Two Poughkeepsie artists reflect two distinct 20th century generations

By Bill Jeffway
A version of this article appears in the May 17, 2022 issue of the Northern/Southern Dutchess News / Beacon Free Press.

They both grew up in Poughkeepsie, although one went to Poughkeepsie High School, and the other went to Arlington. They both had an artistic eye that resulted in their work gaining international attention. But the very different tenor and style of their work reflects the very different times they lived in: one in the first half of the 20th century, the other in the second half.

Above left: Ernest Hamlin Baker's profile of New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. Above right: Bill Name stands in front of work by Andy Warhol (image courtesy of the Estate of Billy Name).

Earnest Hamlin Baker

Ernest Hamlin Baker (1889-1975) grew up on Church Street in Poughkeepsie, the son of a shirt factory worker. He graduated from Poughkeepsie High School in 1903 and started working at the same factory. By 1906 he had taken a correspondence course in drawing and started creating cartoons for Poughkeepsie’s Evening Enterprise, a Democratic leaning newspaper just as there was a resurgence of support for Democrats. The resurgence included the surprising election of Democratic State Senator Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1910, in his first political bid. FDR won again in 1912 and was then appointed Asst. Sec’y of the Navy.

Among DCHS Collections that relate to Edward Perkins, a Poughkeepsie man who was head of the Dutchess County Democratic party at the time (his service as county and then state chairman of the Democratic party stretched from 1910 to 1944, parallel to FDR’s political career), is a cartoon of Perkins “orchestrating” a post office appointment that ran in the Evening Enterprise in 1913. Perkins seems to have clipped it out, signed it, and pasted it with pride in his scrapbook (see image).

Above left: from DCHS Collections, from the scrapbook of Edward Perkins, the New York State Democratic Party chair at the time, illustrated by Ernest Hamlin Baker for the Poughkeepsie Evening Enterprise, referencing Perkins’ emerging role in choosing the next Poughkeepsie Postmaster in 1913. Above right: Baker came to see 300 of his drawings published as Time Magazine covers in the 1930s and 1940s, more than any other individual, in an artistic career that paralleled FDR’s political career.

Hamlin went to Colgate College in 1910 and continued drawing, including for the Enterprise. After college, he created a noted World War One poster, and started to get into magazine covers by the 1920s.

A 1946 critical review of Baker’s work explained that as Time magazine covers were becoming iconic works in the 1930s, there was less and less time for the artist to complete the work. This prompted the illustrator Baker to rely on photographs. But rather than take inspiration from a single photograph, he reviewed as many photographs as Time could provide to him, studying them in great detail and coming to know varying expressions and details. It was said of Baker, “the human face for him became a vast landscape to be explored as by a traveler.” And it was from the volume of photographs, not a single photograph, that he drew from. Baker created over 300 covers for Time (more than any other person) with striking illustrations and set a new style in journalism.

By the 1930s and 1940s, Baker’s fellow Dutchess County friends like Franklin Roosevelt had become US president, while Fiskhill’s Henry Morgenthau became Secretary of the Treasury. Both men were among the 300 covers created by Baker for Time.

Billy Name

William Linich (1940 -2016) was known as Billy Name in the 1960s when he collaborated in New York City with Andy Warhol. For this profile we draw from among a less likely class of items in DCHS Collections: oral histories. One we draw from today is a 2010 interview conducted by Nan Fogel. At the end of the interview, Linich inscribed the published book of his photographs for DCHS: Billy Name, Stills from the Warhol Films (Prestel, New York, 1994).

From the Estate of Billy Name we find this quote, “I came out in 1958, in my senior year of [Arlington] high school. I told people I was a homosexual, even though I hated that word. I was just using it because it was available. It was such a relief to have it come into the public eye and have it be open, open, open until it was a blossom.” Citing this as among the reasons he moved to New York City in the late 1950s, Linich and Warhol’s paths crossed at Linich’s apartment.

Linich held haircutting parties in the apartment he transformed for himself into a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall silver with a combination of foil and silver paint. Warhol came to one of those parties in November of 1963 and so loved the silver that Warhol asked Linich to install the same at Warhol’s “factory” or studio. Linich often referenced the fact that growing up he would see the Mid-Hudson Bridge regularly painted silver and this left an impression in his mind.

Warhol gave Linich (by then known as Billy Name) a still camera that he would no longer use as Warhol was moving into movies. This is how Billy Name came to take the many thousands of iconic photographs of the historic period. Linich was at the factory when Andy Warhol was shot and nearly killed, holding Warhol in his arms until the help arrived.

William Linich, known professionally as Billy Name, was a close collaborator with Andy Warhol in New York City in the 1960s. Name was a prodigious photographer using a camera Warhol gave him for that purpose. While the stamp image is a Warhol self-portrait in a photo booth, the accompanying image in the set sold by the Post Office is by Name.

The US Post Office published a Warhol commemorative stamp in 2002. The stamp itself is a Warhol self-portrait in a photo booth, but the image used in packaging a set of them uses a photo of Warhol by Linich.

The estate of Bill Name references two quotes of Andy Warhol that are illuminating. Warhol said “Billy was responsible for the silver at the factory. It was the perfect time to think silver. Silver was the future, it was spacey – the astronauts wore silver suits – Shepard Grisson, and Glenn had already been up in them, and their equipment was silver, too. The only things that ever came close to conveying the look and feel of the factory then, aside from the movies we shot there, were the still photographs Billy took."

Read DCHS's 2010 interview with Linich.

Above: Linich was hosting haircutting parties at his apartment in Manhattan. Linich had been taught the trade and given the tools by his uncle, an Italian immigrant who operated a Poughkeepsie barbershop for generations.

Right: a movie image from a collaboration with Warhol early in their relationship, Haircut, No. 1.