marlene mountain
letter essay
march 1990


quite a journey

dear sam and ken  3/1/90

March 1, 1990
to: S Olkinetzky and K Campbell
re: Marlene Nell Morelock Wills Mountain and her art stuff
Dear Kids: Sam and Ken

Since I turned fifty in December (and was even 'croned' into wisdom) and still see you two in your 30s/early forties, I guess I can call you kids. I'm writing to both because you are my favorite and only past-persons who've known me since Ada (snow-cones), EC, and Norman (that overly-serious 'kid') and that I've sort of kept in touch with over the years. (Still have your letters from the early 60s.)

For quite some time I've been haphazardly collecting my haiku renga and sequences from 1979 with a book in mind--that other people keep bugging me to put out. It's a rather raw book, autobiographical, i.e., very personal, and very post-Japanese/Zen/Oneness (ho-hum); it's, well, 'powerful.' In the process of trying to find and date things, I got into cardboard boxes in the back of my son's closet and have found all sort of writings on my early paintings, struggles and confusions (a 'journal' from Ada/Norman, 1962 thru U of M to Ann Arbor, 1963--where at last I think/write: 'I Am A Painter'), sketches, etc--(even a 1958 theme about becoming an artist)---that I didn't even remember thinking, including haiku stuff from 1969.

Since January as I've been playing herstorian to my young and oldish self, I've come to see quite a journey, more than literally, tho that too, from Main Street to another kind of boon-docks here. Just the haiku book has expanded to 3 to 4 volumes--visual, early one-line, and so many other approaches; essays, reviews, etc; and the sequences--20 years of it. The art, including minimal photographs, for over 30 years. I'm not sure about the quality (tho pretty good over-all, I'd say), but there's lots of quanity, and then this out of Ada journey-- from gnarled tree drawings to 'baby' radical feminism.

Well, now that I've gotten this far, I'm not really sure what/why I'm writing. I think it has to do with--I think I'm wondering if OU would have any interest in my stuff in any way. Or if the Press might be interested in putting out a book/s. Or if you know of any grants for ex-outstanding seniors in art (jeez, how did I ever get that?)--the kind that help artists move forward. (I've craved a copy machine for years, and it's a must to get the book together, especially the visual things.)

My [    ], bless her sort of, manages to help--tho grudgingly--enough to keep me in poverty. But she also keeps me from moving forward on another level: 'my art my life hidden from
[   ]'--she can't handle anything beyond fundamentalism and, out of respect, I've had to keep a low profile. I wasn't even able to share with her that I was in a terrific-looking group show last year at the IBM Gallery of Science and Art, NYC, where the judges said I was their 'find'--sponsored by the M.S. Society, flown there and put up at St Moritz. Or being in some 'big time' publications, etc.

If you can make sense of what I'm saying/asking/wondering, I love to hear from you. I love to hear from you anyway. To know how you're doing. Maybe to know how you've organized and/or figured what to do with all you stuff.

from the mountain


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