Arise, Children of the Universe…

by Alden Cole on January 24, 2014 · 1 comment

Arise3WP#3 in the New Drawings from Old (1974-2014) series, using a #2 pencil on paper, 14″ x 10″

Shades of New York City in the 70s! Friendship with Paul Bachmann starting in the fall of 1973 and lasting for the two years of a Mars cycle, produced the collaborative poetic effort included in today’s art: “Arise, children of the universe, throw off the bonds of slavery, slavery of the mind that holds the body bondage, as securely as the mind in held in bondage by the body…” Interesting thought,  the result of some rather prolonged navel-gazing I would suspect, most likely stimulated by a little cannabis; but with little real insight into the workings of the real universe, most likely. Nevertheless, it was an intense, wonder evoking time. I survived my twenties. Making my living as a fashion illustrator since 1970, I had started painting in oils for my own edification and pleasure beginning in September 1973. As a result, I felt that ‘my true calling’ was as a painter, which set up a conflict between the ideal of seeing myself as a ‘fine’ artist, and the reality of making a living as a ‘hack’ illustrator. The resolution arrived that spring of 1974 when intentionally I incinerated my portfolio of fashion illustrations – truly a bridge burned –  thus forcing myself to support my painting habit by finding a ‘normal’ job, which led to a position as an invoice typist for Weiser’s Bookstore and Occult Publisher in Manhattan, with which I was associated for the next twelve years, and which ultimately led me to Philadelphia. A major chapter in my life to be explored in review.

AriseOSWPAt left, a cropped photo of the original sketch before reworking Wednesday, January 8, 2014. The drawing was taken from a book of ideas sketched forty years ago, in the spring of 1974, just before I turned thirty, inspired by a variety of sources: the writings of Joseph Campbell, specifically The Hero of a Thousand Faces, The Mythic Image, and the four-volume The Masks of God: Primitive, Oriental, Occidental and Creative Mythology; in music, my usual blend of late 19th century Romantic orchestral music – Berlioz, Liszt, Rimsky-Korsakov, Saint-Saens, Schumann, et al, plus the operas of Wagner which spawned a number of illustration ideas. Reading Philippe Jullian’s Dreamers of Decadence, and The Symbolists, was a mind expanding survey of the ‘other’ revolutionary art which was being created simultaneously with the Revolution of Impressionism and Post-Impressionsim, the results of  new ways of seeing which rocked the foundations of western art. Heady stuff for a former fashion-illustrator-turned-painter-wannabe to be exposed to.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Maryb March 23, 2014 at 10:25 pm

Kudos for the incineration of the portfolio. Don’t think I could have made such a major decision at that age.


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