Observations on Asia from the banks of the Potomac
anna said...I was led to an earlier post under your Visual Arts label, Resurrection, while trawling the web for links to Alek Refregier. Alek, so sunny and sweet, stayed for a while in the Manhattan commune I lived in the summer of 69. We were both in our teens but I felt protective towards him. He seemed to have no concept of evil, while that summer had given me a crash course. And then, not so long afterwards I guess, he got his head-on.I was living overseas by then, out of touch with my friends. I returned to NYC for a week or so in the early '70's and visited the studio of one of the original commune veterans. I remember stopping in shock at the sight of a powerful woodcut - black-edged, black flower - on the studio wall dedicated "To Alek". What's this? I asked. That's how I heard.The father's grief in the woodcut was searing.So maybe this is why I was led to you - to share the memory of a beautiful young man, hair like new wheat, one of the forever young. I'm no longer sure, but surely his eyes were blue?The last time I saw Alek it was autumn, still technically the same year, 69, but that summer was centuries long. I'd had my heart broken by then and Alex was kindness itself, helping me heal. My parents drove into the city from out of state to retrieve me. I went down - the unwilling prodigal child - to the parking lot where they waited. Alek accompanied me. He insisted on carrying my stuff. He was so slender and he walked so tall. My folks, conservative by nature, were appalled by my appearance - wild tresses, ripped jeans, braless, barefoot, your regulation flower child - and by Alek's: bare chest, cornsilk hair rippling down his back. He greeted them so politely, put my things in the car, and gave me a great hug of farewell.My parents' disapproving looks enraged me."Can't you see he's a prince!" I cried.
I understand how you feel. I was was 13 or 14 when Alex died. I really did not know him but do remember him. His father was simply devastated. He would give away the many prints he created trying to express his grief. I now own many of them. Let me find one and send it to you.
I would treasure a print made for Alex by his father. Did we call him Alex or Alek? His friend in the commune through whom we met Alex was the photographer Art Greenspun - it was at his studio several years later that I saw the framed woodcut.
So rare it is that I share common personal or professional experiences. I have lost much in both.Several woodblock prints are on their way.
If I am unamused, your comment will not be posted.