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Tag: Michael Lawrence

The LA Free Press’ Throwback Thursday to an Old Revolutionary in a New Role


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Reflections by another painter, Michael Lawrence
(Ed.’s note: Several weeks ago, we received an email from Michael Lawrence, an artist who contributed to the 1966 Artists’ Protest Tower. It was in regard to our article on that protest. We snipped a bit out for a comment but, as there was so much more info, we took the unusual step of continuing it onto its own page – the link to that is right there in the post.
Now Michael has again written to us… and this time we thought that we might as well just swap out our post for his, as he has a better perspective on the actual subject of the article. What we’ve retained for you of ours (now at the tail-end of his view) is our expertise… the ‘why’ behind the article… and the historical references that many have either forgotten, or never knew about at all.
)

As a painter and watercolorist, I am naturally curious about other practitioners of this medium. In his essay, The Angel is my Watermark, Henry Miller walks you through this experience. As I do, he improvises his adventure, beginning with an idea but open to dealing with what happens. That is the joy of seeing a work unfold in a spontaneous fashion. So, Miller starts with a horse. But the drawing lacks the conviction needed to satisfy his illusion. As the work progresses, the horse disappears and eventually an angel appears. The Angel was his watermark.
At a later date, Capra Press published Paint as You Like and Die Happy. It is, basically, a collection of watercolors painted over the years. In Paris, he explored its artists as freely as he discovered its streets and rhythms. Hans Reichel, a watercolorist who worked from his imagination much in the same delicate manner as Paul Klee, invites Miller into his studio and in viewing how Henry organizes and explores his instincts, he reassures Miller that whatever he lacks in verisimilitude is more than compensated for by his imaginative combinations. This was enough encouragement to cut Miller loose from any conventional strategies.
Miller, who is a great admirer of the arts, all the arts, is as unique a creator of the word as he is of the painted image. Throughout his life, he enjoyed several periods of working as a visual artist. In Big Sur, he painted watercolors to supplement his income. He collaborated with his brother in-law, Bazalel Schatz, in creating a fantastic silkscreen book of images and words, Into the Night. Later, while married to Hoki, Miller would complete a similar project during his sleepless nights alone in the Palisades, where he spent his later years.
My father, Marc Lawrence, gifted me an original watercolor he had acquired from Henry, who my father admired as a thinker and a man. The watercolor is a portrait of the universe, a sumi brush drawing, lines dancing in space.
Many of Miller’s watercolors are fantastic cities constructed from what I imagine were his dream impressions of the places he wanted to visit, Timbuktu or China, locales whose name stimulated his imagination and allowed him to play. For me, this is the quintessential value of his creative genius, letting go, being in the moment, letting the subconscious celebrate life.
As we look at these curious cityscapes, we enter a surreal world where beauty grows in some unique other worldly fashion. A world apart where cultural fragments come together to form new corridors for our imaginations to delight in. Miro thought a painter should have the knowledge from experience, but the courage to paint as a child might. Indeed, one can see the depth of concentration and delight that Miller took in making his visual worlds.
While the watercolors of Henry Miller have been collected for several decades they are still less celebrated than they might be. Perhaps this is an advantage for his growing public. The pleasures of their company are still affordable, which would, I believe, suit Mr. Miller’s desire to share his freedom of expression.

(Ed.’s 2nd Note: Here are 2 photos of Michael Lawrence’s own watercolors to ‘illustrate’ his credentials.
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Additionally, here’s a link to his most recent book, Loaded Brush… 400+ pages of his relationships with numerous artists from various disciplines (Andy Warhol, Jim Morrison, et. al.) plus about 150 images of his work. All from, as he says, “a lifetime devoted to art, optimism, peace and transformation through creative effort.”
http://www.fast-print.net/bookshop/1857/loaded-brush )

And what do we have to say that the article doesn’t?

It’s a Throwback Thursday to… the LA Free Press of 2/18…1966(!)


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So… what do we have for you this fine morning? Right up top, there’s a bit of a teaser… a hip ‘HAPPENING’ on ‘THIS FRIDAY’.
Next up, is the Headline to the ‘Inside Story’… just click on the LA Free Press ‘Page’ on the right-hand side to get to that. There, on February 18, 1966 – exactly 50-years-ago(!) today, it said “Your life and future depend on how you handle yourself in your contacts with the police.” …and… “Policemanship is perhaps the most important art one can learn in contemporary America.”

Fifty years later, unfortunately, that’s still true.
(And, once again, proving that the LA Freep was, and still is, ‘right on’. 🙂

When you do go to that article, on the very same page, you’ll see a bit more about tomorrow night’s Happening. Still in all, I’m willing to bet – dollars to donuts (as the police might say) – that most hipsters will, nevertheless, miss, really, what it portends. Why not give it a go, yourself? (And not to worry… if you or someone else doesn’t post the correct answer in the Comments Box soon… we will.)

In the meantime, let’s take a quick look at what, exactly, made the Front Page. Okay… from the bottom up – ‘COUNCIL GIVES LAND AWAY AFTER PLANNERS SAY NO’. Am sure there’s a story just like that in some paper, somewhere today and, just as likely, someone on the take…just like back then. To the right of that article, is one of how the left has begun ‘OPERATION BOOTSTRAP’ ANOTHER ANSWER FOR WATTS. (And, yes, the balance of both of these articles are available to you upon request.)

Finally, at the very center of this page is the Artists’ Protest Tower being constructed by the Artist’s Protest Committee,’ a 24 hour a day protest against the war in Vietnam’. You might want to check out the 70+ Artists listed… you may be surprised not only by the stature that some of them have achieved since then but, too, this early political stance. What the heck – here’s a couple of names that many readers will recognize: John Altoon, Larry Bell, Enrico Baj, Mark di Suvero (corrected from the typo), Judy Gerowitz (Chicago), Irving Petlin, Elaine de Kooning, Roy Lichtenstein, Sam Francis, Jim (James) Rosenquist, Mark Rothko, Frank Stella, and Jack Zajac.

Now, a Special Invitation: If you have some thoughts that you would like to write down about any of the articles above, please do. If brief, they’ll post in the Comments Box below. But, if you take the time to write extensively, your remarks may very well show up in our ‘A Unique Perspective’ Section. You can see what that might look like with a click HERE (tomorrow).

My relationship to the Peace Tower and those who built it.
(Ed.’s note: We just received this email from Michael Lawrence, an artist who contributed to the Tower. Of course, as a voice of the time, Michael refers to the Artists’ Tower of Protest with the less formal name that gave the purpose of its protest.)
Shortly before I had heard about the Peace Tower, I had joined a march downtown carrying a sign saying ‘No Napalm’. Folks looked at me with a strange expression, so I asked them if they knew what Napalm was. They had No Clue. So I thought that making anti-war art, perhaps, would be more fruitful. This was at a time when I was making collages from discarded objects. Among those I found were a pitted mirror framed in wood, about 20 inches tall and 15 inches wide, and a transparent Kelly Green piggy bank. Together, they seemed to reflect the senselessness of war in a subtle manner…discarded hope. I sprayed words on the pitted glass surface…Green Pig Can’t See Death Just Smoking… and handed the piece to a friend to deliver.
In fact, I hardly ever left Venice that winter. At the time, I was working for…
(Ed.’s 2nd Note: As Michael’s email far exceeds the usual length of a ‘comment’, we’ve put this snippet here, and the rest of this personal story in our ‘A Unique Perspective’ Section (just as we had said we would if we were to receive such a piece). Additionally, there you can find the link to his most recent book, Loaded Brush, which includes notes of his relationship with Jim Morrison, Andy Warhol, Timothy Leary and – like the remainder of this – many other artists.)