On the Broadway Scene, Daily Racing Form, 1958-05-05


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_ „ ™ ~ ON THE BROADWAY SCENE By Burt Boyar NEW YORK. May 3.— He didnt look like an ex-convict. . . . There was no prison pallor. . . . His sport coat and slacks were _ „ tasteful tasteful and and in in no no way way tasteful tasteful and and in in no no way way related to prison-gray. ... A lady walked over to speak to him. She tried unsuccessfully to conceal surprise that he rose from his seat at her approach. . . . His vocabulary was better than most. . . . His hands were powerful, but his smile was soft, his manner gentle. tie. ... ... He He is is 27, 27, but but ™ ~ tie. ... ... He He is is 27, 27, but but hes spent many of his years behind bars. . . . But, thats behind him now, hes sure of it He feels emotionally wealthy now. We were at the Little Studio on Madison Avenue looking at Chester Cingolinis exhibit vividly grim but exciting paintings he had done while spending seven and a half years at San Quentin for robbery. "The robbery part of it means nothing. That just happens to be the day they caught me. If it had been the day before it would have been something else, or the day after still something else. It couldve been almost anything. When J was in the army I was arrested for the possession of narcotics." He seemed amazed at himself. "As a. stupid -kid-1 was actually-proud- of-this " We looked at the paintings. "Thats the Big Yard,- he said, "you can see the television antenna for the fellas in Death Row." Amidst the prison scenes were portraits of the inmates. Jerry, Jack, Elmer; robbery-, check-writing, assault. These were faces you dont easily forget He pointed at some oils, "I did those on burlap — potato sacks." Stretched canvas isnt easy to come by in prisons. He glanced at his pictures of prison life. "The subject isnt exactly appropriate for the living room." I wondered how a tough kid h*ad become a painter of all things-He explained: "I was in isolation at the time. Id never been interested before. My first couple of years there was strictly- troublemaking. Thats how I got there in the first place. Its why most kids get in trouble. Its the easiest way to get attention. You also get an identity with a group. Thats how I got on narcotics. I didnt need it, but I was nobody with the people I knew unless I had that mark on my arm. AAA "Anyway, I was in isolation "cause as soon as I got to San Quentin I sought out the troublemakers. There I was, locked up by myself, thinking, Is this the reward life has for a guy? Is a little attention worth Continued on Page FiftyNlne ON THE BROADWAY SCENE By BURT BOYAB Continued from Page Two sacrificing actually living a normal life? I was awfully mixed up. About that time someone brought me a box of pastels. Id always thought that was sissy stuff. But, I did a portrait of Rocky Graziano. The likeness was close. People made a fuss about it. It was encouraging. I continued to paint. I got my" attention that way." AAA A man asked if he could interrupt our conversation. He spoke with the artist and commissioned him to paint a portrait. Cin-golani returned to where wed been sitting. He was beaming. He shrugged. "It took me 27 years to wise up, but at least it happened. Some guys, never find out till theyre in for too long a term. Its too late then." * * A Michael Sean OShea, the, writer-publicist, had visited San Quentin on a magazine assignment. It was he who "discovered" Cingplani and sponsored him. To sponsor a parolee means to assure prison authorities that he will be gainfully employed. It wasnt easy. "I got 14 turn-downs," said OShea. "They were all interested until I mentioned the narcotics. Then theyd say, I cant go for thatv Mike.* Finally, it was Barney Ross who came through with a job as a magazine illustrator. The artist and I talked about juvenile delinquents. "Id like to think," he said, "that what I say would do some good. But it wont. No one who reads it will believe it Theyll say Who does this guy think he lts frustrating. You can see they are so wrong. So wrong. But theyre not going to learn by my mistakes. Theyll insist on making their, own mistakes. .Theyll go through the whole bit. Most people get over it. It takes some longer than others. I was long overdue." * A A I asked how it feels to be out. He confided, "You know, it has its amusing side. The people you meet seem to expect you to talk out of the side of your mduth and to be a Cagney-Garfield type. I think I disappoint them a little. But it feels good. I guess one of the best parts of it is to be able to send the newspaper clippings home to my parents. Its the first time in my life Ive ever done anything good. They can finally tell people, Ysee, I told you so!" We parted, as" he headed for OSheas office. In a bizarre sort of way you might say that Cingolani is a lucky fellow. I mean, aside from being talented. His unusual -"education" has left him with a set of values it might otherwise take half a century or more to acquire. Inside him its like having a party just to walk down the street, alone, free!

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1950s/drf1958050501/drf1958050501_2_4
Local Identifier: drf1958050501_2_4
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800