~SIMON CERIGO – MEMORIAL, CHINATOWN. FEB 2, 2013
you have to thank the young man on the left, THEO CERIGO, 24, Simon’s son – for pulling it off.
THEO totally produced the whole event – and it was . . . awesome.
with Theo is his long-time friend, DAVID STIMMER.
the memorial took place at True Light Lutheran Church in Chinatown.
our family actually has a long and loving association with this church . . . it is the home base for Theo’s Boy Scout Troop 150, one of the oldest Boy Scout troops in America, where he was a very active boy scout, since he was 11. and where he is still, as young man, a very involved and caring youth program volunteer, and Scout Master today.
one of my and Simon’s fondest memories . . . was the ceremony, held proudly right here in the chapel, when Theo made . . . Eagle Scout.
an artist kid and an Eagle Scout – you can’t beat that. . . great mix.
yes, those are Simon’s artworks – on display.
my friend, the original Jersey shore girl, DIANE LOMBARDI-FLEMING . . .
many friends showed up: Kate’s, Theo’s, mine, Simon’s … in fact it was a full house, and we were very honored and pleased, comforted … to see so much respect and love shown to a guy who at the end of the day – was a great artist, if still unrecognized, and, just you wait – not for long (!!), a great character, and probably the most knowledgeable player on the art scene . . . and, a wonderfully affectionate and profound dad – who connected just as much with his children, as he did with his art world pals, and party posse …
artwork: Theo’s own personal fav of Simon’s work: a portrait of WILLEM DAFOE..
a long time Scout Troop 150 volunteer, TONY CHEE was the ceremony’s host. he started with a brief Bio – focusing on Simon’s early years, his coming to New York, from Montreal – in 1980, his relationship with me (Nancy), and the start of our small family.
then followed a rousing, passionate, somewhat on-the-edge – but very straightforward true-to-life portrait of Simon – as he really was . . . on the art scene: a very colorful, loved to party, yet very knowledgeable fixture who went to more openings than anybody else I know, and spread the word, the virtual low-down, with a very discerning eye – week, after week, after week – for over 30 years.
so go figure – at the depth of that oral history – we just lost !!
this lively remembrance was provided with great sadness, and yet much fondness, and even greater celebration – by Simon’s best pal, from pretty much day one . . . the incomparable . . . CHARLIE FINCH.
yes, that was a ‘speech’ to remember, as anyone who was there, will tell you.
then Theo presented a wonderful slideshow of intimate photos culled from our family’s many photos albums. a sweet, too swift, now gone . . . portrait of snaps, that caught the arc of Simons life, just so … just right. I think at that point, Theo stopped to screen a music video – of the band, WYE OAK singing: ‘I DON’T FEEL YOUNG’. . . in a Yaris.
both as a tribute to Simon’s love of indie music . . and to set a sound track to the proceedings.
then Theo gave a heart-felt remembrance of his father – that touched everybody in the room – very very deeply. people who hadn’t known Theo before, surely realized, that yes, the best and most profound parts of Simon – live on in his son. yes, Theo is a more-down-to-earth kinda guy, he has a business degree, but he shares Simon’s passion for art and music – like nobody’s business. Simon’s most proud day was when he exclaimed to me – “the boy has a great eye, the boy is a natural born collector.”
Theo told everyone not to be too sad, that Simon even loved sadness, had taught him that .. there was a ‘beauty’ even in sadness, and to bring the point home. . . he played another music video clip: ‘THIS TOO SHALL PASS’ by …. the band: OK GO. well if you know it – it’s a super enchanting wonder of a thing, if you don’t know it, trust me – download the original from iTunes !!
what’s so funny, apart from the marching band, and the camouflage back ups !! is that the refrain sounds like: “where did the money go”. (!!) well, if you knew Simon – you knew, this was – all good.
you can catch the real lyrics, here. and hear the song – but that video is bogus. get the real deal, like I said on iTunes. seeing is believing.
SIMON CERIGO, NEWSPAPER PIECE – PORTRAIT of his DAUGHTER, KATE. dated MAY 15, 1988.
watercolor on newsprint, THE NEW YORK TIMES. including an article with the by-line: KATE SIMON (!!).
Kate would have been 2, it was just before Theo was to be born, and yes . . that is indeed just how she grew up to be, as anyone can tell you.
the lovely flowers were from Kate’s longtime friends, KANA TOGASHI and TETSUJI NAKATOMI who run a lovely lovely flower, vintage and local artisan goods store in FORT GREENE, BROOKLYN, called – SAFFRON at 31 Hanson Place . . .
detail, SIMON CERIGO. newspaper piece dated MAY 15, 1988.
NYC art world – how the F… did you manage to miss out on this ?
the expression: don’t cast your pearls before swine … does come to mind. and, let’s leave it at that.
one of the insights Theo shared, was that he thought … people didn’t credit Simon as much as they should have … because Simon tossed off his knowledge so casually. I think that’s true, though I hadn’t really thought of it like that, before. hey, your loss – not ours.
we always treasured Simon just for who he was, dead broke, or in the money – through thick and thin.
and then our longtime family friends, SCOTTIE and JOHN HARRISON, who had driven down from Vermont, concluded the service by singing a wonderful, mysterious and very moving song … a 2 part version of ‘HALLOWELL’ by the contemporary American composer & lyricist STEPHEN SPITZER.
based on traditional ‘Shape Note’ singing, also known as ‘Sacred Harp Singing’ …. also known as ‘fasola’ .. the form which dates back to colonial New England – is currently seeing a big resurgence.
we will leave you with some of the lyrics, which we all found most terrible strange/true, and yet – very very comforting . . .
“I thought when someone died the spirit flew overhead furthest field,
Now I see death will leave behind .. a scrap of light,
a broken smile, the remnants by . . . mountain flowers,
the desert sands . . . surround me now,
comfort me now.
in death or dreaming I find my kin.”
check out: WYE OAK – ‘I DON’T FEEL YOUNG’. . .
PHOTOS: NANCY SMITH