Monday, September 5, 2016

Anastasia Aukeman's "Welcome to Painterland"

Anastasia Aukeman is an art historian and curator who teaches at Parsons School of Design in New York City. She has contributed essays to numerous exhibition catalogues and written articles and reviews for Art in America, Art on Paper, and ARTnews, among other publications.

Here Aukeman dreamcasts an adaptation of her new book, Welcome to Painterland: Bruce Conner and the Rat Bastard Protective Association:
Welcome to Painterland takes place in San Francisco just as the Beat movement was taking shape in the mid-1950s. Fifteen or so artists, poets, and musicians lived in and around the large, 4-flat apartment building that the poet Michael McClure dubbed Painterland, in the Fillmore neighborhood. Some in the community called themselves The Rat Bastard Protective Association, after the trash collection agency that had a monopoly at the time, the Scavenger Protective Association. The artists, especially, identified with the garbage collectors, as much of their work was made from cast-offs and detritus. These artists staged performances and exhibitions, they played in bands, and they ran art galleries--usually badly, but great art resulted. Their story includes the art, poetry, sex (gay and straight love affairs), drugs, and the music of Big Brother and the Holding Company, as drummer Dave Getz lived in Painterland.

The characters making up the community in Welcome to Painterland are risk-taking, quirky, extremely talented women and men. The movie version would be a thrill to cast, as there are so many strong male and female leads. Wes Anderson, who lives in my old building in New York City and is therefore channeling some of the energy of Allen Ginsberg, who also lived in the building and appears in this narrative, should really make the movie.

If my book were a movie:

Wes Anderson would direct.

Bill Murray would act as narrator.

Adam Driver as artist Wallace Berman, a shaman-like figure.

Greta Gerwig as Shirley Berman, Wallace’s wife and muse.

Ryan Reynolds as poet Michael McClure, the prince of the Beat scene and friend of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and the inspiration for at least one of Jack Kerouac’s characters.

Jennifer Lawrence as the poet Joanna McClure.

Dave Franco as artist Bruce Conner, founder of the Rat Bastard Protective Association.

Marana Bakaran as artist Jean Conner.

Aubrey Plaza as artist Jay DeFeo, the spiritual core of the group.

Imogen Poots as artist Joan Brown , the first one in the group to achieve commercial success.

Michael Cera as artist Wally Hedrick, husband of Jay DeFeo.

Miles Teller as artist Manuel Neri, eventually the husband of Joan Brown.

Gael Garcia Bernal as artist Carlos Villa.

Chris Pratt as artist George Herms.

Eddie Redmayne as the artist Jess (life-long “householder” or partner of Duncan).

Benedict Cumberbatch as the poet Robert Duncan (“householder” of Jess).

Jason Mantzoukas as Billy Jahrmarkt, the heroin-addicted owner of Batman Gallery.

Channing Tatum as poet Allen Ginsberg.

Isabella Rossellini as the East & West Gallery owner Etya Gechtoff.

Eva Green as artist Sonia Gechtoff, Etya’s daughter.

Parker Posey as the Woman Who Runs Flower Shop (on the ground floor of 2322 Fillmore Street, or “Painterland”) – because I have to find a role for Parker Posey in my fantasy movie.
Learn more about Welcome to Painterland at the University of California Press website.

Writers Read: Anastasia Aukeman.

--Marshal Zeringue