Category Archives: Painting and Sculpture

Hyesook Park and Route 66 on March 31st

Friday, March 30

Hey Sook Wall One

In late April, the West Hollywood Library will host a follow-up reading to last year’s celebration of poems about Sunset Blvd. by asking the featured poets to conjure up the glory days of Route 66.

Linda and I will be making use of that historic road tomorrow afternoon as the final leg of a trip to San Bernardino to see a one-day exhibition of work by the painter Hyesook Park. If anyone wants to take advantage of the early spring weather we are having this week, I would recommend this drive as a chance to see some terrific new paintings and to enjoy the post-rainfall landscape on your way there and back.

Hyesook Park
A One-Day Exhibition
Saturday, March 31, 2018
2 p.m.

Loveart Studio
15551 Cajon Blvd.
San Bernardino, CA 92407

Hye Sook Wall Five

Hye Sook Wall 3

Hye Sook Wall Two

(All photographs of Heysook Park’s paintings by Justin Hahn. (c) Justin Hahn 2018. All rights reserved by Justin Hahn. Posted on this blog with his permission.

Past Lives: Poet, Editor, Publisher, Continuation School Teacher, and the Beat

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Although I am working on new poems and thinking about which of my past academic talks I should begin revising in hopes of publication, the challenge of setting aside time to make those endeavors my sole concern remains as complicated as ever. A year and a half ago, one of the members of Beyond Baroque’s Board of Trustees asked me to join the Board, a move that I can hardly afford to undertake on a financial level, let alone how much time that requires. Even during times when the GDP of the United States indicates the system’s general economic stability, non-profit arts organizations must negotiate and bargain with a culture that did not particularly want them to last more than a decade or two. To attain the half-century mark is no small achievement, but Beyond Baroque is hardly assured of a sufficient budget for its future programming.

This weekend has been one of the highlights of the spring season. Funded completely out of his own pocket, S.A. Griffin has organized a celebration of the Beat movement, which concludes tomorrow evening with a musical performance by David Amram. Yesterday afternoon, I gave a talk on Venice West, and then moderated a panel at which two of the original members of that community recalled their experiences in considerable detail. Frank T. Rios Joseph Patton, and Gayle Davis talked with each other in an honest manner about the glorious sense of freedom that Venice West exuded along with the eventual confinements of drug addiction. Paton acknowledged that Rios has pulled him out of addiction. Rios, in turn, credited the Poem with saving his life.

Fortunately, UCLA had sent out a camera and a one-man crew to record this conversation, so future scholars of Venice West will understand how much visual art mattered to this scene. It was a pleasure to hear the work of Don Martin and Saul White cited so frequently. I am not certain when the tape will be available for viewing, but I hope that someday it can be posted on-line so that scholars and students have easy access to it.

Oddly enough, Venice West often gets summed up by a quick reference to a handful of poets, and yet the conversation yesterday barely got around to discussing John Thomas, and William Margolis was not mentioned at all. Margolis, who was a close friend of Bob Kaufman’s when he lived in San Francisco, is hardly neglected this weekend, though. He is the subject of a documentary film by Don Rothenberg that will be shown today from 3:30 to 4:00 p.m. There will also be a discussion of the Beat and Buddhism with Marc Olmsted, who was also read with Steve Silberman and Tate Swindell in a segment on Gay Beat writing (4:30 – 6 p.m.).

Considering how skittish L.A. residents can be about a rain storm finally showing up after months of a renewed drought, the audiences have been surprisingly large enough to make this festival of the Beat a satisfying occasion and more than worth S.A. Griffin’s extended efforts in putting it all together. Paul Vangelisti, for instance, was supposed to be part of the panel on Venice West, but a dead battery kept him tethered at home. He told me, however, that 30 people had shown up for his reading with Neeli Cherkovski.
About three dozen poets will have read their poetry or talked about the Beat and the Neo-beat by the time David Amram gives a musical performance tomorrow night (Monday, at 9:30 p.m. I truly wish that I had enough time to have been at all the events of this festival. I regret especially not being able to attend the opening ceremonies featuring Frank T. Rios and George Herms, as well as the “Women of the Beat Generation Reading.” I would have loved to have heard Yama Lake, Larry Lake’s son, read, too, as well Marc Olmsted. In addition, Michael C. Ford and Will Alexander were giving talks.

One of the highlights of this festival, however, was probably the “Punk & Beat reading” by Linda J. ALbertano, Iris Berry, Jack Brewer, Michael Lane Bruner, S.A. Griffin, Doug Knott, and A. Razor. All I can say is that I want an extended encore presentation at a time that allows me to absorb the full ramifications of these lifetimes of contumacious poetics.

It was perhaps appropriate that I began the day by meeting with Pedro Paulo Araujo, who is working on a short animated film based on the final two stanzas of Leland Hickman’s poem, “The Hidden.” That poem was one of ten “Elements” that was published in Hickman’s Great Slave Lake Suite in 1980. I met with Pedro at 10:00 a.m. at Portfolio Coffeehouse in Long Beach to discuss Hickman’s poetry in general and that poem in particular. I gave him a copy of “Lee Sr. Falls to the Floor,” which Lee had written in the mid-1960s, as a means of providing some background for Lee’s life-long wrestling with the sudden death of his father. Pedro became interested in Lee’s poetry because his film company is working on digitizing the audio tapes of readings at Beyond Baroque. One recent tape he worked on was a reading Lee gave with Barrett Watten in 1984, on one of the coldest nights that anyone in Venice could recall. The audience was very small – maybe about eight people – and almost all of us at one point or another had to get up and walk around the read area of the folding chairs in order to warm up. We were bundled up in sweaters and jackets, but it wasn’t enough. Still, it was one of the best readings I ever attended.

Before heading off to my meeting with Pedro, I took a quick look at the first set of galleys for my forthcoming book from What Books. The typeface seems on the comfortable and familiar side, and perhaps that will work out for the best. The poems, which appear in both English and Spanish, are varied enough in their shapeliness that a more unusual typeface might prove distracting. I’ve waited a long time for this book and can’t wait to send my closest friends a copy.

Finally, I want to mention how much I appreciated seeing Carolyn Rios at yesterday’s event at Beyond Baroque. I worked with Carolyn’s students at Venice Continuation High School for several years (1989-1996). Most of the time I was an artist-in-residence funded by the Cultural Affairs Department of the City of Los Angeles. The CPITS (California Poets in the Schools) program had largely lost its impetus, at least in Southern California, by the mid-1980s, and I had turn to other sources for support in order to teach poetry to young people. Although I worked at other continuation high schools, too, Venice Continuation High holds a special place in my heart. I guess I have indeed aged, though. Carolyn at first did not recognize me, even though we were in Beyond Baroque’s lobby for several minutes before we happened to start talking to each other. On the other hand, until she took off her beret, I did not recognize her, either. Once memory had adjusted to present perception, though, we both felt as young as ever.

Ron Ozuna’s Photographs of Bolsa Chica

Monday, February 19, 2018

Bird Photographs and Other Links

Ron Ozuna has been traversing California’s wetlands for several years and taking photographs of birds, and I am delighted to have gotten his permission to share links with his work. The other links in today’s post have been chosen out of variety of my reading and listening to music the past couple weeks. It’s a cold and windy morning here in Long Beach, California, and it is supposed to get much more chilly tonight. I only wish that some rain would arrive.

http://www.mps.mpg.de/planetary-science/planetary-plasma-environment

Stream 74 Sun Ra Albums Free Online: Decades of “Space Jazz” and Other Forms of Intergalactic, Afrofuturistic Musical Creativity

If you want to see more of Ron Ozuna’s avian advocacy, see the following links:

Ron Ozuna at MONO LAKE and elsewhere:

(2016)

2016_05_15_0wens Lake

2016_05_17_Hahamongna Devils Gate Dam:

2016_05_19_Central Park & Library Huntington Beach:

Piute Pond (near Lancaster)

Domenic Cretara — Masterful Artist and Extraordinary Teacher — R.I.P.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Domenic Cretara (March 29, 1946 – December 22, 2017)

When Linda and I got home from Thousand Oaks last evening, we learned through social media that one of the professors I most admire at CSULB, Domenic Cretara, had died on Friday, December 22nd. The news put a very somber glow on the day’s festivities, for Domenic still had much more drawing and painting awaiting his pencils and brushes, and I am very sorry that his studio will no longer hear the quiet shifting of the models’ bodies.

I met Domenic when Linda was taking classes at CSULB to get her BFA. I would occasionally find myself in a Fine Arts building when he had his students’ work spread out along a hallway, and I always felt compelled to stand at the edge and watch him praise, cajole, and verbally nudge his students to aspire to the highest degree of their potential. He always made useful suggestions as to what the student should think about in continuing to work on a particular painting or drawing. There was nothing vague about his critique. He got right to the point, and it was specific advice that even I as a non-artist could see was exactly what the painting needed. Quite simply, he was one of the best teachers I ever saw, and I never left his presence without feeling rededicated in my profession as a teacher of literature.

Truly fine teachers are often at a disadvantage in having their work admired as much as it deserves. While Domenic was an internationally recognized and admired artist, he carried none of egregious aura of “success” as he went about his daily life. He was a rare human being, and I feel very fortunate to have known him.

If anyone who reads this knows of someone who studied art at CSULB, you might pass on the word that Domenic Cretara’s memorial service will be on Friday, Dec. 29 at 10:30 AM, at the Luyben Dilday Mortuary Chapel, 5161 Arbor Road, Long Beach, CA 90808.

Here are some links to learn more about his art and skill as a teacher:

http://www.cretaraart.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domenic_Cretara

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/485022

The Garden City Horse Sculpture

Friday, December 8, 2017 (Feast of the Immaculate Conception)

The transition from graduate student to faculty is perhaps even harder than writing one’s dissertation, if only because the time allotted to turn one’s attention from the latter task to the former endeavor is so brief. No sooner had I finished defending my dissertation in the late spring, 2004 (and it was not a slam-dunk; not everyone on my committee believed that what I had written deserved their signature) and submitting a revised version to the graduate office at UCSD than I was heading to Idyllwild to teach for six weeks, and then back to San Diego to teach a summer extension course in poetry, all the while packing to head to Lynbrook, New York and teach English as a Second Language at Nassau Community College.

The drive from where Linda and I lived in Lynbrook to the NCCs campus was about nine miles on surface streets, and one day we ended up taking a different route. About three miles from the campus, we noticed a park with a statue of a horse and got out and took some photographs.

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“Welcome to the Village of Garden City” declares an oval sign, at a spot on its breastbone where a medallion might hang. NCC was in Garden City, a place I’d first heard of when I looked on the copyright pages of books published by Doubleday, and saw its headquarters listed as Garden City, New York. The company was located on Long Island for about three-quarters of a century (1910-1986) and I believe the building it occupied on Franklin Avenue is still in use.

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As a youth, I had not the slightest idea where Garden City might be, nor did I care. It seemed odd to me that a publishing company in New York wouldn’t be located in Manhattan itself, but with the exception of a half-dozen writers, Doubleday’s authors were never of much interest to me. That Doubleday found itself being packaged and repackaged as part of the corporate expansion into the cultural domain was hardly a surprise. I don’t know of many people who worry that its backlist might perish from the conversation (e.g., Form and Value in Modern Poetry (Doubleday Anchor) by R.P. Blackmur; or the poems and essays of Robert Graves).

Linda and I remember the statue of the horse with bemused affection, though. While we passed by that park just that once, the occasion in retrospect still seems more than a droll chance encounter. I suppose it might be thought of as kitsch, and yet is it any less appealing than the work of Jeff Koons? He should be so lucky as to have this piece of work to his credit.

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Audri Phillips and “Robot Prayers”; “A Thought Has No Physicality”

Monday, September 20, 2017

I met the artist Audri Phillips well over a quarter-century ago, back when I was still living on Hill Street in Ocean Park. I myself was not a painter, but knew a group of painters who went around each other’s studios and critiqued each other’s work. Besides Audri, I remember that one of the artists was Richard Bruland, the former owner of BeBop Records. Audri eventually painted the image that went on my CD/cassette of spoken word, Vehemence, from New Alliance Records (1993), and I contributed to the poem that accompanied her first computer art project, “A Thought Has No Physicality” (1995). (Note: This can be found on vimeo, but my inclusion of the link in this blog post will not grant direct access to it; hence, my mere citation of this early work.)

Audri is still working as an artist, though she stopped working on canvas about a half-dozen years ago and now paints only on the computer. Linda and I attended one of her earliest full-length collaborations that included work painted on a computer in 2011. It was a theatrical event, “Migrations,” that she staged in a geodesic dome with some other musicians. There were moments in that event that were as full of soothing gracefulness as anything I have ever absorbed.

Audri is shutting down her studio in which she worked with paint and selling all of her canvases. As she concludes this part of her life, I wish to pass on to you a link to her most recent work, “Robot Prayers,” which I believe you will enjoy and savor enough that you will hope she can keep on working in this manner for decades to come.

www.robotprayers.com

https://www.flickr.com/photos/111721388@N06/

http://www.studioarts.com/bio_audri_phillips

A Quick Sunday Trifecta: Joseph Hansen, Lewis MacAdams, and Women’s Music

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

There was a meeting this afternoon at Beyond Baroque for the committee in charge of its 50 anniversary celebration, which will start in just a few months. I couldn’t make the meeting, for I find myself trying to finish both a major poetry project and several papers for the literature side of things.

However, I doubt there’s a better way at the present moment to invoke the grubby days of a half-century ago — when poets in Venice considered themselves fortunate to have a small storefront to gather in and talk about their poems — than to pass along a link to an article on Joseph Hansen, without whom there would have been no workshop and everything that grew out of all those encounters. If George Drury Smith was the founder of Beyond Baroque, then Joseph Hansen was the secret instigator of its ability to encompass a most peculiar variety of poets. Lisa Janssen has written a very fine account of Hansen’s life and commitment to social change that deserves your attention:

MY FAVORITE GADABOUT #3: GAY PRIDE EDITION, JOSEPH HANSEN

Of course, not all the poets who have made a significant difference in Los Angeles were based in Venice. Lewis MacAdams, for instance, arrived here in the early 1980s and promptly made himself one of the indispensable activists. His work on reclaiming the Los Angeles river is legendary, and is rightfully being accorded an oral history in which Lewis gets to assemble and preserve the details of that process. Here is a link to an article that lets us peek into that process.

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-macadams-lariver-legacy-20171006-htmlstory.html

The third thing I’d like to share with you is a counterpoint to all the news coming out about a certain Hollywood mogul. While it’s crucial that those who have been victimized get to confront the perpetrator of their debasing memories, it’s also important not to let this overwhelm the discourse of imagination to the point where women are primarily categorized as either one of two things: victims or potential victims. Against considerable odds, women have done extraordinarily important cultural work, and here are two links to some of it. The first is to women who worked in the field of electronic music, and the second is to a long list of albums that anyone interested in popular music should be familiar with. For those born since 1990, a surprising number of these albums may only be familiar as flare-ups of nostalgia by their aunts and uncles, or parents.

http://edm.com/articles/2014/12/14/6-women-history-electronic-music

http://www.npr.org/2017/07/20/538324927/turning-the-tables-150-greatest-albums-made-by-women-page-13

As a last-minute follow-up, I just now remembered that I happened to run across a video that made me think of the book, Gunfighter Nation.

Is there a way to substitute guitars played by women musicians for the guns in the above video, and thereby move the image to one of affirming life’s potential for joy?

“Centered Recoils” — Caliban, Issue No. 28

Thursday, July 27, 2017

http://calibanonline.com/CO28/

Issue number 28 of Larry Smith’s CALIBAN magazine is now available on-line for reading. In particular, I would call attention to the quartet of questions posed in part five of Rob Cook’s “Elimination Recovery Entries”:

“Will artificial intelligence lead to awareness so powerful it can bring back everything that’s died? Do all sentient beings contain a code that can be recovered at any time, no matter how long ago they left? What will be done with the newly returned? What will be done to them (to us) when no one mental space is left in the universe?”

Sheila Murphy, Ivan Arguelles, Elizabeth Robinson, Jim Grabill, Carine Topal, and Simon Perchik are some of the poets who join with the visual artists in this issue in responding to these questions through a steadfast devotion to an organic imagination. My favorite collage pieces are Ellen Wilt’s “Unseen,” Angela Caporaso’s “Piante,” and Christine Kuhn’s mixed media pieces, especially “Roommates,” which reminds me of Alexej von Jawlensky’s work. The shadow presence of other artists can be seen in Ellene Glenn Moore’s three prose poems, each accompanied by the notation “after Joseph Albers.”

I, too, have a poem (“Centered Recoils”) that appears in this issue. I would note that my first attempt to answer the second of Cook’s question was a long prose poem entitled “The Resurrection” that was published in issue number nine of The Lamp in the Spine, a magazine edited by Jim Moore and Trish Hampl. Oddly enough, the first draft of the poem published in this issue of Caliban dates back to the period when I was working on that poem.

The Poet in “The Painter’s Garden”

July 3, 2017

I visited Jim McVicker a second time in the Eureka-Arcata area back in the mid-1990s, when I flew up there to spend some time with him and Terry Oats at their home, after which we drove together down to San Francisco, where Jim had an exhibition for which I wrote the catalogue copy.

While I was visiting, Jim began working on a painting of their garden, and I suggested that it might work better if he had a figure kneeling at work in the midst of the flowers. I walked along the garden path, crouching at various points, until Jim said, “Stop there.” It was a warm day, but I had a hat on, and the fragrant poise of his garden’s flowers helped me hold a pose long enough for him to render a symbolic votive centered in an enduring cycle of renewal.

I would like to note that Terry is also an exceptionally fine painter herself, and I would consider myself fortunate if someday she were to have the chance to include or feature me in one of her paintings, or if I were to be the subject of a portrait. Let’s put it this way: it’s on my bucket list. In the meantime, my office at school has a large painting of me that was done by Linda several years ago and exhibited at the Department of Art’s galleries in a portrait show. We still haven’t located a truck big enough to haul it back home, so when students walk in my office, they are often initially puzzled by my “office mate.” “Is that you?” “He’s the poet,” I tell them. “I’m the academic. There’s a difference, and I prefer it that way. I hope you’re here to discuss Literature.”

Painter's Garden - DETAIL - WM

(Detail from “The Painter’s Garden,” by Jim McVicker. July, 1996.)

The Papa Bach T-shirt Jaunt

July 2, 2017

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At some point between late 1971 and 1980, I bought a Papa Bach t-shirt and wore it to readings and while I was teaching in the Poets-in-the-Schools programs. In the summer of 1981, I drove up to Eureka, California with Cathay Gleeson to visit an old friend of hers, Karin. It was my first jaunt that far north in California, and details of that trip appeared in a long poem I was working on at the time, “Your Move.” It wasn’t the first long poem I had attempted. In 1973, I had worked on a long poem entitled “The Resurrection,” parts of which had been published in The Lamp in the Spine (edited by Jim Moore and Patricia Hampl) and Intermedia (edited by Harley Lond). “Your Move” was influenced by my reading at the start of that decade of poets such as Kit Robinson, Ron Silliman, Lyn Hejinian, Rae Armantrout, and Barrett Watten. It quickly went beyond just reading of their work. Conversations with Ron when he came down to Los Angeles and a talk and reading at Beyond Baroque continued once we had left that venue, for he stayed over on that trip at my apartment in Ocean Park.

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Cathay and I spent a week up in the Eureka-Arcata area, and I commissioned Karin’s friend, Jim McVicker, to paint a portrait of me, for which I chose to wear the Papa Bach t-shirt, the same one I was wearing when I was photographed teaching a poetry class in Lone Pine, California. This particular classroom photograph brings back a set of contradictory memories, since working with CPITS was a problematic enterprise. The time spent in Lone Pine, however, remains one of my fondest occasions of working with other poets. Kit Robinson was there, too, and he mentions the gathering in the Grand Piano volumes as one in which he felt out of place. He probably didn’t realize how many of us didn’t feel quite at ease with each other, but our devotion to inspiring the students superseded the disparities in our poetics. I remain grateful to Eva Poole-Gibson for all she did to orchestrate two consecutive years in which poets from all over the state gathered in Inyo County to celebrate the joy of language surprising us when we least expect it.

CPITS Brochure - PB