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Example story: Nona Bernard's interesting Rockmore experience

1972 March-May - Rockmore's Letters to Shirley(BRLA) from Paris

March 22, 1972 Letter to Shirley (BRLA) from Rockmore (6 Blvd de Clichy, Paris)

Shirley

            Got your note - glad you are busy it is better always - Paris is still very beautiful tho I would get much more excited in India say - but of course all this is external journalism when compared to inner development and my years of external-material-getting are over - I am doing a very nice Paris book for you and you should have it by April 10th say - I have to send the loose sheets to the “old man” in N.O. my helper there because I can’t seem to get the same kind of binding here and I prefer it - he will then purchase the book and fillers at Lezias-Hile off Canal St. and insert the 26 originals and take it to Jack Beech who will mail it off to you - complex but the best way -

          I think I won’t really settle here - I will do Wein’s bunch of canvases (mostly very spontaneous studies instead of fully developed) (but often among my better things - ) and your book and start a number of Bryant show canvases here and maybe finish some of them but mostly I will only collect data and material - old postcard sketches - photos I take and so on - and return by the end of May - to N.Y. where I will incarcerate myself and begin fantasizing Paris! - and return to N.O. at end of summer - there is an outside chance I might stay till July 14 but that seems silly if my data is collected and I can’t settle here for real work - creative or intellected ferment is same here as elsewhere - mostly crap - “modern” show I saw here was just as stupid as Whitney and Guggenheim in N.Y. - I am more confirmed than ever in a private direction and I actually miss N.O. -

            The French are incredibly stupid - skyscrapers going up everywhere in Paris - it’s bad in N.Y. but somehow more consistent and less harmful but any sky-s. next to Montparnasse or Notre Dame is absurd! - and frightening - I will see a French Circus however - pass backstage for 2 days - I should get material for years - that care and write after you get book safely -

                                                                        As ever

                                                                        (Rockmore)

March 1972 Postcard to Shirley (1127) from Rockmore (6 Blvd de Clichy,Paris)

Dear Shirley

            Trip not going well but I will stay and work 3 months at least - Cirque Medrano is gone and with it my greatest series in Paris - flea mkt - fairs etc - and work in studio - I have given Scrap-Book series up - my interest is changing again and I can’t work within the restrictions of the 1st group at Bryant anymore - in general I want to explore more on the actual surface rather than just in the mind - have started your Paris book already 3 very good free inks of Paris and a boy from Montmarte - take care and do write me when you get a chance - I miss New Orleans!

                                                                        (Rockmore)

April 11, 1972 Letter to Shirley (1127) from Rockmore (6 Blvd de Clichy, Paris)

Dear Shirley

            Glad you liked the book - it definitely shows conscious reaction against Scrap-Book period but only a beginning -

            I have done 17 oils in Paris!!  Wein gets 15 including a large 60" high canvas of “Migrant Workers of Paris” and rooster and Subway (Metro) and salon - Please send check right here because due to my getting a small salary from Wein while in Paris it gives me the opportunity to send all other income (for that short time) including monthly Bryant salary to Roz/Ray Sterlini in N.Y. whom I still owe $5000.00 to for my NY studio (I did owe him $10,500 so I have done rather well) - I would be stupid to let the NY studio go and the coop papers are all in my name - he just put up original capital to save it for me -

            I will leave Paris for N.Y. May 20th and I look forward to getting Bryant Paris show out of the way after I return because after that if I don’t try a show at Kuhlik Gallery in N.Y. I will get into some of the projects in N.O. and N.Y. I have wanted to do for years - gospel families - Sister Gertrude series etc - Mardi Gras - hippies etc - I would like to live in a Commune and do series - but Paris, tho frustrating at times, has been good in being a total change - no hard booze - no pills - no bars or social life etc - and I was really doing some bad damage to my system so that is important - and of course it will have been a short but productive period of change for the work and for a healthier direction than before -

            So take care my friend

                                                                        As ever

                                                                        (Rockmore)

April 29, 1972 Postcard to Shirley (1127) from Venice, Italy

Dear Shirley

            Venice is a dream! - moi reve!  Corresponds remarkably with my inner vision except too much stage-set - but very useful for later work - am doing remarkable large papers here and some of the 1st sheets in your Venice Book for Sept - Basilica San Marco is fantastic - have done 2 great ones already!  No cars - but 2 intense weeks here will be enough - but I will do oil later - must not lose this dream entirely in reality -

                                                            As ever

                                                            (Rockmore)

May 4, 1972 Letter to Shirley (1127) from Rockmore (6 Blvd de Clichy, Paris)

Dear Shirley

            Got check thanks and for mailing balance I will be here through June 4-6 - I am definitely planning on return by end of 1st week of June - as fascinating as Venice was I am glad to get back - I don’t like heavy Latin mood and of course I always hate traveling - I hope whatever is causing your difficulties will ease up for you soon -

            The worst is over for me on this trip - this last month will be quiet and busy finishing Big Paris paper for Bryant show (also ˝ oils later at home) and G. Wein’s last 3 or 4 small ones (he will have his 25! Canvasses in various degrees of finish and styles) too good for him but I must represent myself as well as possible and if I can just talk him into keeping most here it will be nice to have some sort of body of work in Europe - (if I can) - getting off anti-biotics and sleeping pills and aspirin and hard booze (only wine) has certainly brought me to the healthiest state I have been in for years - if I can continue all this and smoke little cigars which you don’t have to inhale - it would be great -

            I look forward to a great period of productive work in N.O. for the next 2 yrs with only a couple of visits to N.Y. in that time so I can achieve some stability for a change -

            Riva has been of great help on this trip and when I go home she starts her Europe tour and we will have lived together 2 yrs except for 6 or 7 trips to N.Y. - I can’t settle into a full relationship and work yet but I will miss her badly but she needs a little rope too - at least no fights or trauma tho we will see each other in N.O. on some basis but living together again is a ? -

            Take care I glad you like the Paris book so much

                                                                        As ever

                                                                        (Rockmore)

May 10, 1972 Letter to Shirley (1127) from Rockmore (6 Blvd de Clichy, Paris)

Dear Shirley

            I have completed 25 canvases for Wein - a whole show! - hope he appreciates them - I will send you small color shots later - some of the work points a direction I have flirted with often - broader - less detail but very sure and beautiful painting - am worried (with reason) about what happens to them - my plans have changed because of Wein partly and I am probably leaving for home around May 24 - (30th at latest)

            So please don’t mail balance here (unless this crosses letter of yours) but definitely to N.Y. - I will definitely be in N.Y. by end of May - I will instruct my building to hold all mail for me - I am taking with me 8 large papers of Venice and Paris, and 4 superb small oils and one big great one - self portrait with Riva in Paris which will never be perfect but is finally the major work from Paris I so much wanted to bring back - but it went through more changes than any major oil in years - at least I have a great painting for my own collection -

            The pressure for Bryant - Houston show will start on my return and I want to get through that and a possible Kuhlik Gallery show in N.Y. also - in the next 8 or 9 months - after that - a long series of great projects - Bill Russell burying his pet bird - Ott family - Sister Gertrude - Melrose Plantation - etc - and a long series of these broader handled oils to see what 50 would look like! - with all limitations - Bryant is a very welcome change from Larry -

            I will write you next from N.Y. at the end of May or 1st week June - take care and I hope things are better for you

                                                                                    As ever

                                                                                    (Rockmore)

May 26, 1972 Letter to Shirley (1127) from Rockmore (33 W 67,NYC) 

Dear Shirley

            Back in N.Y. just to let you know - I hope things are better for you - I was fine till day before I left Paris I got very sick - stomach - I must have an ulcer - and as I get older my changes in living habits (ie: after 2 years suddenly not living with Riva) is a shock to the system - tho we still may leave things open in a few months when she returns but at present we have planned to not live together then - at first anyway and see - but one get awfully used to companionship and being alone at first can cause considerable panic -

            Take care and I will write after I hear from you

                                                                                    As ever

                                                                                    (Rockmore)

June 8, 1972 Letter to Shirley (1127) from Rockmore (33 W 67, NYC)

Shirley

            Enclosed - shot of Wein collection in Paris - only part of 28 visible but will give you a vague idea of the Paris Period - needless to say it was another ridiculous Borenstein type deal (ie: for in effect $3000 or so Wein got $15000 worth of oils because I can’t leave crap to represent myself) but the trip was good for me in medical and personal ways so it evens out -

            Let me know your reaction - I will be in N.Y. for 2 ˝ more weeks -

                                                                                    As ever

                                                                                    (Rockmore)

 two photos enclosed

Caption 1: “Migrant Workers of Paris” 40x60 oil on canvas

Caption 2: Big one of “Migrants” 40x60    Wall of Wein coll - oils on canvas Paris ‘72

  
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