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Back in 1978 I was a young sprout of an artist, fresh on the New York scene. I had stars in my eyes and empty pockets. I went to a gathering of artists at the Society of Illustrators and was introduced to Simms Taback.

He was, to borrow the perfect Yiddish expression, the first mensch I ever met. Simms was sweet, soft-spoken, warm and generous—with a wonderful sense of humor and an infectious laugh. I was blessed that he took me under his wing. He guided me through the thickets of learning how to be an artist and not starve to death at the same time. He helped usher me (including, from time to time, a stiff shove) into a leadership role of my own in the artists’ community.

Bragging was not in Simms’ repertoire, and it was over time that I came to appreciate the depth of artistic genius at work in the drawings of this humble man. I have always been deeply moved by his amazing gift for naiveté - he had a unique ability to retain pure childlike joy and simplicity while creating artworks of great sophistication.

I can remember spending many late hours studying and analyzing his palettes, trying to make sense of the often unpredictable but almost always briliant use of contrast and compliment in his color schemes.

After long study of one particularly beautiful book cover, I was at a loss to explain to myself what he’d done—or why it worked so brilliantly. Finally, I phoned up and asked him to describe his process. He said “Gosh, I don’t remember. I think I just started with some pink, and then added some blue, you know, because I liked it, and then I think I just tried to use up whatever colored sheets of Cel0-Tack paper I could find in the bottom of my flat file drawer.” That was Simmsy, on the half-shell.

Simms was blessed with a rare combination of self-effacing humility, a very strong sense of community, and an unfailing generosity of spirit and willingness to extend his heart that was at once inspiring and contagious.

Luckily for me, that generosity extended to his almost limitless patience in waiting for the completion of this website, a labor of love from start to excruciatingly delayed finish.

It is from the bottom of my heart that this website is lovingly dedicated to the memory of the most important mentor of my artistic life, and the man whose example taught me what it really means to be a man: my dear friend Simms Taback. I will miss him and love him for the rest of my days — but I’ll try to remember most of all to feel gratitude for having had him in my life.

— Jeff Seaver

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