Saturday, August 28, 2010

Past is Prologue

_New book - The Eve of Fluxus by Billie Maciunas_

Having finished reading The Eve of Fluxus by Billie Maciunas, my first reaction is that I am not quite sure how to characterize it. A romantic memoir noir?  A behind the curtain tell all?  A coming of age story?  Billie has orchestrated all of these and her vivid recollections into a volume that continues to add to the history of what is Fluxus.
Try to describe Fluxus to anyone; this is no easy task. One might say, “It’s after Dada… it’s similar to Conceptual and Pop in some manner, yet only in the sense of several siblings that have gone their own ways.” Of course, this may invite an, “OK, whatever” reaction, on behalf of the casual art observer that belies the intense internal artist debate that surrounds Fluxus.  Billie herself is no stranger to debate.  One of my first interactions with her came on the heels of someone commenting that one of my pieces was fluxus. She strongly took exception. I strongly agreed; fluxus influence and deliberately creating fluxus work are two different things in my mind.  Since then we have had several interesting exchanges on that topic. No less than Fluxus, George Maciunas is undeniably hard to decipher.
Larry Miller from the book’s afterword describes the mindset. “Scholars are still sorting out histories of those who chose to distance themselves from George and his particular brand of Fluxus, those who he did not want as “members,” those who sought him out for approval, and those he actively deemed to be “excommunicated” for reasons he perceived as failings.”

Billie’s book is her highly personal account of a woman arriving late to a party. A memoir of a self described non-artist wandering into a highly charged period of time shortly before the death of George Maciunas in 1978.  While this book may not satisfy those searching for the history of Fluxus, it does describe what that history looked like as George’s cancer advanced and ultimately took his life. 
In many ways Billie is able to paint a vivid picture of a grand exit in the midst of trauma and pain. The orchestration of their flux wedding as the Black and White piece comes into focus as an exit strategy; one “holy fool” donning the clothes of another.  Her description of Georges final demise in Boston Hospital and the unfolding chaos of his estate and determination of what to do with his art and documents are fascinating.
Billie unabashedly delves into their brief yet emotional relationship as George seems to be delving into portions of his persona that were obscure to even some of his colleagues.
At times a disturbing look at two people having psychological pain as a relational basis, it stands out as testament of Billie’s resilience that she overcame the rejection of some within Georges circle to continue as a strident defender of his legacy.
Will everyone involved in Fluxus agree with Billie's observations and interpretations? What's past is prologue and this will be one more log on the already fiery debate.
With a foreword by Kristine Stiles, an introduction by Geoffrey Hendricks and afterword by Larry Miller; this is highly recommended reading.

The Eve of Fluxus is available at

Monday, August 23, 2010


_ Seeking Kali began as a response the eternal Facebook "What's on your mind?" query. I typed in my thought and soon Ria Vanden Eynde, with whom I've done several collaborations, responded with her thoughts. Susan Shulman immediately joined the thread and we were off. To Where? We had no idea as we tossed around comments on Time, goddess iconography, indigenous belief systems, western perceptions, travels and sources.
Busy with other projects our dance with Kali would take several months before the first manifestation appeared; a beautiful and poignant portrait piece by Ria.

© Ria Vanden Eynde _ Kali Ma
Shortly after this Susan shared her first image and I followed with my mine.  Looking back from where we started, which was the end of January, 2010, it had taken until June to get to that first piece.  Over this period we kept our conversation going on Facebook; using it as a virtual conference room to continue our thoughts.

© Susan Shulman _ Queen Sara Gypsy Kali #1

© William Evertson _ Wheel of Time
These conversations took on a practical tone at times as we made decisions as to how we would present our pieces. Our thought was to make an artist book of our images. Despite our commitment to begin the Seeking Kali blog to share our journey as well as showcase other talented artists, the production of an artist book remains a goal for the three of us.

The format we've settled on is loose folios within a portfolio case. Each of us will be printing on a sheet sixteen inches wide by ten tall. This sheet is then folded to make an 8 x 10 folio.  This format give each of us options on how to use the paper. Longer horizontal pieces can be accommodated or the additional pages created by the fold could be utilized for illuminated manuscript style writing. 

The image below is Susan's use of the folio format (bear in mind that the sheet is folded in half) Mine is the folio's backside; my main image is on the reverse side of this. Also pictured is one of Ria's folios that is designed  to showcase an invocation. (You can see the words in the poem tab of the blog)

Susan Shulman _ folio view

William Evertson _ folio (verso) view

Ria Vanden Eynde _folio view

Our intention is to produce four to five folios each, with versions available in both a hardcase and soft.
Now that we've launched the Seeking Kali blog and artist call in the midst of our own work, even more possibilities seem to be opening up. We hope that the work we're doing with our personal portfolio can act as a blueprint for us to produce collaborations with other artists contributing to Seeking Kali.

Stay tuned; we hope to have this first collaborative work finished in early 2011. 
William Evertson (for Seeking Kali)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Seeking Kali

After a brief break from blogging this summer I’m back at the keyboard with a new post and a new blog. Seeking Kali is up and running; or as Kali is wont to do, dancing.

©evertson_Kali Dance

The new Kali blog is an artist call for images of your works based on the Hindu goddess. Sometimes depicted with four or ten arms her manifestations are many. She is mother, she is goddess, she destroys time as a symbol of dissolution and destruction. Kali destroys ignorance born of our ego and restores order. While often misunderstood and misrepresented in the West her myth and archetype is potent material for artistic interpretation. Click here for details for the artist call, submission guidelines and future plans for the evolution of the project. Seeking Kali began last winter; born from comments from a Facebook thread between Ria Vanden Eynde, Susan Shulman and myself. The three of us became acquainted due to our participation in A Book About Death and its subsequent exhibits.  We all had interests in myth narrative and began to share our thoughts on Kali and the many symbolic ways she manifested. The conversation thread became a collaboration to put together a portfolio of our images of Kali manifestations. 

©shulman_Queen Sara Gypsy 2

This is still a work in progress but our portfolio should be ready in edition form early next year. Over the next several months I’ll share progress pictures of our work on this aspect of our Seeking Kali project.  When the three of us began posting some of our works in progress, in wonderful synchronicity, several other artists began to share their images. Because of the inspired responses to achieving a western understanding of Kali we expanded our horizons to begin this artist call. Our intent is larger still. We are currently researching a way to produce an additional portfolio from interested artists. Just like the many arms of Kali our thoughts are expanding to find ways to include video, multimedia, poets, dancers and artists of all mediums.

©Vanden Eynde_Kali Ma

We would love to keep you in the loop as we move forward. There will be information here as well as on Seeking Kali. You can also email us at