Still It Continues

I was in Oneonta yesterday at an all day grant session for Cooperstown. During the middle of a workshop, I got a text from Karen.

“Front page story!” she wrote.

I couldn’t wait to get home and see. Evan Jagels, former Cooperstownian, now Brooklynite, wrote a brilliant review of the show, totally nailing it in the title: Nate Katz’s Work Authentic, Not Ironic. Everyone I ran into today on Main St. had read the article and was buzzing.

In response to Nate’s email thank you, Evan praised Nate’s Alpha Folks designs and asked when he could buy a shirt. While we’re still a little bit aways from production, Nate has been churning out designs this week, both in hand drawn and graphic forms. I wanted him to do both because Doug, our curator, loves the art of his sketch work. Professor Lauber tends towards the graphics. I just don’t know. There’s merit to both.

What I’m most impressed with in Nate is that he’s taken to the work with little complaining or barking. Yes, barking. He does that sometimes when he doesn’t want to do as asked. But for Alpha Folks he seems to be taking real pleasure.

I printed out a checklist for him, to know what he’s done and what he hasn’t, as if he needs memory help. Maybe it’s more for me, to check that he’s working toward completion. He may have messed it up already. I think I saw that he checked off every box for female Alpha Folks, drawings and graphics. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t done them yet.

He’s also making great use of the sketchbook Linda, his former test giver, gave him as a graduation present. After brief resistance upon receipt, Nate immediately saw that this notebook could be useful. And it is.

This morning I realized I hadn’t seen yesterday’s work. I grabbed his book and looked through the latest. They’re unbelievably good, with a new wrinkle, the use of lower case letters which add fabulous detail. He even made a new version of his classic inital piece, calling it “C Boy (revisited!).” I think his ability to tinker with his work is a fantastic new facet. Usually he is extremely stubborn in his unwillingness to improve and refine.

Something is happening here and we don’t knwo what it is. Or we simply can’t process what’s going on. It feels as if Alpha Folks is a fait accompli and that Nate, after all this time and all our worries, may indeed find a way to make a living, in his own unique way.

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About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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