Archive for May, 2009

Franklin Rosemont and Surrealism

May 29, 2009

Graces Disgraces (in pen and ink from November 6, 2001) and 8 by 10 inches

Franklin Rosemont was a great influence on me and my work.  My encounter with his work changed my life.  It was inspiring to know that there were people living Surrealism in the late Twentieth Century.

The whole “Chicago School” of Surrealism was a formative influence.  This consisted of Franklin and Penelope Rosemont and their circle.  Some, like Paul Garon, were in Chicago.  Others, like Joseph Jablonski, were elsewhere.

They also kept in touch with Surrealism around the world.  It was always toward working toward true change absolutely for the better, everywhere, in all the corners of the earth.   Part of this is to wake people up, to reveal and unleash certain dreams and mysteries.

Surrealism deepened my resolve to go against the grain, to be an outsider and generally not to “play the game.” 

In ways they also helped to inform and deepen my interests.  They turned me on to so many great books and artists.  They had a Surrealist version of  a  sort of merciless cultural criticism.  I’d often laugh out loud at their critiques of the Elmer Fudds of the “art world” and the “poetry scene.”

They also turn their clear-eyed criticism toward reality.  Truth is not cut and dried.  Things are not as they should be.  People are asleep even when awake and/or wearing designer blinders.  As I always say: Incorrigible Utopianists Amalgamated!

(My good friend, the late Jacques Karamanoukian, had a similar sort of revolutionary spirit suffused in black humor and wide-eyed realism.   He had a good knowledge of Surrealism and we discuss various artists, poets and manifestos.)

I knew Franklin Rosemont better from his writings than through my few meetings with him.  I never got there as often as I’d liked  due to the distance between Detroit and Chicago and the fact that I don’t drive automobiles. 

Also, I  rarely use the telephone.    I admit to some degree of shyness and “loner tendencies.”  Yet, due to a long and faithful postal correspondence, I’ve regarded Franklin and Penelope Rosemont as true comrades and old friends. 

We worked together on a few projects, primarily a Surrealist declaration defending Detroit artist Tyree Guyton.  They wrote it but I did some research and sent some photos.  He’d just had four of his wild “art houses” demolished by the city of Detroit.

I think that (pretty early on) I tried to find them.  I got to their house but no one seemed to be home.  I think it was on their mailbox I saw posted: Zorro and Tarzana Laughingthrush.

The graces and the disgraces will continue to wrestle, engage, dance in opposite directions and perhaps enter into conversation.

Again, all my condolences to Penelope and to Franklin’s friends, family and fellow Surrealists.