Piero Fornasetti

The Artwork of Piero Fornasetti

Born in Milan, Italy in November of 1913, Piero Fornasetti was an eclectic artist who was an important figure in the Italian design scene. A prolific creator of designs, he was involved in many aesthetic disciplines including painting, drawing, graphic design, and product design. In the course of his career, Fornasetti created over ten thousand works and was responsible for one of the largest outputs of diverse objects and furniture of the twentieth-century. 

The first child of a wealthy family, Fornasetti was already at the age of ten drawing and displaying an innate inclination towards art. In 1932, he enrolled at the Academia di Brera, Milan’s public academy of fine arts; however, two years later he was expelled for insubordination. Although he applied to Milan’s Superior School of Arts Applied to Industry, Fornasetti was unable to adhere to the schools dogma due to his rebellious nature. 

Beginning in the early 1930s, Piero Fornasetti began a individual and comprehensive study of  engraving and printing techniques. With this knowledge and his developed technical skill, he began to print artist books and lithographs for many of the great artists of the time, including composer and playwright Alberto Savinio, painter Fabrizio Clerici, and painter and writer Giorgio de Chirico. The Fornasetti Art Printshop became the source of quality printing for many artists of his generation. Fornasetti, through his constant experimentation, later developed a printing method for graphic effects on silk; this innovation brought him  to the attention of designer and publisher Gio Ponti, with whom Fornasetti would develop a close creative partnership. 

From the early 1940s and onward, Fornasetti produced a vast series of limited edition graphic works, which included calendars, holiday gifts, and images for advertising, theater, posters, and publications. He produced sketches and drawings for the Esino Lario School of Tapestry, whose fine silk tapestries were produced by local village girls. In 1940 Fornasetti began to publish his own work in the architectural design magazine Domus, and for two years designed a series of almanacs for Gio Ponti. Taking refuge in Switzerland in 1943 during the war, he continued his graphic work, expanding into watercolors, oil portraits, drawings in ink, and the creation of theatrical sets for Albert Camus’s 1938 “Caligula”.

Upon his return to Milan, Piero Fornasetti and Gio Ponti began a close creative partnership which centered on architectural concepts in design and decoration. With the beginning of the 1950s, they put their theories into practice developing new simple and functional designs for the interiors of homes, apartments, cinemas and even ship cabins. Their initial project, the “Architettura” trumeau, a furniture design concept seen in an image above, was exhibited at the 1951 Triennale IX in Milan. This piece of furniture became an icon of Italian design in the interwar years of economic growth. 

Fornasetti is best known for his designs using fanciful motifs such as the moon, sun, playing cards, animals, and other surrealist imagery; most of which were executed in black and white. In 1952, he began work on his iconic and best known series, “Tema a Variazioni (Theme and Variations)”, a facial portrait of opera singer Lina Cavalieri, who was renowned at the time as a true archetype of a classical beauty. This image continues to appear today on a series of everyday objects from porcelain and fabrics to furniture and wall coverings. This portrait series entered into the world of theater as set designs in  Fornasetti’s production of Mozart’s two-act opera, “Don Giovanni”. These designs were used in the December 2016 performances at Milan’s Teatro dell’ Arte and in the  January 2017 performances at Florence’s Teatro della Pergola.

In 1970, Piero Fornasetti, along with a group of friends, operated the Galleria dei Bibliofili, where he exhibited his own work and the work of other contemporary artists. His paintings at this time contained both layered abstractions, with interacting colors done in various techniques, and figurative works done in a new pictorial style, where bodies and faces were composed of fruits and bottles. After the death of Gio Ponti in 1979 and the opening of London’s “Themes and Variations” design gallery in 1980, Fornasetti’s work and his idealogical concepts of form/function gained new interest both at home and abroad. 

Piero Fornasetti died in October of 1988 during a minor operation in hospital. In 2013, Silvana Annicchiarico, the director of the Triennale Design Museum, dedicated a first retrospective of Fornasetti’s work at the museum; this exhibition later went on tour to Paris’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs and Seoul’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza. A 1987 collaboration between Fornasetti and fashion writer and publisher Patrick Mauriés, which became a monograph entitled “Fornasetti: Designer of Dreams”, was published posthumously in 2015 with an introduction by Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass. Piero Fornasetti’s work can be seen in the collections of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. 

Note” An example of the range of Piero Fornasetti’s oeuvre can be found at the online Fornasetti website located at: https://www.fornasetti.com/bd/en/

George Sylvester Viereck: “Each by Strange Wisps to Strange Abysses Drawn”

Photographers Unknown, The Faces of man: Photo Set Twelve

Sweet is the highroad when the skylarks call,
When we and Love go rambling through the land.
But shall we still walk gayly, hand in hand,
At the road’s turning and the twilight’s fall?
Then darkness shall divide us like a wall,
And uncouth evil nightbirds flap their wings;
The solitude of all created things
Will creep upon us shuddering like a pall.

This is the knowledge I have wrung from pain:
We, yea, all lovers, are not one, but twain,
Each by strange wisps to strange abysses drawn;
But through the black immensity of night
Love’s little lantern, like a glowworm’s, bright,
May lead our steps to some stupendous dawn.

George Sylvester Viereck, The Wanderers

A controversial figure in America in the first-half of the twentieth century, George Sylvester Viereck was a multi-sided figure who gained fame as a journalist and neo-romantic poet; he also earned equal infamy as a publicist for pro-German causes. Born in Munich in December of 1884, he was  the first-born son of Louis Viereck, a member of the Reichstag who was imprisoned in 1886 for attending socialist meetings, and  San Francisco-born Laura Viereck, Louis’s first cousin. The family emigrated to the United States in 1896 and, five years later, Viereck’s father became an American citizen.

George Viereck studied at the City College of New York where he graduated in 1906. While still in college, he published, with the help of literary critic Ludwig Lewisohn, his first collection of poems in 1904. Viereck’s  next collection, “Nineveh and Other Poems” published in 1905, brought him national fame. Several poems in this collection were written in the style of the Uranian movement, a movement of primarily gay male artists and philosophers in the English-speaking world from the 1870s to the 1930s. 

From 1907 to 1912, Viereck developed a profound identification with Germany and became fascinated with all aspects of the German culture and people. In 1907, he published a vampire novel, “The House of the Vampire”, which was not only one of the first psychic-vampire stories but, also,  one of the first known homosexual vampire novels. Viereck, in 1908, published his best-selling “Confessions of a Barbarian”, a collection of personal narratives on subjects such as morals, art, and both German and international culture. Viereck was invited in 1911 to lecture on American poetry at the University of Berlin. Due to his ardent support of Germany and pacifism during the period of estranged Anglo-German relations leading up to World War I,  he was later expelled from several organizations and social clubs. 

Outspoken in his views against America’s involvement in World War I, George Viereck founded and became editor of the German-sponsored magazine “The Fatherland”, which argued the German cause. He was later arrested and served time in a Washington D.C. jail, during which period his son George Jr. died as a  combat casualty of the first world war which Viereck had vigorously opposed.  In August of 1918, a mob stormed Viereck’s  Mount Vernon home: and, in the following year, he was expelled from the Poetry Society of America. In 1919, Viereck wrote the book “Roosevelt”, a psycho-analytical study of Theodore Roosevelt and his attitude on matters of international interest, which was published by New York City’s Jackson Press.

After the end of the war, Viereck traveled throughout Europe and America interviewing many notable personalities, including Sigmund Freud, George Bernard Shaw, Adolf Hitler, Henry Ford, Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Benito Mussolini, and Albert Einstein, among others.  In 1924, he published a collection of poetry, entitled “The Three Sphinxes and Other Poems”; the collection’s poem “Slaves” would be quoted several times in the 1968 psycho-thriller film “Twisted Nerve” and be the inspiration for its title. 

George Viereck became a well-known supporter of National Socialism and a regular apologist for Germany. In 1933, he again met Hitler, who had become Germany’s leader, and gave a speech in 1934 at New York’s Madison Square Garden to an audience of twenty thousand in which he supported National Socialism without its antisemitism. In 1941 George Viereck established his own publishing house, Flanders Hall, in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, but was eventually indicted by the government for a violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Convicted in 1942 for failing to register with the U. S. State Department as a National Socialist agent, he was imprisoned from 1942 to 1947. 

In 1952, Viereck’s “Men Into Beasts”, a general memoir of the loss of dignity, brutality, and the situational homosexuality and rape he witnesse in jail, was published by Fawcett Publications. This book was shortly followed by two more works: the 1952 “Gloria: A Novel” and the 1953 “The Nude in the Mirror”. Between 1906 and 1953, he published twenty-three works in the genres of theater plays, poetry, works of fiction, and works of political discussion and criticism. 

George Viereck’s literary works after his release from prison were not very successful, except for his “Men Into Beasts”, which would become one of the first original titles of 1950s gay novels. In 1955, he suffered a series of mild strokes and ceased his writing. George Sylvester Viereck died in March of 1962 in Holyoke, Massachusetts, of a massive cerebral hemorrhage at the age of seventy-seven. 

Note: An interesting read on the emotional and psychological development of Viereck’s life, and his perception of his own sexuality, is Phyllis Keller’s “George Sylvester Viereck: The Psychology of a German-American Militant” from the MIT Press. It can be found at the JSTOR site: https://www.jstor.org/stable/202443

Soufiane Ababri

Drawings by Soufiane Ababri

Born in Rabat, Morocco in 1985, Soufiane Ababri is a multi-media artist who works in the fields of drawing, sculpture, film, and performance art. He graduated from the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in 2010 and earned his Masters of Arts at Paris’s École Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in 2014. Ababri divides his life and work between the cities of Paris, France, and Tangier, Morocco. 

Although he works in many medias, Soufiane Ababri is best known for his homoerotic drawings of men portrayed in settings which depict a flourishing queer subculture. His scenes, either  humorous or infused with emotion, are drawn from his life as a gay Moroccan immigrant in Europe. Ababri’s most acclaimed series, “Bed Works”, was initiated in 2016 and is still continuing today. These pencil portraits of men, drawn while lying down in bed, are conveyed in bold, energetic colors and explore Ababri’s interest in the nuances of masculinity and male intimacy. 

Having a strong interest in sociology, Ababri’s oeuvre also deals with the idea of visual experience as an exercise in introspection, that is the artist sees the world as the world sees him. Ababri’s work, built from layers of personal and intimate events, also uses literary works, such as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s 1943 “Little Prince” and poet Frank O’Hara’s “A True Account of Talking to the Sun”, to examine the tensions, stigmas,  and ambivalences in present day  society. 

Soufiane Ababri’s 2020 “Tanned But Still Angry” series consisted of seventeen colored pencil on paper drawings that Ababri developed over several years in reaction to police violence. These drawings depicted real scenes and situations experienced by Ababri himself and fellow members of the LGBT and POC communities. Fueled by the deaths of Adama Traoré in 2016 and George Floyd in May, the series not only powerfully displays injustice, but also, often poetically, emphasizes the need for equality.

Soufiane Ababri’s most recent solo show, the 2021 “Bunch of Queequeg”, named after the “Moby Dick” character, included all works from the continuing “Bed Work” series and was held at Praz-Delavallade in Los Angeles.The triptych drawing from that exhibition, seen in the above images, shows Ababri as Queequeg in the middle panel, with Ishmael in tight-fitting shorts on the right panel and three skewered severed heads on the left panel. In this work, Ababri considers not only the literature of colonialism and its lasting effects on daily life and culture, but also its presence in our most intimate relationships.

Ababri’s installation / performance pieces include the 2017 “Moving Frontiers: Do and Undo” at the Espace Doual’Art in Doula, CM; the 2018 “Humes l’Ordeur des Fleurs Pendant Qu’il en est Encore Temps” held at the Marathon des Mots in Toulouse, France; the 2018 “Here is a Strange and Bitter Crop” at Space in London; the 2019 “Tropical Concrete Gym Park” at the Glassbox in Paris; the 2019 “Memories of a Solitary Cruise” held at The Pill in Istanbul; and the 2020 “Something New Under the Little Prince’s Body” at the Dittrich & Schlechtriem in Berlin.

Soufiane Ababri has exhibited in Berlin, Brussels, and Istanbul. His work is in the collections of Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain Pointou-Charente and Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne, and Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain, Pays de la Loire. In 2021 Ababri’s work was included in the Glasgow International Festival for Contemporary Art. 

Note: Photos of Soufiane Ababri’s performance and artwork, as well as  contact information, can be found at: https://soufianeababri.com

An interesting article, written by Joey Levenson, on Soufiane Ababri’s newest book and his use of intimacy as a means of social construct analysis can be found at: https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/soufiane-ababri-art-100821

Shirley Everett Johnson: “The End and Aim of Art”

Photographers Unknown, Twelve Portraits of Men

Howard then blurted out this proposition: “I say, fellows, let us form a new club, to be known as “The Cult of the Purple Rose.” What do you say?”

Lucian Denholm, the tall, slender man with a pensive face, who was really brilliant and therefore said little, was now the first to speak, because the name had been suggested by his Purple Tea. He was enthusiastic in favor of the scheme, and said he was complimented by the recognition of his efforts to be original. Then he outlined his plan.

“Oh, it will be simple lovely,” he said, “and so original! We will all wear purple roses, and write on purple linen, —I might say purple and fine linen, —use three cent purple stamps instead of the customary twos, and if any of us should ever write on white paper, he must invariably use purple ink.

“Besides, we would attract so much attention with our purple handkerchiefs and hat bands. It will be so gratifying to hear people remark how hideous they are, and we can be as truly happy as the end and aim of art will allow.

“And to carry it further, we can write purple verses and purple stories and tell purple lies, in lieu of commonplace white lies. And just as it has been shown how lying is a fine art, so much more will purple lying be art.”

—-Shirley Everett Johnson, The Cult of the Purple Rose, Section II, 1902

There is very little information on the life of Shirley Everett Johnson, the author of “The Cult of the Purple Rose”. It is known that he graduated from Harvard University with the class of 1895, which he joined following his sophomore year at the Louisville High School. Johnson was not known to have participated in any of the recognized extracurricular activities available at the college. During his life, he was a journalist and a banker in the state of Kentucky. 

Johnson’s only published books are the 1901 “Conquering a Small Pox Epidemic in Kentucky” and the 1902 novel “The Cult of the Purple Rose: A Phase of Harvard Life”, which was published by Richard G. Badger of Boston’s Gorham Press. 

Considered to be among the genre known as proto-gay novels, “The Cult of the Purple Rose”  is an odd, esoteric example of American college fiction, one which dealt with Harvard University’s student life at the very end of the nineteenth-century. The book’s preface states that the story concerns the lives of a few exceptional people and should not be taken as a full presentation of Harvard undergraduate life. Although a fictional work, some  parts of the book are known to be factual. These include remarks made about publishers Herbert S. Stone and Ingalls Kimball, who as Harvard undergraduates were responsible for the 1894 “The Chap Book” and the 1893 “First Editions of American Authors”. 

In “The College Pump” article, published in the Harvard Alumni Bulletin of April 19, 1958, there was an extract from a doctoral thesis by Maurice F. Brown Jr. which explored the late nineteenth-century, cultural climate of the Yard, the historical campus area of Harvard containing most of the freshman dormitories. This excerpt contained a discussion of “The Cult of the Purple Rose” and also a discussion on the Laodicean Club of 1893. There is speculation that what was known as The Cult of the Purple Rose may have actually been the Laodicean Club.

Whether regarded as fictional or factual-based, “The Cult of the Purple Rose” presented a portrait of Harvard University’s reaction to publications associated with the Aesthetic and Decadent movements of the late-nineteenth century. Both of these movements ran contrary to the established persona of Harvard University. The artists and writers of  the Aesthetic movement tended to believe that the Arts should provide refined sensuous pleasure, rather than convey sentimental or moral messages. The Decadent movement followed an aesthetic ideology of excess and artificiality, and held to the view that human creativity and art were superior to logic and the natural world. Literary examples of these movements include “The Lark” and the literary quarterly “The Yellow Book”, both published in England.

The story within “The Cult of the Purple Rose” also presented the university’s perception and judgement of such prominent figures of the time as essayist Max Beerbohm whose works first appeared in “The Yellow Book”, illustratorAubrey Beardsley who co-founded “The Yellow Book”, and author Oscar Wilde. All three, among others, were members of the Aesthetic movement.

Notes: 

In the Harvard Illustrated Magazine, Volume IV, October of 1902, there is a review of “The Cult of the Purple Rose”. Although the main aspects of the plot was considered to be nonsensical, the book was judged as clever and readable, at times witty, but by no means sincere. The type-work and cover were considered attractive and the book distinctly well made. 

A full edition of “The Cult of the Purple Rose” can be found at the Internet Archive located at: https://archive.org/details/cultpurplerosea00presgoog/mode/2up

Jesús Carrillio

Paintings by Jesús Carrillio

Born in the Andalusian town of Córdoba, Jesús Carrillio is a Spanish multi-media artist who also uses the name Eltío Esse. He works in the fields of painting, photography, computer graphics and film making, Interested in drawing and color from an early age, Jesús Carrillio received his initial lessons in art from his older brother, the painter José Maria Carrillio. 

At the age of sixteen,  Jesús Carrillio attended the Priego Landscape School where he did landscape painting influenced by the school’s impressionistic style. His formal art training began at Granada’s Padre Suárez Institute where he studied art history, art theory, and aesthetics. In 1990, Carrillio attended the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Granada, where he majored in painting.

After graduating from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Jesús Carrillio moved in 1995 to the seaside city of Brighton, England, where he painted and worked as a postman. Three years later, he moved to Salamanca, Spain, where he enrolled in its University to study design and both audiovisual and multimedia techniques. Influences on Carrillio’s expressionistic work are the Italian and Flemish paintings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries , and his attraction to African culture and art.

Carrillio often uses computer software to enhance his painted images. Both his film and video art, as well as his unique animated and static GIFs,  are designed to be viewed as projections at performances and installation projects. Carrillio’s photographic work and digital paintings are printed on brushed aluminum panels, a process in which, while darker areas of the image appear matte, the lighter areas of the image have a unique shimmer.

More information on Jesús Carrillio’s work, including commissioned pieces and contact information, can be found at his Artfinder site located at: https://www.artfinder.com/artist/eltioesse/

Andreas Georgiadis Kris

Andreas Georgiadis Kris, “Οι δύο φίλοι (The Two Friends)”, 1965, Oil on Canvas

Born in 1892 in Chania, a city on the northwest coast of Crete, Andreas Georgiadis Kris was a Greek painter whose work was influenced by the western art tradition. Due to the rebellion of the Greek Army against the rule of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent burning of the city of Chania, the family moved to Egypt in 1896, where Andreas Kris spent his childhood in Cairo and Ismailia. As he grew older, he became employed in the workshop of the interior contractor V. Vernardos, and later became an assistant painter and decorator under Orlando in Cairo. Recommended to the architectural firm of the Nistri brothers, Kris remained with this firm for three years.

In 1910, Andreas Kris traveled to Athens and took the entrance exam at its School of Fine Arts, which gave him admittance to the third class under portraiture painter Dimitris Geraniotis. After the start of the Balkan Wars, Kris volunteered for military duty in 1912, joined a unit of Garibaldi volunteers known as the Red Tunics, and later, in the Battle of Drisco, suffered the loss of an eye at the city of Kriftsi in Greece. After leaving military service, Kris resumed his studies at the School of Fine Arts where, from 1914 to 1923, he trained under Ceorgios Roilou, Georgios Jakovibis,  and Spyridon Vikatos, all portraiture and genre painters of the Munich School tradition. 

In 1922, Andreas Kris was awarded first prize in the Panhellenic Arts Competition for his work depicting  the 1826 heroic exit of the Greeks from their city of Missolonghi, which was under siege by the Turkish army during the Greek War of Independence. He later won first prize in an exhibition at Athens’ Polytechnic which secured him a four-year scholarship to study in Europe. Kris studied in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and at three free academies, including the Julian Academy. During this scholarship period, he frequently traveled throughout Europe to study the masterworks in the museums of Paris, Madrid, Antwerp, Brussels, and Ghent. From these studies, Kris produced a series of twenty-five studies based on the works of Ruben, Van Dyke, Velasquez, and Jusepe de Ribera. 

Returning to Greece in 1929, Andreas Kris had his first solo exhibition at Athens’s  Parnassos Hall; his collection of forty works received critical attention from Zacharias Papantoniou, who was the Director of the National Gallery. In August of 1929, Kris received the Heracles Voltos Scholarship form the University of Athens, which enabled him to study, both in Paris and Rome, the development and techniques of western European art.

Andreas Kris traveled and studied for seven years in Italy, which included a one-year training period at the Regia Seuola per Industrie Artistiche under fresco painter Mario Roversi. In 1930, Andreas Kris’s oil painting “Manna” was accepted for the new work exhibition at the Salon in Paris’s Grand Palais on Champs-Élysées. At the 1934 Venice International Exhibition, Kris entered three works, one of which was his “Portrait of a Friend”. After contributing to the oversight of the 1935 restoration work on Athens’s Old Royal Palace’s murals, he was selected to send one of his works to the 1936 International Exhibition in Sydney, Australia. Later in the same year, Kris exhibited works,  which included portraits, in two  collective shows held at the Atelier Gallery.  

Andreas Kris was appointed as the Chair of Painting at Athens’s School of Fine Arts in 1947, where he taught composition and color studies for fourteen years. Invited to show his work at the 25th Venice International Exhibition held in 1950, he exhibited ten paintings, of which his work of chiaroscuro, entitled “The Fall”, received critical acclaim. Kris participated in the 1957 Mediterranean Exhibition held in Alexandria and, two years later, showed eighty paintings at a retrospective of his work held at Athens’s Parnassos Hall. 

In 1962, the Ioannina Gallery, which holds a collection of over five hundred works, mounted a thirty-two work retrospective of Kris’s oeuvre and awarded him a gold medal in recognitions of his military service and contribution to the arts. From 1965 to 1970, Andreas Kris held the elected post of  President of the Chamber of Arts, a position he used to lobby the government for legislation providing pensions for retired artists. He regularly participated in the annual  Panhellenic Exhibitions and in group exhibitions abroad, including shows in Belgrade, Bucharest and Moscow. 

Andreas Georgiadis Kris died in 1981. In December of 1986, the Director of the National Gallery presented the first complete retrospective of Kris’s oeuvre as a tribute to his career as a painter. Andreas Kris’s work is held in many national museums, public institutions, and private collections in Greece and abroad.

Top Insert Image: Andreas Georgiadis Kris, Still Life, Date Unknown, Oil on Canvas, 46 x 55.5 cm, National Gallery of Greece

Middle Insert Image: Andreas Georgiadis Kris, “The Praying Man, Nude Study”, Date Unknown, Graphite on Paper

Bottom Insert Image: Andreas Georgiadis Kris, “Jeune Homme au Gilet Vert”, 1943, Oil on Canvas, 60.5 x 50 cm, Private Collection

Joseph Hansen: “Wider Than a Man’s Two Stretched Arms”

Photographers Unknown, An Assemblage of Hands

“The waterwheel was twice a man’s height, wider than a man’s two stretched arms. The timbers, braced and bolted with rusty iron, were heavy, hand-hewn, swollen with a century of wet. Moss bearded the paddles, which dripped as they rose. The sounds were good. Wooden stutter like children running down a hall at the end of school. Grudging axle thud like the heartbeat of a strong old man.”

Joseph Hansen, Death Claims, 1973

Born in Aberdeen, South Dakota in July of 1923, Joseph Hansen was a poet and American crime novelist, best know for his series of novels featuring the gay private detective Dave Brandstetter. After his family settled in Altadena, California, Hansen attended the Pasadena Community College, where he focused on literature. Inspired by the ease with which Walt Whitman viewed his own sexual identity and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s call to be true to one’s self, Hansen made the decision to embrace his gay identity at an early age.

Beginning his writing career in the genre of poetry, Hansen’s  first published work was a poem submitted in 1952 to The New Yorker magazine. While employed part-time at bookstores, he continued writing poetry for various magazines, including the Los Angeles-based ONE, the first pro-gay publication in the United States. Hansen’s early fiction efforts, under various pseudonyms,  were also first published by ONE  He also used pseudonyms for his early pulp writings of gay erotica. A total of six early fictional works, including his first novel “Strange Marriage”, published in 1965, were under the names of either James Colton or Rose Brock. 

In 1970, Joseph Hansen published “Fadeout”, the first novel under his own name, which became the introductory novel for his Dave Brandstetter series. Similar in style to a Raymond Chandler character, Hansen’s protagonist was an openly gay insurance investigator, who embodied the tough, stoic, and no-nonsense personality of the classic, private detective. Published two years before the Stonewall riots, a heroic, central literary character, who was a homosexual and not a one-dimensional figure, was revolutionary for that period in history. The importance of the detective’s personal life, his dealing with the death of his partner, his aging and his loneliness, expanded the psychological dimension of the hardboiled genre and, at the same time, offered the genre’s enthusiasts a gay man’s point of view.

Cited now as a groundbreaker in both crime and gay fiction, the gay character of Brandstetter was originally rejected by Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in 1973 because the editor thought that subscribers were not ready for homosexuality in their novels , especially not presented as a part of ordinary social life. Just as the mystery novels of Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall can be read collectively as a long discussion of Swedish society, the twelve-volume series of “Brandstetter” can be read as a chronicle of gay lives in California during the 1960s and 1970s. Hansen  showed the heterosexual world through this series that being gay is no more homogenizing than any other social category.

Joseph Hansen won the 1992 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America. For his 1991 “A Country of Old Men”, the final novel in the Brandstetter series, he won a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men’s Mystery. Hansen created a second investigative series, the 1988 “Bohannon’s Book”, which consisted of five novellas, centered on the character of a former deputy sheriff. This was followed in 1993 by the five novella sequel “Bohannon’s Country”. Hansen won a second Lambda Literary Award in 1993 for his novel “Living Upstairs”, the story of a young gay man coming of age.

Jospeh Hansen was active in the Gay Rights Movement and was a co-founder in 1965 of the influential gay publication “Tangents”. He produced a radio program on Los Angeles’s KPFX in 1969 entitled “Homosexuality Today” and helped with the planning for the first Gay Pride Parade in Hollywood, held in 1970. Since his first publications in early gay tabloids, Hansen strove for an inclusive civil society without  divisions in regards to race or sexual orientation. 

Described in the American Hard-Boiled Crime Writers anthology as the father of the gay mystery novel, Joseph Hansen died on November 24th of 2004 of heart failure at his Laguna Beach home in California. He was predeceased by his wife of fifty-one years, artist and educator Jane Bancroft, a lesbian with whom he shared an arrangement to have same-sex lovers, and a daughter who later transitioned and changed her name. According to friends, Hansen also had two long-term male lovers.

”Of all the writers who contributed to the LA poetry renaissance in the second half of the 20th century, Joseph Hansen probably gave the most and got the least in return. Most significantly, Hansen was one of the co-founders of the Beyond Baroque poetry workshop (now the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center), a free and open-to-the-public gathering that has met on Wednesday evenings in Venice for 45 years. Along with John Harris, Hansen established an accessible public workshop with serious standards of literary excellence. The fact that Hansen won a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship for his fiction a couple of years after starting the workshop only reinforced his stature as the workshop’s standard-bearer.”

—Bill Mohr

Eliot Elisofon

Eliot Elisofon,“Marcel Duchamp Descending a Staircase”, 1952, Gelatin Silver Print, Image Size 33.5 x 26.8 cm, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College

Born in New York City in April of 1911 to immigrant parents, Eliot Elisofon, born Meyer Eliot Elicofon, was a photojournalist and a documentary photographer. His humble upbringing and childhood struggles inspired his career as a photographer; the human condition with all its struggles became the central focus of his work. 

Elisofon graduated from Fordham University in 1933 and first produced advertising photographs for Vogue and Mademoiselle magazines. By 1937, he was regularly contributing work to Life magazine on a variety of subjects, including theater, military exercises, coal miners, and elite society events. In 1936, Elisofon became a founding member of the Photo League, a cooperative of New York photographers who covered creative and social causes. One of its more active members, he gave lectures, collaborated with sociologist and photographer Lewis Hine on the “Men at Work” project, and taught courses on flash photography and photojournalism. 

In 1937, Eliot Elisofon became associated with filmmaker Willard Van Dyke, Harper’s Bazaar art director Alexey Brodovitch, Beaumont Newhall, the photography curator at the Museum of Modern Art, and Tom Maloney, the editior of U.S. Camera magazine. His first exhibition of his New York street photography was shown at the Pennsylvania Museum of Art and New York’s avant-garde Julien Levy Gallery, In 1938, Elisofon’s “Playgrounds of Manhattan” was shown at the New School, a progressive arts college in New York City. 

Elisofon was hired in 1939 as a photographer in the Federal Writers’ Project, a WPA New Deal Program, for its series “These Are Our Lives”, which contained thirty-seven life histories of both black and white farm laborers, factory and mill workers, and workers in service occupations or on relief. Beginning in 1942, Elisofon was a war correspondent and a photographer for Life magazine; he was the only photographer to accompany General Patton throughout the North African Campaign. These photographs taken during the campaign became part of the exhibition “The Tunisian Triumph”, which opened in June of 1943 at MOMA and later traveled to twenty cities. Elisofon continued to be associated with Life and other magazines until 1972. 

Over the years, Eliot Elisofon traveled to six continents and nineteen books of his work were published during his lifetime. During his photographic journeys around the African continent, Elisofon assembled a collection of African art and took over eighty thousand images; the art and photographs are now part of the collection of the National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC. 

Eliot Elisofon’s photograph “Marcel Duchamp Descending a Staircase” was shot for a ten-page article written by Winthrop Sargeant on Marcel Duchamp, a key member of the Dada movement, for the April 28, 1952, issue of Life magazine. One of Duchamp’s most significant works was his early 1912 painting “Nude Descending a Staircase”, a cubist image in the manner of the chronophotography work of Eadweard Muybridge, who was a pioneer in the study of movement and measurement through multiple image photography. Elison’s 1952 time-lapse photograph of Duchamp descending a flight of stairs was done as a tribute to Duchamp’s famous painting; the image above is one of the two staged shots that Elisofon produced in the photo shoot.

Top Insert Image: Eliot Elisofon, “Self Portrait with Speed Graphic Camera, New York City”, 1936, Gelatin Silver Print

Bottom Insert Image: Marcel Duchamp, “Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2)”, 1912, Oil on Canvas, 151.8 x 93.3 cm, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Nebojša Zdravković

Paintings by Nebojša Zdravković

Born in Belgrade in 1959, Nebojša Zdravković is a Serbian artist known for his precise drawing and dynamic color palette. He graduated with a Masters Degree in the Arts and was granted a scholarship by the Spanish government for his post-graduate studies in Madrid. 

Zdravković’s images of male eroticism are executed using a highly expressive color range in a classic impressionistic style. He paints primarily from life, using models for reference, with a particular focus on the effect of light upon his subjects and the posed surroundings.

Nebojša Zdravković, who lives and works in Belgrade, is a member of theAssociation of Fine Artists of Serbia, ULUS. His work has been exhibited at many group shows and at solo exhibitions in Paris, London, Belgrade, Athens, and Cyprus. Zdravković had solo exhibitions at London’s Adonis Art Gallery in 2002 and 2003.  

James Schuyler: “I Remember Very Well the Morning”

Photographers Unknown, I Remember Very Well the Morning

Coming from the deli
a block away today I
saw the UN building
shine and in all the
months and years I’ve
lived in this apartment
I took so you and I
would have a place to
meet I never notice
that it was in my view.

I remember very well
the morning I walked in
and found you in bed
with X. He dressed
and left. You dressed
too. I said, “Stay
five minutes.” You
did. You said, “That’s
the way it is.” It
was not much of a surprise.

Then X got on speed
and ripped off an
antique closet and an
air conditioner, etc.
After he was gone and
you had changed the
Segal lock, I asked
you on the phone, “Can’t
you be content with
your wife and me?” “I’m
not built that way”,
you said. No surprise.

Now, without saying
why, you’ve let me go.
You don’t return my
calls, who used to call
me almost every evening
when I lived in the coun-
try. “Hasn’t he told you
why?” “No, and I doubt he
ever will.” Goodbye. It’s
mysterious and frustrating.

How I wish you would come
back! I could tell
you how, when I lived
on East 49th, first
with Frank and then with John,
we had a lovely view of
the UN building and the
Beekman Towers. They were
not my lovers, though,
You were. You said so.

James Schuyler, This Dark Apartment, The Morning of the Poem, 1980

Born in November of 1923 in Chicago, Illinois, James Marcus Schuyler was a poet who won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his collection “The Morning of the Poem”. He spent his childhood years in East Aurora, New York, and, after high school graduation, attended Bethany College in West Virginia from 1941 to 1943. During World War Two, Schuyler served on a Navy destroyer in the North Atlantic; he remained in the U.S. Navy until 1947.

After moving to New York City in the late 1940s, Schuyler worked for the National Broadcasting Company and became friends with the English poet and playwright  W. H. Auden. In 1947, he relocated to the Isle of Ischia in Italy, where he shared an apartment and worked for two years as Auden’s secretary. While in Italy, Schuyler attended the University of Florence . 

James Schuyler returned to New York City in 1950; the next year he was introduced to poets Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery at a New York party. The three poets shared an apartment on 49th Street in Manhattan and worked closely together, often contributing to each other’s writing projects. In this early period of Schuyler’s writing, he wrote two play productions: “Presenting Jane”, performed at the Cambridge,  Massachusetts, Poet’s Theatre in 1952 and “Shopping and Waiting: A Dramatic Pause” performed in 1953 at New York’s American Theater for Poets. 

By the middle of the 1950s, Schuyler was a writer and art critic for Art News magazine and was curating for circulating exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art. Among the artists he befriended were Larry Rivers, William and Elaine de Kooning, Jane Freilicher, and landscape and portrait painter Fairfield Porter. Schuyler would live with Porter and his family at their homes for twelve years from 1961 to 1973; he dedicated his first major collection of poems, the 1969 “Freely Espousing”, to Fairfield Porter and his wife Anne. This collection received the Frank O’Hara Prize for Poetry in 1969. 

The most productive period in James Schuyler’s career occurred in the late 1969s and extended through the 1970s. He coauthored a novel, entitled  “A Nest of Ninnies”, with John Ashbery in 1969 and produced three major collections of poetry: “The Crystal Lithium” in 1972, the 1974 “Hymn to Life”, and the 1980 “The Morning of the Poem”, of which the title poem is considered to be among the best long poems of the postmodern era. Numerous other works have been published throughout the years, including a 1989 recording entitled “Hymn to Life and Other Poems” produced by Watershed Intermedia.

James Schuyler was a central figure in the New York School, an informal group of poets, painters, musicians and dancers active in vanguard of New York City’s 1950-60s avant-garde art scene. He was a Guggenheim Fellow, a fellow of the American Academy of Poets, a recipient of the Longview Foundation Award in 1961, and a 1985 recipient of the Whiting Award given to emerging writers. 

James Marcus Schuyler died in Manhattan following a stroke, in April fo 1991, at the age of sixty-seven. His ashes are interred at the Little Portion Friary, Mount Sinai, Long Island, New York. The major collection of his papers are in the Mandeville Department of Special Collections at San Diego’s University of California. 

Note: Although James Schuyler revealed very little of his personal life, it is known that he was gay and had a relationship  with military man and writer William Eric Aalto, near the end of Aalto’s life. Aalto is featured in Schuyler’s long, prose poem “Dining Out with Doug and Frank”, which describes a meal with Aalto , and  poet and critic Douglas Crase and his partner, professor in plant pathology Frank Polach. Schuyler also had a relationship with American realist, city-scape artist Frank Button, who was also associated with the New York School art movement.

The long conversational poem “Dining Out with Doug and Frank” can be found at: https://www.ronnowpoetry.com/contents/schuyler/DiningOut.html.

For those interested, twelve of James Schuyler’s poems can be found in their entirety at the Poetry Foundation located at: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/james-schuyler#tab-poems

Francesc Català-Roca

Photography by Francesc Català-Roca

Born in  in Valls, Tarragona, in March of 1922, Francesc Català-Roca was a Spanish photographer, the first of a brilliant generation of photographers to emerge in the post-civil war era of 1950s Spain.

After the Spanish Civil War, during Franco’s dictatorship, Català-Roca travelled extensively throughout Spain. An eye witness to the changes that slowly transformed the country, he frequented groups of artists and intellectuals, with whom he influenced and exchanged ideas. Having embraced the neorealist photography of the time, Català-Roca is best known for his documentary images of Spain  and for his portraits of contemporary artists and intellectuals. 

Francesc Català-Roca started his apprenticeship at the age of thirteen in the photographic studio of his father, Pere Català Pic , a writer and a representative of Catalan avant-garde movement. At an early age, he established a studio as a portraitist and, in 1948, worked independently as a photojournalist for magazines such as “Destino” and “La Vanguardia”. Executed predominately in a black and white, minimalist style, Català-Roca’s photography dealt with a variety of themes from landscapes to cityscapes, and artistic documentation to ethnography

Català-Roca’s first photographic book, published in 1952, portrayed one of Spain’s most famous creations, the Sagrada Familia designed by Antoni Gaudi, the famous Catalan architect. In 1954 he had his first exhibition of his black and white work. In the same year,  Català-Roca  was commissioned to illustrate books by Luis Romero and Juan Antonio Cabezas on Barcelona and Madrid, respectively. 

These two commissions enabled Francesc Català-Roca to show his vision of these cities. His many images of Barcelona, with which he had a direct connection, reflect a sophisticated city working to modernize itself; while the images of 1950s Madrid are characterized by its post-war poverty. Repeatedly throughout his career, Català-Roca explored not only the busiest city streets but explored the more obscure areas, such as he did with Barcelona’s Barrio Chino and the shantytowns that surrounded the city.

Català-Roca’s oeuvre contains two hundred thirty-one thousand works, published in over one thousand books, of which eighty are photo-albums. In addition to his books, he directed  films of which the best known are the 1952 “Piedras Vivas”, a documentary about the Holy Family which won first prize at Italy’s Festival of Ancona in the same year; the 1958 “Rapsodia de Sangre”, a film of a young pianist whose concert becomes a slogan in the demonstrations against the 1956 invasion of Hungary; the 1966 short film “Tierra de Conquistadores”; and the 1969 “Ditirambo”, a tragic story of an atypical hero whose life changes unexpectedly.

Francesc Català-Roca also made documentaries on such famous artists as painter Joan Miró, abstract painter Josep Guinovart, and monumental public sculptor Eduardo Chillida. Català Roca passed away, after a long and fruitful career full of merits and awards, on March 15, 1998 in Barcelona . In 1998, a homage to his work was presented by Barcelona’s Primavera Fotográfica and, in May of 2000, an extensive retrospective was held in Barcelona’s La Fundación Joan Miró.

Tope Insert Image: Francesc Català-Roca, Title and Date Unknown, (Viewers), Gelatin Silver Print

Middle Insert Image: Francesc Català-Roca, Self-Portrait in Park Güell, 1953, Gelatin Silver Print 

Bottom Insert Image: Francesc Català-Roca, Barcelona, 1950, Gelatin Silver Print

Frank Steeley

 

Frank Steeley, “Lettering for Schools and Colleges”, 1902, G.W. Bacon and Company, Limited, London

Born in Birmingham in 1863, Frank Steeley was a draftsman and graphic designer. The son of a goldsmith who worked in the jewelry trade, he illustrated a set of thirty-six first grade drawing cards for the publisher G. W. Bacon and Company, Ltd, which was published circa 1893 as Bacon’s “Excelsior” Drawing Cards.

Steeley, in collaboration with Bernard H. Trotman, produced the 1901 design book “The New Art Geometry: or, Geometrical Drawing Applied to Design”, which was also published by Bacon and Company. The exercises in this book, which used common tools such as t-squares and protractors, formed a graduated syllabus for upper level elementary classes and for classes in schools of art.

In 1902, Frank Steeley produced the book “Lettering for Schools and Colleges”, a collection containing his designs for forty-two complete alphabets, with sets of numerals, initials, and monograms. Between 1903 and 1904, he published his two-volume series “Nature Drawing and Design”. These books, examples of early Art Nouveau design work, described the process of using the natural forms of flowers and leaves to create patterns and simple line drawings. Both the book and the two-volume series were published by G.W. Bacon and Company.

Frank Steeley passed away in 1951 at the age of eighty-eight. Due to the historical and artistic significance of the work, Steeley’s books have been reprinted frequently and are still used as a basis for design study.

Marvin K. White: “And When I Placed My Lips on His”

Photographers Unknown, Doubles

When I learned of Gregory’s death
I cried silently
But at the funeral
Giiiirl! I’m telling you
I rocked Miss Church
Hell I fell to my knees twice
Before I reached my seat
Three people had to carry me
To my pew
I swayed and swooned
Blew my nose
On any and every available sleeve
The snot was flying everywhere
Then when I finally saw his body
My body jerked itself
Right inside that casket
And when I placed my lips on his
Honey the place was shaking
I returned to my seat
But not before passing by his mother
Who I’m sure at this point
Was through with me
I threw myself on her knees
Shouting “Help me
Help me Jesus”
When someone in the choir
Sang out “Work it girl
Wooooork it”
I was carried out
Kicking and screaming
Ushered into the waiting limo
Which sped me to his family’s house
Where I feasted
On fried chicken
Hot water corn bread
Macaroni and cheese
Johnny Walker Black
Finally in my rightful place

Marvin K. White, Last Rights, Last Rights, 2004

Born in Oakland, California, Marvin K. White is a poet, performer, playwright, public theologian, visual artist, and community arts organizer. He graduated with a Masters of Divinity from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. White holds a fellowship in the national African-American poetry organization, Cave Canem, and is a former member of the board of Fire & Ink, a national black LGBT writers’ organization.

White has authored four collections of poetry which were published by RedBone Press. His 2004 “Last Rights” contains poems which portray the caring, humor, despair, the kinship of friends and family, and the unqualified love that occurs in the everyday lives of the gay community. It was nominated as a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. In the same year, his second collection “Nothin’ Ugly Fly” was published. This collection of poems, both witty and intense, explores a boy’s life from its unpredictable and dangerous beginning to his becoming a man, a growth achieved through his love for another man. This collection was also a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award.

In 2011, Marvin K. White followed his previous work with two new collections. His “Status”, a compilation of several years of Facebook statuses, is a collection of wisdoms, remembrances, lessons in life, riddles, and guiding principles, told in both poem and prose. The book is small in size and reads as if it was a conversation over a cup of coffee.White’s “Our Name Be Witness” is composed of freely written prose poems, spoken in women’s  voices, that describe the complicated communities of neighborhoods, and the aspirations and heart of their people. Aside from the introductory poem, “Devil’s food”, the following prose poems do not possess titles and range from three pages to a few short lines. 

White’s work has appeared in many anthologies including “The Road Before Us: 100 Black Gay Poets”, “Bad Boys and Barbarians: New Gay Writing”, and “My Brothers Keeper”, as well as local and national publications. He is the co-editor of  “If We Have to Take Tomorrow: HIV, Black Men and Same Sex Desire”. White’s  poetry has been adapted for stage at San Francisco’s Theater Rhinoceros; he has performed his own work at the 2014 BAN7 Festival held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Beginning as a Teaching Artist for WritersCorps, Marvin K. White continues to lead creative arts and writing workshops for a range of audiences, from youth centers for runaway kids to black gay support groups to literary conferences, faith communities and social justice organizations. He is cofounder of B/GLAM, the Black Gay Letters and Arts Movement, an organization located in the Bay Area of California, whose goal was to preserve, present and incubate black gay artistic expressions.

Note: More information on Marvin K. White and his current projects can be found at his site located at: https://www.marvinkwhite.com/copy-of-home-house-1

Kris Knight

Paintings by Kris Knight

Born in 1980 in Windsor, Kris Knight is a Canadian painter who has been interested in art since a young age. He moved to Toronto at the age of nineteen and studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design, where he majored in Painting and Drawing, with minors in Curating and Criticism.

The majority of Knight’s work, often painted in series, has been portraits based on real people, mostly close friends and family members. He has also produced self-portraits, collaged images taken from mass media, and works on the themes of loss, bonding and secrets. The subjects of Knight’s work have mostly been either young or androgynous-appearing men, who are portrayed in mute color tones effecting a powdered or translucent appearance. His pastels and tonal oil paintings, set in both theatrical and ordinary settings, combine nostalgia and romanticism in their exploration of life’s experiences.

Inspired by an eighteenth-century style of painting, Knight’s work draws from the movements of Romanticism, Symbolism and artwork of the Rococo period. Having had an interest in the era of the French Revolution since a child, he was also inspired by the portraiture work of French painters Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun and Baron Joseph Ducreux. Additional influences came from the works of portrait painter Thomas Lawrence, Baroque painter Nicolas Poussin, and John Singer Sargent, considered the leading portrait painter of his day.

Kris Knight painted his “Lost and Found” series in 2012. This series of portraits dealt with disenchanted youths who subtly play the roles of hunter and the hunted. Often shown wearing furs and masks, the paintings explored the emotional state of being lost and the process of recovery. His 2013 series “Secrets Are Things We Grow” explored secrets that people keep and the bond that forms once a secret is revealed to those held close. The use of patterns and symbols of nature are used to represent the growth of secrets over time.

In 2014, Knight painted his “Smell the Magic” series, which had its premiere, sponsored by Gucci, at the Spinello Project’s pop-up gallery in Wynwood, Florida. The paintings in this series were done with brighter color tones; an influence of surrealism can be seen in the use of Ouija board pointers for eyes and overlaid flower blossoms on faces. In 2017, Knight had a solo exhibition at Art Toronto which contained work in a smaller scale with a more theatrical approach. These works focused on the subject of performance in everyday life and the roles portrayed to others.

Kris Knight began involved in the fashion industry early in his career. His paintings were used for four 2012 covers for Fashion for Men magazine and, in 2014, his paintings’ pastel color palette was credited for Gucci’s men’s ready-to-wear fall and winter collection. Collaborating with Gucci, Knight created several botanical floral prints, based on a previous work in 1966, which were incorporated into creative director Frida Giannini’s designs for Gucci’s Cruise 2015 seasonal wear. Knight’s work was later shown at the group exhibition, “Carte Blanche a Christin Lacroix”, at Paris’s Musée Cognacq-Jay in November of 2014.

Kris Knight’s work is represented by the Spinello Gallery in Miami, Florida, and at Paris’s Galerie Alain Gutharc. His website, which includes upcoming exhibitions, can be found at: https://krisknight.com/home.html .

Middle Insert Image: Kris Knight, “Let’s Not Speak So Heavy”, 2020, Oil on Canvas, 35.6 x 27.9 cm

Gerrit Lansing: “Your Kiss Is My Justice”

Photographers Unknown, Your Kiss Is My Justice

Dreamer of purified fury and fabulous habit,
your eyes of deserted white afternoons
target, stiffen, riot with unicorn candor
so I swallow your body like meanings or whisky or as you swallow me.
 
Break rhythm here:      your kiss is my justice:
look then now how orange blooms of jubilation unfold in satisfied air!
This sex is more than sex, under the will of the God of sex,
so I softly invoke transformation of your rueful image of haven
–those frozen rocks, that guilty lighthouse isolate from temptation–
to warm Flemish landscape green and brighteyed with daisies of
     dizzying color
where pilgrims are dancing after gospelling bird who sing of
      new springs, good water.
 
Garret Lansing, A Poem of Love in Eleven Lines, Heavenly Tree, Northern Earth, 2009

Born in Albany, New York in February of 1928, Gerrit Lansing was a poet, editor and critic. After a brief stay in Colorado Springs, his family  moved to the Cleveland area where his father served on Western Reserve University’s board of trustees.  A piano prodigy, Lansing played Bach, Mozart and Scriabin for pleasure and, in his teen-years, played pop songs with a band. In the mid-1940s, he attended Harvard College, where he studied philosophy and  graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1949.

Gerrit Lansing’s social set during his college years included the artist Eduard Gorey, poets Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery, and his childhood friend, the writer and poet Kenward Elmslie. His poetic origins can be traced back to his time at Harvard, where he studied the works of William Blake and William Butler Yeats, under critic and biographer Richard Ellmann, and attended readings by T.S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens. Upon graduation from Harvard, Lansing relocated to New York City, where he received his Masters Degree in English from Columbia University and worked on the Columbia University Press.

In the early 1950s, Lansing became friends with Harry Smith, the artist, filmmaker, and musicologist best known for his 1952 “Anthology of American Folk Music”. Both interested in jazz and bebop music, they also studied magic together under Count Stefan Walewski, owner of New York City’s Esoterica curio shop. It was through his association with lyricist John LaTouche that Lansing was introduced to the world of theater, ballet and opera and to a network of writers. Known in his circles as a thinker and conversationalist, he associated with writers Christopher Isherwood, Paul and Jane Bowles, Alan Ginsberg, and Jack Karouac; painters Larry Rivers and Jane Freilicher; and poets Robert Kelly and Jonathan Williams.

Lansing’s poetry first began to appear in New York School periodicals such as “A New Folder”, “Semi-Colon”. and later in a small offset literary journal entitled “Set” which he edited.  By the time the first of Set’s two issues appeared in 1961, Lansing had grown weary of New York City and accepted an invitation by his acquaintance John Hays Hammond Jr., the pioneer of the electronic remote control, to stay at Hammond Castle in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The invitation to Lansing came through Harry Martin, who was LaTouche’s lover at that time and also the clandestine lover of John Hammond.

In Gloucester, Gerrit Lansing met two men who would greatly shape his life; the first was Charles Olson, an innovative poet and essayist who was previously rector at Black Mountain College. Lansing surprised Olson with an unannounced visit to the poet’s Fort Square apartment and soon became a fast friend, drinking companion, and regular correspondent with him. He also made arrangements for Olson’s first public reading of his work. Lansing was the understated expert for Olson on the role of tarot, astrology, and the esoteric; his knowledge would have an impact on Olson’s 1952 collection, “The Maximus Poems”. The second man to shape Lansing’s life was Deryk Burton, a sailor born in Wallasey, England, who skippered private yachts. They met at the Studio Restaurant on Rocky Neck in Gloucester and soon became lifelong partners.  Together they set up house in Gloucester and sailed private yachts to their winter berths in Florida and the Caribbean.

The deaths of close friends, Charles Olson and Boston poet Stephen Jonas, both within a month of each other in early 1970, greatly affected Lansing. In 1972, he and Burton left Massachusetts on a period of wandering which led to Annapolis, Maryland, due to Burton’s nautical career. There, Lansing co-founded the antiquarian bookstore, Circle West, which specialized in rare occult books. He was also hospitalized successfully for alcoholism, a result of his earlier drinking bouts with friends and gay bar cruising.

In 1982, Lansing and Burton returned to Gloucester. Intrigued by the occult since high school, Gerrit had become an encyclopedic resource on the topic and opened in Gloucester a second bookstore, Abraxas, which specialized in magic, philosophy, and rare esoteric volumes. Lansing operated the Abraxas bookstore until his and Burton’s retirements in 1992. They then purchased a sea captain’s house overlooking Gloucester Bay where they spent the remainder of their lives.

A careful reader and interpreter of Emerson’s works, Gerrit Lansing used a range of forms in his poetry to explore spiritual, social, and natural engagements with the world. His books of poetry include the 1995 “Heavenly Tree/Soluble Forest”, a cross-genre collection entitled “A February Sheaf” published in 2003 by Pressed Wafer, and the 2009 “Heavenly Tree, Northern Earth”. He collaborated, along with conceptual-installation artists Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese, on the 2002 art book “Turning Leaves of Mind”.

Predeceased by his partner Deryk Burton, who died in 1997, Gerrit Lansing died peacefully at his Gloucester home on the evening of February 11th in 2018, at the age of ninety years.

Note: An interesting read on Gerrit Lansing’s work is an article, entitled “ The Metaphysics of Gerrit Lansing”,  written by Robert Baker for the online literary magazine, Rain Taxi. It can be found at: https://www.raintaxi.com/the-metaphysics-of-gerrit-lansing/

Also, the online publication, Wonderland, had a memorial article on Gerrit Lansing in which personal remembrances by three close friends of Lansing are included. That article can be found at: https://gregcookland.com/wonderland/2018/03/02/gerrit-lansing-3/

Andrés Miró Quesada

Paintings by Andrés Miró Quesada

Born in Lima, Andrés Miró Quesada is a Peruvian painter whose narrative works depicting male figures generate a sense of playful eroticism and sensuality. He studied at Lima’s Alexander von Humboldt College, a German international, school from kindergarten to bachelor degrees. Miró Quesada graduated in 2009 with a degree in Visual Arts from Lima’s  Corriente Alterna School in Miraflores, where he received a silver medal for his work.

Miró Quesada’s work is very cinematographic in nature; the narrative scenes he creates appear as frozen frames from a film. Starting with an initial idea, he takes photographs of the scene until he is satisfied with its composition.After this  composition is passed onto a canvas, Miró Quesada begins the fluid process of painting, in which the final idea is personalized by his addition of a broader range of colors and tones, and  alterations in scale.

Andrés Miró Quesada has exhibited in various collective exhibitions including “Set/Action” at the Vértice Gallery in San Isidro, Peru; the “Play” exhibition at the Luis Miró Quesada Garland Room, a non-profit contemporary art center; and the October 2014 collective exhibition “Homo Ludens/Urbe Ludens”, directed by the Vértice Gallery, at the El Olivar Cultural Center in Lima. Miró Quesada also presented his work in a 2015 solo exhibition, entitled “Amateur” in the Ricardo Palma Cultural Center in Miraflores, Peru.

Giulio Monteverde

Funeral Monuments of Giulio Monteverde

Born on October 8th of 1837 in Bistagno, a municipality in the Piedmont region of Italy, Giulio Monteverde was a sculptor and educator. He moved with his family to Genova where he began, at the age of nine, his initial training at the Ligustica Academy of Fine Arts in Genova, under the guidance of sculptor Santo Varni. Monteverde also studied at Rome’s Academy of Fine Arts, where he later obtained the position of Professor.

In 1865, Monteverde won the Pensionato Artistico Triennale, a three-year grant, which allowed him to relocate to Rome and establish his own studio. A neo-classical sculptor, his romantic-realist style achieved rapid success and critical acclaim, particularly in the United States. In 1886, Italian naval officer Enrico Alberto d’Albertis acquired a castle and commissioned a statue of the young Christopher Columbus from Monteverde. The 1870 white Carrara marble sculpture, “Colombo Giovinetto”, modeled from D’Albertis’s nephew Filippo, won a gold medal at an exhibition in Parma, Italy.

In 1873, Giulio Monteverde completed a narrative work, “Edward Jenner Vaccinating His Son Against Smallpox”, a life-sized marble sculpture, which he presented at the Vienna International Exposition. This was shown again at the 1878 Universal Exposition in Paris, and now resides at Rome’s National Gallery of Modern Art. Following his success a the Vienna Exposition, Monteverde, in the following year, sculpted a realistic, intricately detailed marble statue of the Roman water nymph, Egeria.

Most of Monteverde’s talent was dedicated to the execution of  religious sculpture and funerary monuments. The theme of the Angel of Death, or of the Night, was portrayed in a number of variations throughout Italy and Spain. The tomb of the Oneto Family, commissioned by Francesco Oneto, President of the General Bank, is located at the Staglieno Cemetery in Genoa. It portrayed a sensual angel holding the trumpet of Universal Judgement in his right hand, and was replicated many times by Monteverde for other families, an exmaple of which is the more demure angel leaning against the Llambi Campbell family vault in the Recoleta Cemetery of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

As an educator, Giulio Monteverde taught at Rome’s Acadey of Fine Arts; among his students were Argentine sculptor and medalist Victor de Pol and Lola Mora, a Argentine sculptor and a pioneer of women in her field. Monteverde was made an officer in the Legion of Honor in 1878 and, in 1889, became an Italian Senator. He passed away on October 3rd of 1917, at eighty years of age.

Bottom Insert Image: Giulio Monteverde, “Colombo Giovinetto (The Young Columbus)”, 1870, Carrara Marble, Museo della Culture del Mondo, Genoa, Italy

Melvin Dixon: “We Live Bravely in the Light”

Photographers Unknown, Parva Scaena (Brief Scenes): Photo Set Twenty-Four

They won’t go when I go. (Stevie Wonder)
Live bravely in the hurt of light. (C.H.R.)

The children in the life:
Another telephone call. Another man gone.
How many pages are left in my diary?
Do I have enough pencils? Enough ink?
I count on my fingers and toes the past kisses,
the incubating years, the months ahead.

Thousands. Many thousands.
Many thousands gone.

I have no use for numbers beyond this one,
one man, one face, one torso
curled into mine for the ease of sleep.
We love without mercy,
We live bravely in the light.

Thousands. Many thousands.

Chile, I knew he was funny, one of the children,
a member of the church, a friend of Dorothy’s.

He knew the Websters pretty well, too.
Girlfriend, he was real.
Remember we used to sit up in my house
pouring tea, dropping beads,
dishing this one and that one?

You got any T-cells left?
The singularity of death. The mourning thousands.
It begins with one and grows by one
and one and one and one
until there’s no one left to count.

Melvin Dixon, One by One, Love’s Instruments, 1995, Tia Chuca Press, Chicago

Born in Stanford, Conneticutt in May of 1950, Melvin Dixon was a creative writer, as a novelist, poet, translator and literary critic. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies, and earned a Master of Arts in 1973 and a Doctor of Philosophy in 1975 from Boston University.

Dixon wrote poems, novels, short stories, essays, critical studies, and translated many works from French. Searching for his literary heritage, he traveled throughout the Caribbean, Africa and Europe, and researched such men as Leopold Senghor, the poet and former president of Senegal; the Haitian novelist and poet Jacques Roumain; and author Richard Nathaniel Wright, whose 1945 book “Black Boy” became an instant success and a work of historical and sociological significance.

Melvin Dixon wrote openly about his homosexuality in both his published and unpublished works. As an active spokesman for gay communities and their issues, he incorporated the complexities of gay lifestyle and identity, as well as his identity as a black man, into his work. Dixon’s first collection of poems, “Change of Territory” published in 1983, examined the involuntary journeys of African slavery and the later historical migration of African Americans from the southern United States to the north. In 1987, he wrote a critical study of African-American literature entitled “Ride Out the Wilderness”.

The influence of James Baldwin’s work upon Dixon’s writings can be seen in his two novels, the 1989 “Trouble the Water”, a novel of family reconciliation which won the Nikon Award for Excellence in Minority Fiction, and the 1991 “Vanishing Rooms”, a novel of homophobia and racism revolving around three people who are each affected by the death of a gay man in New York City. “Vanishing Rooms” was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men’s Fiction. Dixon’s final volume of poetry, entitled “Love’s Instruments” published posthumously in 1995, was a tribute to gay men with AIDS-related illness.

Melvin Dixon translated many works from French to English. Included in these works are his translations of Haitian poet Jacques Roumain’s poetry; Professor of American Literature at the University of Paris, Genevierve Fabre’s history of black theater since 1945, entitled “Drumbeats, Masks, and Metaphor” and  published in 1983; and “The Collected Poetry of Leopold Seder Senghor”, published in 1991. This translation of Senghor’s work contains the majority of his poetic oeuvre, including his “lost” poems.

Dixon was an Assistant Professor at Williams College from 1975 to 1980, and a Professor of English Literature at Queens College of the City University of New York from 1980 until 1992. He also taught at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, Fordham University and Columbia University. Dixon received a number of awards and fellowships including a Fulbright lectureship in Senegal from 1985 to 1986.

Melvin Dixon was in a long-term partnership with Richard Horowitz, an openly gay man who worked from 1983 to 1987 as a program officer of the Ford Foundation in Dakar, West Africa. Upon Horowitz’s return to the United States, he worked with the Ford Foundation to finance projects for AIDS patients internationally. He died at his summer home in Provincetown, Massachusetts, from complications due to AIDS in July of 1991. He was forty-four years in age.

Melvin Dixon had been battling AIDS since an initial diagnosis in 1989. At the age of forty-two, he died from AIDS-related complications in Stanford, Conneticutt, on October 28, 1992, one year after his partner. The Melvin Dixon Papers, which contain primarily of manuscripts, correspondence, notes, and journals, are part of the Archives and Manuscripts department of the New York Public Library. They are housed at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, located at 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York City.

Note: “this one” in the second stanza of the poem, “One by One”, refers to Dixon’s lover, Richard Horowitz

Emilio Baz Vlaud

The Artwork of Emilio Baz Vlaud

Born in Mexico City in 1918, Emilio Baz Vlaud was a painter whose work mostly included portraiture and scenes in the style of  Costumbrismo, images of local Hispanic life, customs, and mannerisms executed in  both artistic Realism and Romanticism.  Influenced by the Magical Realism movement that spread through the art and literary worlds after the first World War, Vlaud was known for his meticulous brushwork and his trompe-d’oeil technique. 

Emilio Baz Vlaud, at a very early age, had great skill in the arts. He would often watch his older gay brother, Ben-Hur Baz Vlaud, a 1926 graduate of the Academy de San Carlos and twelve years his senior, working on his own precisionist drawings and paintings. At the age of seventeen, Emilio Vlaud executed his first self-portrait, the 1935 “Self Portrait as a Teenager”, a highly refined work that is closely related to a self-portrait painted by his brother in the same year. In his self-portrait, Emilio shows himself with perfectly combed hair and dressed in a white shirt. He is  holding a green pencil at an angle, a position which visually divides the canvas in two,  and is shown gripping his elbow with his left hand. 

Emilio Baz Vlaud entered the Academia de San Carlos in 1938 where he initially studied architecture before changing his vocation to painting. He later took courses at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas, where he studied under the strict training of painter Manuel Rodríguez Lozano, an openly gay artist whose work is often linked to the works of metaphysical painter Giorgio de Chirico. Vlaud made several visits over the years to his older brother who had moved to New York City and was working as a successful commercial illustrator for magazines, such as Newsweek and Time. 

In 1950, Emilio Vlaud relocated to San Miguel Allende, situated in the far eastern part of Guanajuato. He exhibited his work in several collective exhibitions, where he showed his work alongside such prominent artists as painters and muralists Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros. In 1951, Vlaud had his first solo exhibition; his flamenco-inspired technique of applying dry oil paints to surfaces by means of small strokes of a short brush were praised by critics and his fellow artists. During his eight year stay in San Miguel Allende, he received a gold medal for artistic merit from the University of Guanajuato. 

In 1962, Emilio Baz Vlaud entered the Monastery of Santa María de la Resurrecion for the purpose of studying psychoanalysis. After several years, he abandoned these studies to return to his vocation as a painter. Although Vlaud is mostly know for his portraiture and scenes done before 1955, he also went through an intense period of abstraction during the 1970s. In 1984, his work was presented at a collective exhibition entitled “Siete Pintores (Seven Painters)” at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Emilio Baz Vlaud died in 1991. 

Insert Images:

Emilio Baz Viaud, “Self Portrait as a Teenager”, 1925, Watercolor, Pencil and Dry Brush on Board, 60 x 39.7 cm, Private Collection

Emilio Baz Vlaud, “El Coco”, circa 1955, Oil on Masonite, 50 x 40 cm, Blaisten Collection

Emilio Baz Vlaud, “Self Portrait in Blue Shirt”, 1941, Watercolor, Pencil and Dry Brush on Board, 100 x 65.5 cm, Blaisten Collection, Mexico City

 

Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg, “Self Portrait, Black Mountain (1)”, 1952, Gelatin Silver Print, 14.3 x 8.3 cm, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

While studying at Black Mountain College in North Carolina between 1948 and 1952, Robert Rauschenberg focused his attention on mid-century experimental and abstract photography. His exploration of this medium was influenced by the works of photographer Aaron Siskind, whose detailed images created an innovation in abstract photography; Harry Callahan, a prolific photographer who rigorously curated his work; and educator and photographer Hazel Larson Archer, whose work captured life at Black Mountain.

Rauschenberg used a bold mixture of abstraction, double exposures, experiments with light and shadow, and used blueprint paper to produce photographs with a camera. Many of his earliest photographic experiments were portraits of close companions and people he met in conversations; these include artists such as choreographer and dancer Merce Cunningham and painter Cy Twombly.

A recurring subject of his experimental work was the self portrait, of which the double-exposure image above, “Self Portrait, Black Mountain (1)”, is an example. Shot in 1952, it features Rauschenberg seated on a wooden chair with his hands folded. Ghostly images of weeds and chairs are superimposed over his body.This photograph is a singular work in a portfolio edition of seven related photographs taken during the summer of 1952 at Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina.