October 18, 1978 Letter to Rockmore(NYC) from Shirley(BRLA)
Have owed you a letter for a long time and now is the time. Sorry I could not get to NY on your behalf sooner but haven’t been getting around so much these days.
Your mastery of the silk screen process - and your ability to do things with it that no one else has done previously does not surprise me particularly. But your combined growth as an artist always strikes me with wonder. I see the silk screen phase as one in which you not only mastered the medium but some compositional problems not completely mastered in previous work.
The silk screen work is visually appealing (not my definition of original sin) and comprehensible, at least on first glance. It also has mystery - an evocation of mood, of depth that is characteristic of your work. This work is a kind of second flowering - going back to some original source of celebration as an artist - filtered through your accumulated experience.
I do not know to whom the work has been shown - in terms of galleries or critical evaluation. From what you told me there has been some problems. In the first place it depends on who it is that has tried to evaluate the work. Even at its most appealing, the work is difficult. Hence the reaction it is too complicated, too busy, too complex - too this or too that. What the hell - this is nothing new. The important thing is that wherever you are you reach people at all levels who respond to the work - and who buy it, often without fully understanding it. Like me - et al.
Something puzzles me. Do you fully understand it? Are you able to evaluate your various phases, and the truly first rate work? I am never quite sure since you are such a great game player.
Anyhow, Noel. Good to see you - delighted to have the silk screen series to date. I am missing ‘Bon Voyage’. Please send it - or I can pick it up at Jack Beech’s when I am next in town.
Incidentally - how much is the Mardi Gras poster? If I can handle it - would like it for my brother and sister’s (twins) birthday at the end of this month. If possible inscribed one to Milton Green, one to Phyllis Kurson.
Let me hear from you -
Possibly - a third poster inscribed to my younger brother - Alan Green. His birthday is in December. S
December 15, 1978 (postmark) Note to Shirley (PO) from Rockmore (835 Bourbon, NO)
Doing many works for show and want to see you God damn it -
Am doing a huge 80" triangle ptg - “Jonestown Triangle” and if it does not sell at Bryant show at 8000 I want you to buy it for a token price and bequest to Armstrong? at Whitney - let’s talk - drop a line and tell me when you will next be in N.O. and I will meet you -
December 31, 1978 Letter to Shirley (BRLA) from Rockmore (835 Bourbon, NO) N.Y.’s Eve ‘79
‘Jonestown Triangle’ is 2/3 complete and your Guyana sketchbook is amazing - 38 pages done - it will be finished by the 15th of Jan. I will offer you a deal I think is very fair $1000 for the great pastel you want of the Second Line and the notebook with app 70 pages - maybe 60 - or more than 70 - ? - anyway it is the deal I offer - let’s meet and talk Jan 15 week -
I was a little irritated at your reaction to the erotic work - it is very fine - your reaction was ridiculous! So be it -
The 2 big Homages are coming very well - the triangle is amazing - but I can’t find time right now for silk screens - Last Supper and Mother Cabrini - or even the ‘little’ ptgs you didn’t like which will pay for the show - I am going to do a final New Orleans Homage 32 x 60 for the great 19th cent. frame for my own collection or if someone wants it in N.Y. or here later $10,000 - also my conception of the 3 graces has changed - now it is going to be a 16 x 20 in a huge frame I have (old) - and I will try and keep it also - for a while - tho Mardi Gras poster could put a lot of money in my savings acc. if they sell really well in Jan. and Feb. and Pete has commissioned a Jazz poster - we talk after Carnival -
I intend to do great work and make a lot of money this year which might include a trip to Rio Carnival - 1979 is a crucial year and I don’t intend to waste it - but I do need an agent in N.Y. to get a gallery and so on - I really can’t decide when to move back to N.Y. and re-settle - I basically still feel N.O. is a Lark but most of ‘79 I will be here - the various projects the big works - screen prints set-up - crew etc - plus 2 more posters and low rent etc - are all factors - not to mention a great apt. - but I miss the big apple in ways - still this is a very active period and I won’t rock the boat till later - these ‘Homages’ (counting the 3 new ones (1 not started) and ‘70 NY one and ‘74 NY one plus F.Q. Homage in ‘69-‘70) makes SIX such ‘documentary’ works - are a sort of genre work not attempted often in 20th cent. - I intend to attempt others later - they are essentially satires on the human condition - as in a way is the extraordinary triangle.
I am lonely this ny eve but stronger than ever - and I look toward a great year and wish you the best - let us talk about my offer in later Jan ‘79 -
January 13, 1979 Letter to Shirley (BRLA) from Rockmore (835 Bourbon, NO)
Get well and meet me at 12 noon on 20th or 21st at Johnny White’s, 733 St Peter - verify which by postcard OK?
Am finishing up the Big Triangle ptg by the 15th or 16th - what a job! - I intend to protect this major work - it will be very valuable in a few years - I will try and keep it - unless it is acquired by an important collection - Louis Velez (who buys a lot of my work) is interested in the Guyana sketchbook so I do want you to make your decision as soon as you can - I will let you have the book for $750 and the big pastel for $250 - or don’t buy both if you don’t want to spend $1000 now - anyway that is the deal -
I seem to have prostate trouble - infection etc - I thought it was clap which I got last year - but I will try and drink less booze and lots of cranberry juice and behave to avoid Dr. - if pain goes away - if not then examination and treatment - this is too crucial a period of work etc to get real ill -
See you soon -