One of the strengths of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, I think, is style—not a style, meaning conformity to a certain pattern, but instead a consistent quality of thought and presentation that embraces disparate talents and personalities. Consider, if you will, the artists whose paintings embellish a total of 10 pages in this issue. It would be hard to find two more different persons—both as men and as craftsmen—than Nicholas Solovioff and Tom Allen.
Nick Solovioff is a sturdy, heavy-set, round-featured individual with a drooping mustache and a manner that is at once emphatic and absent-minded. The son of a White Russian émigré who worked as an aeronautical engineer in the pioneer aviation plants of such fellow exiles as Sikorsky and De Seversky, Nick unmistakably is a city-dweller. His studio is in Greenwich Village, and he is profoundly informed about New York's streets, architectural landmarks, bars and restaurants. He knows the rumble of the city's underground movies and is closely attuned to the loud percussions of its pop art.
Although he attended Harvard and spent some years there after graduation on a teaching fellowship, Nick is not easily identifiable as an Ivy Leaguer. He almost always carries with him a folding stool and a battered green knapsack modeled after an Army cartographer's kit. The knapsack has become a trademark. It contains papers, inks, watercolors, pads—and, very likely, a bologna on rye.
As an artist, Solovioff employs a technique reminiscent of classic Renaissance draftsmanship to capture vivid—and often fleeting—urban scenes. Nick's work for us has ranged from field trials in Mississippi to game wardens on patrol in the Pennsylvania woods, but it all reflects his quick urban instinct for fixing and recording exact instants amid ceaseless change—as in his glimpses of preparations for the New York boat show on pages 20 to 25.
January 3, 1966
By way of contrast, Tom Allen is a slender, soft-spoken Tennesseean who now lives with his wife and two small children in a remodeled New York farmhouse a couple of hours' drive from New York City. The woods around his home—even his own backyard—are fine grouse country. At fairly frequent intervals he sets out on long, difficult and adventurous fishing trips, such as the journey to Nicaragua (his second for SI) dramatized in the four pages of paintings that begin on page 37. Allen does not make many sketches on these trips, because he is too busy fishing. "I just fish and absorb" is the way he puts it. When he gets back to his studio he pulls together the images formed in his mind during those hours of concentrated enjoyment of the sport and the scene.
Allen, the son of a Nashville lawyer, went to Vanderbilt on a football scholarship for two years. Since he then spent four years at Chicago's Art Institute, he is not exactly a country boy, even by Solovioff standards. But he has found rare pleasure in portraying outdoor sports. An exhibition of his paintings will open at the Abercrombie & Fitch gallery in New York this month.
Allen and Solovioff, Solovioff and Allen. Oil and water? Apples and oranges? Certainly. But both contributors to the reputation for style that SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has, I believe, rightly earned.