Thursday, October 13, 2011

Black Mountain College Now

At the Loretta Howard Gallery is something super, which is an exhibition devoted to the Black Mountain College adventure in the mountains of North Carolina. A few years ago, as a North Carolinian infused with some sort of nostalgia for my summers near Grandfather Mountain, in a village called Linville (now very heavily golf country, and tidy), I went with my sister to seek what Black Mountain College would have been. Nowhere did we find it or any trace -- we were clearly looking in the wrong spots. We went to Daniel Boone inns, probably just one, but it felt numerous, we went to Appalachian State, a college with a library where no one knew anything about Black Mountain, and it all became deliciously mysterious.
All that to say that this exhibition, like the several books devoted to the BMC (our Bryn Mawr College merges in my mind with anything so initialed), is fascinating. I especially took to, take to, the publication with it, full of grand pictures of the adventuresome folk and their ongoingness there and after. So you get to read about Anni and Josef Albers, who came up often in Hedda Sterne's conversation over the almost weekly suppers she made for me. (Her memorial is this afternoon, so she is greatly on my mind -- I loved the wall-length painting in her apartment, I loved everything she talked about, I loved her.)
And the rest of them are wonderfully there, with their quarrels and splitups mentioned but not dwelled on, with their joyousness at what can only be called creative gathering in full and well-conceived display. Cage and Cunningham, Motherwell and Frankenthaler, Bucky Fuller and Ray Johnson, the de Koonings and Rauschenberg, Kline, Tworkov, and Twombly: good heavens, what a crew. Motley, if you like, but marvelous. Films of dance, preciously rare poetry journals, all that from the greatest years of the BMC. To celebrate this, there will be a reading very soon now, with Maureen Howard and John Yau and Francine Du Plessix Gray and Vincent Katz, all of them.
On a day when the cornerstone of St. Patrick's seems to be so noticeably lost, when the occupiers of Wall Street and their sympathizers all over are doing their thing, when it is drizzling in New York, this Black Mountain College goingonthing seems very grand to me. 

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