Category Archives: Black Mountain Collage

Black Mountain Collage BlazeVOX books Critique Memoir (Outside Inside) News

Fine Review of Outside/Inside

Fine review of my memoir in Golden Handcuffs

Excited to let everyone know that Ian Brinton has reviewed my memoir, Outside/Inside in issue 27, Vol 2, of  Golden Handcuffs Literary Review. A very thoughtful review that places my book in finely drawn historical context.

Martha King at Howl Arts launch of Outside/Inside, 11/2018

If you subscribe (this is an excellent wide-ranging mag published IN PRINT) you’ve probably seen it as well as Brinton’s moving “Breaking Out” – on the life and work of the late Michael Rumaker. The Rumaker review is available on line; the review of my book is not.

Alas, I cannot post it here as the text is locked into a PDF. But I can attach it in an email. I’ll send it on request. Ask me!

ART Basil King Black Mountain Collage BlazeVOX books Martha King Memoir (Outside Inside) News Poetry Writing

Important UK magazine features King work

tears in the fence, #69, Spring 2019 is now available.

This issue ranges wide as tears does — and includes Basil King’s new poem, “Pick Up a Stitch — Drop a Stitch, work by Laurie Duggan, and this comment by editor David Caddy on Martha King’s memoir, Outside/Inside:

Martha King’s memoir, Outside/Inside…just outside the art world’s inside (BlazeVOX books) is a beautifully written insight into the world of a young woman who studied at Black Mountain College in its last year, arriving with ‘an old hotplate two saucepans, some picnic cutlery’ and eventually fell in with artist and writer, Basil King. She chronicles her subsequent domestic and bohemian life, including a great many significant figures in and around Black Mountain, San Francisco, and New York art scenes. It is an absolute joy to read and leaves the reader uplifted by a deeply felt clarification of the importance of those movements, and with a broad smile. Amongst many highlights is the story of the wedding of the headstrong protagonists, which is both funny and memorable. King’s prose, warmly inviting, succinct and perceptive moves effortlessly from story to story, and is so giving in her generosity of spirit and emotional intelligence. This intimate portrait, dense with detail, of a critical period in American art and writing, is a page-turner, and sure to become a classic.

Lovely issue of an always essential independent international literary magazine.

Order and subscribe at www.tearsinthefence.com. Use the Donate button. Or mail an order with a check. Four issues for $40  (or $60  if airmail delivery is requested).

BTW, “Pick Up a Stitch” is Part Five of a chapbook-length piece called Basil’s Bean Book – not yet published.

 

 

 

ART Basil King Black Mountain Collage Critique Martha King Memoir (Outside Inside) News

Another fine review of Outside/Inside!

Very pleased to announce a review by Mike Foldes – online in the current issue of RAGAZINE https://www.ragazine.cc/2019/01/outside-inside-book-review/

Find Ragazine at www.ragazine.cc

For many years when I was of high school age I wondered what it would be like to go to Black Mountain College. I didn’t know at the time what little I’d heard applied to an institution that no longer existed, except, that is, in the influences it would have on social, economic, cultural and scientific life in the coming decades – and, perhaps, centuries. While I missed out on sharing in that provocative educational opportunity, I had a chance to experience it in some fashion in the pages of Martha King’s wonderful Outside/Inside, a personal narrative that introduces the reader to a pantheon of literary and artistic personalities, not the least of whom is her life partner Basil “Baz” King. Many of that group shared months or years living, working, creating and recreating at what was Black Mountain, and later in life in other parts of the United States and the world. The appendix of capsule bios of people mentioned “in order of appearance” is as impressive an assortment of creative and influential friends and acquaintances as one might desire to have had in the aesthetically critical, politically and socially conflicted, and economically free-wheeling post-War, mid-Century America.

King lays out a personal history of experience as girl, daughter, woman, wife, mother, writer and artist in a captivating memoir overflowing with details of events and conversations culled from decades of experiences that carried her on wings through good times and bad, from a childhood in Chapel Hill to a term at Black Mountain, to San Francisco, New York City, as well as places between and afar, to finally settle in Brooklyn where she and Basil made a home for themselves and their children in Park Slope. What begins as an explanation of how she came to attend BMC evolves into the story of a lifelong relationship wrapped in a manifesto presenting Basil’s work as authentic and as valuable as any of their contemporaries. “The jury is still out…” she writes in a preface, in reference to his output, and throughout the book elevates his drawings, paintings, mixed media collaborations and publishing efforts to a level that demands we take another look. That we analyze and examine Basil King’s output against the backdrop of works by Koontz, Warhol, de Kooning and other of their (and, for many of us, our) contemporaries as more immediately recognizable by name, if not on sight.

While she writes of well-known personalities and familiar events, King also offers portraits of friends and acquaintances whose lives ended unheroically in tragedy from disease, addiction and accidents, of failed relationships, of questionable ethics and supreme efforts that went unrecognized. She steadfastly stands by Basil’s work as exemplary, and in a section of the book about their time in Grand Haven, Michigan, discusses his work and influence on a community not used to the sort of incongruous thought patterns that generate energy and evidence of commitment to the creative life. The framework for the claim that Basil King deserves to be remembered for his contributions to life and art is based as much upon his collaborations as with his output, itself.

As I write this, I see that Edward Hopper’s “Chop Suey” just sold at auction for more than $90 million, where it was expected to fetch around $70 million. So what is it with art today that the work of someone else who spent a lifetime putting shoulder to the wheel to transform ethereal to material and share it with the world in ways not seen, heard or read before, should not be remembered as having served his master in the same vigorous pursuit of truth? Who is the visionary, and who is popularized by some who should know better? Whose work deserves mention in the afterlife, which is the life of those who survive the creator?

King rightfully acknowledges that her belief in the value of the work of Basil King is not to be misread as a woman standing by her man, but as an assessment of output against the panorama of people, places and things she and he lived with and through, and the influences they had on one another, as well as the work of unknown others, that make Basil King’s work important. And, as Martha King’s witness to, and assessments of, those same Times prove, she is a literary power in her own right.  I don’t believe it is too much to say Outside/Inside is an informative and enjoyable read, and important reference to a vital era of intellectual curiosity and creativity too rapidly passing with its well-drawn characters into the realms of Art History.

About the reviewer:  Mike Foldes is founder and managing editor of Ragazine.cc. 

Outside/Inside from BlazeVOX Books, 480 pages/paperback

Order from Blazevox.com or Amazon

 

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Outside/Inside -Martha’s memoir-is published

I am delighted to announce the publication of Outside / Inside:  Just outside the art world’s inside, my memoir published by BlazeVOX Books.  The book can be ordered now on the BlazeVOX website, or on Amazon, or by pestering your favorite local bookshop.

Outside of Outside / Inside

Wonderful warm words  Here are comments from advance readers:

Martha King’s fascinating memoir bristles with a unique kinetics of purpose, struggle, reluctant parents, loyal friendships, and of a lifelong partnership with brilliant artist Basil King forged in a utopian dream of communality and the powers of alternative art praxis and passionate bohemian life. What a headstrong young woman she was taking off to Black Mountain upon receiving a note from then rector Charles Olson to “Come with all the money you have and what you are used to for cooking.” And what a long life that continues unabated! Indeed this book is a way of seeing with others in and out of place inthe maelstrom of heady American art and poetry life. I think of Clifford Geertz’sterms “consociational”: all the bustling intersecting realities and persons and thework itself that makes such a grand fabric and warm salute to an amazing time in our culture’s complicated relationship to its geniuses.   I couldn’t put OUTSIDE/INSIDE down until way after dawn, captured by King’s patience, and the urgent “call” to tell this palpable art-driven love story, an archive of trenchant and luminous particulars. —Anne Waldman

I’ve just finished with this splendid memoir. It has so much life to it, and brio, and so much deeply felt reflection that I’m hooked. I loved hearing about everything! The picture of San Francisco life at a certain moment in the mid-fifties has not been equaled elsewhere…but the Lucia Berlin chapter was to me the emblem of all the rest—a long look, with a hundred cunningly observed details, that builds to an heroic thesis. —Kevin Killian

Martha King’s writing brims with a forward propulsion that makes her memoir a page-turner, until you deliberately slow down to relish many passages. You end up appreciating a well-lived life, even if you are not familiar with all of its characters. She says early on that she, perhaps unfashionably for today, lived/lives a life (partly) in support of her partner rather than in self-focused exploration. That’s not something to criticize when her partner, painter-poet Basil King, manifests an integrity that earns any support for it. Besides, hindsight shows that Martha ends up fulfilling her own potential as a poet and writer. The very last word of the memoir sums up Martha’s life — it is a word worth discovering in a book worth reading for her definition. —Eileen R. Tabios

Here it is, kids, the Martha King chronicles. An insider’s account of the real late Black Mountain College, starting with Charles Olson’s enigmatic but clearly motivated postcard: “Come with what money you have in hand and what you are used to for cooking.” The trip stretches wide and far but comes home to a real sense of living. And living for art. Eventually, and then always, with partner in crime and much else, painter and poet Basil King. She gives us what we really want and need — textures: “rotting mattresses, worn-out boots…” She tells what radical women’s lives were like, they “…improvised their clothing, cooked exotic peasant food, tied nursing babies to their waists with Mexican scarves.” She cuts to the essential: “Black Mountain is important because it grew a language – in collision – that is still available for use.” She gives us close-up accounts of goings on inside the Cedar Street Tavern. Denizens, avatars, pass through and by: John Wieners, Frank O’Hara, Hettie Jones, Bob Thompson, Paul Blackburn. And then she goes beyond that, all the way to the present. King clarifies, edifies, entertains. She gives the reader all that freely, and the reader is duly gratified. —Vincent Katz

Martha King’s lively, always insightful memoir provides an intimate account of not only the artists and writers constellated around Black Mountain College in the 1950s but the evolution of many of its figures—famous ones like Charles Olson and John Wieners as well as those less so—while the scenery changes from San Francisco to the East Village, from the ragged clapboards at Black Mountain to the Park Avenue apartments of art dealers. Against the backdrop of her proper Southern upbringing King charts her sentimental education, one done in the company of her husband Basil King, with both eye and ear attuned to the urgent disputes and minor key joys that animate the ordinary days of poets and painters. By turns a family remembrance, a gossipy tale, a love story, and a bildungsroman, Outside/Inside gives vivid account of lives lived in pursuit of making. —Al Mobilio

The book is an incredible picture of life in the art/writing scene over that period. A great picture too of New York. I’d been reading part of Edmund Wilson’s diaries which gives a detailed account of the city some thirty years [earlier]. Martha King’s account is just as sharp and dense with detail….it’s the period just before the money people completely took over. I like the take on the sixties counter-culture, its naivety in being part of the advance of capitalism without knowing it. And I think that what is says about women in that period (or now for that matter) is absolutely on the money. —Laurie Duggan

Martha King was there, and her book is a testimony to the moment when modernism transitioned into contemporary poetry and painting. From Black Mountain to Frank O’Hara and James Rosenquist, she and her husband, the much accomplished and respected painter and writer Basil King, were there, and the result is a personal and detailed guide to a critical moment in the history of the American arts. This is an essential book. Don’t miss it.—Edward Foster

BOOK LAUNCH!  A launch party is taking place at Howl Arts, 6 East 1st Street (between 2nd & 3rd Avenues) on Thursday November 8, 7-9 pm. All invited!
Here is the link:
ART Basil King Black Mountain Collage Exhibitions Martha King museums News Poetry Turchin Center for the Visual Arts

The Kings at “Creative Democracy” – The Turchin Center for Visual Arts

Three vitrines display books and broadsides by Basil King and Martha King

To celebrate the legacy of Black Mountain College, the Turchin Center for Visual Arts at Appalachian State University has mounted a show called “Creative Democracy.”  It’ll be on view until June 2, 2018.   (See previous post, “Basil King in new BMC Exhibition” posted in January.)

Twelve of Basil King’s recent bird paintings are featured, along with other Black Mountain connected art and artifacts. Basil gave a one-hour talk on his art and life as did former BMC student Frank Hursh. Martha  is represented with some of her publications in vitrines. The Kings also visited poet Joe Bethanti’s class for a lively Q&A about Black Mountain and beyond. Books by Martha and by Basil are currently for sale in the Appalachian State University bookstore. (Look on the website www.basilking.net for purchase information elsewhere!)

Here are some highlights.

Two paintings by Frank Hursh who attended BMC in 1949; King’s “Perch #4 – The Three Graces” in the middle; Pots by Peter Voulkos in vitrine.

From the top: “Perch #16” – “Perch #3” – “Sketch for Perch” – and “Perch #12” — all Basil King, 2017.

Overview.  Wall in the back begins with King’s  “Bird & Company – Cousin Green” at left and ends with “Perch #11 – November 9, 2016” on right.  Wall on left full of Dawson collages, hung too high for easy viewing, alas.

From the left – paintings by Hursh, King, Susan Weil, King again.

 

Jacob Lawrence (left) Basil King (right)

Fielding Dawson collage.  This was a cover for Dawson’s chapbook “The Shell Game”

Logo for the exhibition and the University’s semester-long BMC celebration.

 

 

 

Desk for BMC students, designed by Joseph Albers

ART Basil King Black Mountain Collage Critique Exhibitions Green Man Martha King museums News Turchin Center for the Visual Arts Writing

New Publication and an Exhibition

The online magazine Talisman has just posted issue #46 with a substantial section of critical responses to Basil King’s art and poetry…which a number of the commentators have so rightly considered together.

 

 

 

Go   www.talismanmag.net to read and see. Yes, see, as there are links to Basil’s visual art and a provocative selection of his rarely seen works on paper in Kimberly Lyons essay.

Burt Kimmelman, An Introduction to the Essays on Basil King
Mallory King, Basil King, Artist
Joshua Gardner, Between the Physical and the Cultural: Basil King
and Charles Olson’s “Herodotean Exploration.”

Mitch Highfill, Basil King and the Small Press Revolution
Vyt Bakaitis, Borne to Light: Basil King’s History Now
Laurie Duggan, Basil King and the Green Man

Vincent Katz, Some Thoughts on the Paintings and Poetics of Basil King
Burt Kimmelman, Painting, Poetry, Basil King
Martha King, “Aldgate Narcissus”: Basil King’s work in the late 1960s
Andrew Levy, Talking Pause – Reflections on Basil
Kimberly Lyons, Basil King Works on Paper: Singularity, Dyads, Families and Mass
George Quasha, Everything Is Language
Barry Schwabsky, Playing Cards and Cigarettes
Daniel Staniforth, Basil King’s Learning to Draw/ A History

 And as infomercials say, “WAIT, There’s more!”   A group of Basil’s recent paintings, a selection of his books, and a selection of my (Martha King’s) publications are now on view at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, Appalachian State University, in Boone, North Carolina. The exhibition celebrating “Creative Democracy: The Legend of Black Mountain College” will be on view until June 2, 2018. To view the invitation, copy this into your browser:   https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/ead3a302-ecbf-4140-a4bf-5d671a4c2989.

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Basil King in new BMC exhibition

Creative Democracy: The Legacy of Black Mountain College – Art and artifacts by people who were students at the now legendary North Carolina art school (1933-1956)

Exhibition opens: Friday, January 12, 2018

Exhibition Celebration: Friday, March 2, 2018 (6:00pm -10:00pm)

Exhibition ends: Saturday, June 2, 2018

Venue: Main Gallery of the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina

Basil King is represented in this exhibition with twelve recent paintings.  Martha King and Basil King are represented in displays of broadsides, books and magazines in which their literary and art works appeared.

On March 1, 2018, at 6 PM Basil King will give an evening talk on his experiences as a student at BMC, its impact on his development, and his perspectives regarding the continued and growing interest in Black Mountain ideas.

He and Martha King will be attending the Exhibition Celebration the following night — 6PM to 10PM.

The exhibition is part of the campus-wide celebration of the legacy of Black Mountain College during Appalachian State University’s Spring 2018 semester.  Click this link for descriptions of the campus-wide activities.https://today.appstate.edu/2017/10/18/black-mountain-college-semester

 

 

ART Basil King Black Mountain Collage Critique Martha King Poetry Writing

Review of History Now — in JPR

New comment on Basil King’s art and writing 

Joshua Gardner, critic

Kim Lyons, poet and critic

Basil King with his latest book

 

 

Joshua A.W. Gardner in his review of Basil King’s latest book of poetry, History Now (New York: Marsh Hawk Press, 2017), “connects the dots” between King’s visual art and the poetry he has been writing since 1985. Gardner finds his “intellectual kinship with the poet Charles Olson” seminal and concludes that King has made himself “a living extension of the Black Mountain legacy” by freely intermingling historical facts, poetry, language, politics, and the capacity to have more than one voice.

The review is 7 pages including photographs, notes, a reproduction and a link to SPD for ordering the book.

Journal of Poetic Research, September 2017. Download it here:

http://poeticsresearch.com/article/joshua-a-w-gardner-reviews-basil-king/

 

This follows publication of Kimberly Ann Lyons’ essay “Here is Another Somewhere: The Visual Art of Basil King” which focuses on the influence of Robert Duncan and his aesthetics on Basil King’s art. She identifies Duncan’s concept of art involving the weaving and the unweaving of a figure…”the twist that permits emergence of mercurial genius”… as instrumental in King’s development. He was an art student at Black Mountain College when Duncan taught there in the 1950s.

The article is 14 pages and has six small reproductions of Basil King paintings.

Dispatches Poetry Wars, July 2017. Download it here:

Here Is another Somewhere: the Visual Art of Basil King, by Kimberly Lyons