[JPL] Couple to host world-renown jazz photographer at show
drjazz at drjazz.com
Mon Aug 21 18:19:35 EDT 2006
Couple to host world-renown jazz photographer at show
By MATTHIAS GAFNI/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald
Little did Vincent Chandler realize that a chance meeting with Lena Horne
more than three decades ago would help bring a world-renown jazz
photographer to his house this weekend.
The strange circle of events will be complete this Saturday, when Chandler
and his wife Irene, both art brokers, host their annual art show in their
Glen Cove home. The guest star is famed photographer Herman Leonard, who
has hung out with and taken pictures of
Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and anybody who's anybody in
the jazz world.
The Chandlers, who have made a name for themselves in the art world, put on
an annual fete at their house featuring a prominent artist. Their events
have become one of Vallejo's few black-tie events.
The fateful set of events for this year's show began when Chandler was only
a teenager performing respiratory care at Frank Sinatra Medical Center in
Palm Springs in 1969.
The legendary Sinatra was throwing a party at his house nearby when the
husband of guest Lena Horne, Lennie Hayton, suffered an aneurysm and was
rushed to Chandler's hospital.
Next thing Chandler knew, he was surrounded by all the musicians he'd
listened to on the radio as a kid.
"I turned and there (Sinatra) was with white boots on. It was incredible
seeing him," Chandler said.
Sinatra ordered everyone out of the ICU and it was roped off, Chandler
said. A couple doctors and Chandler were allowed to stay to help Horne's
husband, who eventually died from the attack.
Later that night Horne arrived at the hospital and Chandler sat at a table
with her, the Vallejoan recalled. Chandler built up enough nerve and asked
for her autograph. She signed her name on the back of the hospital
Chandler kept that souvenir.
Fast forward to 2004, Chandler, now an established art collector,
wanted a print of Horne to frame with his autograph.
Years before, the Chandlers traveled to New Orleans and bought a Billie
Holliday photograph by Leonard.
"His name has always stuck with me. We didn't even know he lived in New
Orleans," Chandler said.
So Chandler returned with his wife to New Orleans, a year before Hurricane
Katrina, determined to find his Lena Horne photo.
"I was focused. I really wanted a Lena Horne. I wasn't going to leave until
I got it," Chandler said.
They met a gallery owner in New Orleans and told her what they were looking
for. The next day, the gallery owner called and said she'd take them to
Leonard's house and get them the photo.
"The lady had a cab ready for us and we went," Chandler said.
They arrived at Leonard's suburban home on the banks of Lake Pontchartrain.
As they spoke to Leonard's assistant, down the stairs came the legendary
photographer, Chandler said.
"Just being in his house it was relaxing, he made you relaxed. It was
incredible to just look at him," Chandler said.
"I knew just being there I would try and get him to come here," he said.
But first things first.
"They allowed us to go through the catalog and pick out the Lena Horne I
wanted," Chandler said of the photo that, along with her autograph, are
framed and hang in the Chandler's entryway.
A year after their encounter, Leonard's New Orleans house, along with most
of his photo collection, were underwater. "We were able to do about 75
percent of our business before the hurricane hit," Chandler said.
Following the hurricane, Leonard ended up in the Astrodome with other
evacuees, Chandler said. He hasn't been able to return permanently to New
living in Palm Springs with family, Chandler said.
Despite the disaster, the Chandlers kept in touch with Leonard by phone and
eventually got confirmation that he could make it.
In the two years since meeting Leonard, the Vallejo couple has been
scooping up his work. They have collected about 15 to 20 pieces, which they
are selling for about $1,100 for a 12x14 print, Chandler said.
The Chandlers have run their art gallery for 20 years.
"Our families have always had a great interest on both sides," Chandler said.
"We have some of the finest art in the state, right here," Chandler said as
he stood in his living room, with walls covered in fine paintings.
Chandler recently retired from Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Vallejo
as a respiratory care practitioner. He also works at Alta Bates' pulmonary
care lab. His wife is a teacher in the Oakland Unified School District.
Their passion, however, is art. They work with high-end customers and often
meet privately with them in their home.
"People contact me and I can move whatever they want in a flash," Chandler
said. "We deal with people from all walks of life."
Once a woman came in for a meeting who had just won $10 million in the
"She went on the computer and pointed to a painting and said, 'I want
this,'" Chandler said.
It's the famous artists coming to their home that really sets them apart
from other brokers.
"With people who are world renown, they trust us. As a result, we develop
this bond, and it becomes a lasting bond," Chandler said. "For a guy like
(Leonard) to come here and do a show it's just incredible."
Former city councilmember Pamela Pitts has been attending the annual art
shows for almost a decade.
"It's not only entertaining, it's also educational because I've met some
fairly famous artists and I was able to talk to them and get their
perspective on their work," Pitts said.
Her favorite artist so far was Chinese artist Caroline Young.
"It's the Chandlers' gift to Vallejo. We're very fortunate they chose
Vallejo," Pitts said. "It shows what a rich culture we truly have here."
Many Vallejoans still have trouble believing the Chandlers when they tell
them about their parties.
"If we do tell people what we do here, the ones who live here have a hard
time believing," Chandler said. "But we have no problem with people coming
- E-mail Matthias Gafni at
<mailto:mgafni at thnewsnet.com>mgafni at thnewsnet.com or call 553-6825.
* * * *
In addition to hosting world-renown jazz photographer Herman Leonard,
Vallejo art brokers Vincent and Irene Chandler have hosted other well-known
artists in their annual show at their Glen Cove house.
Some of the artists:
To contact the Chandlers for an art consultation, e-mail
<mailto:VincentChandler at webtv.net>VincentChandler at webtv.net.
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