Category Archives: Critique

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

 

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

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 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.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

ART Basil King Critique News Poetry Writing

NEWS: Kimberly Lyons on Basil King’s art

Good news: DISPATCHES FROM THE POETRY WARS  http://dispatchespoetrywars.com/ is up and healthy. (The site had a spate of glitches during a recent upgrade.)

I am even more pleased to report that a thoughtful article by Kimberly Ann Lyons on Basil King’s visual art “Here is Another Somewhere” is in the Commentary section… http://dispatchespoetrywars.com/…/another-somewhere-visual…/

Also available is the complete text of Basil’s complex meditation on the events of September 11, 2001: TWIN TOWERS. Visit the Dispatches section http://dispatchespoetrywars.com/dispatches/…/07/twin-towers/

Kim takes a look at Basil’s development and the influences of his friends and mentors at Black Mountain College…focusing especially on a never-before discussed connection to Robert Duncan and his concept of art involving the weaving and the UNWEAVING of a figure…and the twist that permits emergence of mercurial genius.

Basil (Lyons says) “has a shared perception with (Duncan) when he writes that “We know we can endure because each one of us has become one of the other.”

The article includes a few reproductions of Basil’s visual art, to which I’ll add one more, just finished this September.

“Mirage II, Highway Obstacle” – mixed media on canvas, 2017,  34″ x 48″,  ©Basil King. Collection of the artist.

It’s important for me to mention that this issue of DISPATCHES  is packed with thoughtful, funny, moving, angry, and exciting work. Thank you, editors Kent Johnson and Michael Boughn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ART Basil King Critique Martha King Poetry Readings

Yuko Otomo and Eddie Berrigan

A wonderful reading was held last week at the Dominque Levy Gallery during the exhibition of Chung Sang-Hwa, but the art just below, “Dream of the New Year” is not his.

Hanging Scroll, ink on paper, by Hakuin, Edo Period, found on page 31 of a catalog of the Mary and Jackson Burke Collection, Morikami Museum, DeRay Beach, Florida
Hanging Scroll, ink on paper, by Hakuin, Edo Period, found on page 31 of a catalog of the Mary and Jackson Burke Collection, Morikami Museum, DeRay Beach, Florida

Afterwards BASIL wrote this to YUKO

You and Eddie gave a wonderful reading. It was like listening to two different languages. Eddie spoke in his native tongue and he takes in the exterior that confronts him with acute insight.

At the beginning of this week I went to the dentist to have my teeth cleaned. The woman who cleaned my teeth was English and she was very efficient. Half way through the cleaning she said, “You have a very strong tongue.”

Poets have to have strong tongues so that we can fortify the vernacular.

And at the end of the cleaning I thanked her and said that wasn’t too bad. Her response was “It’s a lot better than a slap in the face with a wet fish. Bet you haven’t heard that in a long time.”

My mother used to say that. How did she know? Was it my body language? What did I say that gave her the clues that I had been born in England?

YUKO — Martha asked me why I didn’t clap when you finished reading. It wasn’t that I wasn’t moved by what you read. It was exactly the opposite. Even though you read in English I heard maybe for the first time you speak in your “native tongue.” It’s by chance that last week Martha found on the street JAPANESE ART/Personal Selections from The Mary and Jackson Burke Collection. One of the illustrations in the book is “Dream of the New Year” by Hakum (1685-1768) and I kept seeing Hakum’s meditation as you were reading and I asked myself not clap but sit and do nothing.

 

Yuko was invited to write a poem for Chung Sang-Hwa’s art, which she read and which is published in the catalog. He lives and works in South Korea, has been widely shown in Asia, especially in Korea and Japan, and is now 84.  This is his first solo exhibition in the U.S.

"Untitled" - oil on canvas, 28 3/8 inches x 25 5/8 inches, C Chung Sang-Hwa.

  • Untitled, 1982, oil/canvas, 28 2/8 inches by 25 5/8 inches, ©Chung Sang-Hwa -From the Dominique Levy Gallery website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basil King Critique News Poetry Writing

NEWS: in Talisman #44 — Basil King and more

In TALISMAN #44 – 2016         www.talismanmag.net    online only   FREE
Special Section on Neeli Cherkovski
New Work by Cherkovski
Commentary by Seth Amos, Michael Berger,Patrick James Dunagan,
Peter Valente, and A.D. Winans, 
*Special section: ​Basil King, “Crownstone”

*Special section: George Quasha, “fluctuant gender (preverbs)”

Talisman masthead
Talisman masthead
Cover photo for Talisman #44
Cover photo for Talisman #44

Wonderful works by King and Quasha, and lovely to see them together. Cherkovski to explore…as I don’t know his new work. As with the rest of issue 44, lots, lots more to explore!  Thank you, Ed Foster.

Crownstones mark the actual Mason Dixon Line and Basil King’s poem is an exploration of the South, exemplified by Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Eudora Welty, Elvis Presley, Mohammed Ali, and many of Martha King’s ancestors–William Davis, Gabriella Garth, Theodore Shuey, Agnes Symmers….

A brief excerpt:

I’ve never been to hell but I’ve seen
A wooden match
Glow in the eyes of those that hate
I saw that they wanted to burn
The house the sitting room the bed room
Burn black man burn white trash
Burn the tender the keeper’s voice
Burn the positive and the negative
Burn the arms the throat the song
The Weather Vane
The south the north the Continental Divide
The blond the red head the brunette
The black nappy African American hair
Define the root of its hollow springs
The spirit asks why

ART Basil King Basil King MIRAGE film Critique Exhibitions Green Man Martha King Memoir (Outside Inside) museums News Poetry Prose Readings Writing

The YEAR 2015

Just got (unrequested) a look back at 2015 from Facebook, hitting not much of much interest. Thus am prodded to do my own.

February – Baz reads at the Dia Foundation with the wonderfully multi-talented multi-named Pam Dick (Mina, Gregoire, et al) in celebration of the 2014 publication of his The Spoken Word/The Painted Hand. Marsh Hawk Press.  Available at SPD and elsewhere. (Probably even ABE’s for the pennysavers.)

 Basil King’s … mashups of art, culture, and lived experience, both minute and momentous challenge the reader out of conventional notions of art history, by a continuous attention to detail. . . .” — Kevin Killian

April – At the AWP meeting in Minneapolis. Martha speaks in a panel discussion, organized by Martha, about the influence of Black Mountain today, with C.S. Giscombe, Burt Kimmelman, Lee Ann Brown, and Vincent Katz. Later a terrific reading by Baz and C.S. Giscome and a larger group reading also including Sam Truit, Kim Lyons, Burt Kimmelman, and more, at James and Mary Laurie Booksellers

AprilIn conjunction with AWP, “Basil King: MIRAGE” a film by Nicole Peyrafitte and Miles Joris-Peyrafitte is screened at the Walker Art Center.

May – Baz is 80 years old.

June – New York premier of selections from George Quasha’s monumental Poetry Is project at Anthology Film Archives includes Quasha’s interview with Baz.

June– Martha returns to poetry with work in Bone Bouquet, 6.1. Still available:  http://www.bonebouquet.org/issue-6-1/   So too is Bone Bouquet 6.2 just out this fall. One way to reassure oneself that the era of adventurous magazine publishing is far from over is to check out this magazine.

November – Martha’s memoir Outside Inside – that is 50 pages of it, expertly excerpted and condensed by Brigid Hughes, is featured in issue 22 of A Public Space magazine.With photos of the long ago that seem fresh.  Issue 22 –print or digital—can be ordered here: http://apublicspace.org/magazine

December  short podcasts of Baz reading the following poems – and one personal recollection of TV in the early 1950s. Go here! https://soundcloud.com/joseph-terranella/sets/basil-king-2015

Basil’s Lifeboat   (1 minute 23 seconds)

Inside Delacroix’s Garden (2 minutes 14 seconds)

The Butterfly and the Rat (2 minutes 32 seconds)

Looking for the Green Man (3 minutes 53 seconds)

Highway Obstacle (4 minutes 11 seconds)

Channeling 3 – (4 minutes 18 seconds)

The Americans – The Immigrants   (6 minutes, 48 seconds)

Grey – complete (14 minutes 27 seconds)

Working in TV – from an interview (2 minutes 46 seconds)

AND MUCH TO COME IN 2016, including BASIL KING ART at the Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center, Asheville, N.C., opening SEPTEMBER 2.

Bone Bouquet, Spring 2015
Bone Bouquet, Spring 2015
Martha King reading . Photo by Sarah Kaplan.
Martha King reading in Minneapolis . Photo by Sarah Kaplan.
Baz reading at the Dia Foundation9
Baz reading at the Dia Foundation. Photo by Garth Davidson.
At the Walker Museum, April 2015
At the Walker Museum, April 2015