Works in Progress… and moving retrograde

by Alden Cole on September 12, 2015 · 0 comments

“To understand the complexity of relationship there must be thoughtful patience and earnestness. Relationship is a process of self-revelation in which one discovers the hidden causes of sorrow. This self-revelation is only possible in relationship.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti (11 May 1895 – 17 Feb 1986)

1977Mar20OpenHouse:72As many of you have concluded, this autobiography is a work in progress, just like my life. As that wonderful old Bert and I joke reminds us, when a reporter asked a Down-East old-timer “Lived here all your life?” the taciturn response was “Not yet!” Many times growing up in grammar school I was verbally side-swiped with the pun question: “Are you all done Al-den?” usually as I came out of the boys bathroom. I don’t remember my snappy response then, but I’ll say this now: “Not yet!” after all, I am a work in progress!

Today, a bunch of work from 1977, a year I thought I was done with until I started rooting through some earlier files and scrapbooks to discover a trove of untapped material that will even require backtracking to 1976 eventually. There’s a goodly amount of black & white pointillist and line work done in pen & ink, like the advertising flyer above, done for an open house of my own in the spring of ’77. I don’t remember if anyone even showed up for the event, let alone if anyone bought anything; although I’d probably remember that, since selling my work has always been a major and memorable thrill.

SexusWPPortrait of the Artist at age 33, aka Sexus • pen & ink on paper 23″ x 29″ • collection of the artist.

The background art on the flyer above is a detail taken from a larger piece started in late ’76, shown at left in an inferior photograph. Named after book one of Henry Miller’s masterful trilogy The Rosy Crucifixion which I was first introduced to in the early 80s while living in Portsmouth NH. The other two books of the trilogy are Plexus and Nexus, names applied to two other pointillist drawings started in New York during the same period, and finished in New Hampshire.

SidewalkDrawingWP“Taking it to the streets”
In the spring of ’77 as the weather warmed and people started getting out and about again after a cold winter, I decided to imitate my friend Linda Gardner, who had taught me mischtechnik, by busking as a street artist, creating pastel/chalk drawings on the
Christ-NYCSidewalkWPsidewalks of NYC. Her favorite spot was the southwest corner entrance to Central Park at Columbus Circle, 59th Street and Central Park West. I picked the southeast corner entrance to the park at 59th and Fifth Avenue, a much busier corner with lots of pedestrian traffic. My first time was exciting although laced with an amount of initial trepidation. I made a little money; was even snapped in action as the photo above reveals, a polaroid taken and given me by a wandering photographer who happened to be on the spot that day. A few days later I got up the courage to try busking once again, making my way to the same spot at Central Park South. This time I was not so lucky; after a brief session of an hour or so, one of NY’s finest arrested me. No, I was not dragged off to jail, I was merely ticketed and given an appointment in court. Charges: Defacing Public Property. Can’t remember what my fine was, but it probably exceeded any profit I may have busked during the two sessions. So that was the end of my days as a street artist.

LastTemptationofChristWPLast Temptation of Christ • pen & ink plus watercolor on Arches watercolor paper 24″ x 18″ • collection of the artist

Sometime in the spring of ’77 I drew this evocation of “Come, follow me” – a cross fertilization between the Christianity I experienced growing up, with New Age concepts of dedication to higher purposes. I like to think of this picture being worth a thousand words, so I’ll say no more.

4PanelMural:1000Like a Bride Descending… #2 • oil on stretched cotton canvas • collection of the artist. The photo at left shows The Survivors: four of the original six panels, each 72″ x 20″ that formed a folding screen started sometime during 1977; total width ten feet. The screen which was painted double-sided, was incredibly unwieldy due to its large size, as well as weight. The project was a learning experience – “do not do this again.” I had created a white elephant which moved to Maine with me in the summer of ’79, and was eventually taken apart totally. The canvas from the two side panels was recycled into smaller canvases, so the only parts to have survived were the four inner panels seen above. This painting was another large one featuring those monolithic organic shapes which Larry Lash, my neighbor down the hall at the Broadmoor, liked to sarcastically describe as Tumescent Jello Molds.

David&Jonathan2WPThe Raphael Bing story is going to have to wait until another day…

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