File this under “Curious Collector Encounters”.

1983. A Sunday morning in the summer. I took the train from New Haven, CT to Midtown Manhattan to deliver 2 paintings to a new collector.

I walked into a small office and sat on the couch facing the elder lawyer’s desk. Through the window I could see into office buildings dozens of floors up. He leaned back in his very worn leather chair and said “So, young lady, what is YOUR story?”.

My story is that about a month before I had sold 2 paintings to a young lawyer at an outdoor show on the streets of Chicago. Because I was returning to my home in the New York area after the show, and my new collector couldn’t take possession of the works right then, we arranged to meet in the City at his associate’s office for the handover.

As I spoke my eyes started wandering. So much artwork on these walls. All seemed to be from a certain era. I’m thinking mid-century. All American. Simply amazing works. I recognized many of the artists.

There was a large Rockwell Painting behind my head.

OK, who is this guy?

I was in the office of Leonard Boudin, American civil liberties attorney and left-wing activist. He represented Daniel Ellsberg/Pentagon Papers.

He represented many people who were subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Attorney for many artist’s during the McCarthy hearings in the 1950’s. He successfully argued the landmark US Supreme Court case Kent v. Dulles, which established a right to international travel for citizens holding suspect views. I wondered if Rockwell Kent had paid his fees with this painting.

In walks Ira, my collector.

Boudin turns to me and says “Follow this young man, he’s going places”.

Ira Kurzban has had an inspiring career as a civil rights and immigration lawyer, and wrote the Immigration Law Sourcebook. He was a founder of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti.

What else do you do after an early Sunday morning meeting in the quiet City but be invited to have bagels and lox at a favorite deli around the corner.