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Victor Coleman

Interview with Sol Litman (1976)
with Marien Lewis

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[ 649 words ]


I finally managed to corner Mr. Litman for a few minutes one day amidst his incredible hustle between the Toronto Stab and the CBC Radio Building on Jarvis Street. We met in his luxurious apartment where I noticed, on the walls, the largest private collection of Ken Danby and Goodridge Roberts in the province. I found him very responsive, though rushed, and he seemed a little disturbed when I turned on my Sony portable recorder:

S.L.: What's that for?
V.d.: It's a tape recorder. I've talked to so many artists and gallery owners who've claimed that you misquoted them in your Stab articles and CBC talks that I thought I'd try to offer an alternative accuracy measure. I'll be transcribing everything you say verbatim.
S.L.: Seems like a lot of trouble to go to.
V.d.: Maybe ... let's just try it as an experiment.
S.L.: Okay ... shoot.
V.d.: How long have you been a collector of Danby.
S.L.: Ken is a wonderful, close friend of mine. I bought a drawing from him when we were in high school together. I was terribly impressed with his sense of the line; do you know what I mean?
V.d.: So, realism is your bag, so to speak.
S.L.: Not exactly. I like realism, mind you. I mean, you can tell if a painting's any good right away if it's realism, whereas, if it's abstract you're never quite sure.
V.d.: What about Conceptual Art. You've been called a philistine by most of the working Conceptualists in Toronto for your rather hasty dismissal of what many consider to be serious work.
S.L.: Well, Vic, the problem is a pretty simple one there, that old 'where's the dollar for your merchant' dilemma. I guess I'm a bit old-fashioned but I really believe in boundaries ...
V.d.: You mean rent cheques?
S.L.: How about a mai-tai, I got some chilling up in the fridge?
V.d.: Just a minute, Sol, I'd really like to follow up this thing first ...
S.L.: The doctor says it's bad for me to think about conceptual art, Vic, so if you wouldn't mind ...
V.d.: I'm afraid I'm going to have to insist Sol ... now wait a minute ... listen, this is silly ... c'mon Sol ... I can still see you under there, careful, you're going to turn the goddamn coffee table over.
S.L.: I bet you cant really see me under here.
V.d.: You're going to hurt yourself, Sol ... c'mon ...
S.L.: Can we talk about Harold Town? I play squash with Harry and if we can talk about that I'll ...
V.d.: ... Ok, ok ... let's talk about... that's better ... uh, let's talk about your reportage techniques, how about that?
S.L.: This has been a pretty unnerving day for me so far, Vic, krist, a couple of young punks broke into the trunk of my car and stole my dobermans, can you believe that?
V.d.: Dobermans, who's he? (laughs)
S.L.: It's not funny, Vic ...
V.d: I really want to hear about your reportage techniques anyway ...
S.L.: How do you mean?
V.d.: Well how do you cope with people who accuse you of misquoting them for instance?
S.L.: There's a phrase for that in the newspaper game, Vic: 'beggars can't be choosers', ever heard that one before?
V.d.: ... I can't say as ...
S.L: ... No really, it's my typewriter, right? and I really do the best I can -- then some sonofabitch steals my eight hundred dollar Dobermans, so who you gonna blame? ... I'll light that for you, here ...
V.d.: That's a pretty fancy lighter, Sol, thanks -- hey wait a minute, the tape recorder, what the hell? ... something ... (voice obscured) ...
S.L.: ... how 'bout one a those mai-tais, Vic ... (voice disappears) ...

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Text: © Victor Coleman. All rights reserved.


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