©Jimmy Descant Slaven, LA-the line and the plug photo©Nicole Blaisdell Iveya poem discovered, unfinished, unsent,

from son to father


Dreamenwound so enhanced

High noon shadowless except

Under the soles of your boots

Glaring blaze of noon a sound

Silences engulf and swelter


“How can man die better

Than facing fearful odds

For the ashes of his fathers

And the temples of his gods”

Around him throng the fathers

To press his gory hands


Horizon for these notions disappear

Erasing the ideas. A blackboard

Once had diagrams of the offense

Navy beats Army yesterday. And I say

This one is for you, my old dead dad.


For whom I was always being

Knocked galley west, my timbers shivered

The sun was always over the yardarm

Somewhere in the world. Aye, matey!

The Snake said, It’s the black spot for ye!


Can’t get back the dreamenwound

Lost in the bacon, toast, and scrambled eggs

In this morning’s breakfast

At the Frontier, another horizon, a limit                                                                                           To discoveries mainly indigestive.





Creole ghost ©Nicole Blaisdell Ivey

a letter finished, sent, father to son

Dear Luc                                                                                                         12-6-84


Here’s a little something.  Have a fine Christmas.

I also think of you a lot, concern and love, not worry and irritation.  I too had trouble finding my place in a world that mostly scared me and one for which I felt almost completely inadequate: I was school smart but not worldly wise. I stumbled along and was lucky – as I said to you the last time we were together, if I could give you anything I have it would be my luck.  But luck, it now occurs to me, is not passive. Good sense can be made out of believing we have a hand in our luck, we help make it, get ourselves in shape for it and ready ourselves to receive it (Religious people call this Gods grace because you can’t bargain for it. He gives or withholds it nobody knows how or why.)

You have a good heart and a sound intelligence. Anger and fear can offset the first, even ruin it. It is more important to have a good heart than a fine or great mind, and you have that, strong like your ability at basketball. I wonder how we could put it to the wonderful use it deserves?

Schools are odd places. They speak a strange language. Many people learn it, get the hang of the jargon – for that is what it is: plain English could as easily be spoken.  But as with anything strange or foreign it can be translated into the more basic, plain and direct words of your own experience.  You have to get the hang of it. One of the most important things we can learn is to be good listeners and to feel what other people are feeling, where they are coming from, their need, desires and wants.  Would you feel ignorant if hearing Japanese spoken by me you didn’t understand what I was saying?  No, because you could ask me to translate that into English and would know that if you could or wanted to you too could learn that odd language.  Academese, the jargon spoken in schools, is just a sublanguage of English – like hipsters, bloods and Valley girls, and them argols. Learn to listen and feel, and don’t be fearful or angry. I’m reminded of something Gandhi said when he was asked by his disciples what they should do once he was gone.  “Be a little kinder,” was all he said; great words, great feelings put directly and simply. Feel them. And you already have the kindness; the smarts can be picked up much more easily.

As you can see from where I began this note I’d not planned such a long letter. I guess I wanted to chat with you on the page.  I want you to know these things I feel about you – kind, intelligent and loyal and loving. Nothing could be better. Your withdrawal from the world is also the world’s loss. God knows how much help it could use, how much goodness it needs –

If I go on I risk repeating myself. KISS, I tell myself. Keep It Simple Stupid, a fine rule for writing.

Don’t doubt my feelings for you.

I love you,






Living Batch Bookstore


Gus Blaisdell at The Living Batch Bookstore

Living Batch Bookstore

From the abq journal 1996

Living Batch’s Last Day Dec. 24

The Living Batch, one of the oldest bookstores in New Mexico, is closing next month, after being in business on the same block for 27 years.

On Dec. 24 it will shut its doors at 106 Cornell SE, which is next door to the Frontier restaurant.

“The main reason we’re closing is that I don’t want to do it any more,” said owner Gus Blaisdell, a parttime film instructor at the University of New Mexico.

But that decision is influenced by several factors.

One is the arrival of the mega-bookstores in the Northeast Heights.

Their immediate effect is that a variety of customers no longer shop at the Living Batch.

“Before the superstores, we discovered that the most interesting sale days in our store were weekends. People drove from all over the city to come and shop,” Blaisdell said.

Another factor is his disenchantment with mainstream publishing.

“The price of books is excluding young readers,” he said, noting that three hardback books can retail for as much as $100.

Blaisdell said he’s considered, and rejected, the notion of reducing the store’s space and narrowing the subjects to what the Living Batch specializes in — alternative fiction, poetry, politics, art and architecture, psychoanalysis and works from small presses.

If the store changed its direction and size, Blaisdell said, there probably wouldn’t be sufficient readers to buy books “in these prices, in these times in Albuquerque.”

In addition, he said, none of his children nor present or former employees expressed interest in maintaining the bookstore.

“A literary period of mass readership for the small bookstore is passing out of democratic politics,” Blaisdell said. “I think inexpensive books should be available to a large number of people, if they want to read.

“So, through various circumstances, we have become extinct.”

ARTFORM tribute- Jock Reynolds on Lewis Baltz (1945–2014)

I GREW UP during the 1950s in the then rapidly expanding university town of Davis, California, living with my family in a brand-new tract-housing development at the very edge of a vast expanse of barley, alfalfa, sugar beet, corn, and tomato fields. My youthful roaming on foot and by bicycle regularly brought me and my friends into other nearby neighborhoods as they were being newly constructed, along with visits to some of the canneries and industrial buildings then sprouting up throughout Yolo County. We didn’t know it then, but we were living within a microcosm of the American West that was being transformed before our eyes.

Much later in life, when I moved to San Francisco in 1974 as a young artist and became a faculty member at San Francisco State University, I first met Lewis Baltz and encountered his photographs. Lewis was introduced to me by my good friend, Geoffrey Young, a talented poet and copublisher of The Figures press, who called my attention to Lewis’s Tract Houses of 1971 and his subsequent The New Industrial Parks Near Irvine, California of 1974. I immediately judged these photographic projects to be a compelling new form of acerbic visual literature, one whose content resonated fully with my own life’s experience.Geoffrey Young then rang my bell again in 1980, saying that he had hot in his hands a preview copy of Park City, Lewis’s brand-new photography book. It set forth another stirring visual survey created within the American West, one strongly supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, which documented a devastated tract of land extant not far from Salt Lake City that had been heavily mined during the nineteenth century. Here was another residential-real-estate boom in the making presented for visual contemplation, this one tied to that of rapidly expanding ski-resort areas then being developed in the West. And not only did Baltz present Park City as his own powerful visual essay of lament, he also tag-teamed it in his new book with a brilliant and insightful essay authored by the writer Gus Blaisdell. Up until this time, the only photographer I admired who had actively engaged a noted writer with his work was Robert Frank, whose introduction for The Americans by Jack Kerouac became a classic pairing of images and words that is still relevant today.

  • Lewis Baltz,Tract House #1, from the seriesThe Tract Houses, 1971,gelatin silver print, 5 1/2 x 9”.

  • Lewis Baltz,Tract House #13, from the seriesThe Tract Houses, 1971,gelatin silver print, 5 1/2 x 9”.

  • Lewis Baltz,Foundation Construction Many Warehouses 2892 Kelvin Irvine, from the seriesThe New Industrial Parks near Irvine, California, 1974.

I had a wonderful opportunity come my way later on, during the mid-’80s, when I was asked to nominate two artists to create works in response to the public land known as Candlestick Park located on the outskirts of San Francisco. Happily, both of my nominees, Lewis Baltz and David Ireland, were awarded such commissions. And here yet again was another track of devastated land to be carefully considered and documented by Lewis, an unnatural field of construction debris that had been dumped in vast quantities into San Francisco Bay as landfill in advance of a new sports stadium that was then built on the site. Once opened, it became the home of the Giants and the 49ers and also hosted numerous concerts. The park’s vast asphalt parking lots almost surrounded the entire stadium, an austere and rubble-strewn landscape that finally ended at the Bay’s waters.

I instinctively knew that Lewis would engage this spectacle in a trenchant manner, as he proceeded to do with his Candlestick Point project, 1989, and the new book that later accompanied it. He had a bit earlier in the decade taken a close look at another tract of despoiled bayfront land, on which one of California’s oldest maximum-security prisons stands in stark isolation against natural beauty of the most arresting sort. Many of us in the field of photography knew and admired Lewis for the fine work he did on both of these very public sites, but it was not until more than a decade later, here at the Yale University Art Gallery, that I was able to both purchase and exhibit his entire Park City survey, in 2002. It was shown simultaneously with Robert Adams’s What We Bought: The New World, 1973–74, and Emmet Gowin’sAerial Photographs, 1998, and Changing the Earth, 2002—commanding photographic surveys attended with important books that offer powerful visual evidence of how humankind has been continuously transforming the natural environment within which we all live and work.

Lewis “Duke” Baltz has now left us, but his brave and remarkable legacy of visual literature will no doubt endure for a very long time via his many photographs. They provoke serious thought, waves of unease, and a terrible sense of beauty that cannot be easily shaken once they enter one’s eyes and mind.

Jock Reynolds is the Henry J. Heinz II Director of the Yale University Art Gallery.

Lewis Baltz, untitled, from the series Candlestick Point, 1989.

ARTFORM address


Lewis Baltz portrait of Gus Blaisdell

Gus Blaisdell by Lewis Baltz

Below find an excerpt of Bldgs by Gus Blaisdell, his first essay on Lewis Baltz.     Originally published in Three Photographic Visions, 1977.                                                   Republished in Gus Blaisdell Collected, UNM Press 2012.


I regret that I must begin in a quandary. But since I am in it and have been in it ever since I first began trying to think and write about Lewis Baltz’s photography over two years ago, this quandary is not only the place from which I must begin but it may also be the place in which, entangled, embroiled, and exasperated once again, I am forced to conclude.

Allow me to elaborate in a figure so that I may come to the various questions which will clearly indicate the ranges of my confusing (but not inchoate) concerns.

In the room in which I am presently writing this essay everything is concrete. That simple italicized phrase struck me the other morning with all the philosophical force of a secular revelation. And it persisted throughout the whole day, nagged during the conscious moments of a fitful night, and was still hauntingly present this morning when, in a mood of exasperation bordering on despondency, I once again sat down to yet another revision of my seemingly endless, as yet unfinished essay on the work of Lewis Baltz–my project a pile of notebooks, pages, file cards, jots and scribblings that has been with me nearly every day since that day in 1975 when I unexpectedly received in the mail a complimentary copy of The New Industrial Parks Near Irvine, California. As I leafed through the book it steadily dawned on me that Baltz was doing something in photography specifically and in art generally that had not been done before in either domain. His work stood forth as a summary limit and an extension, a point at which the promise in the work of others was engendered and fulfilled, and a point beyond which nobody else had gone. So strong was this conviction that it expressed itself paradoxically, that Lewis Baltz was a painter who had chosen photography instead of paint in which to make significant objects. The paradox here is not in the apparent restrictions consequent upon such a choice but in the media Baltz would be crossing and in the successful trans­lations he would have to achieve. A painter who used photography–­there was something of Japanese aesthetics in that, and in the restriction of means and the accepting of the automatisms that constitute photography, further limiting this medium to work in black and white fixed images.

Again, the above also had the philosophical force of worldly revelation and it has persisted, often annoyingly, throughout the years that have lead to the present writing in this room in which everything is concrete. Nothing here is abstract unless it is my mind or the meanings my written words may carry as my sentences achieve equilibrium. Everything in this room except mind and meaning is photographable, will yield an individuated aspect that can be fixed upon film. (The difficult “things in this room” that are not obviously individual and thus fixable are light, dark, and the shadows cast by the interruption of light by objects. None of these seem either trivially concrete or plainly abstract. Penumbral seems to be the accurate term here. And the penumbral is difficult for photography not only as object matter–what the camera points at out there–but also as subject matter, what gets fixed in the frame and shown in the print; and what takes its further meanings, beyond the frame and outside the print, from whatever network of knowledge happens to contain the print centrally and essentially like an idiom or a poem.)

The only conceivable thing in this room which might be wholly abstract in relation to every other photographable thing is a photograph by Lewis Baltz,  Maryland 24, a photograph which is endlessly a reminder of this quandary in which I daily encounter my thought…

Ernest Gaines awarded National Medal of Arts

Photo by Jim Santana from the archives of Gus Blaisdell

Photo by Jim Santana from the archives of Gus Blaisdell

Photo of Ernest Gaines by Edward "Ned" Springs

Photo of Ernest Gaines by Edward “Ned” Springs

 The guy in the picture with me is Edward "Ned" Spring.  He was a very good friend of both Gus Blaisdell and me.  We were at Stanford together back in the late 50s.  We used to listen to a lot of Jazz together, drink wine and discuss literature.  Ned use to write liner notes for 33 rpm dust jackets.  He could be extremely funny...He died young.  I think Gus was at his bed side when he died,  Gus called to tell me he had gone to the big PAD in the sky.  He left a wife and two children.  Gus and I were at the memorial. It was very quiet.  Betty, Ned's wife,  wanted it that way.  Just a few close friends.  I think that was the only time I was ever seen to cry.  Ned was quite thin, and Gus always called him The Snake.  He called me Prez, because I wore a hat like the one Lester Young, the great jazz musician, wore.  Gus was good at giving people different names.  "Hey, Prez, the snake has left us "  We had been out drinking at the No Name Bar in Sausalita only a couple of weeks before he died--Me, Gus and Ned.....Ernie>

The guy in the picture with me is Edward “Ned” Spring. He was a very good friend of both Gus Blaisdell and me. We were at Stanford together back in the late 50s. We used to listen to a lot of Jazz together, drink wine and discuss literature. Ned use to write liner notes for 33 rpm dust jackets. He could be extremely funny…He died young. I think Gus was at his bed side when he died, Gus called to tell me he had gone to the big PAD in the sky. He left a wife and two children. Gus and I were at the memorial. It was very quiet. Betty, Ned’s wife, wanted it that way. Just a few close friends. I think that was the only time I was ever seen to cry. Ned was quite thin, and Gus always called him The Snake. He called me Prez, because I wore a hat like the one Lester Young, the great jazz musician, wore. Gus was good at giving people different names. “Hey, Prez, the snake has left us ” We had been out drinking at the No Name Bar in Sausalita only a couple of weeks before he died–Me, Gus and Ned…..Ernie>


Gus published Clark's book NOW ITS JAZZ

Gus Blasidell and Clark Coolidge    Albuquerque, New Mexico    © Nicole Bliasdell Ivey

Gus published Clark Coolidge’s     NOW ITS JAZZ       Writings on Kerouac & The Sounds

*Excerpt from SPD website–  “Music. Cultural Writing. Perhaps no living American poet has taken Kerouac, jazz and bop prosody into as many original directions as Clark Coolidge. In his inimitable prose, Coolidge recalls and explores the role Kerouac (Part 1) and jazz (Part 2) have played in his artistic development. A book of tremendous energy from the very first sentence: ON THE ROAD was first handed to me by somebody in a dorm at Brown, my sophomore year, 1957-58. ‘Here, read this.”

Art on the Edge

Gus and Group

Claremont 1971 (standing left to right Hap Tivey, James Turrell, Gus Blaisdell, Lewis Baltz, seated Mowry Baden, Guy Williams)

“It Happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles 1969-1973 — Part 3: At Pomona”

By Sneha Abraham 2:30 pm February 24, 2012 Campus EventsThe Arts

Chris Burden, Untitled, 1966.Chris Burden, Untitled, 1966. Bronze. 6 1/2 x 5 in. (16.5 x 12.7 cm). Collection of the artist. © Chris Burden. Photograph courtesy of the artist.
Hap Tivey, Sunpainting, 1971Hap Tivey, Sunpainting, 1971. Window frame, paint, paper, tape, and incandescent light. 24 x 24 x 3 in. (61 x 61 x 7.6 cm). © Hap Tivey. Photograph courtesy of the artist.

“Part 3: At Pomona” demonstrates how Pomona College’s extraordinary community, inspired by the atmosphere created by curators Hal Glicksman and Helene Winer, developed some of the most important aesthetic currents of the late 20th century. These artists, both faculty and students, engaged the developing legacies of Conceptualism and Minimalism and forged transformations of these ideas that became prototypes for future generations. This exhibition chronicles the experimental art that emerged in the late 1960s and the role played by Pomona College in advancing these practices.

The period covered by “Part 3” roughly equates with a renaissance in Pomona’s arts community that can be traced to Mowry Baden’s ’58 arrival as chairman of the art department in 1968 (he served as professor until 1971), and which ended, in 1973, with the mass departure of the arts faculty in protest over, among other causes, Helene Winer’s dismissal due to the notorious Wolfgang Stoerchle performance seen in “Part 2.” During this period, Pomona faculty and alumnus James Turrell was performing his first ganzfeld experiments and conducting flare performances; Lewis Baltz was at work on his legendary Tract Houses series; and Mowry Baden was creating interactive sculptures that would have a profound effect on his students, among them Chris Burden ’69, Michael Brewster ’68 and Peter Shelton ’73.  Burden was transitioning from architecture to sculpture to performance. Brewster was exploring the potential of light and sound as an artistic medium, while Shelton was experimenting with corrosion as a painterly medium, which would have a lasting effect on his eventual career as a sculptor.

Central to this group is the under-recognized work of Mowry Baden. His interest in movement and its impact on perception clearly echoes many of the aesthetic concerns that informed works produced through Hal Glicksman’s Artist’s Gallery exhibition program. Baden’s particular articulation of these concerns in works that require viewers to interact and physically operate the sculptures demonstrate a more performative and collaborative approach to audiences that prefigures much contemporary work today. 

Telling it like it is / Review of GBC

5.0 out of 5 stars the writer as cultural Hero, November 7, 2012
dan noyes (New Mexico) – See all my reviews
This review is from: Gus Blaisdell Collected (Hardcover)

This book is a look at the writing,the life, and the letters of an exceptional writer who lived the zeitgeist of his time by writing, editing and selling books. He also helped other
writers get published and noticed. He also taught. And he also loved loquats.And women. And he writes about all of these-and more- in this wonderful book.The intellectual life he engaged was from The Beats to Postmodernism. Blaisdell was a writer and thinker who had interests in the Classics, Asian poetry, art, culture, psychology and philosophy. He created a rich world in his writing and that is here in a collection of essays, poems and letters that explore art, photography, philosophy, and film.

Blaisdell’s talent as a writer and thinker in these engaging essays is evident in how he uses words, structure, metaphor and image in writing about culture and meaning.
The essays about his life and his letters-along with an excellent timeline of his life-round out the book. The photographs in the book are an excellent counterpoint that capture the hero as he ages, travels and investigates art and culture. A photograph in the book of Gus Blaisdell encountering a Matisse exhibit taken by Nicole Blaisdell Ivey is a truly great photograph that shows a man encountering art and caught in the experience of art. In fact-the whole book is related to how Blaisdell wrote about that encounter.gus-studio-shelf-nicole1.jpg