Saturday, January 28, 2012

2012 January - October Events at Seligmann Center

September 2012- March 2013 

Kurt Seligmann at Home 

an exhibit of personal photos, letters, original art work and household items of Surrealist Kurt Seligmann (1900-1962). The exhibit is intended to provide a more personal view of one of the key figures in Surrealism. It is based on the few hundred snapshots, photos, letters and original art works in the collection. Many of these are reproduced on canvas panels hung throughout Seligmann's studio. 

David Horton, artist and Professor of Art at William Paterson University, curated, designed and produced the exhibit with help from Madeline Gersack, Dorothy Szefc, Janet Hamill, Bill Seaton, Daniel Mack, Nancy Proyect, Bonnie Neucall, Nick Zungoli and Lucinda Poindexter.

On the Grounds
Book-Tree: from a series by Jed Bark
Spirals: the first public presentation of the work of  Julius Medwin:

September 29, 2012
Workshop by Janet Hamill.   
Hamill will discuss the work of John Ashbery, Barbara Guest, Kenneth Koch, Frank O’Hara and James Schuyler, all of whom were greatly influenced by Surrealism’s liberating effects on poetry and the visual arts.   All five poets lived in New York City in the early 1950’s when Abstract Expressionism (a movement influenced by Surrealist painters) was riding its heroic crest.  In their work they were attempting to simulate in language what Pollock, De Kooning and Kline were doing with paint.  All five knew each knew each other socially and either worked in NY art museums or wrote for art publications.  Theirs was a poetry as fresh and original as the painters they admired and reflected their reactions to classic modernists, such as Pound and Eliot and their contemporary rivals of the Confessional school.  In addition to a discussion and examination of the first generation of New York School poets, participants will have the opportunity to write a poem in the style of one of the poets.  Following the presentation/workshop, there will be a reading of poems by the New York School poets by area poets Adrianna Delgado, Michael Sean Collins, Florence Lenhard, Marina Mati and Glenn Werner.   Janet Hamill, producer:   NYC poet attended readings by Ashbery, Guest, Koch and Second Generation NY School poets, is the author of five books of poetry and short fiction.  Her work has been nominated for the William Carlos William Prize and a Pushcart Prize. 

August 22, 2012
Fantasy Drawings of Chaim Gross installed by Jonathan and Marsha Talbot

May 31, 2012
Talk by surrealist expert Stephen Robeson Miller

June 8, 2012 
Films of George Kuchar, Felix Bernstein, guest

May 25, 2012
Second Surrealist Cabaret

April 27, 2012 at 7:30pm
Three films by Filmmaker Jacob Burckhardt

A Guided Tour of Edith's Apartment video by Jacob Burckhardt, 2010, 47 minutes
In March 2009, Edith Schloss Burckhardt, the 90-year-old painter and writer, took her son, the filmmaker Jacob Burckhardt, on a tour of her apartment. Edith has been living in the historic center of Rome since 1962, painting and writing art criticism and her memoirs.

Yaknetuma from the Lower East   1974, 9 min., color Jacob Burckhardt in collaboration with Laleen Jayamanne, is dance filmed on the streets and rooftops of New York, based on an ancient Sri Lankan exorcism ritual.

Roma    2004, 11 minutes, 16mm, Black and White
A poetic view of the Modern Ancient city from the point of view of a familiar pedestrian. Stones, water, graffitti, lights, the Pope, cats, people in the streets, clouds, markets, and even a few monuments, captured on a Bolex with grainy black and white film. Camera, editing, and sound by Jacob Burckhardt, music by Carlo Buti and Tschipolla

Jacob Burckhardt has been directing and producing films since the early nineteen seventies. All the while making underground movies, Jacob Burckhardt has worked at a variety of jobs: blueberry picker, steel Mill laborer, Fuller Brush man, truck driver, taxi driver, camera repairman and photographer of painting and sculpture. He has done sound recording in North Africa, worked in the industry as staff re-recording mixer at Ross-Gaffney, Inc., and now runs a post-production sound editing and mixing facility at Workedit, Inc.

He has made 33 movies, most in 16mm and some in video and super-8. In 2002, he began a collaboration with Royston Scott which has resulted in three movies in the series "Black Moments in Great History," the latest of which is "Tomorrow Always Comes." His 16 millimeter work also includes a series of poetic and contemplative black and white shorts, such as "Roma" (2004), a "poetic" view of the modern ancient city from the point of view of a familiar pedestrian, with stones, water, graffiti, lights, cats, pedestrians, and even the Pope.
Eschewing the money raising rat race, he now prefers shorts in film and video, where it is possible to preserve a direct relationship between the film and the film makers, and still photography on gelatin silver paper.
Jacob Burckhardt is son of the Swiss-born photographer and experimental filmmaker Rudy Burckhardt.

March 27, 2012
Film Festival. Fat Feet. Mimi Gross as guest.    Robert Whitman, Julie Martin producers

March 9, 2012
  all posters by David Horton

William Seaton presented a program of his translations from German Dada poets as well as a general account of the Dada movement  “A Word that Means Nothing,” refers to Dadaist Tristan Tzara’s comment that Dada means nothing. (Embracing contradiction, Tzara also said Dada was “a roaring of tense colors, and interlacing of opposites and of all contradictions, grotesques, inconsistencies.”)

According to Seaton, “The Dadaists established all the major trends of experimentation that have prevailed for the last hundred years. Their work is the most significant source from which Surrealism emerged. No one has established an artistic position more radical than theirs.” Seaton’s Dada Poems from the German with an introduction by Timothy Shipe, curator of the University of Iowa’s Dada Archive, has just been published by Nirala Publications. His translations of German Dadaist poetry have earlier appeared in Adirondack Review, Read and Destroy. Mad Blood, Maintenant, and Chelsea.

Seaton has been translating poetry since his versions of Sappho were published in Oblique when he was an undergraduate at the University of Illinois in 1967. He later studied literary translation under Anselm Hollo and Stavros Deligiorgis at the University of Iowa’s Translation Workshop. He directs the Poetry on the Loose Reading/Performance Series, teaches at the College of Poetry (, and posts five essays, literary and familiar, on the first of every month at

This event is part of a Surrealism Festival paying homage to Kurt Seligmann, an émigré artist who made his Sugar Loaf home a center for Surrealism in America. Under the auspices of the Orange County Citizens Foundation, the Festival includes performance events, exhibits, films, and workshops. For details, call 845-469-9459

March 27, 2012
Homage to Kurt Seligmann. An international collage exhibit  curated by Jonathan Talbot and Jessica Lawrence till June 15

Surrealist Garden started in bog on property, Jerome Spector

February 24, 2012
About 60 people came to this film, discussion and poetry reading of Frank O'Hara poems by Michael Sean Collins, Adrianna Delgado, Janet Hamill, Florence Lenhard, Marina Mati, Glenn Werner & Christopher Wheeling.
Here's the Frank O'Hara poem Janet Hamill read:

Lines For The Fortune Cookies

I think you're wonderful and so does everyone else.
Just as Jackie Kennedy has a baby boy, so will you--even bigger.
You will meet a tall beautiful blonde stranger, and you will not say hello.
You will take a long trip and you will be very happy, though alone.
You will marry the first person who tells you your eyes are like scrambled eggs.
In the beginning there was YOU--there will always be YOU, I guess.
You will write a great play and it will run for three performances.
Please phone The Village Voice immediately: they want to interview you.
Roger L. Stevens and Kermit Bloomgarden have their eyes on you.
Relax a little; one of your most celebrated nervous tics will be your undoing.
Your first volume of poetry will be published as soon as you finish it.
You may be a hit uptown, but downtown you're legendary!
Your walk has a musical quality which will bring you fame and fortune.
You will eat cake.
Who do you think you are, anyway? Jo Van Fleet?
You think your life is like Pirandello, but it's really like O'Neill.
A few dance lessons with James Waring and who knows? Maybe something will happen.
That's not a run in your stocking, it's a hand on your leg.
I realize you've lived in France, but that doesn't mean you know EVERYTHING!
You should wear white more often--it becomes you.
The next person to speak to you will have a very intriquing proposal to make.
A lot of people in this room wish they were you.
Have you been to Mike Goldberg's show? Al Leslie's? Lee Krasner's?
At times, your disinterestedness may seem insincere, to strangers.
Now that the election's over, what are you going to do with yourself?
You are a prisoner in a croissant factory and you love it.
You eat meat. Why do you eat meat?
Beyond the horizon there is a vale of gloom.
You too could be Premier of France, if only ... if only... Frank O'Hara

January 27, 2012     A truly charmed event:
7:30 to 10pm     Film Festival Started... 100+ people attend:
  • an introduction and invitation to the Seligmann Center for Surrealism
  • an introduction to Pull My Daisy and David Amram
  • David Amram's comments on the film
  • the Film, Pull MyDaisy
  • readings of five Kerouac poems by Joe Aniska, Michael Sean Collins, Janet Hamill & Frank Messina with keyboard by David Amram
  • visiting and q&a with David Amram

Januray 2, 2012

This was the 50th year since Kurt Seligmann's death. His wife, Arlette, died 20 years ago this  February.
A few of us gathered at his Homestead and gravestone, dressed in ways to honor his work: his history of magic and occult, his many danse macabre figures. We gathered and spoke about how important he was in helping Jewish artists escape Europe in the late 1930s, his own work at realising figures from our shadow lives, his hosting of major figures in 20th century art here in Sugar Loaf, NY and how we are grateful for the gift of this beautiful land to "the Citizens of Orange County"
Jonathan Talbot made and shared this video.

Seligmann website

Saturday, January 21, 2012

QUOTES from Seligmann: artist as alchemist and more

In "Magic Circles," for View, Seligmann used Jung as the springboard for an analogy between artistic creation and alchemical process:

According to Jung, the alchemic process is mainly of a psychic nature; and this makes it even more analogous to the artist's labor. In vain do we seek to investigate the nature of the occult forces which are at work in the act of artistic creation. The artist himself does not master them. He is subjected to them just as a medium experiences the trance; and it is in this state that the artist produces beings which obey the morphological laws and the ordering forces of nature.

From Martica Sawin


In The History of Magic and the Occult Kurt Seligmann writes:
We think of the magus as the possessor of occult secrets, a master of esoteric wisdom, who makes use of this knowledge for his own good as well as for that of his fellow men. He is a “white” magician, less fond of prodigies than of the contemplation of nature, in which he discovers marvelous active forces where others only see familiar things. For him the power of God is not concentrated in this One, but permeates every being of the universe. (Seligmann 206)

MORE Writing from Seligmann

Kurt Seligmann’s “Heritage of the Accursed” from Charles Henri Ford‘s magazine View (number 5, December 1945). Reprinted in View: Parade of the Avant-Garde 1940–1947 (compiled by Catrina Neiman & Paul Nathan; printed by the Thunder’s Mouth Press in 1992) as pages 179–182.

Seligmann Website

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Surrealism: the Occult, Alchemy, War

I've just read and enjoyed Nadia Choucha's Surrealism & the Occult (1991).  I'll be adding more notes. Here's a starter (and a few Max Ernst works):

Nadia Choucha’s general summary of basic occult principles:

The universe is a single living substance.
The universe is comprised of interactive opposites.
Mind and matter are a unified entity.
Everything that exists corresponds in universal analogy –man/ woman is a microcosm of the universe.
Imagination is a real motivating force that can act upon matter in a subtle way.

Someone asked yesterday if I thought there was a resurgence of surrealism in Orange County??
Actually, I don’t think there’s a resurgence of Surrealism. There’s a resurgence of INTEREST in Surrealism. The February 2012 show, The Graffiti of War, in Montgomery at Mikey Teutul's Wolf Gang Galley may be a start. There are a lot-- a lot of veterans in Orange County. Art is a way for some of them to convey what happened.
Surrealism was a response to war. We are now in our 11th year of war. What’s taking surrealism so long to show back up?
Surrealism is just a name given to a literary, then visual response to the shocking poverty of a military or capitalist approach to strife. The Surrealists were passionate about urging some encounter with the unconscious as a component in a balanced life.
Hmmm... Is surrealism just another form of PTSD... if so, hold on there's more to come!