Yesterday’s blogpost, The Strange Case of Orwell’s Typewriter, elicited some interesting remarks, only some of which were posted to it. One sent to me privately came from the California artist Kurt Wold. After posting a public comment, he wrote: “It occurs to me that I have a distantly related, lost typewriter story.”
Forty years ago, in San Anselmo, Norman [Mustill, our late mutual friend] showed me this chair he’d just purchased from a used furniture store. I remember he was rather giddy about its inherent feminine qualities. I convinced him to let me borrow it for a week, and do a makeover on it.
Many years later I asked Norm what had ever happened to the item. He awkwardly replied that he couldn’t remember. I took this to mean that he’d either given it away, or had grown tired of its adolescent kinkiness, and pitched it. But during my visit last year to Arizona [where Mustill’s widow now lives], I stumbled across this well-wrapped object labeled “Kurt’s Chair.” It’s a little worn in the heals, droopy in the stockings, yellowed & stained. But I never thought I would cross paths with the ol’ bar stool again.
Love those velvet lips! Such a darling girdle! Garter belts and stockings, so sexy! So louche! Haw! What I also find remarkable is that “Lazy Boy” in its own sly way seems something of a match for the Mustill collage “Victorian Smoker,” which, weirdly, was forgotten too and found many years later.
Postscript: Kurt Wold writes:
Norman Mustill was an artist friend of the family, who was part of an artistic social circle that my father fell into in the late 1950s. My family had just moved to San Francisco from Duluth, Minnesota. Norman, and his wife Norma, were new to the Bay Area as well, having just relocated from Montreal, Canada.
Unlike my father, who came to San Francisco to study printmaking under Stanley Hayter with designs on becoming a University Professor, Norman was drawn by the SF Beat scene. Collage was his chosen medium, and most often his images shocked with socially biting commentary. Norm also kept correspondence with the fabled William S. Burroughs.
Norman was adamantly anti-establishment. He believed that art was a social instrument, and that it should never be associated with commerce and making money. I subscribed to Norman’s philosophy when, upon earning an MFA degree, I made a pact to decouple my artwork from sales in order to free all possibilities.
I continually encounter art administrator types who talk about the need for artists to have a marketing strategy. These people are indeed misguided, convinced that art, like everything else on the planet, falls under the rubric of capitalism. Art and money are completely different pursuits, and an artist should work with this in mind.
Norman died at the end of 2013, and it was a great loss to the art world; not that many noticed, as money, patrons, and even art exhibitions, had nothing at all to do with his artwork. He has left a big hole, for his warmth, integrity, humor, and cultural sparrings are deeply missed.