My Friend Artist Will Barnet

Photograph © JoAnne Kalish   (This is his favorite)

I had a very special Assignment from ART & ANTIQUES Magazine to photograph an American Master Painter by the name of Will Barnet.  It is one of those special assignments that I will always remember fondly. I was told it would be a very big spread and many pages like the one they had recently done on Philip Hockney in a previous issue. I was thoroughly excited about this and totally looking forward to meeting this man.  I prepared my equipment, did my research on his studio, and on what kind of equipment and strobes I would need to get the job done as smoothly as possible.  My bags were already packed ahead-of-time and ready to go.  Two days prior to the shoot I received a call and was told the shoot was off.  I was crushed!  I did not know what happened. But as luck would have it, almost a month later I received a phone call from the Magazine, saying the assignment was on again and Will Barnet had agreed to be photographed but, the stipulation was, that I had to come without an assistant.  Well I agreed to do whatever it would take to get the job done.  

It was strongly suggested from the Magazine that when I worked with him to be very respectful and call him Mr. Barnet.  As I was photographing him, I made suggestions for him to go to various places in his studio so I could also do a picture story at the same time as well as horizontal and vertical portraits of him.  He willingly obliged but there were times I called him Mr. Barnet and he did not respond. Once I accidentally called him Will and with that he lit up and smiled at me this wonderful warm smile.  After the shoot I thanked him very much and asked to use his bathroom to wash up.  When I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I had blue paint all over my face from one of his work locations.  I was covered!  He must have got a kick out of it.

I followed up after my shoot by sending him a few photos as I was very pleased with the portraits. I sent him two and asked him to sign two of the same for me and was invited to come by to pick them up.  I have to mention, that Will is one of the most gracious & lovely people I have ever known.  When he asks how you’re doing and what kind of art are you making he really wants to know.  I have gone to several of his shows, been invited for lunch, and have always been totally honored to be one of his friends.  Will has used one of my photographs for his show in the Farnsworth Art Museum and my photo in the Naples Museum of Art and I am deeply honored.

I did many wonderful portraits that day and they are by far my favorites.
This is a photo that was taken of Will and myself as I was showing him some of my recent work in his studio

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