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Harris Barron
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Harris Barron was a teacher at the Massachusetts College of Art, where I was a student during the mid-60s. However, he was not one of my teachers. We met through his students. Because he, and his wife Ros, were welcoming people, I got to know them, and learned more from them about creativity, and the art business, than from any class.

Sometimes, me and my best friend, Stan Wilczynski, would coincidentally visit at suppertime, and be warmly welcome to share their food and company. The engaging discussions were about painting, movies, our school, friends, and politics.

A couple of times I sat with their kids, Becky and Matt, when Harris and Ros went to night events.


Becky Barron in “Fog”
December 1967

In 1967, I put Becky in my short movie, “Fog.” She got second billing! It had a cast of three. For this role, she sat on a swing, and ran around a bit. Matt was crew along with Stan, Joe Connally, and Norman Fine.

Sometimes, I prepped Ros’ canvases. She gave me a buck or two. The very large canvas format was tough to stretch on the frame, although, I thought I did a good job.


Harris Barron in His Studio
December 1967

Harris strongly pressed the most promising students, like Peter Bramley and Neil Jenney, to move to New York City for better opportunities than in Boston. They moved, and I soon did as well.

Harris told me about his New York friends Jack Herschfeld, a filmmaker, and his wife Beverly, a dancer. Bev was friends with dancers that needed a flat mate, which got me housed as soon as I got to NYC.

Some time later, I came back to visit Harris and Ros, and saw there was a canvas to prep. When they stepped out of the room, I stretched it, for old time sake. Upon returning, Harris inspected it and looked surprised. He said I did a very good job, which, apparently, was not the case previously. He confided that they had to re-stretched all the canvases I had worked on.



Harris Barron at His Studio
December 1967

On another visit, Ros and Harris asked me to walk on stage during one of their multi-media events, and do some T’ai Chi. I paid no attention to whatever else was going on, because I was concentrating on trying to remember the movements I had only just learned.


Harris at the Opening of His Art Show at the Institute of Contemporary Art
October 1965

I lost touch with Harris and Ros during the early 70s, and didn’t reconnect with Harris until April 2010, after stumbling upon his e-mail address. We wrote back and forth sporadically since then. He usually wrote poetically, metaphorically. Sometimes he signed the messages as “H/E,” meaning Harris/Eagle, or as “Eagle Air,” his pilot alter ego.

The messages from him were very much like discussions we had in the mid-60s. Here are some excerpts:

     [ April 9, 2010 ]

Evaporation

Like so many significant things
it is
but remains unseen, unheard.
Only marks of disappearance
of time changing
are visible.
The alchemy of change
of something that was
living to be touched and
is not
is yet to be fathomed mystery.
Loved ones whose time
whose life time has disappeared
have evaporated
into time past when they were,
into time ago
leaving only the stains
of having been,
of tangibility now rendered
into mind’s memory
visited only among neurons
touched by lipstick
and lingerie.

    —EAGLE AIR
       Graham, TX

               °
New Spring: 2009

———————————

Forever

Alas. Nothing lasts ‘forever’
but the loving of someone.
The only time we have
is ‘forever.’

‘Forever’ must surely be
moment-by-moment
—simply trying
to get to being alive.

    —EAGLE AIR
       Brookline

———————————

Reading yours [my e-mail] no further than Summerhill: You must be the FIRST person, since reading it in the late 50s?, I’ve ever met that has cited it to me!!! That book had a profound effect on my being a teacher at MassArt. It spoke of the ideal, as if it were entirely possible, making up my Graduate Education lack.

———————————

Ahoy—You noticed that Robinson was saying that the ed system has been taken by Corpworld to make adequate workers that can do jobs.
Your John Dewey reminds me of Cocteau’s dictum — “Caution is the enemy of art” … to which I think deserves, “and most are more cautious than they think.”

Mass Art was NOT made by Lawrence mill owners, in concert with Lowell, it was made by taxpayers, with instruction from politicians paid, so that the fabric makers could forget the expense of sending their designers to France for apprenticeship. Whalers told pols about the public need for an in-house maritime academy, and, again the good citizens were … good for it.

I’ll not comment on what “other people” see as a need for happiness to infuse. H/E

———————————

     [ April 25, 2010 - Sent after writing me about being beat up. ]

Hey, Dorchester, MA, 1936 was a parish as Irish catholic mean as the parish priests could make them, when they weren’t tending to themselves at anyone’s expense. “Go out and find the christ killers and teach them a lesson” came as part of Sunday mass. If Jimmy carter had lust in his heart, that climate grew hate in mine. They taught that, when they weren’t teaching FEAR and GUILT, and SHAME for being an unclothed human, that is, being DIRTY — as they were in mind. Recall — they got to corporate globalization before most. Sorry for the outburst.

———————————

     [ May 30, 2010 ]

Dear Demian—No, I haven’t forgotten your name, et al — and I haven’t been able to do anything since after writing you last and seeing the great, sensitive discs you sent. [ my DVDs ] I’ll talk about them later, when this energy sapping virus is kissed by my immune system, since Amoxycillin and anti-hist. trials went nowhere. It seems not mono, or Epstein-Barr, or any of the named nasties. Reading in the bed is more than I can handle—the sad part.

Will get back when I can. Stay buoyant. H/E

———————————

     [ September 11, 2010 ]

D—Isn’t it quite amazing that we’re still living with Cotton Mather, pretending it is a [D] er democracy, and Tom Jefferson’s need for a free press is paid no attention, while the profit god builds more hi-rise churches.

———————————

     [ March 14, 2011 ]

Sometime last fall, I rec’d an e from Florie, [ n. Florie Dugid, formerly married to Peter Bramley ] who was in NYC staying with Neil Jenney — whom we had spent some time with in Wooster St when we bussed down for his last show opening. She said she’s very happy being married to a very rich nice guy who does ocean cruising on his large big sailboat. Her pics showed her glow.

How are you, yourself, and discovering Mr. Right, and making your way inbetween the pixels of cyberland? The soma index??

Former chief editor of Harper’s, Lewis Lapham [now of his own, Lapham’s Quarterly] has an essai in April 2011, that tackles part 1 of the recently published, and 100 year awaited, Twain autobiography which @ 4 lbs-736 pages covers Jan. >Mar., 1906 — a part of his dictated MS of 2,600 pp, recalled during the last four years of his “snowy white pillowed” life on lower 5th Ave.

Glad to hear from you, and for your slide show. I’m nursing the second Virus-X lay-low since I bailed out of the April > Sept. hanger-onner of last year. Present one has persisted for three weeks, and has forced me into SLEEPING DURING THE DAY, JESUS! which my life had always considered anathema to any serious work cycle!!

Stay buoyant, and refrain from any acceptance of ionizing rads labeled, Made in Japan—wafted on the westerlies! One more Chernobyl blow to the just-coming-out-of hiding nuke guys. After WWII, the little islanders re-named a town Usa, which had their export goods labeled, Made in USA.

Some cheap words that you could use for directing your next videowork — if you could find 140 Caw Caws that would take your suggestions —

    —EAGLE AIR

———————————

Clever

“Why do you suppose they called us Corvids?” Tips of Trees asked the relaxing gathering. Almost everyone was smoking the usual, Florida imitation Cuban cigars. Oh, I don’t think they knew enough to ask us,” Flew High responded. “Yeah, or really cared to,” Blackfeather added. “It’s not a new story, by any means” said Dreams He’s White. “I mean, how many times have we tried to cross over to the settlers, to get a dialog going so that they might know what we could do for them, and, of course, how they might make our own lives better. And, huh, where are we with that effort? They still think the only thing we do great is road kill. Period. That’s it!”

Slate, listening, tossed his head and moved in closer to the group. “Hey. Just look how long it took the note takers to figure out Chargogagogmanchogagogchabunagungamog. The Wampanoags had some fun with that one. Finally, the natives pitied the unknowing settlers and told them. The lake was named to keep the peace; You fish on your side, I’ll fish on mine, and no one will fish in the middle. That was too much of a mouthful for the Yankees. They called it Webster Lake.”

“You know, this old Copper Beech is not a bad meeting place,” Blackshine said. “Really great location, certainly high enough, comfortably roomy, and has a damn nice smell. Spicy.” “It’s really strange that we’ve never met here before. At least I don’t remember ever using it,” Little Cawcaw observed. “I would have remembered the color … and certainly the size.” “Was it, maybe, six years back when we had the Caw Conference near Bristol, Rhode Island, in that ancient Elm right on the Narragansett water?” Black Rain remembered. “Then, the big surprise when the whole tree went down and we all panicked, surprised … and it turned out to fall from a lot of ‘Dutch’ elm fungus that didn’t show.”

“Who can part with one of those hand rolled, imitation Cubans?” Dark Eye asked from over on the breezy side. Tail Points moved over to him with his offering, without a moments hesitation. Dark Eye lit-up, blew a big cloud through his nostrils, and nodded, “Thanks!”

Dreams He’s White said, “Figure it out. The white folks saw themselves as so much bigger, and lots stronger. I think they felt that there wasn’t any reason to look us up. I don’t think they felt that they needed any truck with us in order to make it.” “Well, there was also the language barrier that wasn’t easy. I mean, they didn’t have any computers to help, back then,” Pink Leg offered.

    2.

“Who’s got the guard duty this afternoon?” Sombar asked, eyebrows raised. Jett, who had handed out the assignment, said, “No problem. Inkman, Pitch and Darkback are covering — and they’ll need some grub soon.” “No jackdaws for sentries,” someone called out, underlined. “Let’s not forget last year.” Many at the meeting nodded, recalling last year’s sentries going crazy after finding a patch of big Concord grapes that were by then mostly fermented, and then falling asleep in the tree, until the farmer’s 12 gauge bird shot blasted through the branches. It was so unnecessary to see bodies falling and hitting the ground.

While the political discussion bounced around, Tar, the youngest member of the meeting group and someone with a naturally introspective, scientific bent found himself musing about the origin of things. This afternoon he found himself wondering about when Caws developed the ability to perch? What must it have been like to be able to reach all the way to the tops of trees, and not be able to perch? How much falling down had to happen before a sense of security became “natural?” How many broken bones? He knew that Caws had been in the world for thousands of years, and that every generation exhibited some aspect of developed change. That kind of transfiguration fascinated him, even though he would admit that trying to understand enormous time spans left his brain weary, making him give up before the picture became clear.

Abruptly, without intending to, in his mind he began to focus on the idea of cleverness. Everybody said that Caws are “clever,” but what did that really mean? What is “clever” anyway? Were Caws smart? Were they quick to solve problems? Could it be said they are “successful?” Well, are we “successful?” And how am I to know if we are? What would be a realistic measure?

These excursions always tired him. Beyond that, when he came up for air he always felt that he had fallen behind in the logic of the discussion and, worse, he looked rather dumb for not contributing something that added a bit of insight to the group archive. Survival, that’s what everyone said when the group met, and again before they broke up. Survival was the watchword.

In a brief lull, when most of the group were being thoughtful, Black Water piped up. “Mischief. Where did we pick up that tag? Mischief — or worse — is what I call what settler’s corporations do, like world wide price fixing or buying politicians or commodity manipulation that threatens survival, the scandal behavior that comes out in the newspapers. Selfishness is another way to spell fraud.” That brought a round of nodding assent.

    3.

Half hidden by dark, coarse-toothed Beech leaves, Caw Ha-Ha Remembered how the Sky Boss had appeared to be on the side of the human settlers, blaming Caws for everything, including bad weather. “Who of us is willing to say that Sky Boss is plain wrong?” Caw Ha-Ha cried, to murmurs of “Yeah,” “Amen, Brother.” Many of those gathered were picking at Beech nuts, and seed husks were raining down through the twigs and branches. With all the wrongs, and misplaced blame, and the ongoing scapegoating, the Caws often compared themselves to the sad fate and history of outsider Jews.

“Mischief, they say … that’s another thing we’re supposed to be good at, as if it’s a profession,” Almost Black wailed. “Do they really have any sense of what it takes to just keep going? Well, I say we have to take a stand. And I’ve felt that way ever since I read Orwells story, the Animal Farm, where the farmer is finally made to realize the truth. But it’s important to say that I don’t go along with his ‘four legs good, two legs bad’ sweep. That’s just too divisive. No real good can come out of thinking like that.”

Black Water spoke, “We have to find a way to establish a better reputation. We have to get out from under the idea that we form our habits early, and then our habits form us. It’s time that folks knew who we really are. I mean, aren’t three thousand years time enough.”

Softly, Ebony Shine, an old timer who had turned quite gray, spoke up from the very outside edge of the Beech top. “How many of us have met unlooked for problems only because their feathers are black? In my lifetime, I have found that to be one of the hardest put downs to cope with. Because of its ingrained subtlety, folks don’t want to admit it, or then actually deal with it. The problem of being a black-feathered sort is going to take all of us, all of us with the most smarts to find a way out. A lot of schooling over a long time.

“Does anyone know about our Road-Kill for Shut-Ins Program … the ongoing highway cleanup work, or the singing camps for kids?” someone asked. “Yeah, and all the public speaking classes.” Caw Ha-Ha added.

“Are we now talking about public relations, about campaigns?” Black Water asked. "Public Relations? Isn’t Public Relations just a nicer way of saying the ‘Engineering of Consent’ Caw Caw asked with a sense of sadness. “Isn’t that what the big bad guys do, with lots of moolah, just to cover their tracks, to make the horse a cow? Is that where we’re headed?”

Caw Ha-Ha broke in. “It seems to me we have to begin to set a different example, an example of Caws on a really wide scale, so that it will be noticed … and admired. I mean, when folks think of Caws, they have to think positive, maybe even bring smiles to faces — like with Rudolph the deer. Look at his reputation!"

“Now, there’s a reasoning that’s positive. And you can’t knock positive!” Blackest Black fairly yelled.

    4.

Startlingly, two intensely loud reports exploded below. As three Caws fell out of the nearest beech every other black wing rose in a furious sound of rhythmic beating. The air above the old Beech was filled with dark birds clawing for altitude.

Two more shotgun blasts, followed by whooping and wild laughing chilled up from below. The cloud of panicked wings turned North and from nearby trees other parts of the flock frantically joined the flight.

The greenish afternoon sky, filled with loud screaming Caws, looked like a painted background for the big birds, their frenzied energy aiming for the northern horizon as if locked on a magnetic course.

               °

Talley—Ho, penpal—y’all.

H/E

———————————

     [ August 6, 2011 ]

Hey, Cap’n. Spaulding— [ A reference to my photos of Peter Bramley clowning as Groucho Marx. ]
Just able to get to [see below] your reorganization[s] and the content is — wow! a trip down Memory Lane. Ahhh — right THERE is the life we have lost in living. Having what had existed only in mind, right there, in light — and transmitted yet!! All of it alive! You were a really active Rob’t Flaherty, — getting it all down, and I’ve only been through it once, so far!! Thank you for the candy.

It has been some years since I’ve flown without an engine, but yesterday I completed a short flight — yes, in our first floor front hall.

As I ward my studio, my left hand tightly grasping several things, our son, Matt’s dog suddenly crossed my path trailing his leash, and I was airborne, and then — *#//%$!! instantly in the landing pattern’s final approach, to a classic [classy it was not] three point landing — hard by my left knee — one of the two which have nicely ingrown their ten-yr-old composite ball/socket orthotics—and, surprise!! the pilot, finding his still-fisted knuckles knocking on the door of his two, lower left-side ribs — with all of the authority of 175 avoirdupois.

Those kinds of displays are truly rude surprises, teaching exercises, that reveal their downstream effects subsequently, ‘given time’ as is said. Before we could get me upended afoot and then upstairs onto what in an E-room would be an old[er] man’s Gurney, my eld, and for-some-recent-time, shrinking knee area had fastly responded to my brief T-O & L, blossoming in a wink! [ballooning: lighter than air?] to the scale of a small soccer ball — really quite an instant feat for an aging body! [My lower part appeared to look on at this display with some envy.]

Supine; leg inclined allowing Gravity to run away with Ms. Lymph; Mr. Martini’s ice draped over my L. clenched-tooth patella, my lower left ribs now begged for my attention, and, evidently disturbed by my slow response — muttering under its breath, OK, you cruel bastard, you’ll pay for this! — began screaming, uncontrollably, as if they had never been taught manners; at least to not raise their voices! Our neighbors probably assumed that, at last, divorce—after only 57 years.

With two, modest Ibuprofen as a warm-night blanket, delayed shock was an effective substitute for the [usual] sky blue Triazolam. The old pilot surprisingly slept well … after several useless attempts to get back in time to “just before it happened” to play it again—this time without the spotted dog in the picture.

The morrow was another story, when ribs L-1 & L-2—in concert with their surrounding, pinko lackeys — firmly insisted on pleading their case for instant Médecins Sans Frontières, with not another off-putting moment … along with their final or else!

The reward lollipop from Dr. Donald Foxworthy was, really, the best sleeping pill — Tylenol + codeine [which simply says, shut the fuck up! to Mr. & Mr. Rib] — along with Dr’s. grim truth: “Bed rest with elevated leg to flow the running-wild Lympho back in her cage; and, unless jagged rib ends are poking holes in your lung, we simply watch them knit … over the next three to four weeks!!”

Humbug!

I’m not ashamed about the above two boring parts.

Now, let me tell you about my ‘operation’ …

[As a purebred Bi-Polar, he asked, “You wouldn’t have a small, African finger drum I could tap to keep the doldrums at bay??”]

We’ll talk later!

Willbur & Orv—

———————————

     [ September 12, 2013 ]

Hey there, BIG man . . . Nice to hear/see from you — see that you still know how to find trouble before it finds you; that you haven’t mislaid your old Kalart © view/edit hitecker. (Don’t put any stock in those digi-movie boys!) Never mind that Ektakröm is, well, a bit hard to find. As is said in Eng. Lit-1 — “Push on irrregardless” — I mean … y’kno what I’m sayin’ Buddyboy??

Finally finished my small book about the week of open cockpit flying, coast to coast, and it’s been copy proofed (she gave me a basket full of long dashes, semi-colons, and extra commas,) so it is ready for a non-existant papyrus publisher. Being no “inside-tracker” or practiced ass kisser, a friendly printer is going to be way tougher than making the text happen. I’ll tack on a part of Day-One here and you’ll get a sniff of the way it went seeing the Manhattan landscape slide by our 90mph lower wing from low altitudes.

You knew that Neil J. had a big retrospective at Gagosian’s Madison Ave gallery — Works of the Jenney Archive. He put in a Dotland painting of Ros’ and a leafed Sculpturetemple of mine, both from the late 60s. I’m not sure that the show made much difference in this celebrity Age of Enormous Egos.

This year, have passed beyond 86.5 ans, and we have been an item for 62 years, which we sat out for two July weeks close bayside in No. Truro, just shy of P’town.

Remain buoyant —

H/E

———————————

     [ September 14, 2013 ]

I don’t participate in LinkedIn; facebook; twits; sailaway or hi-there, bosompal, i.e so called social networks — most of which I consider habit forming, addictive; fake for reason of providers gain; and undressing in public for no good reason.

Sorry to hear of your Neuropathy. After eleven major surgeries, including a 6-months stay in a Vet. Hosp for malpractice of an appendectomy that finally involved two periods of added colostomy, I am shorned of many ideas that MDs are the white coated gods many of the “guessers” assume for themselves. I realize that the kid who is graduated ranking LAST in his medical class is still addressed as, “Doctor.” The one that walked away with my prostate is a valued doc, who reads my poetry!! and comments. In my experience, as rare as a Royal blue banana.

Cheers for your responses to the “film.” Now, where are the flower leis, and the big bucks; the late night appearances, the HD Grants of Appreciation.

We’ve had a taste of “fame” and “acknowledgment” — big grants, commissions, and adored notice. The LIGHT has a really dark side — when its disappearance leads to anguish, loss of real friends, tall & empty corked bottles, and sometimes rockabye meds. David Rockefeller, Jr. who we’ve known since the early 70s when he played a Russian ship captain in Ros’s SS Odessa video, is deeply far from a happy person, way younger than me, but looks way worse from his “famous life of anything he wants” — except for wanting to be an artist, which he can’t buy into.

“Lofty is change — the only constant we know.” - Tang (618—> 907)

Someday your prince will come. - Disney (c.1972)

L&K

H/E


Dear Harris/Eagle, did I ever say how important you and Ros were to me?
Well, it’s true, you were. And are.

        All my love,
        Demian


Eagle Air’s Lair
December 1967

Harris Barron was born in 1926 in Boston, Massachusetts. He passed away, at 90, on October 22, 2017 at his home in Brookline Village, Massachusetts.

For more information, please see Harris and Ros Barron and Harris Barron on Wikipedia


The images on this page were all hand-held and shot by available light on b/w Tri-X. The Pentax 35mm single lens reflex camera had a 50mm focal length lens. These shots were scanned from the original negatives.


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