William Blake and the Age of Aquarius, a stunning new show opened this past week at the Block Museum at Northwestern (Evanston, Illinois). Above is a reproduction of the catalog cover. The exhibition, curated by Northwestern University art professor, Stephen F Eisenman, is a breakthrough exhibit, exploring, for the first time, “the impact of British visionary poet and artist William Blake on a broad range of American artists in the post-World War II period” (notably, (but by no means confined to), Allen Ginsberg and fellow members of the Beat Generation – Allen as promoter and propagandist, conduit and curator, of Blake’s continuingly advancing reputation).
” William Blake and the Age of Aquarius will consider parallels between Blake’s time and mid-twentieth-century America, touching on such issues as political repression, social transformation, and struggles for civil rights.”, the curators write, “Blake’s protests against the conventions of his day were inspirational for many young Americans disillusioned by perceived cultural tendencies of social uniformity, materialism and consumerism, racial and gender discrimination, and environmental degradation.”
Steven Taylor, Allen’s long-time guitarist, has long been hopeful of concluding this project (recording Allen’s Blake in its entirety). He was just this past weekend in the studio. We can’t wait to hear the results. More news on that when we get it.
The legendary Cassady-Kerouac “Joan Anderson Letter” (see here, here and here) has finally found a resting-place, it was revealed this week. Emory University (which purchased the document (“for $206,250, including buyer’s premium”) announced that they will include it as part of their exhibition, The Dream Machine – The Beat Generation and the Counterculture 1940-1975, which opened yesterday and will be on show up through to May 15, 2018. The exhibition, Jennifer Schuessler in the New York Times notes, “includes items from Emory’s deep Beat holdings, including Kerouac’s rucksack, a rare mimeographed first edition of Ginsberg’s “Howl” and one of Brion Gysin’s “dream machines,”…”The Cassady letter will be displayed in its entirety in facsimile, so the public can finally read all 19 pages”.
October 5-7, next week, Lowell Celebrates Kerouac – the annual Kerouac celebration in Jack’s home town – David Amram is once again guest-of-honor, but there are, over the three days, all manner of events and activities taking place – (see here for the full schedule)
Among the highlights – A 60th Anniversary Celebration of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with featured performer Kevin Devine and special guests Will Dailey, and Jami Cassady, Neal Cassady‘s daughter (in conversation with local Beat scholar Steve Edington) – that’s on the Saturday. Earlier in that day, original Merry Prankster George Walker and Beat-o-phile-performer, Brian Hassett bring Kerouac and Cassady to life, and, following that, John Leland delivers the annual Parker/LCK Lecture – “Why Kerouac Matters – The Lessons of On The Road (They’re Not What You Think)”
and, opening October 7, and running through till January of next year, at the Museum of Santa Giulia in Brescia, Italy – “A Life: Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Beat Generation, Ribellione, Poesia” (“A Life – Lawrence Ferlinghetti – Beat Generation, Rebellion, Poetry)
American artist Roy Lichtenstein died twenty years ago today. Here’s Allen’s portrait of him taken in his studio, August 1994, in Southampton.
More Beat news next week.