I’ve always remembered a story my father used to tell me, about how my mother was arrested in North Beach, San Francisco in the late 1950’s for walking barefoot in public. “Howl”, City Lights Books, and Lenny Bruce were often mentioned in the same conversations. Those were days when society and government heavily censored people - their writing, speech, music, public activity, and art - primarily out of fear, fear of anything different or non-conformist.
Kohn Gallery recently staged “American Aleph,” a retrospective of the influential West Coast artist Wallace Berman (1926–1976). Mostly self-taught, Berman fueled his output with improvisation and irreverent DIY methods.
Artist. Visionary. Hipster. Mystic. Voracious consumer and conduit of modern culture. Wallace Berman immersed himself in all these guises, with a selftaught fervor and disarming sincerity. To those who know his artwork, he remains a uniquely prescient and compelling figure, even 50 years after his death in 1976, from a tragic accident caused by a drunk driver on the eve of his 50th birthday.