Harbor Express | By Dawn Watson
Ever since she was a little girl growing up in Ringwood, New Jersey, Mary Montes has been interested in art and the people who make it.
She credits her uncle, Tom Stadnick, for feeding that fascination. During his family visits to Jersey, the painter would fill her head with outrageous and tantalizing tales of the downtown art scene.
“He was there when they were throwing dishes across the room at the Cedar Tavern,” Ms. Montes recalls of her uncle’s recounting of the wild and crazy antics of his creative kin at the Greenwich Village hangout. Stocked with abstract expressionist painters and beat poets such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, the Cedar infamously became known as the place that banned Pollock for ripping a bathroom door off its hinges and hurling it at Kline, and for barring Kerouac for allegedly urinating in an ashtray.
“He taught me a lot about art, and he told great stories,” she says. “It was a window into where they were coming from and what they were doing. So much so, that it gave me this feeling of almost knowing them.”