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1974(November)-1975(March) - (9) Letters to Shirley from Rockmore(NYC) - Pursuing a Big NYC Show and volatile relationship with Janice & Bryant Galleries

November 7, 1974 Postcard to Shirley (BRLA) from Rockmore(NYC)

Shirley -

            Bad drunk scene - wound up in Roosev. Hospital - stitches in head and right hand a mess - but I will be OK - am putting booze behind me - police came - Janice and I were fighting - my fault but tensions are too high - my son Chris here - he wants to be an artist! - has quite good drawings - very nice boy - I really need a change and rest so I may go to N.O. soon and rest - no salary in Oct. - Bryant in Hospital? or fake? - Last Supper growing - what a period!

            Keep in touch


November 8, 1974 (postmark) Post Card to Shirley (BRLA) from Rockmore(Peoria, IL) 


            Looks like catalogue should be very impressive judging from this - sorry you won’t see it (show) - could it be that this is 1st step out of obscurity??? - will mail catalogue when he sends some - did you call Bryant about Book?  Keep on his tail and tell him to call me - I have a new plan for saving it (book) - he is out of touch - and his mother - no salary (Oct.) - call him (please) - as ever (Rockmore)

November 20, 1974 Letter to Shirley from Rockmore(NYC)

Shirley -

            Did catalogues arrive?  I doubt very much if Armstrong would go to Peoria for Show!

            My attorney is preparing a legal letter for Byrant prior to legal action by me - he cheated me out of $12,862.00!! - I am flat broke but trying to get little commission - by cutting off the draw kitty Sept. 1 he left me flat - $ - but I will get him one way or t’other -

            My att. Bob Persky is looking into possibly seizing French Quarter. Homage - I will let you know as things develop - we are going to try and get him to be ‘honest’ and stick to our original agreement and exercise his option of 1/3 wholesale of unsold works - or pay what he claims I own on back draws ($2800) and get all unsold works back - ???????

            I am glad to be rid of him and Borenstein finally - it already affects my work well -

            Now, as to Whitney - please do not (in Jan.) waste our shot by pushing for retrospective there - no way for years - the greatest favor you could accomplish would be to get Armstrong to agree to go to my studio next time they pick works for annual or bi-annual at Whitney - they usually show 2 or 3 major pieces by each artist picked and nothing would be better for my career - 2 or 3 big new ones like the “Last Supper” 50 x 82 5/8" - or “Christ Mocked” (all my enemies - etc - would be ideal - perhaps, on basis of portfolio plus Lakeview catalogue Armstrong might realistically be tempted to at least include me finally in their annuals - that is realistically the only goal that really makes sense now - OK? - write your reaction - also to catalogue - Janice OK - I hate Bryant - what a creep!  Last Supper is fantastic!

                                                                        As ever


November 22, 1974 Postcard to Shirley (BRLA) from Rockmore(NYC)


            Last Supper 1/3 done - Judas and Jesus structures well along except Christ head reworked now to accommodate blinking eyes - WRITE - did you get catalogue? - Litigation with Bryant has started - Book is kaput - etc - he ought to be shot - creep - I will put him in mocking of Christ -


December 15, 1974 Letter to Shirley (BRLA) from Rockmore (33 W 67, NYC)

Shirley -

            Thanks for book - I am 46 today - did you get catalogues? - I was turned down (expectedly) by Amer. Artist Mag. (low mass audience) - as too “complex - sophisticated” - but I have let my name be put in nomination for National Academy membership - if I can hang on here and pay rent OK - things might begin to look up - but Bryant cutting salary in Oct. really hurt - I will try and give myself a year or 2 more in N.Y. before giving up - if I can earn enough $ to stay - I can give you more catalogues in Jan - the retrospective closed and paintings are back -it was worth seeing a couple of great walls for me - strengthened my resolve in ‘detail - fantasy’ direction as against realist - objective - catalogue made it worth it too - will be useful for years - the Soyer intro plus retrospective character of catalogue and fact it is 40 pages all help to make it a useful source reference in diminutive form of the Bry. Book which is now defunct - better than nothing -

            Haven’t heard a word from my att. - I want French Quarter Homage back and if poss. a settlement of part of $12,782 commission he owes me but I only expect to get the ptg if that - Pete Rose a friend and enthusiast here is going to Terry Distenfoss with catalogue and repros - I have other way of getting to her - an old friend of hers - but I don’t like other contact so I will let Pete try - she is very fond of P. Evergood and so am I so there might be a little hope she could be a dealer for me - worth trying - she could be one of few dealers in N.Y. sensitive to my work if the ice is broken the right way - if -

            I cut “Last Supper - Fleur de Mal” down from 50 x 82 5/8" to 40 x 50" and it is going to pull together soon

            Janice and I went through very difficult and at times dangerous 2 mos.  I don’t know if we can realistically make it - time that past is past but in her case the negative - nihilistic attitude in her before meeting me let her open to every Tom, Dick, and Harry because her massive insecurity and ego made it not possible for her to pre-judge or say no - because someone looked like a creep say - so she would always go thru a scene and then analyze etc - most absurd lack of standards I ever heard of for such a gal - fact she is different with me doesn’t help as much as all that - why? - listen - because no basic change has occurred - only me and my effect on her - her promiscuity was insane and my neurotic and insecurity pattern too pronounced - combination is bad - we will try a detante but eventual split is probably necessary - her attitude in part is unrelenting and renders me insecure about her basic make-up now no matter how great on paper - even if she allowed poss. of slight change toward conscious selectivity say in year before me - it would help - but she does not and no one is ego enough to believe he alone convincingly can cause such a basic improvement - ie within her - rather than in relation to me as long as we stay together -

           She was really sick last 4 yrs. and what is frightening is what could have happened considering how creepy men are and her incredible ‘let anything happen’ attitude - but even the relatively little I have wormed out of her is so awful it has to undermine my security in her present relative security with me - a basic change has to occur within the self - not from outside - that can help of course - but she admits to no growing boredom or fear that her basic attitude of never walk away was terrifyingly wrong at all - unbelievable! a - and depressing - this attitude led her into scenes I can’t live easily with image of and should never have been discussed but too late for that - our volatile similarities also make flare-ups dangerous so now we both agree to cool it and whatever is decided, to do it quietly  - a sad situation tho - she is great but I can’t believe her totally self-destructive years leave no serious scars and I probably can’t handle it - so

            All that plus $ situation and litigation make this a bleak period - I don’t want to lose Janice - but I fear our similarities of drive negatively in future weak moments - I doubt it is fair to take the chance for too long - so I will try and get both of us rested and control my drinking better (as I am now doing) etc - and then see more clearly what to do - life is too short for any huge predictable degree of avoidable tension and hassle - sad - but I will try still -

            If you come here in Jan. and we are still together remember the very thought out and honest statements above and realize that a seeming détante on the surface may be only that -

            Take care and write -

            I am too old to be broke again -

                                                                        As ever


P.S.  Above not meant as final death-knell of me and J but only to explain the possibility of same if it happens.

P.P.S (written on the back of small envelope) remember Shirley - no matter what I say - up until my last min. I will try and save it - this letter on that subject (me and J) is meant only as explanation

December 15, 1974 Letter to Shirley (BRLA) from Rockmore (33 W67, NYC)

Shirley -

            Decided to send these - remember - other letter is not meant as inevitable doom for me and Janice - only as explanation - IF.

            Last thing in the world I want, but better to split than live rest of one’s life with destr. Images and tension - if unavoidable - if - and I don’t know for sure yet - still could work - I just felt the actual problems should be described so you don’t say silly things etc - you know what I mean - don’t get mad                                                                        R

            I certainly hope it could still work  - with me she is great  - so ...

P.P.S. (On back of large envelope) Jaffe called - he met Janice - I know I am ridiculous but I want to make sure I got across the fact that she and I will still try and when you read 1st letter remember it is an analysis of the problem and leaves out any tempering good factors -


January 20, 1975 Letter to Shirley (1127) from Rockmore (33 W 67, NYC)

Shirley -

            Back from 3 week trip to N.O. - did great portraits of Micki (her husband commissioned) and Peggy Fortier and got rest -

            Janice and I much better now - we probably will try and work out any remaining problems but for now a period of WORK - she got another fellowship and is doing well - I am going back to 9-5 work schedule and I quit booze 2 mos ago -

            When are you seeing Armstrong?  When and if you come to town I would like to ask you to see Terry Dintenfoss and Staemplfi Galleries - ??

            Those 2 are closet to my work -

            Please drop a line and let me know your plans on N.Y. -

            I am going to Haiti in 75 or 76 with help of expert dealer on Royal almost anytime I am $ ready - important for work -

            Bur mainly I want Feb Mar and April to be greatest work phase in yrs so here goes!


January 30, 1975 Letter to Shirley (BRLA) from Rockmore (33 W 67, NYC)

Shirley -

            Do you like Peoria catalogue? 

            You seemed pre-occupé on phone - the whole thing that is being missed in our contacts is getting me in the Whitney annuals - getting 1 or 2 big pieces included in their surveys would be the only realistic goal possible - when do you expect to be here again?

            I met a young agent last nite and he is going to try and place 2 oils for me and in the process expose my work and catalogues etc - to a new group of people - also later on let [Denton] take portfolio of color pr to Staempli Dirlacher Kraushaur Galleries as back stop for opening wedge I have with Dintenfass - the main thing is WORK - Janice and I still don’t fully understand each other - I still don’t accept her rationale for the insane way she grew up (in part) but that can eventually be worked around I suppose - ??

            Contacts are developing - the only problem is I am so behind in new work - in a few months I will be in better shape but I have to sell in between - contacts are the answer plus 8 hrs a day.

            Let me know when you want the 40 x 50 sent to Boston?  It is down in Marty’s apt so he can enjoy it till you want it -

            Let’s not let too much grass grow - Whitney and Amaya ideas should be pursued fairly soon - but with more specific and smaller goals than your original ones - I will make it but only with consistent NEW work and put creeps Borenstien and Bryant in my medieval past for good -


Shirley - WRITE

March 22, 1975 Letter to Shirley(BRLA) from Rockmore(NYC)

Dear Shirley

            How are things? 

            Janice and I trying a sort of minor separation but I have hope we still can work it our - see each other a lot -

            I have had a rough time on work - no drive or real discipline - all winter - but am struggling on a series of small (5 x 7 - 11 x 14) mixed technique on paper tp get a direction - am working every day at Mus of Natural History etc - I tried pure watercolor for a while but my basic instinct has always been light on a dark ground so W.C. can only be used as an accent - but the 1st small one done is a jewel and I may be on my way -

            Money is bad as usual - Bryant finally sent “French Quarter Homage” or did I tell you?- I also finished a major oil in Feb. but oils are impossible now - the years of mismanagement by me and bungling or greed by B and B have taken their toll so instead of a well-run career such as Brawer or Hundertwasser in Vienna and here and Paris etc by Aberbach I remain nowhere and it is getting more impossible to drum up enthusiasm - so drive to do big or major oil is gone for now - so, in order to not be totally destructive I am starting small papers as a new beginning - my only hope -

            The National Academy here failed to drum up the required 60% support for voting me a member of even that indiotic institute!  No surprise - I will be back on oils by late spring after dealth and direction are set - my whole life and career need 1 thing - Limitation and FOCUS - only way to do this with huge range of impulses is DISCIPLINE EXTERNALLY IMPOSED as Janice said and she is right - impulse worked OK when younger but now it don’t work no mo.

            Also each paper and later oil must be completely detailed and finished in execution - effects not detailed only for relief - a bit like 59 temperas -

            I enclose shot of large oil McGlades Saloon” only major opus of winter -

            Take care and write - when do you want 40 x 50 oil-collage of 2 old men shipped?  Any little $ more on it poss would help at any time - it is in a crate downstairs ready for you -

                                                                        As ever



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