Raleigh Rambles

John Dancy-Jones at large!

Utopian Dreams at Fruitlands Museum

The Fruitlands Farmhouse in Harvard, Mass.

So proud to have my letterpress work displayed at an exhibition at The Fruitlands Museum. Fruitlands was the site of Bronson Alcott’s 19th century utopian community, and the show Recruiting for Utopia: Print and the Imagination explores past and present examples of “the capacity of print and the schematic imagination to build community.” For over a decade, I have been creating hand-laid paper printed objects to give away at the annual Black Mountain College conference conducted by the BMCM+AC. Shana Dumont Garr, curator at Fruitlands and former Program Director at Artspace in Raleigh, received a couple of these at the conference and learned of my tradition. She asked to display these items for the show. The museum purchased all the available items I sent, and now  is collecting my mail art pieces!

Below is the Wayside Gallery, a large Fruitlands outbuilding which hosts the exhibit.The pictures zoom in a bit to show my pieces, with the Anni Albers Red Meander and Ted Pope’s blue broadside reasonably visible. The show now runs through March 21, 2021.

My photo below shows the collection of of conference handouts involved. I make about 50 and give away to the visiting scholars and the conference regulars that provide most of my friends in my retirement town.Click on the phrases to read about these pieces. Fish by Ted Pope, Harper Lee bookmark(BMC Museum workshop), Red Meander, Cut-up, Jacob Lawrence, John Dewey on reason.

The larger show in which my pieces take part is a fascinating duel show with a historical collection and a contemporary collection of visual artifacts.  Shana Dumont Garr, curator at Fruitlands, explained the overall premise of the exhibit: “To look at New England in two specific time periods: the 1840s and 2019-2020. And to explore how print and design helped express peoples’ worries and their desires to make the world a better place.”  There is a local feature article here. I hope to make it to the show to see printing from the time of my favorite Transcendentalists, and see some creativity from my fellow artists in the show.

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October 21, 2020 Posted by | art, Black Mountain, literary | , , , | Leave a comment

Fish, A Broadside by Ted Pope

Ted Pope is a stalwart and beloved performer who features at the annual Black Mountain College conference held every year by the BMCM+AC on UNC-A’s campus. His presentation of his poetry is unmatched in creative delivery – from crumpling each piece after reading and tossing to the audience to lying prostrate while reading to whipping a deerskin as warm-up. The Paper Plant is proud to announce the publication of a broadside of Ted’s poem Fish. This broadside is offered in celebration of Ted’s inclusion in Appalachia Now!, the show that opens the newly renovated Asheville Art Museum.

The broadside will be available in the museum’s gift shop and is also available from The Paper Plant.

I look forward to Ted’s performance and much more at this year’s BMC conference.

September 20, 2019 Posted by | Black Mountain, literary | , , | 1 Comment

Jacob Lawrence in BMCM+AC’s New Space Highlights Annual Conference

The 10th annual BMC conference takes place September 28-30, 2018 at the Reuters Center on UNC-A’s campus. A show of work examining his work and life at BMC opens September 28th in the BMC museum’s new space. This will be the 8th out of 10 I have attended; in recent years I have started creating a printed hand-laid paper object to give out. Above is this year’s, using a quote from the website of the Jacob and Gwen Knight Lawrence Center. Looking forward to it!

September 27, 2018 Posted by | art, Black Mountain | , , , , | 1 Comment

BMC Conference – time for being locally articulate!*

Above is  the bookmark I will be giving away at the 9th Annual ReViewing BMC Conference. The quote from Dewey is appropriate for the work/technique/process theme detectable in this year’s offerings, and I’m really excited about going, but the printing of this quote is just as much about the new book published by Brian Butler, who is the UNC-A philosophy professor who helps run the BMCM+AC and who practically invented the wonderful annual conference. I have missed only two of the nine and been blessed with many new friendships through it, Brian not the least. Dewey, whose philosophy infused Black Mountain College, was an early pragmatist, as was Charles Pierce, someone I’ve tried to study over the years. Brian’s tangible and personable promotion of pragmatism, his willingness to interact with a layman such as myself, and reading his new book have given me a healthy dose of mental stimulation and a lot to ponder as we all face the task of finding a workable world view from which we can operate as a world community.

Democratic experimentalism as expressed by John Dewey involves lots of individual, indeed radically local, input about how things are working in the trenches of regular people – a kind of populism. Dewey is perfectly aware it only works if the populace, for the most part, has a reasonable degree of broad and liberal education, so that we can use a logical AND humanistic perspective to examine how social processes are operating. The only way to build a society is to be sociable – personally connected in governmental processes that are democratic all the way down, allowing, again, for constant LOCAL and empirical feedback on the successes and failures of social and commercial processes.

Brian takes the ideas of democratic experimentalism and applies them to jurisprudence, showing that the formalist and strictly literal interpretation of the Constitution pursued by many jurists (and the current majority of the Supreme Court) takes far too little account of the empirical, demonstrable effects of their rulings and literally and purposely exclude non-legal information from their reasonings. Constitutional law needs to be flexible enough to respond to the real workings of the world. Court decisions need to be made in an information-rich context and judges should be acting collaboratively with all parties involved to create a just and good outcome. How can we transform our proud but creaky governmental institutions to meet the challenges of the rapidly changing world? Brian Butler has a few very well reasoned ideas.

This dabbling in contemporary philosophy reflects a life-long, if little shared, thread of my reading. After attending Brian’s small UNC-A conference on neuro-pragmatism, I ordered The Essential William James, edited by a conference leader, John Shook, who offers critical praise for The Democratic Constitution. And I’m truly curious to read a philosophy book, quoted in Brian’s book, whose subtitle is “emerson, jazz and experimental writing.” Expanding those mental horizons! Important for us aging furry freak brothers. Peace.

*post title: About the concern that “localized deliberation…risks domination by the articulate”, Brian quips “at least it would be domination of the locally articulate rather than the professionalized articulate.” I like the phrase very much.  PS the image on the jacket of Brian Butler’s book is Wage Map No.1 – Polk St to Twelfth, Halstead St to Jefferson, Chicago.

September 28, 2017 Posted by | Black Mountain, reflection | , , | 1 Comment

Jonathan Williams The Lord of Orchards: an anthology

Jeffery Beam is an old friend and a wonderful poet whose work is often celebrated here. In 2009, a year after the passing of Jonathan Williams, he and Richard Owens published online a “festschrift” of remembrances and appreciations in honor of Williams and his accomplishments as small press publisher (especially of The Black Mountain School poets), photographer, writer and cultural bloodhound in a lifelong pursuit of a “poetics of gathering.” The print version, with many excellent additions, has now been published.

The image above is my copy of the book, from Prospecta Press,  and my copy of a postcard*, pictured on the back of the book, which I received in 1980 from a dear artist friend who purchased it at the Gotham Bookshop. I met Jonathan Williams at a small press fair in Carrboro where we each had a table. Over the years, Jargon Society titles and broadsides of JW’s poetry have come my way and kept me intrigued with the noble, eclectic, Epicurean curmudgeon of Highlands.

The title of the book comes from a JW poem:

the Lord of Orchards

selects his fruit

in the Firmament’s

breast

JW had many titles, most of his own epistolary stylings: Lord Nose, the Colonel, J Jeeter Swampwater, Big Enis. He was also called, by Hugh Kenner, Custodian of Snowflakes and Truffle-Hound of American Poetry, in honor of his indefatigable efforts to find and preserve culture, some found in the oddest places. He was a champion of Outsider artists, a curator of obscure literary references and a model for all those who shared or admired his “deep affection for the strange.” With Jargon Society Press, he presented the world with much important writing, well after his heyday of publishing cohorts at BMC, where JW enrolled in 1951 in order to study photography with Harry Callahan.

The BMC connections are strong but complicated,as described in Ross Hair’s essay in this book, entitled “Hemi-Demi-Semi Barbaric Yawps” – Jonathan Williams and Black Mountain College. He came late in the existence of this doomed educational icon, and immediately developed a strong but somewhat antagonistic relationship with Charles Olson, who JW found to be “an extremely enkindling sort of man.” As publisher, JW helped establish some BMC reputations but also applied his always broad skills as book designer and editor to create a unique body of published work that celebrates the visionary creativity to be found in the South. Mr. Hair well describes the way JW’s absolutely wide-open close attention and curiosity regarding all cultural phenomenon, in his poetry and publishing, provides a balance to the hyper-masculine and exclusionary influences of Olson’s BMC era.

The anthology, like the original online feature, contains four sections: Remembering (memorial writings), Responding (literary analysis), Reviewing (his photography), and Recollecting (appreciations of Jargon Society Press). Additions included in the print version include letters between JW and his first partner, Ronald Johnson, a recounting of the publication of White Trash Cooking, and transcripts of interview/film sessions with Neal Hutcheson. Congratulations to Jeffery and long live the memory of Jonathan Williams, a true original. My favorite JW broadside, reprinted from Pairadaeza for a reading at NC Wesleyan College, reads thus:

*Poet’s Silhouette (1951): Looking Forward to a Lifetime of meditation on a Text by R.B. Kitaj. NYC 1978, Artists Postcards.

original online feature at Jacket Magazine

Jargon Society Press is now part of the BMCM+AC

 

September 25, 2017 Posted by | art, Black Mountain, literary | , , | 1 Comment