Color Scheme: Normal :: Earthtones :: Primary :: Light

Biography: Part Three

In a surge of public spirit he constructed a styrofoam sculpture on 72nd and Riverside which was immediately burned down. Undaunted, he conceived a mobile stretching 125 blocks to City Hall, never achieved. But it was the purchase of a surplus Pennsylvania RR barge in 1967 that initiated a grand plan for a floating artist colony under the Brooklyn Bridge and an aquatic environment to circumnavigate the island and up the Hudson. Commodore Drake assembled a Peace Monument on the barge and reclined on the deck house with his poodles as they were towed past the United Nations. But in the face of opposition from marine authorities his plans were thwarted, and finally scuttled when the barge sank at its moorings. That’s when he headed for Texas. Such transitory events, as ambitious as they might be, often leave little to mark their passage. Bud left behind a large quantity of videotapes, fixed-frame and time-lapse images, and a record these happenings might be found someday on others --- more than likely featuring sky and passing gulls and the underside of bridges.

For all that, the decade of the sixties were immensely productive for Drake in the variety and inventiveness of works of a conventional gallery size. He didn’t live in the Village or hang out at the Cedar Bar but lived in the Chatsworth on 72nd and Riverside, where for a time the entire unoccupied top floor was his studio, as spacious as any Broom Street loft. For a time he worked on large high keyed monochrome abstract paintings in oils on canvas, experimented with polymer and photo-transfer collage, and developed a new method of spilling colored and whipped styrene into tubes or clear plexiglass boxes. The Drakes’ gracious apartment was furnished with found objects and family heirlooms and Bud’s art, enlivened by their poodles and, at least on one convivial occasion, by a gibbon hopping from one styrofoam filled box to another, happily plucking from the women below any ornament or wig he could spot. Life was never dull.

And in these dozen years Drake was right in the forefront of the New York art scene at its most ebullient and creative, brushing shoulders with the pack but running a parallel course. His is a subjective and sensual art, touching on a number of the major movements in their own time (Abstract Expressionism, Neo-Dada, Pop, Op, etc.) while pushing its own envelope.

<Previous Next> Download