Jazz and Poetry: de Young Museum event
Oddball poet Michael McClure will perform in concert with jazz improv masters George Brooks and Rob Wasserman.
July 25, 2013
As Bart Schneider was publishing Genine Lentine’s remarkable book “Poses,” a collection of writings (instead of drawings) from live models, he decided he wanted to include figure drawings.
“I figured, might as well start with the master,” he said via e-mail, and approached the Diebenkorn Foundation. Receptive, and pleased with the way “Poses” came out, the foundation agreed to let Schneider do a book of Richard Diebenkorn’s work on paper.
“When I realized how much magnificent work there was – the foundation estimates that 4,000 of RD’s 5,000 known works are on paper – I decided it needed to be two books: ‘Abstractions on Paper’ and ‘From the Model,’ ” he e-mails.
The timing couldn’t have been better: With the de Young’s current exhibit “Richard Diebenkorn: The Berkeley Years, 1953-1966,” interest in the painter’s work is high. “I suppose the reason we got to publish so many of these works for the first time,” Schneider says, “is that people weren’t aware of what treasures the foundation holds.
“My goal is to make small, inexpensive art books, which offer viewers a direct and intimate experience of the artists’ work, without the interference of scholarly essays and analysis. Our Diebenkorn books have been flying off the shelves, which suggests that people’s direct response to the work doesn’t depend on having a specialist guide them.”
Friday night, as part of their Friday Nights at the de Young series and in conjunction with the exhibit, the museum hosts a special performance by the legendary, luminously oddball poet Michael McClure in concert with jazz improv masters George Brooks and Rob Wasserman. McClure was among those who went to watch Diebenkorn paint at California College of Arts and Crafts (now the California College of the Arts) circa 1960. Over the phone, he said Diebenkorn was a big influence on his own work.
“He was a hero of mine. … I particularly like his early work, his middle work and his later work,” McClure said, laughing. “All of it.” Though he says, “His early (Berkeley) work I will probably always think is the most beautiful because it’s what I grew up with.
“But then again he was an improvisational painter at that time, and I’m working with two of the really great improvisational musicians George Brooks and Rob Wasserman – two enormously gifted people – and I think together it will be a real celebration of what he has done for us.”
In fact, McClure was in a band with Brooks and Wasserman, along with the Doors’ Ray Manzarek, called Big Mix, and part of the evening will be a tribute to Manzarek, who died in May. McClure says one of the poems they’ll perform will be “Maybe Mama Lion,” for which McClure wrote the words and Manzarek the music.
Both “Richard Diebenkorn: Abstractions on Paper” and “Richard Diebenkorn: From the Model” are available at the de Young. The exhibition at the de Young runs through Sept. 29.