Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Michael Crawford 1941-2016

New Yorker cartoonist and artist Michael Crawford died peacefully at his home in Kingston, NY yesterday afternoon. The cause was cancer.

He sold his first cartoon to The New Yorker in 1981. He told Michael Maslin that as the editorship of the magazine changed, and Tina Brown came in:

"'Tina was relentlessly cordial, encouraging and welcoming of spread ideas.” He contributed color work (color was no stranger to him. Like many New Yorker artists he wore two hats: cartoonist and fine artist). His good friend Danny Shanahan said of him not long ago: 'Michael’s not really a cartoonist – he’s an artist.'"

Over 600 cartoons and paintings he sold to the magazine. From his bio:

"Crawford’s work has appeared in the pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. A dedicated baseball fan, he has played first base for The New Yorker’ssoftball team since the nineteen-eighties. Off the diamond, he co-edited, and wrote the introduction for, 'The New Yorker Book of Baseball Cartoons,' with cartoon editor Robert Mankoff. Crawford’s talents expand beyond cartooning—he is a full-time painter, and also recently worked on a video project for Issey Miyake, examining the designer’s relationship with Irving Penn. He is currently working on a 'not-exactly-for-kids' picture book and animated film about the Skunk Mafia of Central Park, who are fighting for control of the city’s beloved oasis and all the animals in it. Crawford lives with fellow New Yorker cartoonist Carolita Johnson opposite the Cloisters, in upper Manhattan.
They have since moved upstate.

Here's what his daughter Farley Crawford posted yesterday:

"Our beloved Michael Crawford left us this afternoon. At 3:33 pm — in a house buzzing with family and visitors, but in a rare moment alone in his room — he took a last deep breath, and died a minute later. He was listening to Cannonball Adderley’s 'Autumn Leaves.' As his family gathered around his bedside, the song changed to Chet Baker’s 'Someone to Watch Over Me.'

"He spent his last five days comfortably and well cared-for at home, in Kingston, with his favorite paintings on the wall, his favorite music on shuffle, his pain relief delivered via passionfruit custard, his meds via mint chip ice cream, many of his favorite people at his side, and with the love and support of many more favorite people afar.

"We are so grateful to everyone who donated to help offset the costs of Michael's health care and end of life expenses. Your generosity is stunning, and affirming of our father's impact. We are living in such troubling times and this has been a very warm reminder of the deep goodness possible in humanity. 
"We are looking towards a memorial to celebrate Michael Crawford's life in NYC in September."

Michael Maslin has a gamut of memories of his fellow New Yorker cartoonist neighbor. Here is a small selection:

"The first time I laid eyes on him, thirty-two years ago, I was sitting in a street level apartment next to Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios in Greenwich Village. The apartment belonged to another New Yorker cartoonist, Richard Cline. I was waiting for Cline to finish up a phone call so we could cab uptown to the Pierre Hotel on 5th Avenue for the magazine’s annual anniversary party. Crawford suddenly came in through Cline’s Seinfeldian unlocked apartment door. More specifically, Crawford sidled in like a sand crab – looking as if he wasn’t sure he really wanted to be there or was supposed to be there. This kind of entrance became, for me, his trademark over the years: looking like he was ready to leave as soon as he entered a room."

Michael has much more, including a good number of links, at his site:

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