Tag Archives: memoir

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

 

Martha King Memoir (Outside Inside) News Writing

Outside/Inside reviewed!

With great pleasure I’d like to draw your attention to an impressive review of my memoir, Outside / Inside, in the most recent issue of an online literary review also well worth your attention. Thank you, editor Bronwyn Mills.  The magazine is The WALL issue #6:      https://www.wittypartition.org/

Rabbit from this issue of The WALL

Conejo: paint on wood.
Un Gato en Bicicleta librería. Sevilla, España
Photo: Bronwyn Mills

The review of my book is here:

https://www.wittypartition.org/martha-king.html

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:
Martha King Memoir (Outside Inside) News Writing

NEWS Outside/Inside to be published this October

NEWS – Outside / Inside  by Martha King has a publisher!

Martha King’s memoir Outside/Inside (just outside the art world’s inside) will be available from Blaze VOX Books in October 2018.

For a preview of the book, see Eileen Tabios’ great blogspot Galatea Resurrects!  https://galatearesurrects2018.blogspot.com

Martha King

Eileen is featuring King’s chapter on Frank O’Hara in her May edition. (I don’t have permission to reproduce it but there is a wonderful photograph of Frank O’Hara with Larry Rivers – who appears in this chapter – on the cover of Standing Still and Walking in New York, San Francisco: Grey Fox Press, 1975.)

Basil King Martha King Memoir (Outside Inside) News Prose Pros series Writing

News: Martha’s memoir in A Public Space magazine

Fifty pages of my memoir Outside Inside — expertly excerpted and condensed by Brigid Hughes — is featured in issue 22 of A Public Space. With many photographs.  Issue 22 –print or digital— or an annual subscription — can be ordered here: http://apublicspace.org/magazine

While I posted announcements on Facebook in October and had a marvelous send-off at the November 2015 Prose Pros reading series at Side Walk – aided by friends Vincent Katz, Mitch Highfill, Kimberly Lyons and Burt Kimmelman, who read excerpts from my work and their own autobiographical prose – I  never posted the story on this blog.

So, once again, I have the pleasure of putting up the photograph taken by Lynn St. John back when I was 22.  Here it is as the spread in the magazine:

Spread in A Public Space, with my article and Lynn St. John's photo.
Spread in A Public Space, with my article and Lynn St. John’s photo.

While the whole manuscript (all 300-plus pages of it) awaits a publisher, check out this issue. Not only for my stories, some sad and some glorious, with Basil King, Paul Blackburn, Dan Rice, Frank O’Hara, Lucia Berlin, G.R. Swenson, Robert Duncan, Jim Rosenquist and others, but also for the entire issue which has many special pleasures and rewards. I’m very happy to be in it.

 

 

 

 

 

ART Basil King Martha King Memoir (Outside Inside)

Moving and Standing Still

We are still at the same address, same website (www.basilking.net), same Flickr site for Basil King art.  But a move is a move, whether cross-country or just from upstairs to downstairs. We have moved within our house, up to down, to top half, to bottom half, to all, and now back to half.  Six different configurations since 1969…  But (no surprise) it took most of a year to pack, sort, sell, give away, and throw out…all the familiar wrenching drill of moving.

Now, we’re out of the top two floors, which have been converted into a nice apartment. No more stair-climbing. Plus improved income. Because while we we sat still, Park Slope became a pricey and desirable neighborhood. So desirable that we want to live here ourselves despite alluring offers from developers.

Now I’m writing downstairs at the dining room table.  Baz is writing in the living room where his desk fitted nicely. We have a few hideaways when we need more space for domestic life.  In fact much of the house is mostly unchanged…except for Baz’s studio. That was the big rub.

Baz and Martha in the new studio space
Baz and Martha in the new studio space

He’s now working in the front of what’s called in brownstones the parlor floor…   Very narrow and about one-third of the size he was used to. Higher ceilings, yes. Skylight, no. But it works. For now.

And since this April he’s been birding…18 are complete, as of today, September l6. All on paper, most in mixed media.   See one of them below. Do please visit the Flickr album called Bird Scripts.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/67642740@N08/albums/72157655813955188

Meanwhile all summer I’ve been working with Brigid Hughes, the editor of A Public Space magazine  (http://apublicspace.org/) on a very large condensed selection from my memoir, Outside Inside. It will be the feature of the fall issue.

I’m certain to trumpet this news more and again–in October when the print copies are in my hand and again in November. The November 5th Prose Pros reading will be a celebration of the issue, with brief readings from all the devoted Friends of Basil King: Mitch Highfill, Vincent Katz, Burt Kimmelman, Kimberly Lyons, and me.

A party after the move -- it all looks the same downstairs.
A party after the move — it all looks the same downstairs.
"Bird Script #17" - mixed media on Strathmore paper, Basil King, 2015
“Bird Script #17” – mixed media on Stonehenge paper, Basil King, 2015
ART Basil King Critique Exhibitions Martha King Memoir (Outside Inside) News Poetry Prose Prose Pros series Readings Writing

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

 

 

 

Martha King News Prose Writing

NEWS: Recent Martha King prose available!

Two free and online.  One not!

  • “A Wedding” in print in Skidrow Penthouse magazine, 2013  (To order, for $15, go to skidrowpenthouse.com.)