New York, NY 10003
I've never been to The Club, but congrats on sharing the same site-- some 40 years on-- as The Gallery Gwen, Irving Fiske's legendary storefront in which he gave many talks on subjects such as "Tantra,The Yoga of Sex" and a wide variety of other subjects ranging from Sufism to Buddha to Thomas Merton to Fra Angelico, Thomas Merton, Wilhelm Reich...and much more. And with each of... More >>
I've never been to The Club, but congrats on sharing the same site-- some 40 years on-- as The Gallery Gwen, Irving Fiske's legendary storefront in which he gave many talks on subjects such as "Tantra,The Yoga of Sex" and a wide variety of other subjects ranging from Sufism to Buddha to Thomas Merton to Fra Angelico, Thomas Merton, Wilhelm Reich...and much more. And with each of these subjects, he wove the personalities of the people in the room together with the brilliance of the being or the idea he happened to be discussing that night. He usually spoke Weds. and brought people to Quarry Hill, "our country estate," 140 acres of beautiful but wild mountain land in central Vermont. We had no running water except for a pipe from the springbox, no bathroom except for an outhouse and a tin tub by the fire-- but, as Irving said, "If you can last three days, you may stay forever." Many did stay almost forever (some DID, at least one well-known New York street performer, Prof. Bendeasy, died of cancer, at his choosing, at Quarry Hill in 1996).
Irving was a playwright, a freelance writer published by HL Mencken and by GB Shaw (a pamphlet on Shaw's Debt to William BLake,) an inventor, a freethinker, an originator of thought on the rights of children, and an "Anti-Guru" whom most associated with the cartoon Guru Mr. Natural created by my friend R. Crumb, though Irving looked nothing like Mr. N. and created his own form of enlightened zaniness wherever he went-- something like having the Marx Brothers for a spiritual master.
His wife Barbara, originally a Harvey Comics cartoonist during WWII and a visionary figurative painter and pastel artist (she was a contemporary of Pollock and de Kooning, but had nothing but contempt for them as she painted more like one of the Old Masters than in any Abstract Expressionist form), in the West Village in 1940. In 1946, when they married, they bought the land in Vermont, and spent years inviting friends up and keeping on the run from the law to keep my brilliant brother William (1954-2008) out of school.
In 1964, my mother decided to spend their last $75 on a month's rent for the Gallery Gwen (Gwen was a young woman artist with whom both my parents had intense relationships), and the rest is history... So, as you spend an evening at The Club, whatever people do there now, think at times of Irving, who looked just like Albert Einstein, and Barbara, "more beautiful than any moving-picture actress in Hollywood," as Irving said. I wish you could have met them-- well, my mother's alive at Quarry Hill, at the age of 93. And is still pretty strong-minded!
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