Two books, two gallery shows, and a talk about Jess

The artist Jess (1923-2004), born Burgess Collins in Long Beach, California, abandoned his surname and his training as a scientist in 1949 and enrolled in the California School of Fine Arts. He met Robert Duncan in 1950 and began a relationship with the poet that lasted thirty-eight years until Duncan's death in 1988. Together, the two of them became key generators of the Bay Area art and poetry scenes of the 50's, 60s, and 70s. 


Robert Duncan and Jess, 1959. Photograph © The Jess Collins Trust. Courtesy Pomegranate Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. Image appears in An Opening of the Field.


The last decade has witnessed a number of fantastic publications about the poets and poetry of the San Francisco Renaissance and the Bay Area community during those decades, including collections and biographies of Helen Adam, Robin Blaser, Philip Lamantia, Richard O. Moore, and Jack Spicer, as well as Robert Duncan—The Ambassador from Venus, a biography by Lisa Jarnot, and the first two volumes of the collected writings of Robert Duncan: The HD Book and The Collected Early Poems and Plays

Two new books on Jess—O! Tricky Cad & Other Jessoterica and An Opening of the Field: Jess, Robert Duncan, and Their Circle—add to this.  They provide an amazing resource and insight into the creative and intellectual exchange between the artists and poets of this intimate community.

Below are artworks by Jess, a brief note by Robert Duncan on Jess' paste-ups, a sample of his word collages from the 1950's, as well as late work from the 1990's for the poet Norma Cole and the literary magazine O-blek
, all of which speak to Jess's lifelong artistic engagement with the literary world.
 
ALSO, please take note of these upcoming events and exhibitions of the work of Jess and his circle:

On January 11th
An Evening of Jessoterica with Michael Duncan 
at Berl's Poetry Shop, Brooklyn

January 14 - March 29, 2014
An Opening of the Field:
Jess, Robert Duncan, and Their Circle
an exhibition at NYU's Grey Art Gallery, NYC

January 16 - February 22, 2014
JESS: SELECTED WORKS
Tibor de Nagy Gallery, NYC

* * *

JESS'S paste-ups and assemblies are children out of Une Semaine de Bonté by Max Ernst—visible poems—and from Finnegans Wake—a night language: "Are we for liberty of perusiveness? Why after what forewhere? A plain planned lifeyism assemblements Eblania's conglomerate horde. By Dim Delty Deva." Complex interassociations and transformings of things seen into a new workd image. They may be simply taken, perhaps, as strange phantasms cast by a cunning mind. For those who search out and recognize the identity of each cell of these organisms there is another wonder as the intelligence unfolds itself, the suggestion of a universe that is meaningful thru-out, built up of correspondences, puns, patterns—melodies of things seen. But JESS is an artist: meanings cannot be separated from appearances, spirit cannot be isolated from color and mass, from sensual rhythms. If there is craft here, it is a craft that springs from the minute nervous intuitions of the rime in the world of sight. We in looking, as the artist did in working, have to take care and to follow not only our impulse but more—the genius, the impulse, that we find in everything outside of ourselves. The poetry (the making), the science (the traind knowing), the vision (the discovery) are all one in this art: not impression, not expression but an involvement in what is.


—ROBERT DUNCAN
Paste-Ups & Assemblies by Jess, Dilexi Gallery brochure, 1959


Please click images to enlarge.


Jess, single page, From Force of Habit, 1966. Collage book of nine loose, double-sided pages. Courtesy of Odyssia Gallery, New York, NY. Image appears in O! Tricky Cad & Other Jessoterica.

 
 

Jess, Untitled (Lean Mouth for Hours), 1953. Courtesy of the Jess Collins Trust, Berkeley, CA. Photography by Alan Wiener. Image appears in O! Tricky Cad & Other Jessoterica.

 


Jess, Paste-up for cover, Mars by Norma Cole, 1993. Courtesy of the collection of Richard Harris, Chicago, IL. Photography by D. James Dee. Image appears in O! Tricky Cad & Other Jessoterica.

 


Jess, Paste-up for cover, O-blek, No. 10, 1991. Courtesy of Laree Hulshoff, Dallas, TX. Photography by James A. Ulrich. Image appears in O! Tricky Cad & Other Jessoterica.

 

Jess, Open Mouthed But Relaxed, 1952. Courtesy of The Poetry Collection of the University Libraries, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. Image appears in O! Tricky Cad & Other Jessoterica.



Robert Duncan and Jess, pages from household art scrapbooks, 1952. Images © The Jess Collins Trust. Courtesy Pomegranate Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. 
Image appears in An Opening of the Field.
 
Robert Duncan and Jess, pages from household art scrapbooks, 1952. Images © The Jess Collins Trust. Courtesy Pomegranate Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. Image appears in An Opening of the Field.


Image © The Jess Collins Trust. Courtesy Pomegranate Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. 
Image appears in An Opening of the Field.

 

 

 
 

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