Stephen Kroninger
late 80s early 90s Op-Ed

 In going through piles of work for the exhibit of my 80s work at MIAD I came across these tearsheets from my days on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times. They brought back a flood of memories. Recently the Times has been celebrating the op-ed page but oddly neglected to include the Michael Valenti years. Michael was the art director I worked for on the page.
Michael knew my work from the Progressive magazine. He called me in for a job. I was pretty broke in those years. That day I had enough money to get me up to the Times and back with maybe a few dollars left over. Around the corner from the Times building, was a man selling vintage record albums. He had an original copy of The Velvet Underground and Nico with the Andy Warhol's "peel me and see" banana cover in perfect condition. I'd been looking for a copy of that for years. I mulled over my financial situation for half a second and then bought it. Now I had no money. I hurried up to Michael's office and handed him my work. He looked at it. It was done in a style that I thought was consistent with the New York Times Op-Ed style that was prevalent in the eighties. This was a new art director. He said, "No. I'd like you to do it like you do for the Progressive." Those words practically had me dancing on the ceiling. I had complete freedom at the Progressive. He needed the new piece that same day. As I headed for the door I remembered that I didn't have any money for the train. It took about a half an hour to walk home. A half an hour that I could have used for the piece. Sheepishly, I turned to Michael and explained about the Velvet Underground record and my present dilemma. Without skipping a beat, Michael said, "I understand" and handed me the fare for the train. I later learned that Michael was a huge fan of the Blanton-Webster Ellington band, a fandom we shared. He completely understood record collector mania.
 As anyone whose worked for the Times knows, the final say for all art rests with the editor of the page. The editor of Op-Ed at that time was Leslie Gelb. I never met him but we had a fabulous relationship. I never did sketches. I'd read the column and go straight to finish.  The next day I would go up to Michaels's office and hand Michael my work. He would always look at it, laugh and say, "They're never going to print this, wait here." He'd then take it to show Mr. Gelb for approval. I'd spend some nervous minutes cooling my heels until Michael returned. Back in the office Michael said the same thing, "Go home. He loves you." There was never the slightest change to my art the entire time Leslie Gelb was there. Things were to change, however. A new editor came in and my work was edited to the point of frustration. I decided it was time for me to move on from Op-Ed and Michael agreed. It was a great run for me and I thought an appreciation of Michael Valenti and Leslie Gelb was in order.

a native-American perspective on the "discovery" of America by Christopher Columbus.

 The bags under the auctioneer's eyes are cold cuts.
  Michael wanted to know where the cleft in the Senator's chin came from. He thought I was trying to sneak some porno into the Times. When I explained to him that it was Liza Minelli's cleavage from an ad that ran in the Times Sunday Magazine he had no problem letting it go through.

Warhol Diaries

 In his profile of my work in New York magazine, Chris Smith wrote, "His distended, freakish, and playful collages pop off the pages...lately Kroninger has been getting more space on the Times op-ed than William Safire ."
 When SPY magazine did a sendup of the THE NEW YORK TIMES in '92 it was my work they lampooned for the illustration on their op-ed page.
 Several of the works in this post were included in my one-man show at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1992.

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