John Dall: Film History Series

Photographer Unknown, “John Dall”, 1948, Publicity Shot for Universal International, Gelatin Silver Print

Born in New York City in May of 1920, John Dall Thompson was an American stage and film actor. The younger of two sons born to Charles Thompson and Henny Worthington, he moved with his family in the 1920s to Panama, where his father was employed as a civil engineer for airport construction. After performing at a local theater, Dall first gave thought to the possibility of acting as a career. Due to the death of Charles Thompson by suicide in 1929, the family chose to return to New York City.

John Dall attended the Horace Mann School, a private college-preparatory school in the Bronx, and enrolled at Columbia University with the intention of studying engineering. He soon left the university and studied at the Pasadena Playhouse and the Theodore Irvine School of Theater. Dall also took theater courses in New Orleans at the Petit Theatre, a historic French Quarter playhouse founded in 1916. 

Dall performed for six years in various stock companies, primarily the Children’s Theater founded in New York City in 1924 by British actress and playwright Clare Tree Major. He also worked in several theater companies headed by such performers as Academy Award winner Aline MacMahon, actor Arthur William Byron, and stage and screen actress Edith Atwater. During the 1941-1942 season, Dall had small roles on Broadway which included the 1920 science-fiction play “R.U.R.” by Czech writer Karel Čapek. In 1942-1943, Dall had the lead role of Quizz Martin in the touring production of Maxwell Anderson’s “The Eve of St Mark” which later moved to Broadway. 

John Dall’s performance in the Broadway version of “The Eve of St Mark” caught the attention of the wife of Jack Warner, founder of Warner Brothers Pictures. This resulted in a film contract with the studio; a proviso was added to the contract that allowed Dall personal time for stage performances. Dall’s first film with Warner Brothers was director Irving Rapper’s 1945 “The Corn is Green”, a drama starring Bette Davis as a schoolteacher bringing education to a Welsh coal mining town.  Dall played the lead role of miner Morgan Evans and was nominated for the 1946 Academy Award / Best Supporting Actor. 

Impressed with the film rushes for “The Corn is Green”, Warner Brothers signed Dall to a new contract. He became one of the studio’s six contract players that were to be built into stars; the others included Lauren Bacall, Dane Clark, Faye Emerson, Robert Hutton and William Prince. In 1944, Dall returned to the stage with the lead role in playwright Norman Krasna’s highly successful “Dear Ruth”, which eventually ran for six-hundred and eighty performances. The film rights to the play, however, were purchased by Paramount Studio which cast William Holden in Dall’s original role. 

Warner Brothers purchased the film rights to John Patrick’s play “Hasty Heart” with the intention of giving the lead film role to John Dall. In 1945, Dall performed “Hasty Heart” on a three-month stage tour. However as it took several more years before the film was started, casting changes gave the lead role to Irish-British actor Richard Todd. In May of 1946, Warners released Dall from his contract after filming only one role for the studio.

Although Paramount Studio cited interest in signing Dall for an adaption of ”The Wayfarers” based on Becky Chambers’s series of books, Dall signed a seven-year contract with David Selznick’s Vanguard Films in May of 1946. He performed “Hasty Heart” during the summer theater season but was never given any roles by Selznick. Signing with Universal International, he played Canadian actress Deanna Durbin’s love interest in Irving Pichel’s 1947 musical comedy “Something in the Wind”. Dall next appeared in a supporting role in Michael Gordon’s 1948 post-Civil War drama “Another Part of the Forest”. 

Founded by Alfred Hitchcock and his longtime associate Sidney Bernstein at the end of World War II, Transatlantic Pictures chose John Dall for one of the lead roles in its first production. Dall and actor Farley Granger played the two killers who matched wits with James Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock’s Technicolor 1948 crime thriller “Rope”. On its theatrical release, the film performed poorly at the box office; screenwriter Arthur Laurents attributed the poor performance to audience uneasiness with the homosexual undertones between the characters played by Dall and Granger.

Dall did an hour episode for the ABC anthology radio series “Theater Guild on the Air” and then appeared on Broadway in an adaption of Jean-Paul Satre’s “Red Gloves” with Charles Boyer. In 1949, he made his television debut in The Chevolet Tele-Theatre’s production “Miracle in the Rain”. Dall appeared as one of the leads in Joseph H. Lewis’s 1950 crime film-noir “Gun Crazy” playing opposite femme-fatale actress Peggy Cummins. He later had supporting roles in the 1950 crime film-noir “The Man Who Cheated Himself”, playing opposite Lee J. Cobb and Jane Wyatt, and in a revival on Broadway of the romantic drama “The Heiress”, playing alongside Basil Rathbone.

Throughout the 1950s, John Dall appeared in stock productions of such plays as “Gramercy Ghost”, “The Hasty Heart”, “Born Yesterday” and “The Man Who Came to Dinner”. He worked extensively in television and appeared in guest roles on such shows as Studio One in Hollywood, General Electric Theater, Schlitz Playhouse, The Clock, Broadway Television Theater, and Lights Out. In 1955, Dall returned to Broadway for writer and director Leslie Stevens’s “Champagne Complex”. 

Dall’s first film role after a span of eight years was that of the Roman soldier Marcus Glabus, based on the life of Roman military commander Gaius Claudius Glaber, in Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 epic historical drama “Spartacus”.  This film won four Academy Awards and had the highest ranking box office in Universal Studio’s history until “Airport” in 1970. Dall’s final film performance was as the villain Zaren in George Pal’s 1961 science-fiction film “Atlantis, the Lost Continent”. 

As to John Dall’s personal life, there is very little verifiable written record. According to music journalist Phil Milstein, at the time of his death Dall had lapsed into alcoholism and was living with his partner, actor Clement Brace. While visiting London in October of 1970, John Dall sustained a serious fall. He died three months later of cardiac arrest, a complication of myocarditis, at his Beverly Hills home in January of 1971 at the age of fifty. His body was donated to medical science. Dall’s papers and correspondence are housed at the Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills, California. 

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “John Dall”,  Date Unknown, Studio Publicity Shot, Gelatin Silver Print

Second Insert Image: Joseph A. Valentine, “John Dall, James Stewart and Farley Granger”, 1948, Film Shot from “Rope”, Director Alfred Hitchcock

Third Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Donald O’Connor, Deanna Durbin and John Dall”, 1947, Pulicity Shot for “Something in the Wind”, Director Irving Pichel, Cinematographer Milton R. Krasner

Fourth Insert Image: Sol Polito, “John Dall and Bette Davis”, 1945, Film Shot from “The Corn is Green”, Director Irving Rapper

Fifth Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “John Dall”, Date Unknown, Publicity Shot, Gelatin Silver Print

Bottom Insert Image: Russell Harlan, “John Dall”, 1950, Film Shot from “Gun Crazy”, Director Joseph H. Lewis

Hart Crane: “A Perfect Cry Shall String Some Constant Harmony”

Photographers Unknown, A Perfect Cry Shall String Some Constant Harmony

      As silent as a mirror is believed
      Realities plunge in silence by . . .

      I am not ready for repentance;
   Nor to match regrets. For the moth
        Bends no more than the still
      Imploring flame. And tremors
        In the white falling flakes
                   Kisses are – –
        The only worth all granting.

                It is to be learned–
      This cleaving and this burning,
           But only by the one who
          Spends out himself again.

                  Twice and twice
         (Again the smoking souvenir,
      Bleeding eidolon!) and yet again.
        Until the bright logic is won
         Unwhispering as a mirror
                   Is believed.

Then, drop by caustic drop, a perfect cry
 Shall string some constant harmony,–
 Relentless caper for all those who step
The legend of their youth into the noon.

Hart Crane, Legend

Born in Garrettsville, Ohio in July of 1899, Harold Hart Crane was an American modernist poet considered one of the most influential poets of his generation. He was admired by many artists including playwright Eugene O’Neill, essayist Alan Tate, poet and playwright E.E. Cummings, and writer William Carlos Williams. Important American poets such as John Berryman and Robert Lowell cited Crane as a significant influence.

The son of successful business man Clarence Crane and Grace Edna Hart, Hart Crane had a stressful childhood in which his parents constantly fought. Raised in part by his grandmother in Cleveland, he read continuously in his grandmother’s extensive library which contained the complete editions of such poets as Robert Browning, Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson. As he aged, Crane broadened his interest with writers such as philosopher Plato, novelist Honore de Balzac, and Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. His formal education was undermined by long absences from school caused by constant arguments between his parents. 

In 1916, Crane left Cleveland without graduating and relocated to New York with the hope of passing the entrance exam to Columbia University. Once settled in New York City, he made the decision to abandon college and concentrate on a literary career. Crane met other writers in the city and became exposed to the various art movements prevalent at that time. As a result of his parents’ divorce in 1917, Crane’s mother and grandmother relocated to New York City and moved into his one-bedroom apartment. 

To escape the pressures of family life, Hart Crane attempted to enlist in the army but was rejected due to his young age. He relocated to Cleveland and worked in a munitions factory during World War I. After the war, Crane worked briefly as a reporter for the local “Cleveland Plain Dealer”, worked in New York City for the “Little Review”, and then returned to Cleveland as an employee in his father’s candy company. Tensions between him and his now Cleveland-based family finally erupted in the spring of 1921. This led to Crane resettling back in New York City and two-years of non-communication with his father.

Throughout the early 1920s, Crane published poems in small but respected literary magazines, including “Little Review” and “Seven Arts”, which gained him respect among the avant-garde. By 1922 he had already written many of the poems that would be included in his first collection, “White Buildings”, finished in 1924 and published in 1926. This collection was written when he was falling in love with the Danish merchant mariner Emil Opffer. Their relationship, one of intense sexual passion and occasional turmoil, inspired “Voyages”, a sequence of erotic poems in praise of love. Other poems in the collection include “For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen”, set in contemporary times with Faustus representing a poet seeking ideal beauty, and the notable “Chaplinesque”. Produced after watching Charlie Chaplin’s 1921 film “The Kid”, the poem portrayed Crane’s personal outlooks towards adversity and innocence. 

By 1924, Hart Crane had already started the first drafts of his ambitious “The Bridge”, a long poem of fifteen sections with a finished length of sixty pages. Using the Brooklyn Bridge as the poem’s symbol, the poem celebrates the American experience from explorer Christopher Columbus to the 1910 opening of the newly constructed East River Tunnel. The Brooklyn Bridge functioned as a source of inspiration and a symbol of the unique American optimism. 

The optimism seen in Crane’s “White Buildings” was not quite indicative of his emotional state at that time. In the spring of 1923, he was working at an advertising agency, a job he found tedious and unrewarding. The tumult and loud noises of city life spoiled Crane’s concentration and made his writing difficult. By 1926, his intense relationship with Opffer had faded; this was followed by more conflicts with his mother and the deaths of both his father and grandmother. 

Hart Crane began to seek solace in alcohol and sexual encounters. With his inheritance, he fled his mother and traveled to Europe. Crane associated with many prominent figures in Paris’s expatriate community, including Harry Crosby, the owner of the fine art Black Sun Press, who offered Crane the use of his country estate. There Cane wrote a key part of “The Bridge” but continued his alcohol use and engaged in multiple sexual encounters with Marseilles sailors. 

Through money lent by Crosby, Crane was able to return to the United States where he finally finished “The Bridge”, which received upon its publication poor reviews from the critics. His pattern of self-destructive behavior, with its alternating depression and elation, continued. Crane entered a creative slump from which he could not recover. He applied for a Guggenheim Fellowship with the intention to study European culture and American poetry. Granted the fellowship, Crane decided instead to travel in 1931 to Mexico where he had a heterosexual romance with Peggy Baird, the divorced wife of writer Malcolm Cowley. The poem “The Broken Tower”, one of his last published works, emerged from the affair.

Despite the relationship with Peggy Baird, Hart Crane returned to his homosexual activities. Still feeling himself a failure, he returned to New York aboard the steamship Orizaba. During the voyage, Crane was beaten up after making sexual advances to a male crew member. Drinking heavy and leaving no suicide note, he jumped overboard into the Gulf of Mexico just before noon on the 27th of April in 1932. Crane’s body was never recovered. His father’s tombstone carries the inscription: ‘Harold Hart Crane 1899-1932 Lost at Sea’. 

Hart Crane’s correspondence, manuscripts, documents, drawings and paintings are housed in the archival collections of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Columbia University. In the collection are most of the original manuscripts of his major works with corrections and additions in Crane’s hand. Included in this collection are “The Bridge”, “White Buildings” and “West Indies Poems”.

Note: An online collection of Hart Crane’s work can be found in the Digital Collections of the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas at Austin. The site is located at: https://hrc.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15878coll32

 

Erwin Olaf

The Photography of Erwin Olaf

Born in Hilversum, the Netherlands in July of 1959, Erwin Olaf Springveld is a Dutch photographer known for both his personal and commercial work. He is primarily known for his lush large-format color prints of staged scenes that depict complex and dramatic narratives. 

Erwin Olaf studied journalism at the School of Journalism in Utrecht. an important Dutch city with roots back to the eighth-century. He started his photographic career by documenting pre-AIDS gay liberation in Amsterdam’s 1980s nightlife. This work soon led to Olaf’s personal exploration of varied series shot in both black-and-white and color. Assuming the role of both photographer and director, he currently shoots cinematic-styled tableaux whose arrangements and diluted color palettes evoke memories of the early 1960s. 

Olaf  has been commissioned to photograph advertising campaigns for large international companies including Microsoft, Nokia and Levi’s. His bold approach to photography has led to a number of prestigious collaborations, among which have been Louis Vuitton, Vogue Magazine, and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Throughout his forty-year career, Olaf has maintained an activist approach to equality. His diverse series center around the issues of society’s marginalized individuals, including people of color, women and the LBGTQ+ community. 

Erwin Olaf designed the national side of the 2013 Euro coins for King Willem-Alexander Koning, which commemorated two-hundred years of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Olaf served in 2017 as the official portrait artist for the Dutch royal family. In 2018, he completed a triptych of photographic and filmic tableaux depicting periods of sudden change in major world cities and their effects. Olaf became a Knight of the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands in 2019 after five-hundred works from his oeuvre were added to the collection of the Rijksmuseum. He was awarded the Netherlands’ prestigious Johannes Vermeer Award, as well as Photographer of the Year at the International Color Awards, and Kunstbeeld magazine’s Dutch Artist of the Year.

Among the many photographic series produced by Olaf are the 2005 “Hope, Grief, Rain” which centers on the suspended moment when emotional reaction begins;  the 2012 “Berlin” series shot outside of the studio in six different locations in Berlin, sites reminiscent of the city’s past; the 2020 “Im Wald” which was shot purely on location and highlighted isolated people in their relationship to nature; and the 2001-2002 “Paradise Portraits”, a series of close-up shots of party goers at Amsterdam’s renowned Club Paradiso on New Year’s Eve in 2000.  

Erwin Olaf’s work has been shown in major galleries throughout the world, including London’s prestigious photographic space Hamiltons Gallery, Berlin’s Wagner + Partner Gallery, Amsterdam’s Flatland Gallery, and the Galerie Magda Danysz in Paris. Museum exhibitions have included the Haifa Museum of Art in Israel, the Fondation Oriente Museu in Macau, the Museo de Arte Contemporaine de Rosario in Argentina, the National Art Gallery in Sofia, Bulgaria, and the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.

In the spring of 2019, Olaf’s work was the subject of a double exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag and The Hague Museum of Photography, as well as a solo exhibition at the Shanghai Center of Photography. In the summer of 2021, the Kunsthalle München mounted a major exhibition of 220 artworks, including Olaf’s two most recent series, the 2020 “April Fool” and “Im Wald”, the latter of which was made specially for this show. 

Note: More information of Erwin Olaf’s work and extensive exhibitions, including videos in which he explains his work, can be found at London’s Hamiltons Gallery website located at: https://www.hamiltonsgallery.com/artists/erwin-olaf/overview/

Erwin Olaf’s website, which includes contact information and an extensive list of exhibitions, is located at: https://www.erwinolaf.com/art

Top Insert Image: Erwin Olaf, “Self Portrait”, Date Unknown, Color Print

Second Insert Image: Erwin Olaf, “Chessmen XII”, 1988, Gelatin Silver Print, 37.5 x37.5 cm, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: Erwin Olaf, “Kleines Requiem II”, 2022, Color Print, Edition of Ten, 110 x 110 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Erwin Olaf, “Self Portrait”, 1985, Gelatin Silver Print, Futomuseum Den Haag, The Hague, The Netherlands

David Trinidad: “My Spirits Are Lifted”

Photographers Unknown, My Spirits Are Lifted

Depressed because my
book wasn’t nominated
for a gay award,

I lie on my couch
watching—not listening to—
the O.J. trial.

Byron, who senses
something’s wrong, hides under the
bed until Ira

comes home, carrying
a bouquet of beautifully
wrapped tulips. I press

the mute button. “This
is your prize,” he says. “Guess what
they’re called.” A smile in-

voluntarily
overcomes my frown. “What?” “Red
Parade.” “That sounds like

the name of an old
Barbie outfit,” I say. “That’s
exactly what I

told the florist. And
you know what she told me?” “What?”
“When she was a girl,

she turned her Barbie
into Cleopatra: gave
her an Egyptian

haircut and painted
her nipples blue.” “How cool.” “Yeah,
but now she thinks that

her doll would be worth
eight hundred dollars if she
hadn’t messed it up.”

Once in water, the
tulips begin to unclench—
ten angry fists. Their

colors are fierce, like
Plath’s “great African cat,” her
“bowl of red blooms.” Poor

Sylvia, who so
desperately wanted awards,
and only won them

after she was dead.
Byron jumps up, Ira sits
down and massages

my feet. “You guys.” My
spirits are lifted by their
tulips, kisses, licks.

David Trinidad, Red Parade, Plasticville, Turtle Point Press, 2000

Born in Los Angeles, California in 1953, David Trinidad is a contemporary American poet know for his masterful use of popular-culture references in his work. He attended California State University at Northridge where, as an undergraduate, he took Introduction to Literature with poet Ann Stanford. It was Stanford who introduced Trinidad to the genre of found poetry in 1972. 

Trinidad earned his Bachelor of Arts in English at California State University in 1979. Relocating to New York City in 1988, he studied at Brooklyn College where he earned in 1990 his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Among the poets who have influenced Trinidad are Ann Stanford, Sylvia Plath, Ann Sexton, Ted Hughes, Allen Ginsberg, Frank O’Hara. In particular, the autobiographical style of such poets as Sexton, whose work he discovered in 1975,  and O’Hara can be seen in Trinidad’s work.

 While at Northridge, Trinidad edited its literary journal “Angel’s Flight” and became friends with poet Rachel Sherwood, fellow student and co-founder of “Angel’s Flight”. An automobile accident in July of 1979 severely injured Trinidad and proved fatal for Rachel Sherwood. Her friends established the annual Rachel Sherwood Poetry Prize at Northridge in her honor; Trinidad also created the Sherwood Press and published, in collaboration with Yarmouth Press, the 1981 book of Sherwood’s poetry “Mysteries of Afternoon and Evening”. 

In the early 1980s, David Trinidad was one of a group of poets active at the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice, California. The group, which included such writers as Dennis Cooper, Amy Gerstler and Bob Flanagan, gave readings and published literary books and magazines such as “Little Caesar Magazine” and “Barney: The Modern Stone-Age Magazine”. Through interchange of ideas and poems between the collective’s members, Trinidad met other poets such as Tim Dlugos from New York and Elaine Equi from Chicago. 

While living in New York City, Trinidad was active in The Poetry Project at Saint Mark’s Church from 1990 to 1991 and in The Writer’s Voice at the West Side YMCA Center for the Arts. In 1991, he published his first book of poems, entitled “Pavane”.  Trinidad has authored seventeen volumes of poetry which include the 1985 “Monday, Monday”; the 1987 “November”;  the 1994 “Answer Song”, which includes the more focused and intimate poem “Driving Back from New Haven” based on a conversation with AIDS-diagnosed poet Tim Dlugos; and the 2007 “Late Show” which contains the long prose poem “Classic Layer Cakes”. Trinidad’s most recent work is the 2022 “Digging to Wonderland: Memory Pieces”. 

In addition to his own work, David Trinidad has edited several collections of Tim Dlugos’s poetry: the 1996 “Powerless: Selected Poems 1973-1990”; the Lambda Literary Award winner “A Fast Life: The Collected Poems of Tim Dlugos” published in 2011; and the 2021 “New York Diary”. He has also edited collections of works by Ann Stanford and Emily Dickinson, as well as co-edited the 2007 anthology “Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry”. 

Since 1996, Trinidad has been with the Writers at Rutgers Reading Series  of the Department of English at Rutgers University and the Masters of Fine Arts Creative Writing Program at New York City’s The New School for Social Research. Trinidad’s awards include, among others, the Michael Tuck Foundation Fellowship from Brooklyn College, New York’s Fund for Poetry Award, Blue Mountain Center Fellowship from New York, and an artist’s fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts. David Trinidad’s personal papers are housed at Fales Library at New York University.

Notes: In 2015, a candid interview with David Trinidad was conducted by educator and lecturer Bryan R. Monte for the Amsterdam Quarterly which publishes and promotes writing and art in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. This informative interview can be found at the Amsterdam Quarterly’s site: https://www.amsterdamquarterly.org/aq_issues/aq14-radio-tv-film/david-trinidad-straighforward-and-candid/

The black and white image of three tulips was taken by the award-winning English photographer Dianna Jazwinski who is based in West Sussex. An editorial photographer, she specializes in gardens, plants, forals for horticultural magazines, and books and catalogues. Jazwinski’s website is located at: https://diannajazwinski.co.uk

Tom Tyron: Film History Series

Photographer Unknown, “Tom Tyron”, Date Unknown, Publicity Photo, Gelatin Silver Print

Born in Hartford, Connecticut in January of 1928, Thomas Lester Tyron was an American actor and novelist. He grew up in Wethersfield and, in 1943 at the age of seventeen, enlisted in the U.S. Navy where he spent three years as a radio operator in the South Pacific. After his discharge from service in 1946, Tyron joined the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, Massachusetts where he was employed as a set designer and assistant stage manager. He also studied at Yale University and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. 

Encouraged by actress Gertrude Lawrence and her husband, producer Richard Aldrich, Tyron entered into acting. His first appearance on New York City’s Broadway was a role in Arthur Kober and Joshua Logan’s 1952 musical “Wish You Were Here”. In 1953, Tyron was in two productions on Broadway, “Cyrano de Bergerac” and Shakespeare’s “Richard III”. His television appearances at this time include an episode of the 1955 daytime drama series “The Way of the World” and the two-part episode “King of the Dakotas” as a guest-star of NBC’s Western series “Frontier”.

Tom Tyron moved to Hollywood in 1955 and was given a contract by Paramount Studios. In his film debut for the studio, he was given second-billing in Michael Curtiz’s 1956 crime drama “The Scarlet Hour” which starred actress Carol Ohmart. Lent to Allied Artists, Tyron was given the lead role as Private Mason in Charles F. Haas’s 1956 World War II film “Screaming Eagles”. In the same year, he appeared in a supporting role acting opposite Charlton Heston and Anne Baxter in Paramount’s Western film “Three Violent People”, directed by Rudolph Maté. In 1958, Tyron had the starring role as husband/alien Bill Farrell in Gene Fowler’s horror science fiction film “I Married a Monster from Outer Space”, now a cult classic.

Most of Tyron’s acting was in the medium of television with appearances in episodes of popular drama and Western series. These included Playhouse 90, Zane Grey Theater, Lux Video Theater, Jane Wyman’s Fireside Theater, Studio 57, Wagon Train, The Big Valley, The Millionaire, and The Twentieth-Century Fox Hour. Tyron’s longest running role in television was as Texas John Slaughter in the Disney series of movies of the same name which ran from 1958 to 1961. The “Jack Slaughter” series was based on the historical American lawman John Horton Slaughter. Born in 1841, Slaughter was a cowboy, poker player and sheriff who earned a reputation fighting outlaws and hostiles in the Arizona and New Mexico territories. 

Tom Tyron appeared in several films for Twentieth-Century Fox; the first of which was a starring role as Mahlon, a brother of Ruth, in Henry Koster’s  1960 biblical CinemaScope film “The Story of Ruth”. In 1961, he had a starring role as Private first class Roth in Raoul Walsh’s Korean War film “Marines, Let’s Go”. Tom Tyron appeared in two films in 1962: the Disney space-age satire “Moon Pilot”, in which he starred alongside Brian Keith, Edmond O’Brien and Tommy Kirk, and Fox Studio’s epic black and white war-drama “The Longest Day” which featured a large international ensemble cast.

Tyron’s most notable starring role was as the ambitious Catholic priest, Stephen Fenmoyle, in Otto Preminger’s 1963 drama film “The Cardinal”, based on the 1950 novel of the same name. Shown through a series of memory flashbacks during the Cardinal’s formal ceremony of institution, the film was shot in multiple locations and touched on issues of interfaith marriage, racial bigotry, sex outside of marriage and the rise of fascism. “The Cardinal” was the highest-grossing film of 1963 and won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Drama. Tom Tyron received a nomination for the Golden Globe Best Actor in a Drama.

Tom Tyron followed this success with appearances in two more films: a supporting role in the 1958 epic war film directed by Preminger “In Harm’s Way” and a leading role in Arnold Levin’s 1965 calvary Western “The Glory Guys”, with a screenplay written by Sam Peckinpah. Tyron appeared in several television performances in the late 1960s including a live television performance of “The Fall of the House of Usher”, the 1967 television movie remake of  “Winchester ’73”, and episodes of The Big Valley and Bob Hope’s Chrysler Theater.

Disillusioned with acting, Tyron retired from the profession in 1969 and, inspired after seeing “Rosemary’s Baby” in the theater, began to successfully write mystery and horror novels. His best known work is the 1971 psychological horror novel “The Other”, a story of a boy whose evil twin-brother might be responsible for a 1930s’ series of deaths. Tyron adapted the novel into a film of the same name that was released in 1972.  The film was directed by Robert Mulligan and shot entirely on location in California; actor John Ritter made one of his early film appearances in the role of Rider. Tyron’s 1973 folk-horror novel “Harvest Home”, a story of dark pagan rituals in a small New England town, was adapted into a television mini-series “The Dark Secret of Harvest Home” which starred Bette Davis. 

Tom Tyron wrote “Crowned Heads”, a collection of novellas inspired by the legends of Hollywood. The first in the series was the novella “Fedora”, a story of the relationship between a reclusive former actress and her plastic surgeon. This tale was adapted by Billy Wilder for his 1978 German-French drama film “Fedora” which starred William Holden and Marthe Keller, best known for her role in “Marathon Man”. Tyron wrote two more novels: the 1989 “The Night of the Moonbow”, the story of a harassed boy at summer camp who turns to violence, and the 1991 “Night Magic”, the story of a NYC street magician who is offered real magic. “Night Magic” was published posthumously in 1995.

Starting in 1955, Tyron was in a brief marriage to Ann L. Noyes, the daughter of a stockbroker; the couple divorced three years later in 1958. During the 1970s, he was in a romantic relationship with Clive Clerk, an interior designer, television actor, and one of the original cast members of the Broadway hit “A Chorus Line”. They lived together in a Tyron’s apartment at Central Park West in New York City. From 1973 to 1977, Tyron was in a relationship with John Calvin Culver, a Broadway revival stage actor. Culver also performed in pornographic films under the name of Casey Donovan. The relationship ended as Tyron was deeply closeted and grew increasingly disturbed by Donovan’s notoriety.

An actor with appearances in eighteen films and numerous television series, Tom Tyron passed away in September of 1991 at the age of sixty-five in Los Angeles, California. The announced cause of death was stomach cancer; however, Tyron’s literary agent, G. Thomas Holloway, later stated the stomach cancer was related to Tyron’s HIV-positive status. At the time of his death, Tyron had asked to keep this information private as he did not want his readers or relatives to know.

Second Insert Image: Arthur E. Arling, “Tom Tyron and Elana Eden”, 1960, Publicity Shot for “The Story of Ruth”, Director Henry Koster, Gelatin Silver Print

Third Insert Image: NBCU Photo Bank, “Tom Tyron as Lin McAdam”, “Winchester ’73”, 1967, Publicity Film Shot, Gelatin Silver Print

Fourth Insert Image: Jean Bourgoin and Walter Wottitz, “Tom Tyron”, 1962, Film Shot “The Longest Day”, Directors ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, and Bernhard Wicki

Robert Arthur: Film History Series

Photographer Unknown, “Robert Arthur”, 1948, Publicity Photo “Yellow Sky”, Gelatin Silver Print

Born in Aberdeen, Washington in June of 1925, Robert Paul Arthur was an American motion picture actor, primarily of youthful secondary roles, who appeared in thirty-five feature films and numerous episodes of television series.

Robert Arthur graduated in 1943 from the Aberdeen High School, where he had won a radio announcing contest. He attended the University of Washington and was in the U.S. Navy training program. While at the university, Arthur also maintained a professional career as a radio announcer. Relocating to Los Angeles, he was soon given his first role as Rosalind Russell’s teenage son Frankie in Michael Curtiz’s 1945 comedy-drama for Warner Brothers, “Roughly Speaking”.  

Arthur was soon given a contract with Warner Brothers and appeared in three more films in 1945, including the role of Jimmy in Frederick de Cordova’s “Too Young to Know” and an uncredited role in the film noir “Mildred Pierce”.  Between 1946 and 1948, he appeared in seven films, the most notables being the 1946 biographical-musical on the life of Cole Porter, “Night and Day”, and Walter Lang’s 1947 Technicolor musical with Betty Grable “Mother Wore Tights”, later nominated for American Film Institute’s 2006 list for Greatest Movie Musicals.

In 1948, Robert Arthur appeared in the role of Ken McLaughlin in Twentieth Century Fox’s western “Green Grass of Wyoming”; he had a credited role with his name appearing on the publicity posters. In the same year, Arthur appeared as Bull Run in William A. Wellman’s western “Yellow Sky” which starred Gregory Peck, Richard Widmark and Anne Baxter. This film from Twentieth Century Fox was praised by critics for its cinematography, screenplay and its realistic Western style. In 1949 , Arthur appeared as Sergeant Mc Illhenny in a major film of the era “Twelve O’Clock High”. Directed by Henry King, the film was nominated for four Academy Awards, of which it won two, and later became a television series that ran for three years.

Robert Arthur appeared as a supporting actor in seventeen films between 1950 and 1960. Among these films were Billy Wilder’s 1951 film noir “Ace in the Hole”,  Richard Brooks’s 1953 war film “Take the High Ground”, and Nathan Juran’s 1957 submarine war film “Hellcats of the Navy” which starred  Ronald Reagan, Nancy (Reagan) Davis, and Arthur Franz. Arthur’s last film before leaving acting was the 1961 “Wild Youth” in which he played the role of Frankie, an escapee from a detention Honor Farm.

In the early days of television in the 1950s, Arthur appeared in supporting roles on several series. Among these were the syndicated western “Frontier Doctor” with actor Rex Allen and ABC’s eight-year drama-western “The Lone Ranger”, which starred Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels.

In his later years, Robert Arthur went into business and became active in several causes. He became an activist for gay rights on behalf of senior citizens, assisted in the founding of Project Rainbow, and was a co-founder of the Log Cabin Republicans which advocated for equal rights for LBGTQ+ Americans. Robert Arthur died in Aberdeen, Washington, on the first of October in 2008 at the age of eighty-three. 

Note: The “Clayton Moore The Lone Ranger” website has a short article in which Robert Arthur reminisces on his experience with Clayton Moore on the western series. The short piece on Arthur can be found at the Clayton Moore site: https://claytonmoore.tripod.com/arthur.html

Top Insert Photo: Photographer Unknown, “Robert Arthur”, circa 1950-55, Publicity Shoot, Gelatin Silver Print

Second Insert Image: Charles Land, “Robert Arthur”, 1951, Film Scene “Ace in the Hole”, Director Billy Wilder

Third Insert Image: Charles Land, “Kirk Douglas and Robert Arthur”, 1951, Film Scene “Ace in the Hole”, Director Billy Wilder

Bottom Insert Image: Joseph MacDonald, “Robert Arthur and Gregory Peck”, 1948, Film Scene “Yellow Sky”, Director William A. Wellman

Randall Lake

Artwork by Randall Lake

Born in California in 1947, Randall Lake is an American artist who, influenced by an exhibition of work by Van Gogh, paints oil landscapes, still-lifes and portraits in an impressionistic realist style. He is currently based in Utah with a studio in Salt Lake City and a studio in his Spring City cottage home. 

Lake traveled to France and studied French in 1968 at the Sorbonne of the University of Paris. When the events of the May 1968 protests closed the university, he continued his studies at the Academie Julian under painter Claude Schurr. In addition to his painting studies, Lake completed his English Degree, Cum Laude, in 1970 at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In 1972, he studied with Belgium designer and color-abstract painter Gustave Singier at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts. 

Randall Lake was an instructor in English at the Sorbonne from 1970 to 1973. He studied printmaking in 1973 under English printmaker and painter Stanley William Hayter at the Atelier 17, an experimental workshop that was influential in the teaching and promotion of printmaking in the twentieth-century. After four years of teaching, Lake settled in Utah where he studied under English-born portrait artist Alvin Gittins at the University of Utah. He earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in 1977 and became in 1978 a visiting member of the Department of Art Studio faculty at the university.

Lake continuously searches for new subjects and techniques for his work. Over time, his journey in art has reflected his journey in life, from the traditional landscapes executed as a Mormon to the more daring works as an openly gay man. Lake is drawn to the atmosphere that was present in the nineteenth-century, the lifestyle, the arts and the architecture. He paints from life and location to capture the essence of the subject and the moment. Seeking a change in his work, Randall Lake has begun experimenting with the elements of Abstraction and Fauvism, a movement which emphasized painterly qualities of brushwork and strong color. 

Randall Lake is the recipient of many awards for his work, including the 2003 Grand Prix du Peintre Maudit from Salt Lake City’s Guthrie Institute, the 2015 and 2016 Award of Merit for the Spring City Plein Air Competition, ant the 2001 and 2006 Governor of Utah Award for Fine Art, among others. His work is in many private and public collections, including the Jinling Library in Nanjing, China; Utah State Collection of Art; Wyoming State Collection; Utah Museum of Fine Art; and the Leslie-Lohman Museum in New York.

Note: A video portrait of Randall Lake by Michael Schoenfeld for  RadioWest Films can be found at: https://films.radiowest.org/film/randall-lake

An article on Randall Lake’s work, with quotes by the artist, can be found at the Springville Museum of Art website located at: https://www.smaexhibition-self.org/randall-lake.html

Randall Lake’s website, containing his work, gallery events and contact information, can be found at: https://www.randalllake.com/page/11302/collection

Second Insert Image: Randall Lake, “Afternoon Nap”, 1991, Pastel on Paper, 35.6 x 45.7 cm

Bottom Insert Image: Randall Lake, “Self Portrait with Model”, 1992, Oil on Canvas, 91.4 x 76.2 cm

Reinaldo Arenas: “As Long As the Sky Whirls”

Photographers Unknown, As Long As the Sky Whirls

For Lázaro Gómez

As long as the sky whirls
You will be my redemption and my doom,
magnetic vision,
lily in underwear,
salvation and madness
every night waiting.
As long as the sky whirls
no infernal could be a stranger
because I have to take care that that would not harm you,
No joy would go by inadvertent
Because in some way I have to reveal it to you,
As long as
the sky
whirls
you will be the truth of myself,
the song and the venom,
the danger and the ecstasies,
the vigil and the sleep,
the dread and the miracle.
As long as the sky whirls . . . but perhaps the sky whirls?
Well: as long as the sky exists.

As long as
the sky
exists
you will be my pain most noticeable,
my loneliness most tragic
my bewilderment unanimous
my perpetuous silence
and my absolute consolation.
As long as the sky exists . . . but perhaps the sky exists?
Well: as long as you yourself exist.
As long as
you yourself
exist
you will be the mirror and the time,
the infinity and the imminent,
the memory and the unusual
the defeat and the verse,
my enemy and my image.
Because there would be no more suns than the ones you yourself radiate
like there would be no other penance than to know that you exist.
But perhaps you do exist?

New York (May 1985)

Reinaldo Arenas, Mientras el Cielo Gire, 1989, English Translation 3003 Lázaro Gómez Carriles

Born in Aguas Claras in July of 1943, Reinaldo Arenas Fuentes was a gay Cuban poet, playwright and novelist known for his criticism of Fidel Castro, the Cuban Revolution and the ensuing government in Cuba. He was the author of the memoir “Before Night Falls”, written after Arenas’s escape to the United States in 1980. The memoir narrates his experience in the Cuban dissident movement and years as a political prisoner.

After moving to the city of Holguin as a teenager at age fourteen, Reinaldo Arenas became employed at a guava paste factory. Around 1958 when living conditions in the city worsened, he decided to join Castro and his revolutionary movement. Arenas spent ten days at the guerrilla headquarters in Velasco but was turned away. Once the guerrilla commandant realized that President Fulgencio Bastista’s secret police were already searching for Arenas, he accepted him into the group.

At the age of sixteen, Arenas was awarded a scholarship at La Pantoja, a captured Batista military camp that was converted into a polytechnic institute. Students attending took major courses in Marxist-Leninism in which they had to master the USSR manuals of  the Academy of Sciences and the Political Economy. Cuban Marxist theorist Blas Roca’s “Foundations of Socialism in Cuba” was also required reading. Arenas graduated with a degree as an agricultural accountant, but would later describe his education as indoctrination. 

In the early 1960s, Reinaldo Arenas relocated to Havana where he enrolled in a planning course at the University of Havana. While in the program, he worked for the National Institute for Agrarian Reform. During this time, Arenas began to live his life as a gay man, albeit secretly for fear of ending up in a Military Unit to Aid Production (UMAP), a term which basically described a concentration camp for Christians, suspected Cuban dissidents and LBGT people. A previous relationship Arenas had with a man, later arrested and sent to a UMAP camp, led to Arenas being listed as a gay man by the Cuban Committee for the Defense of the Revolution. 

Throughout his life, Arenas developed friendships and had relationships with many gay men. Various friends and acquaintances he knew pledged their loyalty to the Cuban regime in exchange for their safety. Many became informers for the government and reported other men, often friends or those with whom they had relationships. The government’s intention, in addition to seeking out dissidents, was to find gay and bisexual men and either persecute and jail them or turn them into informers. Although the reward for cooperation with the regime meant life outside of prison, the price to pay for living as an informer was to participate publicly in acts of repudiation denouncing your anti-regime beliefs or homosexuality.

In 1963, Reinaldo Arenas moved to Havana to study at the School of Planification and later at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Havana, where he studied literature and philosophy. He began working in 1964 at the National Library José Marti. Maria Teresa Freye de Andrade, who was the director of the National Library, officially transferred Arenas from his position at the National Institute for Agrarian Reform to a position at the National Library. When Fidel Castro appointed Police Captain Sidroc Ramos as the library’s director, Areans left his position at the library and became an editor for the Cuban Book Institute until 1968.

Arenas’s writings were beginning to gain recognition in the Cuban literary world in the 1960s. He received a literary award for his 1967 novel “Singing from the Well” at the Cirilo Villaverde National Competition held at the National Union of Cuban Writers and Artists. In the year before, Arenas’s “El Mundo Allucinante (This Hallucinatory World)” was awarded First Honorable Mention by the National Union of Cuban Writers and Artists. Although there was no better entry in the competition for that year, the judges refused to give the First Prize to Arenas; as a result, no First Prize was given in 1966. By 1967, Arenas’s critical writings and openly gay life were bringing him into conflict with Cuba’s communist government. 

From 1968 to 1974, Reinaldo Arenas was a journalist and editor for the literary magazine “The Cuban Gazette”. In 1974, Arenas was charged and convicted of ideological deviation and publishing abroad without official consent. He escaped from prison and tried a failed attempt to leave Cuba on a tire inner tube. Rearrested in southern Havana, Areanas was imprisoned in El Moro Castle, used at that time as a prison for rapists and murderers. By writing letters for illiterate prisoners, he maintained his life in prison and was able to obtain paper for his own scholarly work. Arenas was caught and severely punished for attempting to smuggle his work out of prison. Threatened with death, he was forced to renounce his work and was finally released in 1976.

Arnenas fled to the United States during the 1980 Mariel Boatlift, a mass migration organized by Cuban Americans with the consent of Cuban President Fidel Castro. In 1987, Arenas was diagnosed with the AIDS virus. He continued to write, speak against the Cuban government, and mentor many Cuban exile writers. After battling AIDS for three years, Reinaldo Arenas died of an intentional overdose of drugs and alcohol in December of 1990 in New York City. In 2012, he was inducted into the Legacy Walk, an outdoor public display on Chicago’s North Halsted Street, which celebrates LGBT contributions of world history and culture. 

Reinaldo Arenas published a significant oeuvre of work in his life. In addition to his two poetic volumes “El Centro” and “Leprosorio”, he wrote a set of five novels, the “Pentagonia” series,  which recounts life in post-revolutionary Cuba. Volumes included in this series are “Singing from the Well”, “Farewell to the Sea”, “Palace of the White Skunks”, the satirical “Color of Summer” and “The Assault”. Arenas’s second and best-known novel  “Hallucinations”, also published under the name “The Ill-Fated Peregrinations of Fray Servando”, was smuggled out of Cuba and first published in France in 1969. 

Arenas’s autobiography “Before Night Falls”, written after his escape from Cuba and published in English in 1993, was listed on the 1993 New York Times Best Books of the Year. This book became the 2000 film of the same name, directed by painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel; the role of Arenas was played by Spanish actor Javier Bardem. The film version of the book was listed as one of the Top Ten Movies of the Year by the American Film Institute, nominated for the Golden Lion at the 2001 Venice International Film Festival with filmmaker Schnebel winning the Grand Jury Prize and Bardem winning Best Actor.

Reinaldo Arenas’s papers, typescript drafts, essays, interviews, newspaper articles, correspondence and other documents are housed in the Princeton University Library.

Note: Several interesting articles on Reinaldo Arenas and his work can be found on the eclectic blog website Byron’s Muse. The articles can be located at: https://byronsmuse.wordpress.com/tag/reinaldo-arenas/

Radek Husak

The Artwork of Radek Husak

Born in Poland in 1984, Radek Husak ia a contemporary process-driven mixed-media artist whose works in the expanded field of print. He earned his Master of Fine Arts from the Royal College of Art and is currently based in London. 

Through his research and experimentation, Husak developed a new approach to printmaking. He works with pigment transfers twinned with carbon-drawn elements that are either placed on paper or sandblasted aluminum panels. Blasting through the outer layer of aluminum reveals a reflective inner core upon which the pigment transfers are placed. These images are then embellished with paint, soft pastels, bodycolor, and carbon and color pencils.

Radek Husak’s work is inspired by art history, fashion, and queer theory. He combines the tradition of the nude with the large color-elements of 1950s and 1960s Pop Culture. Husak’s images, with their overlapping figurative forms, create in essence a static glitch. The edges of one body blurs and melts into the next, thereby creating  sense of movement. The resulting movement effect of these bold, modern images bring to mind the early movement studies by French scientist and photographer Étienne-Jules Marey, which he produced in the 1800s. 

Husak creates works in the abstract form and constructs these images by taking elements of nature, such as skies, clouds and anatomical features, fragmenting and rearranging them to form flowing patterns. He also has produced figurative work in other mediums including ceramics and stained glass. 

Radek Husak has shown his work in 2021 and 2011 at the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair in London. The Grove Gallery and Quantus Gallery, both in London, are the venues for Husak’s first solo show, entitled “Duality” which is running from November 23 until December 22 in 2022. 

Radek Husak’s work can be seen at his website located at: http://www.rhusak.co.uk   His work can also be seen at Artsy located at: https://www.artsy.net/show/grove-gallery-duality?sort=partner_show_position

Bottom Insert Image: Radek Husak, “Saint Sebastian (SS5)”, 2022, Pigment Transfer, Bodycolor, Carbon and Color Pencils and Collage on Sandblasted Aluminum, Edition of 3, 84 x 60 cm, Private Collection

Edmund Teske

The Photography of Edmund Teske

Born in Chicago, Illinois in March of 1911, Edmund Rudolph Teske was an American photographer who along with his portraits produced a prolific volume of experimental photography. For him, photography was more than a way to record a specific moment in time; it was a way to explore the soul of his subjects. Although he was well known among other photographers and participated in many exhibitions, his work was not widely known among the general public.

The eldest son of three children born to Polish emigrant parents, Teske moved at the age of eight with his parents to Wisconsin. It was at this early age that he began to develop his interests in painting and poetry. When the family moved back to Chicago in 1921, Teske began to study music, lessons which concentrated on the piano and saxophone. Encouraged by his elementary school teacher, he began in 1923 to experiment in photography through the school’s facilities. By 1932 Teske was accomplished in the piano to such a degree that he became the protégé of concert pianist Ida Lustagarten. 

Edmund Teske had his first solo exhibition of photographs at the Blackstone Theatre, now the Merie Reskin Theater, in the Loop community area of Chicago. In 1933, he began a career in photography working at a Chicago studio. Traveling to New York in 1936, Teske met and received encouragement in his work by American photographer and modern-art promoter Alfred Stieglitz. In the same year he had the opportunity to meet Frank Lloyd Wright at his studio in Wisconsin. At Wright’s invitation in 1938, Teske took up a fellowship in photography to be conducted at Taliesin, Wright’s personal estate in Wisconsin, where he documented Wright’s architectural projects and began experiments with his own photographic work. 

Teske’s professional relationship with Wright enhanced his reputation and brought him into contact with such artists as Ansel Adams, portrait and architectural photographer Berenice Abbott and Hungarian constructivist photographer Lászió Moholy-Nagy. Teske taught briefly in the late 1930s with Moholy-Nagy at the New Bauhaus Institute of Design in Chicago and was an assistant at Abbott’s New York studio later in 1939. In the late 1930s, he started a documentary series of Chicago scenes entitled “Portrait of My City” which focused on the social issues of the city. 

Although drafted at the beginning of World War II, Edmund Teske failed the medical exam for asocial tendencies and emotional instability, terms often used at that time to disqualify homosexual men. He was instead appointed as an assistant photographer for the Army Corps of Engineers stationed at Illinois’s Rock Island Arsenal where he printed aerial maps for the military. In the early part of 1943, Teske was able to leave his position and, allured by a new life in Hollywood, made the decision to move to Los Angeles. 

After a brief working stay at Wright’s Arizona Taliesin West, Teske arrived in Los Angeles in April of 1943. He was hired for Paramount Pictures’s photographic still department and soon joined the artistic and bohemian movement in the city. After a chance meeting with oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, who was a client of Wright, he was invited to live at the Olive Hill estate that Wright had designed for her. Assuming a larger role than that of just caretaker, Teske hosted informal parties and artistic gatherings with such personalities as artist Man Ray, novelist Anaïs Nin, director George Cukor, sculptor Tony Smith, and actors Joel McCrea and Frances Dee. 

Among the people that Edmund Teske met during this period was the novelist and playwright Christopher Isherwood who introduced Teske to the Hindu philosophy of Vedanta. Teske embraced this philosophy with its concept of the connection of life and nature, and its understanding of the existence of time in relation to the larger universe. He also believed in the coexistence of both the masculine and the feminine within every individual. These teachings  became a firm basis for his existing view of  life and formed a bonding point with Isherwood and the growing Los Angeles gay community. 

Teske continued his photographic experiments with manipulated and combined multiple images from which he produced composite prints from sandwiched negatives, prints with solarization to reverse highlight and shadow, and photographic collages. One of the series he produced was “Shiva-Shakti” which featured a nude male overlaid with human faces, landscapes, or abstract subjects. After moving in 1949 to a small studio in Laurel Canyon, Teske became active during the early part of the 1950s with several small, local theater groups. Throughout the 1950s, he experimented with new manipulative and chemical techniques which culminated in 1958 with a new combination of photographic print toning and solarization, later named duotone solarization. 

Edmund Teske frequently returned during the 1960s and 1970s to older negatives and reinterpreted them through experimental printing techniques. He participated in more than two dozen group exhibition including the Museum of Modern Art’s 1960 “The Sense of Abstraction” show and was given eighteen solo shows. A colleague of photographer Robert Heineken at the University of California in Los Angeles in the 1960s, Teske taught many of the important photographers of that time, among whom were Aaron Siskind and Judy Dater, and mentored many local photographers. He befriended singer Jim Morrison of The Doors and took a series of informal portraits of Morrison and long term companion Pamela Courson.

During the last twenty years of his life, Teske worked and lived in his East Hollywood studio where he regularly taught workshops. He assembled a comprehensive  six-volume autobiographical collection of his work , entitled “Emanations”; however it was never published during his lifetime. In 1994 the Northridge Earthquake severely damaged his studio which forced him to relocate to downtown Los Angeles. Edmund Teske died alone in his home at the age of eighty-five on November 22nd in 1996. A posthumous retrospective of Teske’s photographs was given in 2004 by the John Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. 

“Strive to accept the facts of life with courage and serenity to develop talent, as an outlet for emotion, and to find happiness in the world of the mind and spirit. In the days when Greece and Rome ruled the world in arts and letters and philosophy, love of man for man reached openly its pinnacle of beauty. Civilization today, moving forward, must eventually recognize these true facts of love and sex variations.”

–Excerpt from Edmund Teske’s Journal, Published in Julian Cox’s “Spirit into Matter: The Photographs of Edmund Teske”, John Paul Getty Museum, 2004

Note: An informative and more extensive read on the life of Edmund Teske is Rosalind G. Wholden’s article for the February 1964 print issue of ARTFORUM entitled “Edmund Teske: The Camera as Reliquary”. The article can be found online at: https://www.artforum.com/print/196402/edmund-teske-the-camera-as-reliquary-37879

Top Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “Edmund Teska”, Date Unknown, Gelatin Silver Print

Second Insert Image: Edmund Teske, “Richard Soakup, Teske’s Lover in Their Chicago Flat”, 1940, Gelatin Silver Print, 20.3 x 19.7 cm, Private Collection 

Third Insert Image: Edmund Teske, “Jim Morrison and Pam”, 1969, Gelatin Silver Print Composite, Private Collection

Fourth Insert Image: Edmund Teske, “Herb Landegger and Bill Burke, Olive Hill, Hollywood”, 1945, Gelatin Silver Print, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Elisa Leonelli, “Edmund Teske, Topanga Canyon”, 1976, Gelatin Silver Print

David Manners: Film History Series

 

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in April of 1900, David Joseph Manners, birth name Rauff de Ryther Duan Acklom, was a Canadian-American actor. It was not until 1940 that he officially changed his name, taken his mother’s maiden name, and applied to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. 

David Manners was the son of British parents, Lilian Manners and the writer George Moreby Acklom, who was at that time the headmaster of Canada’s prestigious, private boarding school Harrow House. In 1906, George Acklom emigrated to the United States and took a position as a literary advisor for New York’s publishing company E. P. Dutton.  The following year, David Manners, his older sister and mother joined his father and settled in Mount Vernon, an inner suburb of New York City. 

The Acklom family relocated in January of 1920 to West 123rd Street in Manhattan where Manners, still using the name Rauff, resided with his parents. He gained employment as an assistant publisher; however, he soon returned to Canada and enrolled to study forestry at the University of Toronto. Attracted to stage work on campus, Manners started drama training and made his acting debut in 1924 at the university’s Hart House Theater with a role in Euripides’s play “Hippolytus”.

Despite objections from his father, David Manners continued his acting career after his return to the United States. He joined English stage and screen actor Basil  Sydney’s Touring Company and, later, stage actress and director Eva Le Gallienne’s New York Civic Repertory Company. With these companies, Manners performed in theaters in Chicago and on New York City’s Broadway. He continued his acting studies under Le Gallienne and was able to get a co-starring role with actress Helen Hayes in Edgar Selwyn and Edmund Goulding’s play “Dancing Mothers” which premiered at Broadway’s Booth Theater in mid-town Manhattan.

In 1927, Manners relocated to California and was soon discovered at a Hollywood party by gay film director James Whale. His first appearance in film was an uncredited role as the pilot in the 1929 pre-code adventure film “The Sky Hawk”, directed by John G. Blystone for the Fox Film Corporation. This was followed in 1930  with the role of Lieutenant Raleigh in director James Whale’s war film “Journey’s End”. Manner’s performances in these two films received endorsements from reviewers working with Variety and The New York Times, both of which praised subsequent performances. 

In late 1930, David Manners performed perhaps his best remembered role, that of Jonathan Harker, the protagonist to Bela Lugosi’s vampire in Universal Studios’ “Dracula”. The following year, he played a blind war veteran with co-star Barbara Stanwyck in Frank Capra’s critically acclaimed romance film “The Miracle Woman”. During his brief contract with Warner Brothers Studios, Manners progressed from supporting player to true movie-star with his successful role as Teddy Taylor in the 1932 “Crooner”. Directed by Lloyd Bacon, the musical drama told the story of Taylor’s rise and fall as a singing star  

With his stardom achieved by “Crooner” and “Dracula”, Manners was able to freelance with success and worked for several years as a romantic leading man, most often tuxedo-dressed in romantic comedies and light dramas. Two exceptions to this were his role as Shep Lambert in the 1931 ensemble cast film “The Last Flight” and the role Frank Whemple, the son of archaeologist Sir Joseph Whemple, in Karl Freund’s 1932 horror  film “The Mummy”, where he played opposite Boris Karloff’s role as the mummy. Manners joined the Screen Actors Guild in 1933 but became increasingly frustrated by his Hollywood roles and film career. After appearing in three films in 1936, David Manners left the studios and retired from film work, a career containing roles in thirty-nine movies.

David Mainers continued to perform regularly on stage for the next seventeen years in tour productions, summer stock, and on Broadway. He used his influence to help promising up-and-coming actors such as Lucille Ball, who had a small role in the musical “Roman Scandals” which co-starred Manners, and Marlon Brando, with whom Manners co-starred in the Broadway production of “Truckline Café”, directed by Elia Kazan. Manners quietly financed small theatrical groups in California and paid medical bills for people in the film industry who had fallen on hard times. Under his birth name, Duan Acklom, he supported anti-drug programs and helped performers overcome addictions.

Manners married Suzanne Bushnell, a native of Ohio, in New York City on the 23rd of May in 1929. The 1930 census has the couple living in Los Angeles, along with Antonio Dumles, a twenty-two year old Filipino listed as servant. The marriage soon ended with Manners and Suzanne Bushnell divorcing in 1932. Manners changed his name legally from Acklom in 1940 and achieved citizenship while he was living in Victorville, California. He became a published novelist with his 1941 “Convenient Season”, a novel of familial reconciliation, which was followed by the 1943 novel “Under Running Laughter”, both published by E. P. Dutton. 

In 1948, David Manners began a long-term relationship with playwright and writer Frederic William (Bill) Mercer. They initially lived together at Manners’s ranch in Victorville but moved in 1956 to a residence in Pacific Palisades. Following his retirement, Manners spent his last decades pursuing personal interests including painting, writing and philosophy. In 1971, he published his views in “Look Through: An Evidence of Self Discovery”, published by El Cariso Publications. 

Manners and Mercer were partners until Bill Mercer’s death in August of 1978, Twenty years later, David Manners died at the age of ninety-eight in the health center of a  retirement community in Santa Barbara, California. His ashes were taken to  San Bernardino County and scattered at Rancho Yucca Loma in Victor Valley. It is unknown where Frederic William Mercer is buried. 

Second Insert Image: Sidney Hickox, “Katharine Hepburn and David Manners”, 1932, Still Shot from “A Bill of Divorcement”, Director George Cukor

Fourth Insert Image: John J. Mescall, “Boris Karloff, David Manners, Bela Lugosi”, 1934, Film Shot from “The Balck Cat, Director Edgar G. Ulmer

John Wieners: “The Savagerey of the Sea”

Photographers Unknown, The Savagerey of the Sea

God love you
     Dana my lover
lost in the horde
on this Friday night
500 men are moving up
& down from the bath
room to the bar.
Remove this desire
from the man I love.
Who has opened
     the savagery
of the sea to me.

See to it that
his wants are filled
on California street
Bestow on him lan-
gesse that allows him
peace in his loins.

Leave him not
to the moths.
Make him out a lion
so that all who see him
hero worship his
thick chest as I did
moving my mouth
over his back bringing
our hearts to heights
I never hike over
     anymore.
Let blond hair burn
on the back of his
neck, let no ache
screw his face
up in pain, his soul
     is so hooked.
Not heroin.
Rather fix these
hundred men as his
lovers & lift him
with the enormous bale
of their desire.

6.20.58

John Wieners, A Poem for the Old Man, The Hotel Wentley Poems, 1958

Born in Boston in January of 1934, John Wieners was a poet and both an anti-war and gay rights activist. He was also a member of the San Francisco Renaissance, a movement which made that city the center of the American poetry avant-garde in the 1950s. Wieners studied from 1950 to 1954 at Boston College where he earned his Bachelor of Arts. After hearing a reading by postmodernist poet Charles Olson at Boston’s Charles Street Meeting House, Wieners enrolled at Black Mountain College where he studied under Olson and Robert Duncan, a modernist poet and shamanistic figure in San Francisco’s artistic and poetic circles.

In 1956 after returning to Boston, Wieners met visiting poets Frank O’Hara and Jack Spicer and became close friends with poet Stephen Jonas, a relationship which lasted until Jonas’s early death in 1970. He, along with Jonas, close friend Jim Dunn, Jack  Spicer and poets Ed Marshall and Robin Blaser, formed a group which they labeled the School of Boston. All the members of the group, except for Dunn, were openly gay and congregated regularly in the bohemian Beacon Hill District. There they published limited-run chapbooks of poetry and the “Boston Newsletter”and “Measure”, both short-run publications which contained poems on queer vulnerability and survival.

In 1957, John Wieners relocated to the North Beach area of San Francisco with his boyfriend Dana Durkee. This relationship soon broke up. The result of which was a period of intense creativity for Wieners as he began to associate with the artistic and literary community of the city but it also led to a deterioration of his mental health. In San Francisco, he became closely associated with painter and set-designer Robert LaVigne and collage artist Wallace Berman, both of whom were involved in the Beat Movement.

In 1958 at the age of twenty-four, Wieners published his first collection of poems entitled “The Hotel Wentley Poems”, which contained both Beat and queer poems. Written during a six-day stay at the hotel in the queer Polk Gulch neighborhood, the poems balance the loss of his boyfriend Dana with the social atmosphere of the queer bars and friends. After this publication, he became a contributor to publisher Donald Allen’s influential “New American Poetry” anthology.

Worn down by an atmosphere of constant paranoia, homophobic landlords, drug busts and entrapment by undercover police, John Wieners’s mental health gradually declined. Arriving in New York, his erratic behavior from a drug cocktail prompted an acquaintance to call Wieners’s parents; damaging stays in several Massachusetts institutions followed. At Medfield State Hospital, Wieners lost his manuscripts and was threatened with electrical treatments. As an inpatient at Bournewood Hospital in Waltham, he was given ninety-one insulin treatments which caused memory loss.

Recovering at his parents’ home in Milton, Wieners continued his poetic writings in his notebooks and letters. His great poem “The Acts of Youth” was included in a January 1962 letter to his peer and former teacher Charles Olson; the poem alternates between visions of pain and suffering and dreams of resurrection. Wieners’s second collection of poems entitled “Ace of Pentacles” was published in 1964. In the following year, Wieners was engaged by Olson on a Guggenheim graduate fellowship at State University of New York, Buffalo.

In 1966 in Buffalo, John Wieners began the only significant hetero-relationship of his life with patron and heiress Panna Grady. That ended after Grady terminated a pregnancy and began a relationship with Charles Olson. In the following years, Wieners suffered a series of losses: the deaths of Olson, his friend Jonas, and both his parents. While inside another institution, the Central Islip State Hospital on Long Island, he heard about the 1969 Stonewall uprising from Charley Shively, a representative from the new Gay Liberation movement in Boston. This became one of the most important friendships in Wieners’s latter life.

Wieners began publishing poems, plays, and essays in Boston’s “Fag Rag”, a militant magazine published by Shively and others of the anarchist Fag Rag collective. The magazine was a medium for homosexual poetry, history, reviews and art that was sex-positive and which associated homosexuality not with tragedy but with joy. The collective later formed the Good Gay Poets Press in 1972, whose second publication was Wieners’s long poem “Playboy” which recounted Fag Rag’s presence at the 1072 Democratic convention in Miami. The Good Gay Poets Press also published Wieners’s full-length book “Behind the State Capital; or Cincinnati Pike” in 1975. A prominent theme in the book was Wieners’s defiance of traditional gender roles.

After the publication of “Behind the State Capital”, John Wieners nearly ceased writing poems and letters. Incapacitated by years of abusive mental health care, he lived frugally in his Beacon Hill neighborhood and became reliant on emotional and financial support from his old friends. Wieners continued to give occasional readings and worked on producing articles for the “Fag Rag” magazine. Its final issue in 1987 had a photograph of Wieners and Shively kissing at Gay Pride on its front cover.

John Wieners died on the 1st of March in 2002 , at his side were his longtime supporters and friends Charley Shively and Jim Dunn. Many of Wieners’s later writings were lost; many were never published. His papers are housed in several university collections and some of his late poems are in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.

John Wieners’s 1971 journal, discovered in the Kent State University archive collection, was published by Bootstrap Press with the title “A Book of Prophecies” in 2007. City Lights Bookstore and Publishers released “Stars Seen in Person: Selected Journals of John Wieners” in 2015; it contains selections from four unpublished journals written from 1955 to 1969. A comprehensive selection of Wieners’s poetry, “Supplication”, was published in 2015 by Wave Books.

Note: For those interested in the life and work of John Wieners, a must read is the Boston Review article by poet and scholar David Grundy entitled “Queer Shoulders at the Wheel”. This article was published in the May 2021 Arts in Society section : https://www.bostonreview.net/articles/queer-shoulders-at-the-wheel/

Jim Dunn’s article for the 2015 “I Have You By the Ears: John Wieners Ephemera” exhibition at Harvard’s Poetry Room can be found at: https://woodberrypoetryroom.com/?p=1793

Top Insert Image: Jerome Mallmann, “John Wieners”, Date Unknown, Gelatin Silver Print

Third Insert Image: Elsa Dorfman, “John Wieners”, Date Unknown, Gelatin Silver Print

Fourth Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “John Wieners”, Date Unknown, Gelatin Silver Print

Bottom Insert Image: Photographer Unknown, “John Wieners, New York”, 1985, Gelatin Silver Print

Mark Bibbins: “We Dig Up Fire From Nearly Anywhere”

Photographers Unknown, We Dig Up Fire From Nearly Anywhere

I’m not sure how it got this early or why we needed
to keep the evening in what we would much later
agree was motion. What could grow so marvelous

and where might I’ve met you- only endless want
lay ahead, but we figured we’d earned it. Desire our
birthright, rebate checks clog the mailbox and spill

onto the lobby floor- account for them when
you get home; now run naked at the gulls
all you like, I’m wating for August right here.

Whatever you say sounds better with your thigh
against mine and caught in the camera-phones
of our undoing. Yes you told me what I need

but Brooklyn’s awfully far to go for something
you don’t even believe; what’s miraculous is that
we ever managed to be specific. What’s tedious;

insufficiently scandalous secrets. We dig up fire
from nearly anywhere but you’re too burnt to burn
or admit we wanted to try what feels almost new.

Mark Bibbins, There Is No You Are Everywhere, The Dance of No Hard Feelings, 2009, Copper Canyon Press

Born in Albany, New York in 1968, Mark Bibbins is an American poet who earned his Bachelor of Arts at New York City’s Hunter College and a Master of Fine Art at The New School, a private research university in New York City.

Bibbins’s poetry is constructed from words and anecdotes pieced  together into a collage form which creates new layers of meanings.  His pems are know for their sardonic wit, unmistakable sexuality, arresting titles and wide range of references from pop culture, media and politics. The emphasis of Bibbins’s work is not the moral or message behind it, but rather his mood or tone on the subject. This presentation allows people to approach the particular subject from a point of view that might lie outside their ordinary experience.

Bibbins received a Lambda Literary Award for his first collection of poetry “Sky Lounge”, published by Graywolf Press in 2003. He was awarded a Poetry Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts in 2005. Bibbins’s second volume of poetry was the 2009 “The Dance of No Hard Feelings”, a collection of erotic love poems and clever elegies of ironic cynicism that examine the concepts of queer awareness and emotions.

In 2014, Mark Bibbins’s third collection entitled “They Don’t Kill You Because They’re Hungry, They Kill You Because They’re Full” was published by Copper Canyon Press. This volume examined the issues of power, gender, and sexuality through a series of “persona poems”. Each poem is spoken through the voice of a chosen personality, either modern and classical. The cadence of each poem’s distinctive voice presents a particular mood and perception to the listener.

Bibbins published his fourth collection “13th Balloon” in 2020. This book-length poem sequence examined the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s through an address to a dead beloved who passed in 1992 at the age of twenty-five. Part elegy and part personal memoir in verse, the poem combines fragmented experiences of youth and loss with anguish and desire. This volume was one of NPR’s Favorite Books of 2020 and was awarded the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry in 2021.

Mark Bibbins has resided in Manhattan, New York, since 1991. He currently teaches graduate programs at Columbia University and The New School, where he co-founded LIT Magazine. Bibbins is also a teacher at New York University’s Writers Program in Florence, Italy.

Amos Badertscher

Photography by Amos Badertscher

Born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1936, Amos Badertscher is a self-taught American photographer whose body of work includes portraits, still lifes, and landscapes. He is best known for his gelatin silver prints of Baltimore’s hustler and subculture scenes from the 1970s to the 1990s.

In the middle of the 1970s, Badertscher, financed by a family inheritance, began to capture on film Baltimore’s downtrodden youth, often homeless or drug addicted, and many of them sex-workers between jail terms. On many of the portraits, there is copious shaky and uneven handwriting which sometimes filled all the available negative space around the image.These texts written by Badertscher revealed the lives of his subjects and his understanding of them. The writings outlined the painful childhoods, addictions, prostitution, disease and other realities that affected the lives of his subjects. In the texts, Badertscher also described fluidity in the sexual identity of the hustlers and their attempts at creating even fleeting stability in their lives.

Each of Amos Badertscher’s images is shot without reliance on intricate technique; instead the focus is placed on the intimate, personal nature of the portrait. His preferred photographic technique is rapid, unrehearsed sessions which are not planned or visualized in advance. Badertscher relies on his instinct and what he considers his many possibilities in the darkroom.

Badertscher’s work was ignored for almost twenty years. By 1993, he was resigned to putting his house up for sale. By chance, the real-estate agent brought Michael Mezzatesta. the director of the Duke University Museum of Art, and his wife to tour the house whose many rooms were covered with Badertscher’s photographs. Although the couple did not purchase the house, Badertscher was later given a solo exhibition at the Duke University Museum of Art in 1995. 

Amos Badertscher’s best known photographic collection is “Baltimore Portraits” which was published in association with the Duke University Museum of Art’s exhibition of Badertscher’s work. The volume contains eighty black and white portraits accompanied with hand-written narratives about their subjects. “Baltimore Portraits”, which span a twenty-year period from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, documented a sector of Baltimore life that had been largely unnoticed and virtually decimated by societal neglect, AIDS, and substance abuse. Badertscher’s collection presented arresting and melancholy photographs of bar and street people, strippers, drug addicts, transvestites, drag queens and hustlers. 

Badertscher has shown his photography in many group exhibitions, including most recently “The 1970’s: The Blossoming of Queer Enlightenment” at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art in 2016, the 2019 “About Face: Stonewall, Revolt and New Queer Art” at Wrightwood 659 in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, and the 2021 “Clandestine: The Photo Collection of Pedro Slim” at the Cobra Museum voor Moderne Kunst in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Badertscher’s photographs, along with works by Diane Arbus, Man Ray, Bill Brandt and others, were also  included in Mexico City’s  “La Parte Más Bella”exhibition at the Museo de Arte Moderno which ran from October 2017 to March 2018.  

In 2005, the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art gave a retrospective of Amos Badertscher’s photographs entitled “Illegal to See–The Outsider Art of Amos Badertscher”. This exhibit was originally mounted as part of the Center for Exploratory and Perceptual Art’s “Deviant Bodies”, a major exhibition that explored the margins of contemporary gay male culture. Badertscher’s show consisted of fifty-seven gelatin silver prints from his thirty plus years of work. From March to July in 2020, a solo exhibition of Badertscher’s photographs, “Amos Badertscher: The Souls Around Us” was held at the Schwules Museum in Berlin; this retrospective was his first comprehensive museum exhibition outside of the United States.

In 1998, a collection of Amos Badertscher’s photography, entitled “Badertscher”, was published by St. Martin’s Press. His work was also included in David Arden Sprigle’s 1998 “Male Bonding: Volume Two”, an anthology collection of sixty-three photographers. Badertscher’s photographs can be found in the New York Public Library’s Photography Collection and the Harry H. Weintraub Collection of Gay-Related Photography and Historical Documentation (1850-2010) at the Cornell University Library, as well as many other public and private collections.

Note: For those interested, Amos Badertscher’s “Baltimore Portraits” is availabel through the Duke University Press located at: https://www.dukeupress.edu/baltimore-portraits

A review by Gary Scharfman on the 2005 exhibition “Illegal to See: A Portrait of Hustler Culture by Photographer Amos Badertscher”, held at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, can be found at: https://www.leslielohman.org/exhibitions/illegal-to-see-a-portrait-of-hustler-culture-by-photographer-amos-badertscher

Top Insert Image: Amos Badertscher, “Portrait of Marty”, 1999, Gelatin Silver Print, 34.9 x 27.6 cm, Private Collection

Third Insert Image: Amos Badertscher, “Constantine P. Cavafy Poem”, 1975, Gelatin Silver Print, Leslie-Lohman  Museum of Art

Bottom Insert Image: Amos Badertscher, Title Unknown (Portrait with Mirror), 1996, Gelatin Silver Print, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art

Dương Xuân Quyền

Paintings by Dương Xuân Quyền

Born in the Son Duong district of Vietnam in 1987, Dương Xuân Quyền is an artist and educator currently working at Tan Trao University in Tuyen Quang, Vietnam. He is a graduate of the Fine Arts Program at the Hanoi National University of Education. 

Dương Xuân Quyền works in the Vietnamese tradition of carved-woodblock printing on black paper as a familiar way to express the contemporary issue of gay relationships to the public. Having produced the initial print work, Quyền then enriches the image with colors from acrylic or oil paints. His current work contains images of male couples as well as lush, tropical scenes of natural habitat. 

From 2011 to 2015, Quyền regularly participated in the Northwest-Viet Bac Exhibition, one of the seven regional contemporary art exhibitions in the country. He also organized a 2015 group exhibition entitled “Sac Autumn” at Hanoi’s Exhibition Hall 16 in Ngo Quyen. 

Dương Xuân Quyền had his first solo exhibition in 2017 entitled “Love People of the Same Sex”, a collection consisting of twenty-two paintings and embellished wood-carved etchings on paper. In his work, he used tropical foliage and water taro leaves as the background for his presentations of male couples in romantic poses. 

In 2020, Quyền won the Third-Place Prize at the Northwestern Fine Arts Exhibition-Region III exhibition for his series “Delayed Appointment I,II,III”. In 2021, he again entered the same exhibition and won another Third-Place Prize, this time for his series “My Side Tells Stories About the Days Apart I, II, III”. Quyền’s second solo exhibition was held in Hanoi in 2022 and entitled “Vertical Flowers”. The show consisted of twenty-eight, large oil and acrylic paintings which depicted Duoc Mung leaves, a native plant well-known to the public. 

Insert Image: Dương Xuân Quyền, “Awakening Lovers”, 2020, Oil on Canvas, 80 x 100 cm, Private Collection

Images of Dương Xuân Quyềns artwork can be found at his Instagram site located at: https://www.instagram.com/xuanquyenstudio/?hl=en

Francisco Aragón: “Asleep You Become a Continent”

Photographers Unknown, Asleep You Become a Continent

asleep you become a continent—
undiscovered, mysterious, long,
your legs mountain ranges
encircling valleys, ravines

night slips past your eyelids,
your breath the swaying of the sea,
sprawled across the bed like
a dolphin washed ashore, your mouth

is the mouth of a sated volcano,
O fragrant timber, how do you burn?
you are so near, and yet so far

as you doze like a lily at my side,
I undo myself and invoke the moon—
I’m a dog watching over your sleep

Francisco Aragón, Asleep You Become a Continent (Francisco X. Alarcón), Glow of Our Sweat, 2010

Born in San Francisco in 1968, Francisco Aragón is an American poet, essayist, translator and editor. The son of Nicaraguan immigrants who settled in the United States in the 1950s, he earned his Bachelor of Arts at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master of Arts in Spanish at New York University. Upon his return to the United States.in 1998 after a decade in Spain, Aragón completed his graduate degrees in Creative Writing from the University of California at Davis and the University of Notre Dame.

At the University of Notre Dame in 2003, Aragón became the director of Letras Latinas, the literary program of the Institute of Latino Studies and a founding member of the Poetry Coalition. A winner of an Academy of American Poets Prize, he served on the board of directors of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs from 2008 to 2012. Aragón is the founding editor and director for the Momotombo Press, established in 2004. Named after the volcano in Nicaragua, the press publishes and promotes new works in Latino literature in the chapbook format. 

Francisco Aragón’s poetry places his personal experiences within the wider historical and cultural conventions of society. His writing process is often stimulated by sensory experiences that bring forth memories long forgotten. Aragón’s poetry has appeared in over twenty anthologies and a range of literary journals. In 2010 he was awarded with an Outstanding Latino Cultural Arts and Publication Award by the American Association for Hispanics in Higher Education.

Aragón is the author of three books of poetry, the most recent being the 2020  “After Rubén”, which explores Latinx and queer identity through homage to the great Nicaraguan poet Rubén Dario. Throughout the text, Aragón intersperses English language translations with riffs from Dario’s poetry. His previous collections include his 2005 debut volume, “Puerta del Sol”, and “The Glow of Our Sweat”, published in 2010. 

Francisco Aragón is the author of three previous chapbooks of poetry: “Tertulia”, “In Praise of Cities”, and “Light Yogurt, Strawberry Milk”. His most recent chapbook is the 2019 “His Tongue a Swath of Sky”, printed in an edition of only two-hundred copies. In this work, Aragón amends the historical record by turning figures of modernista pastoral into an idealization of queer desire. All proceeds from the sale of this book were donated to Letras Latinas. 

Aragón is the editor of the award-winning 2007 anthology “The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry”.  His work as a translator includes four books by Francisco X. Alarcón, as well as work by Spanish poets Federico García Lorca and Gerardo Diego. More recently, Aragón has been rendering versions of the Nicaraguan poet, Rubén Darío. 

Note: Several interviews with Francisco Aragón on his translation work, and  the current state of Latino poetry, as well as readings from “Puerta del Sol” can be found at: http://www.franciscoaragon.net/interviews.html

David Lebe

The Photography of David Lebe

Born in Manhattan, New York in 1948, David Lebe is an American photographer whose work includes both figurative and still life images. His initial education began at the progressive, elementary-level City & Country School in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village and later at Harlem’s High School of Music and Art. During these years, Lebe frequently visited New York City’s many art museums, particularly drawn to the Museum of Modern Art’s photographic exhibitions. His exposure to the photographs of Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Robert Frank, among others, generated a life-long passion for street photography.

David Lebe is best known for his experimental images. Among the techniques used are pinhole cameras, photograms made by placing objects directly on photographic paper and then exposing it to light, hand-painted photographs, and light drawings, an old technique which entails using a moving light source during a long-exposure photograph. In his photography, Lebe explores the issues of gay identity, homoeroticism, and living with AIDS. 

From 1966 to 1970, David Lebe attended the Philadelphia College of Art where he studied photography under Ray K. Metzker, known for his bold experimental, black and white cityscapes; Tom Porett, who pioneered work in the extended photograph, multi-media and digital photographic processes: and Barbara Blondeau, best known for her strip-print images created through different winding speeds, and various lighting and masking techniques. 

During  his studies with Barbara Blondeau in 1969 and 1970, Lebe began to experiment with pinhole cameras and built his own devices with multiple apertures which enabled him to record panoramic views from different angles. For his senior thesis, he created “Form Without Substance”, a series of high-contrast images with strong black shadows which were taken in Philadelphia and his childhood area of Manhattan.Two years after graduation, Lebe accepted a teaching position at the Philadelphia College of Art, where he taught photography until 1990. During his tenure, he exhibited his photography in private galleries and museums. 

A dissatisfaction with the results of color film printing led David Lebe to begin hand-coloring his gelatin silver prints, photograms and pinhole images, and traditional photographs. His first collection of these works was the 1974-75 “Unphotographs”, a series of meticulously hand-painted portraits and self-portraits. After the purchase of a townhouse and studio space in Philadelphia, Lebe began to create several series of photograms using plant material collected from his gardens and country excursions. His “Specimens” series featured plants, bones and other material combined into hybrid forms; the “Garden Series” contained images of plant material dissected and reassembled; “Landscapes” placed the hybrid forms in hand-painted settings.

In early 1976 still living in a cramped apartment in Philadelphia, Lebe created his first black and white light drawing . Standing before a 35mm camera on a tripod, he made a long exposure using a flashlight to draw an outline of his naked body and embellished it with points and lines of light throughout the room. This technique, originally used by photographers Étienne-Jules Marey and Georges Demeny in the 1800s, developed over time to include other people, objects and their surroundings. The long exposure time allowed Lebe to enter these images with his subjects and create events rather than moments of time. 

In 1987, following the death of a friend from AIDS and just before his own HIV diagnosis, David Lebe produced “Scribbles”, abstract images drawn freehand with a flashlight and which often featured light emerging from a glass vase. In 1989, David Lebe began a series of four shoots depicting adult film star and author Scott O’Hara. These sessions contained both nude and erotic images which, while documenting the effects of AIDS on O’Hara’s body, also presented his determination to embrace his personal sexual pleasure.

In 1989, Lebe met the ceramic artist and horticulturist Jack Potter. The two began a relationship that has continued to endure for over thirty years. Both men were HIV-positive when they met. They altered their lifestyle, their eating habits, and moved to the rural Columbia County of New York in 1993. The transition from city to country life inspired Lebe to create the still-life series “Food for Thought”, arrangements of various vegetables and foods shot against black background, sometimes with spirals of light around them. 

Despite their efforts at a healthy diet and lifestyle, both David Lebe and Jack Potter began to decline in their health in the mid-1990s. In 1994, Lebe documented his lover Jack’s daily self-care regimen with a series of small, intimate black and white portraits. In his 1996-97 “Jack’s Garden”, he made detailed studies of the gardens Potter had cultivated on the property. In 1996, Lebe and Potter began the newly designed combination-drug therapy that was showing success in extending the lives of HIV-positive patients. 

By 2004, David Lebe fully embraced digital photography and continued to photograph the environment around his and Jack’s home. He also began making new color prints of older work, including his early pinhole prints. In 2013, he started his ongoing series “ShadowLife”, images of shadows and reflections illuminated by early morning light streaming through the house’s windows, thus continuing his earlier studies of shadows. In May of 2019, Lebe had his first solo museum exhibition, “Long Light”, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which featured one hundred-forty five images spanning five decades. The exhibition represented both a historic achievement for an artist with AIDS and an important resistance to the dangerous tendency to historicize the disease.

David Lebe’s photography can be found in many private and public collections, which include, among others, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, California; the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York City; Houston’s Museum of Fine Art, Santa Fe’s New Mexico History Museum, the Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; and a major collection of his work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Images of David Lebe’s work, prints for sale, and quotes from Lebe can be found at the artist’s site located at: https://davidlebe.com

Top Insert Image: David Lebe, “Unzippered, Paul, Philadelphis”, 1981, Light Drawomg Series, Silver Gelatin Print

Second Insert Image: David Lebe, “Self Portrait, Philadelphia”, 1981, Hand-Colored Light Drawing, Silver Gelatin Print

Third Insert Image: David Lebe, “Socks, (Renato, Philadelphia)”, 1983, Hand-Colored Light Drawing, Silver Gelatin Print

Fourth Insert Image: David Lebe, “Underpants, 1981, Light Drawomg Series, Silver Gelatin Print

Fifth Insert Image: David Lebe, “Paul After, 1981, Light Drawomg Series, Silver Gelatin Print

Bottom Insert Image: David Lebe, “Avalon (Barry Kohn, Boardwalk, Avalon, New Jersey)”, 1980,  Light Drawing Series, Silver Gelatin Print

Elijah Burgher

The Artwork of Elijah Burgher

Born in Kingston, New York in 1978, Elijah Burgher is an American artist who produces both figurative and abstract colored pencil drawings, paintings and prints of sigils. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, and his Master of Fine Arts at Chicago’s Art Institute. Burgher currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany. His work is represented by the Horton Gallery in Dallas, New York’s contemporary PPOW Gallery, and Western Exhibitions in Chicago. 

In his work, Elijah Burgher uses ideas from occult and magic traditions to address queer sexuality, sub-cultural formations, and the history of abstraction. He also creates sigils, symbols of magical power, inspired by different esoteric systems, including the works of English illustrator and occultist Austin Osman Spare, who trained as a draughtsman at the Royal College of Art in South Kensington. Burgher’s sigils encode symbols of wishes and desires through their shape, and the compositions of their elements and color.

Burghers colored pencil drawings of nude male figures, often featuring images of friends,  illustrate scenes from his daily life and environment. Acting as ritual relics, they have an erotic quality that anchors their abstract components into reality. 

Elijah Burgher had solo exhibitions of his work in several galleries including the 2018 “Nudes in  the Forest” at the Ivan Gallery in Bucharest, Romania; “Bachelors” at New York’s Zieher Smith and Horton Gallery in 2016; and “Elijah Burgher, Topple the Table of Correspondences’ in 2011 at 2nd Floor Projects in San Francisco, among others. As a resident artist at Western Exhibitions in Chicago, Burgher has had several solo exhibitions in its gallery from 2012 to 2020. 

Burgher has also shown his work in multiple group exhibitions from 2000 to 2021, including the 2014 Gwangin Biennial, Asia’s most important contemporary art exhibition which was held in the Republic of Korea; New York City’s 2014 Whitney Biennial; “The Temptation of AA Bronson” exhibition held in 2013 at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, Netherlands; the 2020 “intimacy: New Queer Art from Berlin and Beyond” held at the Centre d’Art Contemporain in Geneva, Switzerland; and “Secret Language” held in 2021 at the Ivan Gallery in Bucharest, among others.

In 2011, Elijah Burgher held a Residency at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in New York City and a Fire Island Artist Residency in Long Island, New York.

Note: an interview with Elijah Burgher can be found at the Inside/Within web art archive located at: http://insidewithin.com/elijah-burgher/

Elijah Burgher’s works can be found at the P.P.O.W. Gallery site located at https://www.ppowgallery.com/artists/elijah-burgher#tab:thumbnails

Bottom Insert Image: Elijah Burgher,, “Bachelor with Demons (Sleezy)”, 2015, Colored Pencil on Paper

Danez Smith: “This Need to Be Needed, To Belong”

Photographers Unknown, This Need to Be Needed, To Belong

this gin-heavy heaven, blessed ground to think gay & mean me.
bless the fake id & the bouncer who knew
this need to be needed, to belong, to know how
a man taste full on vodka & free of sin. i know not which god to pray to.
i look to christ, i look to every mouth on the dance floor, i order
a whiskey coke, name it the blood of my new savior. he is just.
he begs me to dance, to marvel men with the
                                                                                                dash
of hips i brought, he deems my mouth in some stranger’s mouth necessary.
bless that man’s mouth, the song we sway sloppy to, the beat, the bridge, the length
of his hand on my thigh & back & i know not which country i am of.
i want to live on his tongue, build a home of gospel & gayety
i want to raise a city behind his teeth for all boys of choirs & closets to refuge in.
i wnat my new god to look at the mecca i built him & call it dam good
or maybe i’m just tipsy & free for the first time, willing to worship anything i can tase.

Danez Smith, The 17-Year-Old & the Gay Bar, Poetry, February 2017

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Danez Smith is an American poet and author who was a First Wave Urban Arts Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 2012. They are genderqueer, non-binary and HIV positive. Their first collection of poetry was the 2013 chapbook “hands on your knees” published by Penmanship Books. Their chapbook “black movie”, published in 2015, won that year’s Button Poetry Prize.

Among other works, Smith is the author of three collections of poetry which received critical acclaim: the 2014 “(insert) Boy” which won the 2014 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and was selected as a Boston Globe Best Poetry Book in the same year; the 2017 “Don’t Call Us Dead: poems” which was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award for Poetry; and the 2020 “Homie” which was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the 2021 NAACP Image Award for Poetry, and the 2021 Minnesota Book Award for Poetry.

In 2018, Danez Smith received the inaugural Four Quartets Prize from the Poetry Society of America for his sonnet sequence entitled “summer, somewhere”. Smith also became, at age twenty-nine, the youngest recipient of the Forward Prize for Best Poetry Collection; their collection of poems “Don’t Call Us Dead” won over works by former Forward winner Vahni Capildeo and U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith.

In addition to other awards for their collections, Danez Smith was the recipient of a 2014 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship, the 2016 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and a 2017 NEA Fellowship for Creative Writing. They currently serve on the board of directors for the Washington DC-based poetry non-profit Split This Rock.

Smith and poet and playwright Franny Choi are both co-hosts of the poetry podcast “VS” from the Poetry Foundation. Smith is also a founding member of Wikipedia’s Dark Noise Collective; other founders include Franny Choi, poet and screenwriter Fatimah Asghar, poet and singer/songwriter Jamila Woods, and poets Nate Marshall and Aaron Samuels.

Note ; Poetry Foundation’s VS podcast can be found at: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/podcasts/category/142241

Benoit Prévot

The Artwork of Benoit Prévot

Born in the Ardennes region between France and Belgium in 1968, Benoit Prévot is a French illustrator and comic artist. A graduate of EMSAT, he has worked at various design and advertising studios. Prévot received formal training at the CFT Gobelins, a Paris school for visual communication and the arts,  after which he worked on several animated television series. Throughout his career, he has created artwork for comic books and fanzines, as well as illustrated book covers and promotional posters. 

Prévot’s more current and  personal work, reminiscent of illustrations produced in the 1920s, often displays a stylish homoerotic atmosphere. Although his favorite medium is ink and graphite on paper, Prévot has also produced works with watercolors and oil paints. 

Benoit Prévot is the writer and illustrator for Class Comics’s “Angelface”, a graphic novel series set in the 1920’s era of prohibition, which was epitomized by that era’s illicit liquor bars, swing music, and loose morals. The illustrated series combines the elegance of that era with Prévot’s stylish homoeroticism. The story of Alan, known as Angelface, and his lover Red conjures up the glamour of upper-class wealth and Trans-Atlantic ocean liner travel as well as the grime of the working class world which Alan and Red want to escape. 

Prévot’s work has been shown at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York City and has been shown regularly at the Tom of Finland Art and Culture Festivals. Issues of the graphic novel “Angelface” were donated in 2011 to the Tom of Finland Foundation. Benoit Prévot currently lives and works in Paris. 

Bottom Insert Image: Benoit Prévot, “Décolleté”, Date Unknown