poet at The Place
Oil Painting Which Poet?* of Richard Brautigan at The Place

University of Minnesota - NOT

My art life in Minnesota included a couple of moves out and back in 1957 and 1958.

1957 - SF, CA

At the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, when I started in the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree program, suddenly I became responsible for my own learning. Up until then I had worked to please others. I failed to reconcile my Van Gogh complex with academic requirements. So I bought my teacher's painting and moved to San Francisco. The painting taught me, where his words had failed.

I also saw the California realist artists that were an inspiring alternative to the NY abstract expressionists. One was a nature painter  named Brian Wilson who used to be a biologist and had a studio over wetlands. You walked from the shore along a wooden dock to his studio, mostly glass, where he watched his subjects: birds, water, clouds, reeds. The paintings were large. That was a huge influence on me. I don't remember Diebenkorn and the rest, but it must have been in the air.

Filbert St.

My memories of North Beach are personal so I've made a special separate page for them, an altar for Richard Brautigan. To the right is a photograph of Filbert St. in North Beach, where I lived. Here's the part about the painting above.

I went to The Place, a bar up over the hill to the west and listened to Richard Brautigan and other poets reading poems. I painted an oil of The Place which I later traded to John Hawkins in Minnesota. A black and white photo of the colored painting is at the top of this page. By the signature, C.Lind '57, the title is "Which Poet?"* The figure standing in the middle with blond Beatle-cut hair is Richard Brautigan. Other poets are in the audience. Richard liked the painting and hung it in The Place until I left.

Soon I decided to go back to Minnesota, realizing I was not Van Gogh in that I needed some support like I could get at the UofM.

I returned to being a student in the summer and got a job teaching advanced drawing in the fall. I did the Sunflowers and Two paintings. When Jack Tworkov saw them in the fall, I got a lot of respect. I painted Indecision. In the winter I quit school again and followed him back to NY.

1958 - NY, NY and back again

In NY I stayed with a friend from SF, Lenore Yanoff. She saved me from dire flu I got after I rented a studio on Bleeker Street. It was from that decrepit storefront that I watched bums (now called homeless) warming themselves over fires they lit in trash cans on the street. I got a job painting plaster lamp bases in Brooklyn, but was reprimanded for talking to foreign-born workers there. I couldn't make it in New York either so I returned to school in Minneapolis once more. I had learned bohemian ways from the SF beats and was reading Kerouac's Dharma Bums. I moved in with a friend, Mel Geary, and we called our apartment/gallery The Place.

* Your choice of titles for the painting: Which Poet?, What Poet?, A Poet, or Untitled. Back to Minnesota Art or UofM.

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