MIDTOWN — A famed illustrator who's captured Hollywood stars, Wall Street bigwigs and Washington luminaries will finally take his turn in the limelight.
Ken Fallin — whose arched ink caricatures for the Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker and Playbill have shaped how we see our stars for more than 40 years — will launch his first-ever New York gallery show next Thursday, Sept. 12.
Proceeds from opening-night reception of the exhibit, titled "That Face: The Art of Ken Fallin — Broadway, Hollywood & Wall Street," will go toward Broadway Cares/Equity Fight AIDS.
"It's very, very exciting, extremely gratifying, because New York is the ultimate," Fallin, 63, said, speaking by phone from the Upper West Side apartment and home art-studio he shares with his partner, Stanley, and their two dogs.
The show is only his second one-man show. The first, which featured his drawings of celebrities from the silver screen, was held in Los Angeles in February 2012.
"The big thrill is that, before the Hollywood show, I had never watched people look at my drawings," he said. "And, especially if they don't know who you are, you can just stand there and look at them look at the drawing, nodding there in agreement or shaking their heads. It's a nice experience."
Fallin has drawn caricatures for the Journal and the New Yorker since 1994, and he's also done work for the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Hollywood Reporter and Chicago Tribune. He prefers to take about two days to compose his drawings, but he's also grown accustomed to far tighter deadlines — especially from the big news dailies.
"In the old days, the Journal would actually send a messenger with reference photos. The deadlines couldn't be as tight then, usually overnight, and the messenger would usually bring the photos over," he said. But with the Internet now providing a vast photo database at his fingertips, "the Wall Street Journal notifies me by email at 11 in the morning, and they need something by 4 in the afternoon. Fortunately I'm known as someone who can draw very quickly."
That quality is, perhaps, aided by Fallin's aesthetic. One of his earliest influences was the legendary caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, who vividly inked his subjects in black-and-white — often with just a handful of lines — and it's an approach that Fallin adopted and then made his own.
"There's a magical quality to being able to put as few lines as possible on the paper," he said. "It's interesting how that can come across, and I'm always fascinated with a successful caricature.
It is a process that can, depending on the number of drafts, be "creative and exciting" or plain "frustrating," Fallin said.
But it's always mystifying, he noted.
"I don't really understand it myself. I do not know how it works. I put things down on paper, but I do not know how it works," he explained. "I cannot give you a formula."
The Gallery New World Stages, located at 343 W. 49th St., is open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. "That Face" will be on display from Sept. 12 through Dec. 31, and the opening-night reception will begin at 5 p.m.