“Who is She?” — Terry Braunstein’s show in Long Beach

Saturday, August 16, 2013

In the late 1970s, I worked at a bookstore at 11th Street and Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica. It had been launched by three young fiction writers who were eager to join that decade’s lively independent book store scene in Los Angeles (and in this case, I mean the county and not the city). By the time I started working at the front counter and running the reading series, only one of the three fiction writers was still involved with the store, which served as the entry point to Los Angeles for one of its most prominent literary spokespersons, Michael Silverblatt. He had recently moved to Los Angeles and was living in an apartment, slightly north of Wilshire, several blocks west of the store, Michael didn’t drive, but he was in a perfect neighborhood to get around without a car. One afternoon, when business was slow, he happened to walk in and we began talking about poetry. I was putting together my first anthology, The Streets Inside, at the time and ended up inviting him to my apartment for a combination publication party/New Year’s Eve party at the end of 1978. It was there that he met Jim Krusoe, who became one of his enduring friends. Though Michael and I did not remain confident acquaintances, I am happy that he eventually found a niche where his specialized acuity continues to flourish.

Among the people I met at the store who turned into long-time friends was Dinah Berland, a photographer and critic who was beginning to write poetry. (The opposite move was being made by another visitor to the store, Peter Schjeldahl, who went on to write one of the classic poems about Los Angeles, “Pico Boulevard,” but would soon begin to focus on writing about art.) Dinah eventually introduced me to her best friend, Terry Braunstein, with whom she was an undergraduate roommate at the University of Michigan. I reviewed a show of Terry’s at the Long Beach Museum of Art in the late 1980s for the Long Beach Press-Telegram and have continued to admire how she retains her commitment to local activism even as she has exhibited her work on an international scale.

Terry sent out a notice the other day about her most recent project. The first weekend after Labor Day is traditionally a very busy occasion for visual artists, so I want to post her invitation well in advance so that any reader can plan her or his visits to various openings that weekend to include her event, “Who is She?” It will take place at a vacant lot in Long Beach at the corner of Anaheim & Walnut Streets. Terry’s installation/sculpture will be placed into dialogue with a choreographed piece by Cyrus Parker-Jeannette at both 5:45 and 7:45 p.m. The second performance will also feature projected animations by David Familian.

This event is part of a larger project called “A LOT,” in which vacant pieces of property in Long Beach are temporarily appropriated to present free arts experiences. It is sponsored in part by an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information on both Terry and Dinah, please go to their websites: terrybraunstein.com and Dinahberland.com.