ART Basil King Martha King Poetry Prose Readings Writing

Black Mountain Songs Round-UP

Contrary to normal blog rules, this one is long as there is so much to tell.

First: What is “Black Mountain Songs”?  A collaborative musical event, inspired by the spirit of Black Mountain College, with songs composed by Jherek Bischoff, Bryce Dessner, Tim Hecker, John King, Nico Muhly, Richard Reed Parry, Caroline Shaw, and Alexsandra Vrebalov, arranged in a seamless stream for the voices of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. The show offered projections of archival and new visuals; two dancers, old Gus Solomons, once a member of the Merce Cunningham company, and young Adam Gauzza most recently of the Caroline Dorfman company; and seated stage left, Basil King, painter, poet, and Black Mountain College alum,  as narrator, reading bits of poetry and prose by Fielding Dawson, Josef Albers, and himself.

On the BAM stage: film projections and the Photo for Brooklyn Youth Chorusby Julieta Cervantes.

On the BAM stage: film projections, the chorus, musicians, and narrator, with Dianne  Berkun-Menaker, conducting. Photo for Brooklyn Youth Chorus by Julieta Cervantes.

The four performances of “Black Mountain Songs” went flawlessly to full houses and enthusiastic audiences at the Harvey Theater—part of the annual Next Wave Festival at BAM.  In fact every performance seemed richer and more exciting than the last.  (This despite Basil battling a vicious upper respiratory infection which emerged as full-scale bronchitis once the shows were over.) Multimedia in elegant restraint:   the amazing kids of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus singing without scores and moving to choreography that balanced their singing.

Here are links and reviews.

Wall Street Journal  (click to slide #8 of 9 for a photo of Baz)

The New York Times

The Brooklyn Youth Chorus

Muscians - including composers Bryce Dressner, seated with guitar, and Richard Parry, standing with bass. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

The musicians – including composers Caroline Shaw, third from left in orange pants, Bryce Dessner, seated with guitar, and Richard Reed Parry, standing with bass. Projection shows Josef and Anni Albers, at Black Mountain College. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

Side by Side --Gus Solomons and Adam Gauzza

Side by Side –Gus Solomons (left) and Adam Gauzza

Some background       Bryce Desser (composer and lead guitar in the indie-rock band The National) found Black Mountain first via composers—John Cage and Lou Harrison particularly.  And he’d been in those mountains as a boy when his parents sent him to a summer camp not far from Black Mountain’s former campus.  Later, Bryce’s sister, who was studying poetry with Larry Fagin and at the New School, began bringing him books he’d never encountered in a straight education:  Charles Olson.  Robert Duncan.  Robert Creeley.  And there was more.   The models of democracy and cross discipline collaboration Black Mountain presented spoke to him. Bryce shared his enthusiasm with friend, collaborator, and fellow composer Richard Reed Parry (instrumentals and vocals for the indie-rock band Arcade Fire).  Both musicians move easily from art rock to composing and performing contemporary concert music. Bryce’s previous collaboration with the Kronos Quartet and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus set his ideas rolling.

Basil accepts applause from chorus and audience.

Basil accepts applause from chorus and audience.

What Baz did   In addition to reading brief excerpts that introduced songs on texts by Fielding Dawson, Charles Olson, and Joseph Albers, he concluded with this piece of his:  

Oh, Black Mountain, wonderful place, desperate place.  I was blown to where light abstracts the smallest thing, into the core of a vernacular, into the heart of the abstract. No wind but the stillness blows me, no reason; no existence blows the shapes that have lost their edges. Oh, Black Mountain, wonderful place, desperate place. Blow your feathers and your worms. Your mulch protrudes the surface. Your bravery blows forgiveness. Your anger blows freedom. Oh, Black Mountain, wonderful place, desperate place. I was blown to where light abstracts the smallest thing, into the core of a vernacular, into the heart of the abstract. No wind but the stillness blows me, no reason; no existence blows the shapes that have lost their edges.

[From Learning to Draw/A History Basil King]

The Youth Chorus responded with hope for their Black Mountain and a marvelous final song, “Their Passing in Time,”  words and music  by Richard Reed Parry.

Will there be more?  Possibly.  Visit Bryce Dessner’s website for news and updates.

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NEWS: Events, Publications, and a Show — November 2014

November 6 at 6:30.   Basil will read from his new book, The Spoken Word/The Painted Hand (Marsh Hawk Press, 20l4*) and his old friend Hettie Jones will read some of her not-yet published short fictions.  They are both being presented by Prose Pros at Side Walk Café, Avenue A @ 6th Street. (Free, donations requested.)

Front cover of King's The Spoken Word/The Painted Hand

Front cover of King’s The Spoken Word/The Painted Hand

 

November 16 at 3:00Martha King and Basil King will read from new work published in Local Knowledge, Fall 2014, a biannual literary magazine featuring art, photographs, poetry, and prose of many kinds and variations. Basil is represented by “Basil’s Lifeboat” from his “Learning to Draw” series. Martha appears twice: in a note on dead cats and in “It Starts to Drizzle,” a history of her zine Giants Play Well in the Drizzle. Gala magazine launch & reading at Swift Hibernian, 34 East 4th Street, between Bowery and Lafayette.(Free, purchase of magazine requested.)

Martha King with her copy of Local Knowledge, fall 2014

Martha King with her copy of Local Knowledge, fall 2014

 

November 20, 21, 22, and 23.  Three evening performances at 7:30 and one final matinee at 3:00.   Basil will be the Narrator in “Black Mountain Songs” – a program of music by seven young composers, inspired by artists associated with Black Mountain College.  The Brooklyn Youth Chorus sings. Part of Brooklyn Academy of Music’s annual NEXT WAVE festival. Tickets sell out quickly. If you want to attend, please connect with BAM.

http://www.bam.org/BlackMountainSongs

A painting by Basil King (from his “Looking for the Green Man” series) will be in the BAM lobby exhibition until January 2015.

*There will be a reading and book launch for Marsh Hawk Press’s full fall list in December. http://www.marshhawkpress.org/BKing3.html

 

 

 

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Fall Now–and Summer Was

 

Sag Harbor

Sag Harbor

Three trips this summer:

1) To Sag Harbor, where the factory in which  a large cohort of young working women licked the brushes they used to paint glow-in-the-dark watch faces. They later died horribly of radium poisoning, their teeth more devastated than a meth addict’s.  The building  is now being “repurposed” for high end condo buyers: spa bathrooms, “light drenched”  living rooms, chefs’ kitchens and hefty monthly charges. But we didn’t stay there.  We visited one of our oldest friends still on earth — and lazed in his backyard, and talked all night.   Also had a long liquid lunch at a restaurant on a spit overlooking bay waters, somewhere off Bridgehampton, with an umbrella to tame the dazzle. Thank you LYNN.

 

The Peace Stupa

The Peace Stupa

IMG_69682)  To Wynncot in Northfield, Mass, where the faint scent of  “The Great Awakening,” of Christian work camps and fresh air idealism still drifts like the smell of hemlock needles. It’s amplified today with Eastern hopes: The Peace Stupa, e.g.  But better,  it harbors birds, trees, and friends in a wonderful huge house: once an Arts & Crafts summer “cottage” and later in turn a school, a youth hostel, a nursing home, a bed and breakfast.  The house sits on a hilltop that was once an island in Lake Hitchcock 15,000 years ago; the retreating ice sheet and a huge dump of glacial trash at the bottom blocked what would become the Connecticut River. The lake was 200 miles long before it burst through and roared out into Long Island Sound.  The biggest noise at Wynncot this summer was a dinner party, where we feasted on lobster and corn.  Thank you ED, and LISA too.

Door in the dining room, Florence Griswald home.

Door in the dining room, Florence Griswold home.

 

3) And finally we missed the Climate Change march because we were having a delightful weekend with Mark and Rachel in New Haven…with visits to Yale Art Gallery,the Center for British Art and that haven for polite early 20th century landscape painters, the boarding house of Florence Griswold in Old Lyme. Sure made us know how badly we all needed (still need?) the modern. But we did see a great folk art exhibit on loan.    THANKS Mark, Rachel, and Lissa!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall today and crisp cool & sunny.  If you are acculturated to school  –and who isn’t– fall always begins a new year, a new start, something new to read, to smell, to wear or at least something unworn since way last May. New Year, even if one isn’t Jewish!

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Perils of Archiving, Part 3: Two dreams

In a folder marked Basil’s dream

Baz and Robert Creeley were together, he visiting Creeley’s house, and Creeley had taken him out onto a large veranda or open porch where they stood together looking down into the yard as a bear, a male bear (I questioned Baz about that), wearing a white apron, but not cute, not Paddington or Winnie-the-Pooh but a large wild bear, walking upright, and wearing a white apron, walked from the woods through the yard, climbed up a large tree, and halfway up, stopped, yanked from the trunk a knot, carefully lowered himself a way down, then jumped rather gracefully to the ground;  whereupon, carrying the knot in his forepaws, he returned, retracing his steps, to the woods.  Baz and Creeley, both delighted, laughed.

courtesy of Getty commons
courtesy of Getty common

And in the same undated file folder

 

Wildbear sat down

Black bird flew up

–Hetty King,

(who wrote quite a bit of poetry before she was 12 when dancing became her main focus.)

 

 

 

 

 

Critique Martha King Prose

Perils of Archiving, Part 2

Found: Notes on Gentility  (date unknown)

I’ve never understood women in expensive restaurants who whip out lipsticks to remake their faces right at the table. Inspections in the compact mirror.  Baring teeth to check for crumbs of lipstick or food. A dab. A fingernail.  Powder over the nose. I don’t use makeup; I suppose I might, but I’d never do that.

from Getty Images

from Getty Images

And yet I use language that offends even my family.  After flushing the toilet three times I’m slamming out of the door to say: “The turd that would not say goodbye.”  Daughter Hetty who should be used to me by now says, “I think I’m gonna be sick.”

I was hurt. I thought what I said was funny, and besides I was, truly, frustrated, and besides why not say anything I want? Anything with the capacity to derail, defrock,vent hostility, expose discontinuity, especially anything to make someone laugh?  No?

Martha King

Perils of Archiving…part 1

Odd things do surface when one embarks on archiving (and cleaning out) files that have been sitting in untouched splendor. This is an orphaned unnumbered page from my never finished detective novel, Max Sees Red, circa 1978. Max, my protagonist, is driving upstate to rescue his friend Robby ….

This is me.

This is me.

Robby that son of a bitch, he’s too nervous to know what’s good for him, he’s had it too easy, going from oil to oil. It’s been nothing but one straight line for him starting with his home and school and now writing his books. 

 Sweet Robby, if you only knew dirt under your fingers from hard work and not just because you can’t be bothered to wash your hands.  You know, Robby, my father’s hands were always dirty when he came home from the plant and he was always washing them and washing them. Planted permanently in his palm was the dirt of making thousands of Dodge cars. I said to myself, there’s got to be another way.  So what do I end up doing? Shit, I end up a painter. Color and oil under my fingernails all the time.  Goes to show ya, you can’t travel too far.  Yah, no assembly line for me I says, so now I got my quota.  Twenty paintings a year or else.  Boy, that was a good curve, slow and easy like they say. 

Those impressionists don’t know how lucky they were.  First the tube of paint get invented and they are able to get outside. Who has the time now? You got to have a lot of time to get an impression of something.   Wonder what would have happened if the car had been invented before the tube of paint.  No Monet.  It sure could have fucked things up. Or maybe not.  Maybe we would have come to it another way – that the boot is as important as the tree…. 

Renoir never did like the way Matisse used black.  Renoir, the sunshine kid, eh? He was the John Denver of his day.  What a sight Renoir and Cezanne spending an afternoon in a porno parlor.  Renoir knowing it all, Cezanne uptight, paranoid, but really digging it. Oh yes, this is your territory, your scene Cezanne. I can see you right behind that big rock all excited and letting those “little sensations” get to you and turn all the frustrations that you couldn’t shake off to color to shape a wonder.

 Max, you romantic ass, next thing you’ll be voting and teaching school.  Be sensible and get back to asses and tits and straight lines and drive. 

This is Basil King's painting, "AFTER Monet." (Dyptich, mixed media on  masonite.)

This is Basil King’s painting, “AFTER Monet.”
(Dyptich, mixed media on masonite.)

Martha King

Earrings by Kirin!

SUNDAY – July 6 – Unique Earrings  

326A 4th Street, Brooklyn

Between 6th and 5th Avenues (on your way to the Farmers Market on 5th)

earrings-3 earrings-4

A collection of handmade individually designed Swarkovski crystal earrings

One-of-a-kind designs by Kirin and Sansana Sawasdiskosol*

 $20/pair

* Yes, this is my grandson Kirin, with some designs by his father Sansana! Kirin Sawasdikosol

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Baz does “Windows”

Baz does Windows!

From "Windows" - mixed media on Stonehenge paper, cBasil King, 2014

From “Windows” – mixed media on Stonehenge paper, cBasil King, 2014

This new series, called Windows, of mixed media on Stonehenge paper (all 40 inches x 26 inches ) and two diptych paintings (mixed media on canvas, combined dimensions 56 inches x 42 inches) testify to some variation of that old song:  “Don’t cry for me dear Abstraction…the truth is I never left you….”     But his abstraction did morph and recombine and even now reappears.

The full album is on Flickr at

https://www.flickr.com/photos/67642740@N08/sets/72157642866641604/