Abe “A.J.” Goldsmith has never been a fan of making a New Year’s resolution. His sound thinking for having such an indifference to the annual promise: Why wait until the first day of each year to resolve to do something when today—or any day—would be as good as, or even better than, January 1?
Good ol’ Goldsmith’s first book, My Journey Into the Realm of Latino Art, got published in 2019 when the Highland Park resident was 90 going on 29.
“Be interested in something and pursue it,” the amiable, passionate Goldsmith says simply, and cogently, of one of his life’s mottos.
Art interested Goldsmith—a 20-year Lake Forest denizen before moving to Fort Sheridan in Highland Park two years ago, and a former Lake County News-Sun reporter/feature writer—as soon as he entered Prado Museum in Madrid for the first time, in 1965. African-American art enthralled the Purdue University graduate and veteran initially.
But nothing moved Goldsmith, 92, more than Latino art. He has bought art in Mexico, has visited the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago too many times to count, and has met Mexican artists at the same museum, located in the Pilsen neighborhood.
Goldsmith, who needed only three-and-a-half years to graduate from Lake View High School in Chicago, is so well-versed in Mexican culture that he could probably deliver, today, a lively lecture on the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead to a packed classroom at El Colegio de Mexico, A.C.
Goldsmith’s book contains several chapters about Chicago Latino artists and several who formerly lived in the city. One chapter spotlights Leonardo Nierman, who was born in Mexico City to immigrant parents from Lithuania and Ukraine. That striking, 25-foot-high stainless steel sculpture, Flame of the Millennium, which stands near the Kennedy Expressway at the Ohio Street Interchange?
That’s a Nierman work.
Read all about Errol Ortiz and appreciate his colorful acrylic renderings in Goldsmith’s book, too. Goldsmith also writes about Marcos Raya and his street murals. And about painter/muralist Alejandro Romero, owner of LaLuz Gallery on 18th Street near Ashland in Chicago. And about Mario Castillo, a Lane Tech High School graduate and Professor of Art and Design at Chicago’s Columbia College, among others.
Then there’s Judithe Hernandez, a founding member of the Chicano Art Movement. One of her paintings—a commentary on immigration—adorns the cover of My Journey Into the Realm of Latino Art.
“She’s a spectacular artist. Her work, it’s powerful and amazing,” says Goldsmith, adding Hernandez flew from Los Angeles to Chicago for Abe’s 90th birthday celebration.
“I love art. I love finding out about art. I love meeting, and getting to know, artists … all kinds of artists.”
But you won’t be able to run into Goldsmith, or his wife of 42 years, Lynn, in the early months of 2022—unless you happen to see the couple in Bucerias, located 20 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta’s International Airport. They’ve been visiting the resort town on Mexico’s Pacific coast since early November and plan to return to the North Shore sometime in April.
“A New Year’s celebration in Mexico, with all the fireworks we’ve witnessed during the holiday down there, is a lot like the Fourth of July in the United States,” he says.
The secrets to being able to toast New Year after New Year after New Year, as well as belt Auld Lang Syne backward and forward? A.J. Goldsmith, ageless, must have them. He does.
“Don’t smoke, a lot,” the witty Goldsmith begins. “Don’t drink, a lot.”
My Journey Into the Realm of Latino Art is available at amazon.com.