Sunday July 10 will be the last day for the JLP exhibition at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. I was over there today at 2pm to meet a local member of the media and in a brief period of time a diverse crowd of 15-20 people passed through. For mid-afternoon on a university campus in summer, it seemed like a good number, a good final memory of the run at Nasher.
This weekend I’m heading to Chicago to speak at a memorial celebration for David Logan at the University of Chicago, where the Logan’s gave $35 million for the new Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts. Of course, the Reva and David Logan Foundation made JLP possible and I wrote a tribute to David after his death in January at age ninety-three.
So on JLP’s final weekend in Durham I’ll be in Chicago thinking of the snowy night in January 2003 that I spent back in Durham with David and his key foundation board member, Ben Rothblatt. The Dream Street show was opening at CDS the next night. David, Ben, and I had dinner at Magnolia Grill and David ordered one of Magnolia’s terrific soups as an appetizer. After about half of the bowl was gone, he looked up, spoon in hand, and said, with sly exasperation on his face, “Why do I live in Chicago if I can find soup as good as this down here?”
As the dinner progressed a group of eight men sat down at a large table next to ours. These guys looked like they were 35-45 years old. They were dressed casually but well and they ordered everything on the menu and bottle after bottle of wine. They were talking, laughing, didn’t show a care in the world, having a large time. David noticed these guys immediately and his curiosity grew. You could see his his mind working: We’re in Durham, North Carolina. This is an expensive place. These guys look like they come here every night. Who are they? I knew that’s what he was thinking. A few minutes passed, David looked at me and gestured toward the next table and said, “Who are those guys? They are about your age.” I had no idea. I could tell David was thinking like the shrewd investor he was: These guys were about to drop two or three grand at Magnolia; he wanted to know who they were so he could look up their company or industry in the morning paper’s stock indexes. A few minutes later he gave the guys another once over, and he mouthed to nobody in particular, “I wonder who those guys are.” Finally, David couldn’t take it any longer. He pulled back, got up from his chair, and walked over to the next table and said, “Excuse me. I hate to interrupt, but, I have to ask: Who ARE you guys?”
The men roared with warm, accepting laughter. They loved David’s curious regard. They explained they were from a biotech company in Research Triangle Park in between Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill. David chatted with them for a good ten minutes. We finished our dinner and he chatted with them again for another five minutes before we left.
I wish David had been around a little bit longer to see the JLP show at Nasher and to hit Magnolia again.