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GROWING UP 1952-1972
FAMILY - POUSETTE-DART
This is the only film with my family together in one room! (1960)
Pousette-Dart Family Thanksgiving Dinner 1960 - Nathanial, Flora, Richard, Evelyn, Joanna, Greg, Chris, Jon, Dovey, Bill, Maggie, and Stan (Making the Movie as usual) Gay & Gary we're away.
Painted by my Great Great Grandfather 1795
Tony & Flora
GRANDFATHER & GRANDMOTHER - NATHANIAL & FLORA POUSETTE-DART
Nathaniel Pousette was a painter and an art writer from St. Paul, Minnesota. The son of Swedish immigrants, he studied painting at the Art Students League in New York City under the painter Robert Henri and at the Academy of Fine Arts. My Grandfather was a loving giving man and probably the thing I'll remember most, besides his amazing paintings, is the morning he came down stairs dressed as Santa Claus on Christmas Day and he had forgotten to put on his Santa Boots and had left his old black sneakers on which killed my belief in Santa Claus forever!
Nathanial married Flora Dart, of French dissent, she was a gifted pianist/musician and poet who wrote several books during her lifetime and wrote and played chamber music with other classically trained musicians in their home in Valhalla New York. After their marriage they combined their last names to form Pousette-Dart.
My mother told me that Flora never really showed very much physical affections for her as she grew up. Flora was an intellectual and as such came off a bit cold to her children. However, she told me this wonderful story about the day I was born. When she brought me home to the house in Valhalla NY she gave me to her to hold for the first and only time. Flora had the most beautiful Steinway Grand Piano in her living room and she took me and sat down at her piano and took one of my tiny little fingers and she placed it on one key, and pushed it down on that note and let it ring completely out, and then she gave me back to my mother. No wonder I became a piano player!
Together they had three children. Richard, Dovey and Elizabeth (Maggie).
Richard & Eveylyn
UNCLE - RICHARD POUSETTE-DART & AUNT - EVELYN GRACEY
Richard, the first and only son of the Pousette-Darts was the youngest member of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists. Founder of the New York School of painting, Richard attended the same school as Jackson Pollock in the 40's. He became one of Americas great abstract artists whose work is not only shown in The Modern Museum of Art in NYC and the Guggenheim but in galleries and museums around the world.
I have many recollections of Richard & Evelyn as we spent a lot of time at their house in Suffern NY. I remember vividly walking through a small door in the living room down a narrow stairway and through a winding column of electronics stacked to the ceiling and at the end was this classic Ham Radio with the old school RCA Microphone in front. Richard was an avid Ham Radio Operator and talked to people all over the world. Another memory was the studio above a six car garage that Jon and I played in for hours at a time. But one story that comes to mind was from my mothers memory of Richard. Every night when they were kids, Dovey, Maggie and Richard would get a piece of fruit after dinner. One night they all got bananas. Maggie and Dovey ate theirs right away but Richard saved his. He came into their room later that night and asked them if they wanted a bite of his banana and when they both said yes he would unpeel it and lick the entire thing! hahah
Richard married the Poet Evelyn Gracey and they had two children Joanna and Jon.
Jon & Joanna
COUSINS - JON & JOANNA POUSETTE-DART
Jon is an incredible musician/songwriter who formed the Pousette-Dart Band and Joanna his sister is an accomplished abstract artist in NYC. There's way too much to tell here about their lives so I've included their personal websites below.
Our family is so weird as all families are. Maybe it all came from Flora my grandmother who was always cold and aloof. 65 years later I still have never met or seen Joanna's son! And Gary my other cousin couldn't wait to get as far away as he could from our family as soon as he was able! We never see each other and vary rarely talk to each other. The fact that were actually all perfectly fine with that is really strange but in reality once one chooses to be true to ones artistic expression we tend to embrace the idea of living a life alone.
A long time ago when we were much younger Jon, my brother and I all wanted to go skiing together instead of staying at home to celebrate Christmas one year as a family. My mom who was always very loose about these things said "absolutely yes! if that's what they really want to do than let them!". Evelyn, Jon's mom was adamant about everyone being together and my mom and her butted heads about this for the rest of our lives. After that year we never had Christmas as a family again. The rift between the two was like the Israelis and the Palestinians, they would never make peace!
Dovey & Bill
AUNT - DOVEY & UNCLE - BILL SHELDON
Dovey the First daughter of the Pousette-Darts was a painter. And Bill Sheldon, her husband, was an Advertising Executive. We spent time with this part of my family during my early years at their home in Scarsdale NY, but as time passed everyone grew more distant! Dovey was always a love and I always looked forward to seeing her but Bill was tough. I think that's why his son Gary moved away as soon as he had a chance. They definitely had issues you know the father son thing. Also, One thing that I never forgot about BIll …
One day when I had first started playing music , Bill came into my room, they were visiting us, and he said to me, " What a waste of time playing music , you'll never do anything with that!" and he walked out. I think I hated and distrusted him my whole life for that. But years later after I had grown up we would visit them when they came to the island and he really wasn't a bad person , like my father he was just tough with his boy.
Gary & Gay
Dovey married the ad executive Bill Sheldon and they had two children Gaylord and Garret
COUSINS - GAYLORD & GARRET SHELDON
Gary, who couldn't wait to get away from the family, moved to Colorado Springs and married a wonderful woman named Nina. Gary studied law and became the DA there for a while but then started acting and now he is painting...go figure!
Gay married an ad exec named Denny. Gay is a wonderful woman and I really wish we had made more time to spend together. I very rarely see her but when I do it's always a pleasure. They had two great children named Randy & Laura who we have only been able to spend a very little time with.
MOTHER - ELIZABETH POUSETTE-DART - MAGGIE MEREDITH
Maggie was the third and last child of the Pousette-Dart Family. She was a singer, dancer, photographer and painter. She grew up in upstate New York and married my father Stanley Rabczak. They picked a new last name out of phonebook, I suppose my mom was not wild about my dad's last name! They spent much of their life moving from home to home as Maggie loved to move furniture around! I think she was the first one to have ADD. She produced so much work in her lifetime it's daunting. To this day I'm still moving massive amounts of things she created through the years, her poetry books, her paintings, her rugs she hooked and her prints from room to room. She also produced two children, Greg, and me Chris. She was a great mom, and a very talented artist. Her work was filled with love and humor and always brought a smile to the thousands of people who saw and bought her paintings and prints.
FATHER - STANLEY (RABCZAK) MEREDITH
My dad, was Austrian, he was also a cinematographer. He used to teach people how to fly B-52 bombers in the war and when we we're growing up he always had a small Cessna plane that he loved to fly. Right after I was born my parents worked on a film together in New Mexico with a man named Herbert Beiberman. The film was about the Mexican American miners and their families who were living in horrible shanties with no plumbing and working under very dangerous conditions enforced by the corporate mine owners at a zinc mine in New Mexico. The Movie went on to become the ONLY film in America ever to be banned by the U.S. government. It was made during the McCarthy Era and Herbert Bieberman was one of the blacklisted directors during that time. It has since become a cult film and I've included the whole movie below for anyone to watch. He worked on many films throughout his life and made a lot of tv commercials at a studio in NYC called MPO. Another notable film he shot was called FESTIVAL, with such greats as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.
Festival 1967 Newport Folk Festival
Stans Mother, Nellie. His Dad left when he was very young and we never knew or met him.
Festival 1967 Newport Folk Festival
Salt of The Earth
Salt of The Earth Movie
Martha Graham Dance Films
A great story my mother told me. She had purchased a beautiful book of pictures of Martha Grahmm Dance. It had eventually found it's way into the front hall closet on the top shelf after we we had moved. My dad had gone to the closet one day to get something and the book fell off the shelf and hit him on the head and that moment the phone rang. It was Martha Graham calling him and asking him to be the cinematographer or her first Movie A Dancers World. He went on to film all three of her dance movies. Ive included them below.
A Dancers World
Maggie married Stan the Cinematographer and they had two children Gregory and Christopher.
BROTHER - GREGORY MEREDITH
Greg Meredith, my brother, was, an amazing Jazz Bass Player among other things. He was a great skier and sailor and an avid Bruce Lee fan! We got to play a lot of music together through the years and loved each other as brothers do. Unfortunately he passed away at way too early an age in a tragic motorcycle accident. He will always be missed not only by me but by so many others who had the privilege of knowing him for his short years here on planet earth! Love you forever my brother.
Bass Solo - Greg
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Other than my 4 cousins and my 100 year old aunt Evelyn, Unfortunately all of these wonderful, amazing people in my life have passed on to another place in time. They will all be missed. But my dear friend Joan Anglund once told me ...
You cannot lose that which you have truly loved ... it is a part of you forever.
ME - CHRISTOPHER MEREDITH
And then there was Me. So i was raised by a family who all supported the arts in one form or another and as a result had a rather liberal American upbringing. Being from a family of artists I was always encouraged to find what it was that I loved to do. Find your own voice, your own direction and trust in it. From the time I was born till about 11 I lived a pretty typical middle American life. Both parents worked so we had money, not a lot but we had a home and lived a good life. Maggie my Mom was always all about love , you can see it in her work, so I was always loved and cared for and was blessed to have had a great childhood. But I was definitely a bit different then the rest of the kids in school and got bullied but always could find a way to make friends before I got beat up. I did the normal boy stuff, sports, girls, school etc. in my early years. My Grandparents had purchased a home on Nantucket Island many years before I was born so we would come to the island every summer until my parents bought a house and moved there for good. Most of my youth was spent between NY and Nantucket Island.
Fair Today - Futurama Tomorrow - Michael Chimino
In 1964 my parents heard of a film opportunity where they were looking for a boy to play the part of the kid who got lost at the New York Worlds Fair and lived off the pennies in the uni sphere. They took a bunch of pictures of me and sent them in and I was picked from about 1000 kids. It was a promotional film for General Motors to be shot at the New York Worlds Fair. They took me out of school for one year and I lived in New York City and spent every day at the fair making this movie.
Victor Solow & Michael Chimino Setting up a shot of me.
Michael Chimino (Deer Hunter) was the Director of Photography, it was his first film and the Movie was Directed by Victor Solow. The 45 minute Film was called Fair Today Futurama Tomorrow and was shown at schools across America. I learned so many things from this experience and grew so fast that it changed my life forever. It was hard relating to kids my own age or with traditional school after having this amazing life changing experience. And after all it was the 60's!
So the following year at 13 I ran away from home. I cant believe I did this! It was torture for my mom and many kids were doing this during this time but it wasn't until much later in life I realized how distraught it had made her!
I hopped a freight train with a friend and we tried to make it out to California to live on a commune. We got as far as Cleveland Heights Ohio on the train where we spent several weeks living in a strange house with very strange people and eventually we got picked up by the police at Higbees Shopping Mall for disturbing the peace and was sent to Cleveland Detention Center.
My father came out to get me several weeks later and when I got back home they sent me to Hinkley School in Maine. Kind of like a prep school based on the concept that every child is entitled not only a second chance but also a third, fourth and fifth chance as well.
There were many troubled kids at this school just like me and I continued to get in trouble. For the next couple of years I got caught naked with the headmasters daughter, caught smoking things I shouldn't have been, stealing pills out of the infirmary and passing them out and I ended up spending most of my vacation time cleaning the kitchen and milking cows at the barn. At 16 I was pretty much done with traditional education and I dropped out of high school for good.
I came back home and my father put me to work at Silvercup Studios in NYC as an assistant grip on a film set. I worked on several videos and commercials and a couple of films and had a small apartment in nyc.
Over the next year I learned about the movie industry but was still uncertain of what I wanted to do with my life. But at 17 I quit that job and went to Canada with a friend Jeff Cook.
We started in Montreal and rode freight trains across Canada and a couple of months later ended up in Vancouver. There I lived with a woman and her daughter in the city and one night we went to see a friend of theirs, a classical pianist, who was putting on a concert of Bach. It was like I had never heard this type of music before and was so overwhelmed by its beauty that I became driven to learn how to play the piano. We talked to the pianist after the show and he told me to practice my scales. I had no idea what he was talking about but the next day I rented a piano and several books on learning how to play and I sat in the basement of their home playing scales religiously day after day for the next couple of months.
Eventually I returned to the states and continued to study music. I moved to Boston to go to Berkley School of Music. With no high school diploma I started studying for my HS Equivalency to hopefully get into Berklee at a later date. While I waited to take the HS test I sat in on classes and taught myself how to read and write music and continued to study and read books on theory and harmony. After a year of Boston I decided I really didn't want to go back to school but just wanted to play and perform and get in a band and play with other musicians. So I moved back home to Nantucket where my brother had started playing bass guitar. We started working on the island at several clubs and eventually decided to move to Colorado to ski and play more music together. So we packed up our gear and moved to Denver.
These first 18 years of life formed the person I would become and also created the foundation for all the things I would and would not accomplish in my life. But the most important thing in those 18 years that happened was I ended up in Colorado where I met the woman I would fall in love with and eventually marry many years later!
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