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

Gus and Evan Connell R.I.P.


Farewell, Evan Connell

Evan-ConnellFrom Counterpoint Press

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 RoseLost 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

Message from Momaday

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

A chance meeting in a bookstore

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.


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.

His Heaviness in cyber space

For those of you living in the digital age Gus Blaisdell Collected is out and available on Kindle.
For those of us who need the heft of the good book in hand it will be arriving in early September.
For all who want a preview and to read the wonderful editor’s preface just click on the link below  then click on the handsome book cover and voila’ .

Welcome to the FOG

Friends of Gus,

The countdown has begun. Gus Blaisdell Collected is nearly upon us. Due out in September. The launch party details coalescing. I will keep you posted.

Art • Film • Literature • New Mexico/Southwest • Photography

Gus Blaisdell Collected


William Peterson
Nicole Blaisdell Ivey


From the moment he arrived in New Mexico in 1964, Gus Blaisdell (1935–2003) was a legendary presence. Famous in Albuquerque as a writer, teacher, publisher, editor, and especially as the proprietor of the Living Batch bookstore, Blaisdell was also a brilliant critic whose essays influenced readers throughout the country and across the Atlantic. This long-awaited collection of Blaisdell’s critical writings includes essays on literature, art, and film, along with moving tributes by some of the distinguished writers who numbered Blaisdell among their friends. Introductory essays by philosopher Stanley Cavell and literary critic David Morris join colleague Ira Jaffe’s poignant memoir to provide perspectives on the man by friends who knew him well. Glimpses of Blaisdell’s vivid personality can be had from the many photographs included, and the diligently researched chronology compiled by Nicole Blaisdell Ivey tracks the course of her father’s complicated life.



Art critic William Peterson lives in Albuquerque, where he is an adjunct instructor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of New Mexico. Longtime editor of ARTSPACE magazine, he has also been a correspondent for ARTnews and an associate editor at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Nicole Blaisdell Ivey is a photographer and writer. Her work has appeared in The Sun magazine, New Mexico Photographer, and others. She lives in Albuquerque.