Thursday, August 20, 1998

Omagh Bombing part 3


He sleeps, depression stilling the heart, better than digitalis. I keep flowers to paint the tongue of the eye. Bris mo chroidhe, to break the heart, at the chance of happiness, shrapnel in the heart: self defeat at the hands of pessimism and confessionals, as if one's deepest fears were indeed the truth.

"O'Neil, a name more in pride than to be called Cesar." – Sir George Carew Elizabeth's foreman, foundered in a Munster bog.

Brave Hugh who fought with my ancestors at the battle of Kinsale in 1604, the Earl of Tyrone and Sean the Proud living beyond the Pale, tormenting Elizabeth.

The wild Rose is the one that has no thorns, but it has no need to draw blood to color its petals. What can ease our tribal pain? Disappearance and death is our inheritance. Europe absorbed the Flight of the Earls. What tongue survives the O'Neills of Seville ? Don Juan, or Sean. Unconscious tally stick carried into exile, into battle, about the necks of our ancestors.

So much pain suffered at the hands of a culture older than Greece or Rome, vanished without a trace. English legislation and diseased potatoes banished a tongue. Say the syllables of your own name in the ancestral tongue. See how it caresses you like a lover? But to use it as a weapon against the oppression—that's the final rub.

Greet me in the old tongue, if you can. In the lost syllables of an ancient order, and the rogue words for which the English could find no substitute, no sychophant. Say glamour, say tawny, say iron, keep the old tongue alive in my mouth, sweet kisses devouring speech that even the cock gives voice to in the night, not of the denial of love, surely one of the unwritten sins, but of loves speech, the integrity of whose tongue in my mouth?

OMAGH BOMBING

OMAGH BOMBING

Am I a traitor to my race,
I drink Scots whisky.
and contemplate the half-life of The Troubles 
when the Plantation of Ulster's shame grew.

And the bones in that rough field 
sprouted another generation of hatred. 
We read about Omah in the papers
how the bombs dissected limbs of the innocent
and rearranged them into Daliesque clocks 
dripping from hedgerows and curbs. 

The Afghans have a saying:
I have never known sorrow, 
no it is a field I have inherited,
and I till it anew.

Meanwhile the disappeared in Africa 
have settled home into the earth's bosom,
without a trace. No witnesses. Meanwhile,
in the Gulf, we retaliate, I learn from the news,
a new word, preemptive, as in preemptive strike.
Death is death is death. Are we at war again?

And Omagh. Neil frets, his cousins 
will surely know some of the dead. 
I went to buy film at that shopping center, he said. 
This man who shares my food 
broke down and cried. As I held him, 
I told him tonight that I loved him. 
And already he's making plans of escape, 
as if love were a grenade 
waiting to rearrange the heart.

Today is my grandmother's birthday. 
She, who kept alive the fire within me,
Kindled the holy flame within me 
so that I would bear witness. 
The grand design continues to work
through you, she said.

I grab a book from the shelf, 
John Montague's Rough Field 
because I like the title and it reminds me 
of Seamus Heaney's collection, The Field. 
A good Irish read, I thought. That's the ticket.
Except Omagh crept from the pages.
After near nearly 30 years, we are 
recycling the violence that is Ulster.
She who kept the flame alive within me, 
a decade gone, to Tír na nÓg, or Hy Breasil,
or whereever the dead go to congregate. 
Ulster, the amber coating my glass, uisge beatha,
a Kabbalah of whispered secrets & peat fires. 

Omagh Bombing (prose) part 2


While Irish minds marvel over the Celtic inferiority complex. How much longer must we suffer? I think of Tocharian mummies 4000 years dead, in their plaids and sun tattoos, faces as familiar as kin, guarding the Silk Road.

Lately the news has been ladened with images of Ulster men and references to World War I, the Battle of the Somme. Or am I newly sensitized, how do I desensitize myself to it for the cosmic links and the laws of averages.

But the words Colrane, and the Foyle have a different attack on my psyche.

Neil is playing the Protestant priest in Frank McGuinnes's play, Behold the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme. He is playing against type.

At the end they all put on their orange sashes, I didn't know what it signified, but it made me shudder anyway. O'Donnell Abu was the name of the song, we never called it the Old Orange Flute. It wasn't until I stood in Leiden looking upon the statue of King Billy, or William of Orange, that the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place.

In late spring we used to suck on the oat grass joints, sweet with sap, piggyback thistles and oats from Europe, Spain and Scotland, non-native species. Always I've lived a life of identifying what belongs where, acutely aware that I'm a long way from the land of my ancestors.

I am Irish when it pleases them, or I am American when it pleases them. Yank. No one asks what pleases me. The blood of my ancestors, or the land of my birth, as if one annotated the other.

So what of those who came to Ulster? Are they Scots or Irish? Where does bloodline leave off, and nationality begin? And why is it so horrific? 

Neil chastises me for drinking his whisky, is if I'd asked for something unattainable, like his heart. I’m offended. The thornless magenta rose I planted is about to bloom and already he is asking me to leave. The potatoes have yet to be harvested, and he is asking me to leave because I might get too close.

Tobar is Irish for the well, the sacred spring. I drink sacred water uisce beatha. In every language, it is the water of life. Mea maxima culpa.

The summer fog lifts long enough to reveal the turquoise jewel of the bay and it resonates against the flame trees on Bay Street, and the rust red of the Golden Gate Bridge. The straits of Chrysopylae shimmer like molten gold.

Yes, this city is the city of judgment, the judgment of Paris, an apple in the lap of California on this 150th anniversary of the Gold Rush. Gold flakes in a bottle, a souvenir from the feather River, where I toiled for pieces of the sun. And put them in the vial.

Omagh Bombing (prose) part 1

Omagh Bombing
20 August, my grandmother's birthday.

As if a traitor to my race, I drink scotch whisky, the half-life of the Troubles, when the Plantation, and Ulster's shame, grew restive, and the bones sewn in that rough field, sprouted another generation of hatred.

As we read about Omagh and how the bombs dissected the limits of innocent children into Daliesque clocks dripping from hedgerows and curbs. The Afghans have a saying: I have never known so much sorrow. Now it is a field I have inherited, and I till it.

Meanwhile the bodies of the dead in Africa settled home into the earth's bosom. We retaliate. I learn from the news the meaning of pre-emptive strike. Are we at war again?

 And Omagh. Neil frets. His cousins surely know some of the dead. I went to buy film at that shopping center, one survivor said. This O'Neill who shares my food, I told him tonight that I love him and already he is making plans of escape, as if love were a grenade, ready to rearrange the heart.

Today is my grandmother's birthday. She, who kept alive the fire in me, kindled like the holy flame of Rome within me so that I would bear witness.

The grand design continues to work through me, and at random, I grab a book from the shelf, John Montegue's Rough Field, because I liked the title and it reminded me of Seamus Heaney's The Field. A good Irish read, I thought, except Omagh crept in from the pages anew after 30 years, recycling the violence that is Ulster.

She, who kept the flame alive within me, a decade gone, Tír na nÓg, or to Hy Breasil, or whatever the place where the dead congregate.

The amber coating of uisce beatha and the whispering secrets of extinguish peat fires. Neil is fresh back from the Highlands, but he bade me promise that if he died soon, to carry his ashes to Iona, Colum Cille's Isle.

Neil's middle name is Columba, but no doves rested on his breast, Neil's namesake. A name that spans the father's and the clan's name. Neil's name repeats itself, a starter in history, a chieftain son, born in Scotland because St. Columba turned his back on Ireland.

Neil's father worked the land of his ancestors, Tír Eoghan, Tyrone, Omagh and Strabawn. Where does one poem get begin and another in? Neil chastises me for not writing. This past year have I been in purgatory for loving an O'Neill? But as Montague says, one must begin at home.

Violence blossoms in Africa, and Ireland, and now the Sudan and Afghanistan. What fields have we inherited beneath this vast sky? The worst bombing in 30 years. Kate Perry email us a chain letter condemning the violence.

A friend once misheard the word violence and thought of violins playing. I saw gangsters toting violin cases.

The Rough Field, an garbh achaidh. Should I be drinking Bushmills? A Protestant whiskey? Hugh O'Neill sleep sound in his bed.

Lamb dearg abu, the knife slipped and my left hand, red with the blood. The Red Hand of Ulster? I crossed myself, out of habit and think of the poetry plumping in the garden end Tyge buried in John's name. The Catholic slur. I learned well at my grandmother's knee. She gave me the Cailleach's skeleton one Halloween, Samhain and burned the candles.

My grandmother dabbing uisce beatha behind her ears like a rare Arabian perfume.

Tuesday, August 11, 1998

Carmel Pine Cone art reviews, The Pat Wall Gallery, Dec. 13, 1946

While I was searching for information on the Pat Wall Modern Art Gallery in Carmel & Monterey, during the 1940s (there isn’t much), I stumbled across a treasure trove of art reviews and articles written by several writers from the Carmel Pine Cone—located in the Internet Archives. The full artist interviews are posted as separate entries, all posted on Aug. 11, 1989, to keep them together with my Pat Wall stories.

These pieces are fillers. Pieces I cleaned up to see if there was anything I could glean Because they’re form an OCR scanned newspaper archive, the text was a mess: columns were combined, chunks of text went missing, there was mysterious orphaned text, and strings of illegible clusters of consonants. And most headlines were lost. But I cleaned the pieces up as best I could and restored them to printed realm. I am posting them here along with my Pat Wall stories, for context. I have used snippets of them elsewhere in my Pat Wall stories but here they are in their archival entirety—cleaned up, of course! There were several arts articles in this issue, it was probably the last issue of the year, published on Friday the 13th!

I wonder if the Carmel Pine Cone was underwritten by Carl and Jeanne Cherry? The Cherry Foundation underwrote most of the arts events in Carmel. Carl had invented the blind rivet which revolutionized the airplane and shipbuilding industries. They were true patrons of the arts. I posted Rosalind Sharpe’s interview and about her, Jeanne D’Orge, and I constructed a biography, gleaned from several sources. 

I love the gossipyness of the columns, and the lists of names, it was a veritable who’s who about town. It is probably the first time that these articles have seen the light since 1946 (other than when they were scanned for the Internet Archives, where they are virtually unreadable). —Maureen Hurley, Vernal Equinox, 2021

Carmel Pine Cone 1946-12-13
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 13, 1946
At Pat Wall Gallery

Although the crowd was smaller than usual at the Pat Wall Modern Art Gallery Tuesday night show, a lot of people flowed in for a look at the paintings and the inevitable visit to the sherry table (this time in a big bed of ice) after the Guiomar Novaez concert. Among those present during the course of a stimulating evening of conversation, dancing and music, were Mr. and Mrs. Edward Ricketts, Webster Street, Dr. Eric Berne, Muriel Rukeyser, Mr. and Mrs. Bud Foster, Gretchen Gray, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Lofton, Philip Pinner, Mr. and Mrs. James Hopper, Henry Meade Williams, Jean Varda, Mr. and Mrs. Ellwood Graham, Remo Scardigli,' John Roberts, Angus MacDougal, Mrs. Phil Nesbitt, Rosalind Sharpe, Abel Warshawsky, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Lloyd, Mr. and Mrs. William Fassett, Mrs. Hilda Duarte Brown, Joseph Shoeninger, Sally Fry, Marjorie Warren, Roger Johnson, and many others.

New group show in the Pat Wall Gallery in Monterey
By NANCY LOFTON

The new group show in the Pat Wall Gallery in Monterey is notable for color that jumps at you when you enter the door. The majority of the pictures are painted in a high, bright key which combines with the color of the gallery to produce an almost strident effect. Barbara Stevenson’s Green House is a notable exception. In this canvas, Miss Stevenson paints with solidity and seriousness, and her tones of blue and green and gray produce an effect of balance and maturity. Her canvas makes most of the other pictures in the show seem lacking in depth.

Joan Hinchman’s Boat in the back of the gallery has pleasing movement and textural quality, and Ellwood Graham’s Retrospect makes a graph-like curve into an interesting pattern.

The show includes canvases by Philip Pinner, Barbara Stevenson, Itogaway, Andre Moreau, George Harris, Ellwood Graham, Lilick Schatz, Dan Harris, Margaret Peterson, Alfred Morano, Joan Hinchman, and Jean Varda. 

The jewelry by Filippa Brooks, also on display, is original and subtle in coloring, and Pete Macchiarini’s pieces use modern lines and forms to good advantage. There’s a ring set with gold-flecked quartz that’s very beautiful. 

(It doesn’t seem to have an ending).

Henry Miller book review By Rosalind Sharpe, Carmel Pine Cone, 12/13/1946


While I was searching for obscure information on the Pat Wall Modern Art Gallery in Carmel, and Monterey, during the 1940s to 1960, I stumbled across a few of my friend’s mother’s art reviews and articles from the Carmel Pine Cone in the Internet Archives. Because it’s an OCR scanned newspaper archive, it was a mess: columns combined, chunks of text missing, orphaned text, and illegible clusters of consonants. But I cleaned it up and restored it to print, and am posting them here along with the Pat Wall stories, for context. there were several arts articles in this issue, probably the last issue of the year, published on Friday the 13th! I knew Roz for most of my younger life, and kept in touch with her when she lived in Marin and Sonoma Counties, so I was pretty excited to find something she had written during the Bohemian years. It is probably the first time that this article has seen the light since 1946 (other than the Internet Archives, where it is virtually unreadable). Read on.
 
Carmel Pine Cone 1946-12-13 
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 13, 1946
Henry Miller book review
By Rosalind Sharpe

By no means the best or the most recent of Miller, The Wisdom of the Heart, a collection of essays ranging in subject from sex and French prostitutes to D. H. Lawrence, Gutkind and the Collective Whole, gives one unfamiliar with his work a good bird's eye view of the range, style, and, in some instances, the very essence of Millerism. Heterogeneous in sequence, it is in short a kind of teaser, a, capsulized version of Miller, which nevertheless seems as organically whole as anything else he has written, in that everything he writes of proceeds from himself, his own personality, his own reactions, impressions, searching, awareness. "Writing,” as he said in Reflections on Writing, "like life itself, is a voyage of discovery.” The essays are a good spring-board from which to proceed to Air-Conditioned Nightmare, Colossus of tyaroussi, or the Tropic of Cancer (if you can get it), which are arranged in a more definite sequence, centered on the topics of America, Greece and French prostitutes respectively.

Some of the essays in Wisdom of the Heart, particularly Creative Death, Uterine Hunger and Reflections on Writing, make one aware of the brilliance, clarity, ceaseless fertility, richness and creative variation of his reaction to reality; his paradox and never-ending exploration of values and meanings and symbols and sensations—the sort of thing that has made Henry Miller a cult among his admirers.

He has expressed his basic attitude towards writing, life and reality very lucidly in the essay Reflections on Writing where he says, "I began in absolute chaos and darkness, in a bog or swamp of ideas and emotions and experiences. Even now I do not consider myself a writer in the ordinary sense of the word. I am a man telling the story of his life.... It is a turning inside out, a voyaging through X dimensions, with the result that... one discovers that what one has to tell is not nearly so important as the telling it in dry-lipped whispers, ...characters and come forth with such books as the Wisdom of the Heart (a collection of essays), The Colossus of Maroussi (about Greece), and Air-Conditioned Nightmare (his impressions of America), all conspicuously devoid of four letter words.

Down the coast, he is writing a sequel to the latter volume, entitled Air-Conditioned Nightmare II.

He goes on to say, ”1 talk now about Reality, but I know there is no getting at it, leastwise by writing. I learn less and realize more. I learn in some different, subterranean way. I acquire more and more the gift of immediacy. ... I haven’t the slightest idea what my future books will be like, even the one immediately to follow. My charts and plans are the slenderest sort of guides; 1 scrap them at will. I invent, distort, deform, lie, inflate, exaggerate, confound and confuse as the mood seizes me. I obey only my own instincts and intuitions. I know nothing in advance.”

It is altogether obvious that comment on Henry Miller and about Henry Miller by other writers is a foolish and superfluous business. Henry Miller has said it all. He is honest and searching. He discovers everything in himself and exposes it to view. His search through reality and sensation is continually given body in his writing, and if one wants to know Miller, all one has to do is to read him. He withholds very little. If he changes, then so be it, life changes, reality changes, the "voyage of discovery” goes on.

Sam Colburn, Carmel Water Colorist, In Farm-Group Period By Rosalind Sharpe, Carmel Pine Cone 1946


While I was trolling the internet for leads on the Pat Wall Modern Art Gallery in Carmel & Monterey, during the 1940s, I discovered a friend’s mother’s art reviews and articles from the Carmel Pine Cone in the Internet Archives. Because it’s an OCR scanned newspaper archive, the text was a mess: columns combined, whole chunks of missing, or orphaned text, and illegible clusters of consonants. But I cleaned it up and restored it to cyber-print, and I am posting most of them here along with my Pat Wall stories, for context. 

I knew Roz for most of my younger life, she was like a second artist mother, and we kept in touch, so I was excited to find something she had written during Carmel’s extraordinary Bohemian era. It is a safe bet that this is the first time that this readable article has seen the light since 1946 (other than the Internet Archives, where it is virtually unreadable). I’m sure there’s much more to be gleaned from the Carmel Pine Cone archives, if they even exist. Funny, my mother’s cousin, Marie Gilman was the Carmel Librarian. If only I could go back in time. The Monterey Peninsula Herald is another source, but its impossible to scan their microfiche archives. No text. Read on.  —Maureen Hurley, Spring Solstice, 2021

Carmel Pine Cone 1946-12-13 
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 13, 1946
At Pat Wall Gallery

Sam Colburn, Carmel Water Colorist,
Currently In Farm-Group Period
By Rosalind Sharpe

While oil painters are a dime a dozen in this neck of the woods, watercolorists (particularly good ones) are scarce as hen’s teeth, and Sam Colburn, along with Royden Martin of the Carmel Valley, is not only one of the rare representatives of this art on the peninsula but enjoys the not inconsiderable distinction of being good enough to stack up with some of the best in the field anywhere. He is a young man who has come a long way since he first arrived here and started painting in 1937, and particularly has gained command of his medium during the last three or four years. People hope great things of “Sammy” whose work already is distinguished for its simplicity of form, and its finely concentrated mood quality and his achievement is particularly remarkable when one realizes that he is a virtually self-taught artist in a medium which is generally considered the most difficult of them all.

When Sam was traveling through France, Spain, Mallorca, England and Germany in the early ’30s, he did a little sketching, but although he had always been interested in painting it was “nothing that felt like a career,” and later, when he settled down in southern California selling cub airplanes, he attended some life classes in the adult education program and was fortunate enough to get a teacher who was mainly interested in sculptural form. “To hell with cast shadows and all that,” as Sammy put it. But it was only when he came to Carmel where he had a lot and decided to build a house that he actually got launched on an artistic career. This was in 1937.

“That decided me,” he said, “No further waverings. Painting? I drifted into it gradually, until I became' thoroughly involved, enmeshed."

As to why he chose water color instead of oil paint as a medium, his surprising answer, "I was intrigued with water color because it was very difficult. Besides. I am very much interested in luminosity. You can achieve effect with water color not possible in oil."

"The oil painter," he added with a grin, “has to carry hundreds of brushes, paint rags, tubes, easels, all sorts of paraphernalia. It clutters up the place.”

Sam, who is a thin, lanky individual with a deceptively casual air , who usually impresses people fOL being one of those characters who^drift through life without strain or undue exertion, is actually an extremely hard worker who rises nearly every morning around 6:30 or 7:30. ‘I get out very early when the sun is not high,” he said.

"The landscape is more dramatic in early morning or late evening." And when Colburn is really in his stride, he turns out two or three water colors a day. Some, however, take a lot of time. Others are more sketchy. But watercolor on the

[in tyith people and everyday living, ]. Sam had some pungent comments to offer.

“Art and artists are receiving a wider acceptance lately,” he said. "There is more interest, no matter in what kind of art. At one time artists were considered ‘precious.’ They were looked down upon as producers of nothing worthwhile. But people realize now that they have plenty to offer.”

“Museums,” he continued thoughtfully, “are very bad and even art galleries from one standpoint. People think they have to walk in and stand in awe. It scares them away from art and they think it’s something that has nothing to do with themselves. Paintings should be in homes and restaurants and bars and stores. Mainly in homes, where people live with them.

Jeanne D’Orge, painter, exhibit at the Pat Wall Modern Art Gallery “Paintings Not for Sale“


While trolling through Google looking for articles on my friend Micaela’s father’s art gallery, the Pat Wall Modern Art Gallery in Carmel, and Monterey, during the 1940s to 1960, I stumbled across one of Micaela’s mother’s article from the Carmel Pine Cone in the Internet Archives. Because it’s an OCR scanned newspaper archive, it was a mess. But I cleaned it up and restored it and then I realized it was something of interest. It fleshed out the stories I was working on about Pat Wall. And then it becomes a gift to my friend Micaela, a Memento Mori, words written by her mother so long ago. It’s safe to say this Jeanne D’Orge interview of Rosalind Sharpe Wall hasn’t seen the light of day since 1946. Obviously this blogpost was written much later than 1998, but since these are themed pieces, I am posting it here. 

During the 1970s, my boyfriend Bob Hamilton, and I spend most weekends in Monterey County. We camped in the VW Bus and explored the Big Sur area. We were interested in the bohemian artists of the 1940s. I have a vague memory of visiting the Jeanne D’Orge gallery and spending an evening looking through her work. In retrospect, I realized the kindly gallery sitter was probably Jane Wilgress (see below). Because I was not yet a writer, I don’t have specific images to share, perhaps visiting all of this is a way to regain memories from that time when I did not write. —Maureen Hurley, Spring Equinox, 2021.

Cherry Center for the Arts

Jeanne D’Orge, neé Lena Yates, was born in Cheshire, England in 1877. When her father, a seed merchant, deserted the family, she and her mother moved to the outskirts of Edinburgh. Lena published her first poems at 20, and wrote a series of children's books on animal fables under the pen name of Lena Dalkeith—playing on a combination of her birthname, Lena, and the quaint Midlothian village of Dalkeith, near Edinburgh, where she was raised. Thus was the beginning of a woman of many identities.

While on a walking holiday in France in 1906, Lena was swept off her feet by geographer and engineer, widower Alfred Burton (dean of M.I.T.).  Lena and her mother joined Burton and his two sons in Newton Grange, Massachusetts where she and Alfred were married. A pioneering modernist poet, Lena became involved with the Others, a poetry group that included Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, and Wallace Stevens, and she began publishing her work in literary magazines, Others: A magazine of the new verse, and Poetry. Some of her prose poems were published under the name Lena Dalkeith Burton.

Suffering from poor health, and a profound dislike of east coast weather and New England mores, Lena moved to Carmel in 1920 with her 3 children in tow—where she built a Craftsman style house. Her husband retired from M.I.T, and joined her a year later. They became involved in community theater, with Dr. Burton building sets and acting in Forest Theater productions; Lena wrote and produced a series of Commedia dell’ Arte styled plays, including Crazy Ann, under the penname of Lena Burton.

In 1928 Lena created a scandal when she left husband and children to live with the Forest Theater lighting technician, and M.I.T. graduate, Carl Cherry, some 20 years her junior. They converted his mother’s old Queen Anne cottage, a wedding gift (they were married in 1930), into an art studio for Lena, and a workshop for Cherry. During the lean years, they lived off canned tuna and coffee. She began painting in earnest in 1937, and Carl Cherry struck paydirt when one of his inventions, the one-sided blind rivet, revolutionized airplane and shipbuilding construction during the war years. Lena took up her painting name Jeanne D'Orge, after a river in France, having shed all vestiges of her past lives. For D'Orge painting embodied the intangible moods of form, color, and feelings that cannot be expressed in poetry or music.

The Cherrys carried on as before, living a simple lifestyle, but used their newfound fortune to establish the philanthropic Cherry Foundation to "further the culture of America by sponsoring experimental fine arts, sciences and education." The foundation underwrote arts events, concerts, plays, lectures and seminars featuring world class lecturers and performers. She became friends with Robinson Jeffers and Edward Weston, and wrote plays under the pseudonym of Juniper Green, after a neighboring village near Edinburgh. After her husband Carl Cherry died of cancer in 1947, D'Orge continued to run the Carl Cherry Center for the Arts, and "often appeared on the streets of Carmel wearing a big pink hat, ankle length Chinese robes and paint-stained tennis shoes." She died in 1964. Her former home, now an art center, houses over 1200 pieces of her art, plus letters, books, manuscripts, photos and memorabilia, as well as an extensive library.
“Paintings Not for Sale” exhibit at the Pat Wall Gallery
By Rosalind Sharpe

Jeanne D’Orge, Carmel artist, whose paintings will be exhibited for the first time since 1940 at the Pat Wall Gallery In Monterey from October 9 to October 27 says that, “Artists should be anonymous. People should know their work but not the artist.” 

Averse to attracting public attention—she feels that it interferes with the integrity and freedom of the artist as well as with the spontaneously creative response of the spectator—Jeanne D’Orge (Mrs. Carl Cherry in private life) consented to exhibit again only at the cumulatively urgent behest of friends.

According to her husband, Carl Cherry, “So many people who have seen the paintings have said it was a pity other people couldn’t see them. They have felt that they are an experience—not a mere visual impression. An experience which should be shared.”

Monday, August 10, 1998

Pat Wall, modern art dealer: Dali, Miller, & Varda 3.5, envoy; folklore & fragments from The Pat Wall Gallery


(Much of this page was gleaned from orphan newspaper clippings—both fragments and articles often without dates or provenance—this is a pastiche of reportage and paraphrase, my own journal fragments—as well as some of my memories of Pat telling the stories of the artist colony that made Big Sur famous. Journal entry notes were collected from various sources, Pat Wall, his daughter Micaela, and other friends of Pat’s over the years.)

In the late 1970s, early 1980s, I also edited several of Rosalind Sharpe Wall’s manuscripts, one eventually became a book. When the Coast was Wild and Lonely: Early Settlers of the Sur  1987. The manuscript was a right mess as I recall, so her son, Chris, must’ve worked on it too, as it was reprinted. As we went over the manuscript, Rosalind would fly off into tangents on Egyptian scarabs, living Mexico, Henry Miller, the Tarot and John Cooke—scraps of stories with lots of middles, with no beginning, and no ending in sight. Only later, long after Roz died, was I able to make any sense of her stories.
 
Many of these orphan fragments came from old newspaper articles. I grew fatigued, and abandoned the project, as I had never properly recorded, or lost the sources. Someday I’ll get back to it. Micaela and I were hellbent on recording Pat’s oral history before it was too late. Then it was too late. So these are mostly from Micaela’s scrapbook collection. I was going to shape these notes into a fourth piece on Pat, but too much time had passed, so I can’t reconstruct it from these rough fragments—that strangely create their own story. So it’s a pastiche, a collage of sorts.

In the early 1970s, I also revisited many of the places Pat and Rosalind mentioned, including Doc Rickett’s lab on Cannery Row, when you could still go inside and see the empty aquariums, and the ranch that Henry Miller was living on. These were stories we grew up on. We used to stay at Deetjin’s cabins in Castro Canyon when we were flush, but more often than not, we slept in pullouts along Highway One. We met up with a bunch of hippies, who saw that we were reading Tropic. A party ensued. My boyfriend Bob Hamilton and I wound up sleeping in the VW van on a hill so steep, it was a miracle the van didn’t roll down the mountain into the sea. Oh, but the morning was stellar as we were above the fog line, afloat in our own cloud kingdom. Magic was afoot on the Big Sur coast. 

Sunday, August 9, 1998

Pat Wall, Modern Art Dealer: 3 Henry Miller and the Avant Guardians (journal)



Amazing to spend the morning reading about the Pat Wall Art Gallery and its wild guests, then to look around Micaela's room and see the very art mentioned in the reviews. The Avant Guardians are watching over me as I sleep.

I'm looking at Henry Miller's self-portrait with its red and green five sided frame, the brushstrokes are deft. Henry, supposedly in his 50s, stared back at me across the years, a young man with sallow skin and Prussian blue ears and nose. 

You painted what you liked, Henry. I hope you died happy. Henry looks a bit like Oleg Atbashian, which puts me off a bit. Self-absorbed men. Was it the talent that made them so self-absorbed, or was it the rank self-absorbtion that allowed them to become so talented?

I recognize so many of the paintings: McClatchy's Door. Several Graham paintings: Lament, and The Beginning of War. Other unnamed pieces. When Graham and Miller became rather famous, things changed. 

In the early 1970s, I remember traveling to someone's house under the Bixby Bridge to see Henry Miller's watercolors. I was not duly impressed. But I dutifully read everything that Miller ever wrote, so I felt compelled to witness the paintings too. I think I was reading Nexus at the time.

I think the owner was rather hoping that we'd buy a painting, but we were as penniless as Miller was when he moved to Big Sur. Micaela has more articles on Henry Miller's watercolors. Wish I had time to read them all.

Henry moved to Big Sur in 1943 and lived in a tent alongside the highway, he was already living the life of Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch, it was a cult of sex and anarchy on the coast. He said, "I'm not perverse, but the idea of looking through a keyhole fascinates me."

A keyhole in a tent? I asked myself. And thought of camera obscurae.

April 14, 1947: Henry Miller talked about how his paintings morphed from landscape into fish. I wonder if that's a reference to his Red Fish? 

Said Miller, "When I paint I have a lot of fun but I feel I'm on a tight rope. I'm jittery sometimes when I start out to do a landscape I end up with a fish I worried about this until the other painter said they do the same thing."

I had to laugh, Mike Goldberg's painting, Sardines, came to mind. See, Frank O'Hara's poem Why I Am Not a Painter sums it up nicely.
....I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven’t mentioned
orange yet. It’s twelve poems, I call
it ORANGES. And one day in a gallery
I see Mike’s painting, called SARDINES.
Pat Wall's art gallery became the focal point in a Harpers article on the new west coast cult of "sex and anarchy." A Times reporter descended, to buy a Miller painting, then left for the East Coast, calling it Paris of the West. Miller was a Paris expat, so he had several threads going. The race was on.

About the same time, the restless New Mexico contingencies (Wilfred Lang and Co.), were experiencing hot flashes, the Age of Light was born. (My grandmother's niece was working on the Manhattan project).

And somehow the role of art went from the cultured confines of the City of Light to the Age of Light. Miller detonated a moral code in Big Sur. The world fell apart, the center did not hold.

Henry must've loved exhibiting his thermonuclear watercolors next to the surrealist nudes of Dutch oil painter, Cock van Gent (a she!), and Edward Weston's extreme close-up photos of bell pepper buttocks.

The Grahams, Toni & Ed Ricketts, James Broughton, Virginia Varda, Dr. Rodin, Henry Miller's physician, and someone named Brewsie were among those attending. Everyone signed the register as Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so, as if that slender slice of decorum could contain the avant guardians.

Pat Wall, Modern Art Dealer: 2 Betty Wall (journal)

Pat & Betty Wall, me, Arthur Boericke, Fort Bragg 1971

One of Pat Wall's gallery artists, Joseph Albers, a Bauhaus student and teacher, painter and poet, taught at Black Mountain College in North Carolina with Jean Varda. Varda I remember from the Sausalito houseboat days when I used to stay at Pat and Betty Wall's house. Micaela, Chris and I often played on the Charles van Damme ferryboat.

I knew Walter Gropius's name would eventually crop up in this crowd. Too bad the Hexagon House in Guerneville burned down. We used to go to tea dances there in the early 1980s. I remember sitting on a tall stool admiring that open beam work. I was always told that he designed it, but someone else did. No matter, it’s gone now.

Another clipping on top of the scanner: thieves broke into Picasso's home, took his clothes, took his money a radio, but left the art. Thieves also broke into a Berkeley woman's house to steal a painting by Dan Harris. Who is Dan Harris? (a painter, his wife Gertrude gallery sat Pat’s art gallery).

Names from my childhood kept cropping up. Sue Wall dressed as a girl sucking on a lollypop, a painting by by Dan Harris. Pat's other wives: Rosalind Sharp, Mrs. Margaret Lane. Did those women have any idea what was in store for them? Still in their separate identities. 

Pat would later divorce Sue and marry Rosalind and have two children, Micaela and Chris. Meanwhile Mrs. Lang and Wilfred Lang separated… Which one? My God is that a reference to Betty Wall, Micaela's stepmother and Pat's third wife? 

So, who was married to Wilfred at the time? I can't imagine Betty as the "other' woman. But they all were "other" women, one way or another. Betty was more of a mother to me than anyone else in my life, certainly my own mother—besides my grandmother that is… The other women who raised us. Art was our mother. Art was also the other woman.

Aug 9, 1998

Pat Wall, Modern Art Dealer: Ellwood Graham (journal)


Patrick Wall, founder of The Pat Wall Gallery, Carmel/Monterey, ca. 1973

When I was a child, my eyes feasted on the paintings collected by my best friend's father, Patrick Wall, when he was an art dealer in Monterey during the 1940s. Pat's gallery was on Olivier Street, we never did collect his oral history, so this is a placeholder for what we collectively remember. We also didn't realize that Pat singlehandedly changed the face of West Coast art with his controversial unorthodox exhibits. 

Pat, who was from Jersey, the Channel Islands, UK, came to California ca. 1940, with his inheritance and a dream of art. He took a chance on the local "moderns" and created The Pat Wall Modern Art Gallery, and through this connection is how I got to know the work of Ellwood Graham who "painted out loud" with lots of hot colors. His abstract portrait of John Steinbeck was controversial at the time—circa the 1940s.

What I loved were how Graham's personal hieroglyphics, or pictogram paintings which were almost quilt-like in nature, I loved the way the heavy dark colors were a combination of thick impasto, a drawing, and transparent glaze. A doodle, a half a whale (the tail end) captivated my attention. He compared his work to a composer working on a "musical canvas." Graham painted an egg tempera mural in the Ventura Post Office. Is it still there?

So much history attached to those old paintings of Pat's. There was John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts, known as Doc Ricketts— they too were juxtaposed in Graham's work. It was John Steinbeck who told the artist to paint out loud imagine that—paint out loud. Graham moved to Monterey because of John Steinbeck.
Steinbeck also created in Graham's [Monterey] studio. He wrote Sea of Cortez while Graham rendered his portrait. Of course he sold the painting to Steinbeck, but "I kept some studies and sketches." 'Where is that portrait now? "People have been calling me for years... I don't know." he says, "I haven't seen it in over 50 years."

Then he adds, "That portrait was very good... I hear it was bought by Burgess Meredith but I also heard it belonged to John Huston. —from Alta Vista Magazine, 1992 "Ellwood Graham: Never Say Die," —Susan Lea Hubbard (see bottom of this post for more stories).
In Micaela's room is the Graham painting her father left her. I am transported back in time to our childhood. We practically lived together. We were inseparable as children. Like Samese twins joined at the hip. It wasn't until adolescence that we drifted. Micaela, who is a painter, was lured into the world of music and drugs. It was the Summer of Love, a watershed year for many of us. She was too young for sex and drugs, but not for rock 'n' roll. And off she went. Brave. An overbearing father pushed her out the door too soon. It took Micaela an half a lifetime to come back home to herself. So when I look at the paintings on her walls, pieces of those worlds not only decorate the walls of her house, but I know that they decorate her inner house as well.

I realize that was also what Graham was doing—compressing a personal archaeology into rectangles of color and geometric form. Scattered amid photocopies of my own work and her fiber art, and recent pastels, was a checkerboard history on the walls. I had stepped into my hidden past. On top of the scanner I found an article about Graham called The Gift of Love. It was comprised notes that he took as he cared for his dying wife. Her face emerges from the grid, ghostlike, for she is dead. As his he. But not the memory.

For a long time I quit being an artist, thinking what's the use? I was bored with the photographic approach most artist were embracing at the time. This was during the heyday of my former art teacher, Bob Bechtel, whose work I absolutely could not stand. The camera could do it, so why should I spend hours laboring on something that could be captured in the fraction of a second? I mean he had us copying from old Montgomery Ward catalogue illustrations—now I am a superb mimicrist. I can photographically reproduce anything. But I don’t want to. I switched mediums I ran from Art. I got my degrees but I left town.

For a long time, my art form was the camera. I measured time in minute increments, my camera shutter slicing off random bits of shadow and light. I wanted color for my palette. I wanted light and shadow—and that became my medium. Then I read this article on Ellwood Graham who compared most paintings to creative photography. He said that singularity is the rarest ability of any artform. This is why our way of saying that a work of art should have the impact of the artist. This was from a man who painted Robinson Jeffers' twins: one extrovert, the other an introvert. He said they later grew up that way too.

I read through other memorabilia of Pat Wall's gallery. I remember sitting in the shadowed stairwell one summer afternoon as Micaela told me of her father's gallery, and of his first wife, Susan. How they were on the cusp of the art scene. His Bohemian life was largely forgotten, when the gallery went belly up, and he ran out of money. After a sojourn to Mexico with his second wife, Rosalind Sharpe of Bixby Canyon, and two children, Micaela and Chris, Pat moved to Sausalito with Betty Lang, and survived the 1960s and wintered out 70s as a carpenter. But, through stories and fragments, we were the ones who imperfectly remembered that extraordinary era. 

In the mid-1970s, my boyfriend Bob Hamilton and I visited the place where Pat's art gallery once stood. What was I looking for? Secret musings whispered by sidewalks and curbstones? Bearing witness? Paying homage? I was not yet a writer, I was an art student, but by that time I knew the names: Henry Miller Jean Varda, Andre Moreau, Pablo Picasso, and Wilfred Lang. Now, in retrospect, I could put the pieces together, perhaps find the forgotten threads of a story. But when I was so young, they were a litany of mysterious names and their vision haunted my psyche.

I pick up a photocopy of an article dated July 15, 1947. The Wall Gallery shows the work of Joseph Albers, who later went on to Black Mountain College. And I thought of how intertwined the world of poetry and art really was. I thought of poet Charles Olson's Call Me Ishmael. Am I not an artist, or am I a half-artist when I don't practice? Am I Ishmail because my pen has been so silent? I am waiting for the flotsam of words on the incoming tide.