The art of Cameron, 1922–1995

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Fairy Queen (1962), ink and dyes on parchment.

A rare exhibition of work by occult artist Cameron, aka Marjorie Cameron Parsons Kimmel, can be seen at the Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery in New York.

Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of work by Cameron (1922–1995), curated by Michael Duncan, George Herms, and Nicole Klagsbrun. The exhibition runs from January 12 until February 10, 2007. An opening reception will be held on Friday, January 12, from 6–8 pm.

This survey is the first solo gallery exhibition of artist, performer, poet, and occult practitioner, Cameron (Marjorie Cameron Parsons Kimmel). A maverick follower of the esoteric mysticism of Aleister Crowley and his philosophical group, the OTO (Ordo Templi Orientis), Cameron was also an accomplished painter and draftsman and mentor to younger artists and poets such as Wallace Berman, George Herms, and David Meltzer. While enlisted in the Navy, she was assigned the tasks of drawing maps and working in a photographic unit, which led to attendance at art classes after being discharged. In Los Angeles, she became the wife and spiritual avatar of scientist and mystical thinker Jack Parsons (1914–1952), one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and an influential leader of the OTO.

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The mundane Cameron during the Second World War.

In the early 1950s, Cameron met the fellow LA artist and jazz enthusiast Wallace Berman who was fascinated by her artwork, poetry, and mystical aura. In 1955 Berman used his photograph of Cameron as the cover of his literary and artistic journal Semina and included in the issue a drawing she had made the previous year. The drawing became renowned when the police cited it as ?lewd? and shut down Berman’s 1957 exhibition at Ferus Gallery. After this experience, Cameron, like Berman, refused to show her art in commercial galleries. She remained, however, a crucial figure in the Berman circle. Cameron’s romantic aesthetic and commanding persona prompted filmmaker Curtis Harrington to commemorate her output as a visual artist in The Wormwood Star (1955), a lyrical short film recording the art and atmosphere of her candlelit studio. Filmmaker Kenneth Anger cast her in a leading role opposite Anäis Nin in his film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954).

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The occult Cameron, manifesting as the Scarlet Women for Kenneth Anger.

Despite the grim fatality of much of her writings, Cameron?s artworks portray a fanciful, even wistful lyricism. In the early 1960s she corresponded with Joseph Campbell, citing her interest in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, as well as in the fiction of Hermann Hesse and Isak Dinesen. Consumed by myth and the idea of protean growth, Cameron depicted the process of metamorphosis and transformation in hundreds of line drawings where ominous figures and landscapes emerge from uniformly striated, passionately articulated ink marks. Other gouache drawings and paintings depict mythic figures of her own creation engaged in ritualistic, symbolic acts.

For now, her work is barely visible on the web but there’s another small gallery of her pictures here. And just to show how MySpace is seemingly intent on resurrecting everyone who ever lived, Marjorie Cameron, Babalon 156 is in your extended network.

Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery
526 West 26th St, no. 213,
New York.

Via Jay.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Kenneth Anger on DVD…finally
Austin Osman Spare

Alice Coltrane, 1937–2007

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First Robert Anton Wilson, now Alice Coltrane, widow of John Coltrane and one of my very favourite musicians. She died on Friday but it seems the news is only now circulating. A great musician (harp and keyboards) and a great composer, she managed to carve her own creative space away from the giant shadow of her husband. Even so, many of her early albums have yet to be reissued on CD outside Japan, a criminal state of affairs which tells you a lot about the way the music industry marginalises jazz and avant garde music. If you’ve never heard any of these recordings the best introduction is probably the Astral Meditations compilation but all the early works are flawless and essential.

LA Times obituary.

A Monastic Trio (1967–68)
John Coltrane: Cosmic Music (1968)
Huntington Ashram Monastery (1969)
Ptah, the El Daoud (1970)
Journey in Satchidananda (1970)
Universal Consciousness (1972)
World Galaxy (1972)
Lord of Lords (1972)
John Coltrane: Infinity (1973)
Reflection on Creation and Space (A Five Year View) (1973)
The Elements (1973; with Joe Henderson)
Illuminations (1974; with Carlos Santana)
Radha-Krisna Nama Sankirtana (1976)
Transcendence (1977)
Transfiguration (1978)
Divine Songs (1987)
Translinear Light (2004; with Ravi Coltrane)

More mp3 blogs

A couple of recommendations (thanks again to Gav and Jay):

Magic of Juju. More vinyl rips, music from around the world this time.

Insect & Individual. “an assortment of kraut, prog, free jazz, avant, diy punk, and uncategorizable recordings highlighted by nurse with wound on the legendary/infamous nww list.” Includes the impossible-to-find The Way Out by L Voag. Now you’ve found it.

For those who missed it, here’s the original blog list. Once again, this isn’t definitive by any means, there are loads of these things out there.

Fauni Gena Music Webbernet. Mainly ambient or quiet electronic releases.

À bientôt j’espère. Er…hard to describe, you’ll just have to go and look.

Lost-In-Tyme. Obscure psychedelia for the most part.

Swen’s blog – Artists mentioned in The Wire. What it says on the tin. Very useful if you’re a Wire reader.

Improvisie. Improvised music with an emphasis on the jazz spectrum. Not much there yet but may be worth watching and worth a visit solely for the insane Paul Bley synth album.

Grown So Ugly. “A home for musical gems from the past fifty years, decidedly biased in favor of acoustic instrumentation. From the easily accessible to the challenging listen, quality is the sole requirement for our sharity. We encourage community participation.”

Krautrockteam. Best of the lot where my tastes are concerned. More obscure (that word again…) German music than you can shake an Archangel’s Thunderbird at.

Yule

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“A trap for dere Santa”. From How to be Topp by
Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle (1954).

That time of year again. Here at { feuilleton } we prefer to acknowledge the solstice-based traditions that pre-date the usurping rituals of Middle Eastern sky gods. The old pagan business of lighting fires and creating artificial light and warmth still makes sense when you’re in the depths of another dreary English winter, with seemingly permanent grey skies and a smear of daylight that vanishes at half past three in the afternoon. Christmas used to agitate me too much and too often until the year the TV finally gave up the ghost. I realised a lot of the prior aggravation had been caused by the deluge of trivia that popular media creates at the end of the year; keep away from TV, avoid the crowds and the collective hysteria become a lot more manageable.

This page will be quiet while I visit the family for a few days but the archive feature will be active should you be seized by a sudden desire to read my words or look at some pictures. If you’re sat in front of a monitor over the coming week—and for some this may be a necessary escape—I’d suggest looking over some of the mp3 blogs that have been coming online in the past year. These are from people (usually anonymous for good reason) posting whole albums for download, many of which still haven’t made it onto CD. Hard to say how long this phenomenon will be allowed to continue in its current form—a lot of these places are using Blogger, so may be shut down by Google eventually—but for now its an encouraging trend. A by-no-means-definitive list follows below. These are only the ones I’ve run across recently, liked and bookmarked; if you know of any other good ones, feel free to leave a tip in the comments.

Fauni Gena Music Webbernet. Mainly ambient or quiet electronic releases.

À bientôt j’espère. Er…hard to describe, you’ll just have to go and look.

Lost-In-Tyme. Obscure psychedelia for the most part.

Swen’s blog – Artists mentioned in The Wire. What it says on the tin. Very useful if you’re a Wire reader.

Improvisie. Improvised music with an emphasis on the jazz spectrum. Not much there yet but may be worth watching and worth a visit solely for the insane Paul Bley synth album. (Thanks to Gav for the tip!)

Grown So Ugly. “A home for musical gems from the past fifty years, decidedly biased in favor of acoustic instrumentation. From the easily accessible to the challenging listen, quality is the sole requirement for our sharity. We encourage community participation.” (Thanks to Jay for pointing me to this one.)

Krautrockteam. Best of the lot where my tastes are concerned. More obscure (that word again…) German music than you can shake an Archangel’s Thunderbird at.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The music of The Wicker Man

High Priorities

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In which your humble narrator enters a contest…

Speak Up, in collaboration with New York magazine, is proud to announce the first-ever open contest to design the visually acclaimed, graphically exhilarating, by-invitation-only “High Priority” feature illustration in the magazine’s year-end, December 18, 2006 double issue.

High Priority highlights five activities, suggested by New York writers, that are not to be missed. Every week designers and illustrators from around the world are invited to create an interpretive typographic illustration to open “The Week” – the listings section of New York Magazine. New York readers place great weight on these five recommendations, and this page is a regular destination for many.

For examples of past editions of High Priority please visit:
New York‘s High Priority archive
Design Observer’s Variations on a Theme: New York‘s High Priorities

I knew about this listings feature from having read the Design Observer piece (I’ve never seen a copy of New York), and liked the idea for what amounts to the design equivalent of a “standard” in jazz, with different designers having to present a riff on the same brief in each issue. The restrictive nature of the problem is part of its appeal; only two colours are allowed (red and black), the box must be the shape it always is, and the design has to incorporate five categories—Movies, Theater (sic), Art, Nightlife and Restaurants—with the date, the words “High Priority” visible somewhere, and the accompanying critics’ recommendation for each category. Aside from that, anything goes.

My attempt can be seen above. I was going to do a couple of different designs then pick the best one but in the end I ran out of time. The initial idea was to do something along the lines of the cover for Physical Graffiti by Led Zeppelin (below) but—as is often the case with first ideas—making it work wasn’t so easy.

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Led Zeppelin’s building is a great photograph of a New York brownstone (the original vinyl sleeve had slots cut in the windows through which the lettering and various pictures on the inner sleeves could be seen); mine had to be pieced together from separate pictures of New York in the 1930s. It doesn’t quite work because there’s not much justification for having the category lettering arranged like rows of birthday cards on the window sills. But maybe I’m being too hasty in pulling it apart when the winner won’t be announced until December 4th. Until then you can browse the 186 other entries. I have to say that the quality of these is really exceptional, if I were one of the judges I’d have a hard time choosing only one. Most of the time I wouldn’t give a second glance to an online contest but this one was fun and the high standard of the other entries has made it worthwhile.