May 2012/ by Bonnie Moss

Upon hearing that Mr. Nimoy would be appearing in New York City for a ‘Selected Shorts’ appearance, my friend, Bobbie Reno invited me to come up to the Albany, NY area to stay with her. From there, we would take a train to New York City on May 23rd to ‘Symphony Space’, where the performance would be held. On Friday, we planned to drive to Northampton, Massachusetts to see Rich Michelson, Mr.Nimoy’s gallerist, collaborator and friend, at the R.Michelson Galleries. My flight to Albany was uneventful and it was great to finally meet Bobbie face-to-face. We had both been members of the Leonard Nimoy Association of Fans back in the  1960’s and 70’s and were both at the MASS MoCA for the “Secret Selves” exhibition. We had recognized each others’ names over the years, but actually connected via twitter and phone after “Secret Selves.”

‘Selected Shorts’ are events in which actors read classic and/or new short fiction before a live audience. Programs usually have a specific theme and are later broadcast on Public Radio International affiliate radio stations throughout the US. This event was titled “A Passion for Central Park with Paul Auster.”

We arrived at the Symphony Space theater complex on Broadway after a car, train and taxi ride that was an adventure in itself! ‘Selected Shorts’ would be in the Peter Jay Sharp Theater. However, just around the corner was a companion theater, the Leonard Nimoy Thalia! Amazing to see his name permanently on the marquee and in neon on another sign above the doors! Many thanks to the Nimoys for donating funds for the restoration of this gem!

Bobbie and I had arranged to meet another enthusiastic Nimoy fan at the theater, Cassandra Venable (who purchased our tickets for us!) She is a MD in the New York area and a wonderful artist. It was fantastic to finally meet her as well! Before the show and during intermission, we exchanged many wonderful Nimoy-related photos and stories. Cassandra was nice enough to drive us back to Penn Station to meet our train. On the way, we went right by the Intrepid aircraft carrier (now a museum) where the space shuttle ‘Enterprise’ will soon be relocated!’

We had second row center seats for the show—right in front of the readers’ podium. Mr.Nimoy was the first presenter and he came out to an enthusiastic response. He was dressed in a black top with a black zippered jacket, tan pants and nice shoes. His hair remains longer (which I like!) and it appeared almost silver (with dark undertones) under the lights. He looked great. He read from the book “The Colossus of New York” by Colin Whitehead. It was a sentimental, humorous, fanciful and realistic account of what you might hear, see or feel while experiencing a visit to Central Park. Mr. Nimoy did a wonderful job of conveying the emotion, thoughts and reactions associated with this passage. His reading lasted about 20-25 minutes and ended with appreciative and extended applause. Mr. Nimoy exited, then returned to acknowledge the audience while patting his heart. A very moving and warm moment. We stayed for the rest of the readings that also included Emmy winner Debra Monk (for NYPD Blue) and best selling author/ filmmaker, Paul Auster. It was an inspirational and very enjoyable evening! ‘Selected Shorts’ is a wonderful concept to bring great writing, oration and an audience together! Rich had told us earlier that Mr.Nimoy had plans to attend a lecture elsewhere in the city this same night. So, as a result, his appearance was moved to the beginning of the program and a car was waiting for him right after his reading. Although we did not get to speak to him, Rich assured us that “he knew you were there!”

On Friday, as pre-arranged with Rich, Bobbie and I drove from Albany, NY to Northampton, MA to see the gallery and catch up with him. I had not seen him since the “Secret Selves” exhibition (as Mr.Nimoy’s collaborator on that project—the photos for this were actually taken at the gallery), although we had stayed in touch. I have purchased 4 Nimoy photographs through Rich to go with 3 other Nimoy photos I own, including the portrait Mr.Nimoy took of me at MASS MoCA. His gallery is in downtown Northampton, a unique, smaller, pretty town that combines college life, diversity and the arts very effectively. Rich’s gallery is in a former bank building with imposing columns out front. Inside, it is a joy to behold—displaying a variety of well known artists and mediums in an airy, open and visually engaging space. It didn’t take long to find Mr.Nimoy’s section—currently in the bank’s former vault! You literally step inside and are surrounded by varying sizes of Mr.Nimoy’s photographs from several of his projects/concepts. They could have closed the vault and I would not have minded! An overwhelming experience for the Nimoy photography lover!

After taking our time to view the work of other fine artists, it was also great to finally meet in person and talk at length with gallery staff that included Paul, Mariah and Elana. They were happy to put my face with a name as well! Rich was thoughtful enough to sit down with us for an extended conversation. We caught up on his family, his current projects and his work with Mr.Nimoy. He had been at the Boston University convocation and rode with Mr.Nimoy back to New York by rail. He again shared that he had told Mr.Nimoy we would be at his performance and he added that Mr.Nimoy was appreciative of my last photo purchase. He showed us a prototype of a special boxed set of prints from the “Eye Contact” series that may be available soon—gorgeous! Of course, we were all hopeful that that there will be an exhibition that will go with it! We also reviewed some of my Nimoy collection together, which was fun, and Rich graciously signed a photo I had of him with the Nimoys. He also personalized some of his books for my friends and family. In an e-mail after I returned home, he characterized the visit as “absolutely lovely.” Thank-You, Rich, for your talent and thoughtfulness.

It was a fantastic vacation and my heartfelt appreciation is once again extended to Bobbie, Cassandra, the R.Michelson Galleries, Symphony Space and, of course, our common bond, Mr. Leonard Nimoy.