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.”
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”
“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.
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.
Farewell, Evan Connell
January 10, 2013
Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint Press is sad to announce the death of author Evan S. Connell. Mr. Connell died Wednesday night after several years of declining health. He was 88.
Evan Connell has long been recognized as one of the most important American voices of contemporary letters. A novelist, short story writer, and poet, Connell is the author of seventeen books, including Deus lo Volt!, The Aztec Treasure House,Points for a Compass Rose, Lost in Uttar Pradesh, and the bestselling Son of the Morning Star, which was made into a 1991 miniseries.
His novels Mrs. Bridge (1959) and Mr. Bridge (1969) were adapted into the critically acclaimed 1990 Merchant-Ivory film Mr. and Mrs. Bridge starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Wallace Stegner said of Mrs. Bridge that “[It] is a hell of a portrait…She’s as real and as pathetic and as sad as any character I have read in a long time.”
Connell was awarded the Robert Kirsch Award (a Los Angeles Times Book Prize) for “a living author with a substantial connection to the American West, whose contribution to American letters deserves special recognition.” Counterpoint Press will publishing a new edition of his book of prose poems, Notes From a Bottle Found on the Beach in Carmel, in February 2013.
In 2009 Evan Connell was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize, for lifetime achievement. He was born on 17 August, 1924, in Kansas City, Missouri and attended Dartmouth College and the University of Kansas. Connell is also an alumni of Stanford and Columbia universities.
Evan Connell lived and worked in Sante Fe, NM.
Gus wrote an extended essay called “After Ground Zero: The Writings of Evan Connell, Jr.” New Mexico Quarterly (Summer 1966). An excerpt is published in Gus Blaisdell Collected titled VATIC WRITING Evan S. Connell Notes from a Bottle… p.185
A note from Pulitzer prize-winning author,N. Scott Momaday, discussing GUS BLAISDELL COLLECTED (Gus was editor on Momaday’s second book, The Way to Rainy Mountain, published by UNM press).
Dear Nicole,The book is a clear mirror of the man. It is beautiful and moving. Gus and I made a legendary journey to Rainy Mountain in the hard weather that shapes mind and memory. It was a quest, a journey eminently worth making.With deepest thanks.Scott
DISCUSSING GUS at UNM bookstore Wednesday December 5th at 4pm
From Vincent Borrelli, Bookseller
I met Gus Blaisdell about thirty years ago – a chance meeting in a bookstore. I was photographing on my first cross-country road trip and I landed in Albuquerque at The Living Batch. Gus showed me Park City by Lewis Baltz. What he didn’t mention is that he wrote the essay for the book – one of the most brilliant essays I’ve ever read about photography and art.
Park City (and a few other influential books) heralded a seismic shift in photography. This astonishing work, which came to be known as the New Topographics, allowed us view the landscape with a new sense of passion, longing, and dread. The style continues to be widely emulated, letting some of us forget the vitality and authority of the original images.
For a jacket-copy intro to the author it would be hard to improve on the capsule snapshot by artist, poet, and publisher (and one-time Living Batch employee), J. B. Bryan, in the little Festschrift chapbook he prepared for the memorial “Celebration of Gus Blaisdell” in 2005:
Gus lived as a man of discerning mind & precise locution, as well as blurted expletive. The oppositional was his blessing & curse. Sharp, jagged, uncannily quick-witted, he sought how to see, how to know, how to lay it down. Outrageous, often enraged, he liked the scat in scatological, he could insult, he could adore, a mimic ribald & hilarious, elegant steel trap crankiness, photographic memory backed by a deep catalogue of reference wielded with fierce conviction. Within this shone profound appreciation for beauty (film, Monk, Matisse, Utamaro, photography, poetry, prose, mathematics, found objects, etc., etc.) & its precise articulation. His writings have hard-fought style with a content that requires slow, deliberate reading. Language & lingo, philosophy & logic argued toward revelation inside his own difficult critique.
My father Gus Blaisdell dropped dead from a heart attack in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the alleyway behind the Frontier restaurant and what used to be, until it’s closing in late 1996, his regionally famous Living Batch Bookstore. His heart attacked on a Wednesday night shortly after teaching his Horror film class where he’d screened and lectured (“brilliantly”, according to his longtime graduate assistant Bubbles) on the 1926 Japanese film Pages of Madness. Inside his worn, canvas Living Batch book bag, which he carried with him everywhere, filled with his current readings, notes, and journal writings, was a letter that began; Dear Beth, The untitled collection of my essays I propose falls, natch, into three sections: 1) essays on photography; 2) on painting; and 3) on movies.
When I received this bag from his widow (fifth wife), a year and a half after his death, along with 40 boxes of his papers, I was elated to have some instruction, some guidance, from “His Heaviness” (a title I bestowed and he relished), on how best to proceed in honoring this brilliant, difficult and fascinating man. Hence, the book begins.