Full Circle: Ariadne

August 9, 2010

Suzanne Benton performing "Ariadne" before Nancy Spero's "La Putain"; photo by Carmela Tal

Suzanne Benton graced a new evolution of Woman in the 21st Century: Margaret Fuller and the Sacred Marriage with her opening Mask Tale performance.  This time it was Ariadne who led Thesius through the labyrinth with her ball of yarn and a sword.

The Ariadne selection was Suzanne’s suggestion, when I appeared at her home on the way to a James Maddock’s St. Patrick’s Day  concert.  I then became enthralled with the entourage of the  Dionysius of lower Manhattan.

This myth took me full circle back to my journey through the labyrinth of the Stamford Loft Artist building in November, 1997.  Eros was guiding me as though by an invisible  red thread and I was brandishing a sword to cut to the Truth.  I was on my first art assignment to find signs of a renaissance.

Michael Manning's "Minotaur" which I discovered during my 1997 visit to LAA Open Studios

There I discovered Michael Manning and his mythological painting of “Minotaur.”  Michael will do a shamanic performance in the gallery with me on August 17th at 7 pm.

What would a triumph in slaying the minotaur (my own ego) mean?  Could it signify a reinvention of criticism as interpretation — or a filter between the collective unconscious and collective consciousness?

Suzanne Benton's "Ariadne' mask with Carl Apfelschmidt's "Ouroboros"

All I know, is what led to this full circle of myth and symbol– Ariadne with the Ouroboros — resulted in my being “swept away” by the warrior Thesius.

Heide Hatry's "Out of the ox/Rebirth" surrounded by her gift to me, "Ouroboros"

The result is the end of my trilogy of exhibitions this summer, with all its iconic imagery of birth and the crown of the sacred marriage.  Here we have, in the last goddess civilization of the Minoan, the remnants of the ancient myth of Inanna’s descent — with its seven stages marked by the Moon/Venus  conjunctions — and ascent to the sacred marriage.  The seven stages are represented here by the sacrifice of seven Athenian men and woman to King Minos and ending of the myth in which her wedding diadem was set in the heavens as the constellation Corona.

She remained faithful to Dionysus, but was later killed by Perseus at Argos. In other myths Ariadne hung herself from a tree, like Erigone and the hanging Artemis, a Mesopotamian theme. Some scholars think, due to her thread-spinning and winding associations, that she was a weaving goddess such as Arachne, and they support the assertion with the mytheme of the Hanged Nymph (see weaving in mythology).

The  symbols of the thread and the hanging from a tree (Inanna’s rotting green body hung on a meat hook) represents the inner journey we must travel to uncover the more ancient myth which reveals the essence of the authentic feminine which has been buried for centuries.

And this is how it played out for me.  In following the signs in Manning’s Minotaur as the first in a long train of symbolic works, I went inward through the labyrinth to encounter the ancient myth of Inanna, which has provided a system of sacred geometry for connecting with the true face of the feminine.


Karl Kerenyi (and Robert Graves) theorizes that Ariadne (whose name they derive from Hesychius‘ listing of Άδνον, a Cretan-Greek form for arihagne, “utterly pure”) was a Great Goddess of Crete, “the first divine personage of Greek mythology to be immediately recognized in Crete”,[7] once archaeology had begun. Kerenyi observes that her name is merely an epithet and claims that she was originally the “Mistress of the Labyrinth“, both a winding dance-ground and in the Greek view a prison with the dreaded Minotaur at its centre. Kerenyi notes a Linear B inscription from Knossos, “to all the gods, honey… to the mistress of the labyrinth honey” in equal amounts, suggesting to him that the Mistress of the Labyrinth was a Great Goddess in her own right.[8] Professor Barry Powell has suggested she was Minoan Crete’s Snake Goddess.[9]



July 29, 2010

Woman in the 21st Century:
Margaret Fuller and the Sacred Marriage
Curator: Lisa Paul Stretfeld

Reception on Wednesday, 4 August 2010   6 – 9 PM
580 Eighth Avenue  7th floor
New York  NY 10018


June 20, 2010

Aldo Tambellini creating a circle in performance; "Woman in the 21st Century: Margaret Fuller and the Sacred Marriage at Pierre Menard Gallery, 19 June 2010

“…the self out-cast artist has failed to realize where his job lies and because of a certain “romantic” attitude upon his part objected in becoming a sociable human being and wanted to be either left alone or left in the hands of a business-man dealer who nursed the desire of the artist who wanted to create, not for the benefit of society, but making art a release of his own frustration.  In wanting to be “Modern,” the artist  saw himself being pushed out as an individual and his attitude became one of screaming and protests…

“Collaboration will mean reentering and participating with the spirit of our time.  Collaboration will mean integrating the arts and thus make one aware of the important task which each individual contributes in his field.  Collaboration will establish contacts with artist all over the world. For collaboration will mean participation of every country towards the importance of social projects.  This will establish a universal visual language.  This will break down national egoism and isolation which has become the cause of many past antagonisms.  Collaboration will be an incitement for construction towards spiritual and social projects in which man will apply his effort towards the benefit of humanity.  Collaboration will bring the synthesis of the arts.  Collaboration will re-evaluate the artist as a participant and a member of his society.  It will then offer a place and demand for the artist who has always, during the history of time, increased the spiritual enjoyment of our life.”

— Aldo Tambellini

“Toward an Age of Integration and Collaboration of the Arts”

June, 1954



June 16, 2010




www.pieremenardgallery.com pierre@pierremenardgallery.com


Sunday, June 20th, 2:00pm

Free to the public

In conjunction with our current exhibition:

Woman in the 21st Century: Margaret Fuller and the Sacred Marriage

A continued collaboration by Michael Manning & Mark Wiener

accompanied by Curator Lisa Paul Streitfeld reading Margaret Fuller’s alchemical poetry


live streaming video on


the completed painting will be exhibited at

HP Garcia Gallery, August 04-21, 2010

Michael Manning and Mark Wiener collaborated on Above Ground Performance; Venus Resurrected a September 25, 2009performance painting at HP Garcia Gallery in New York City live on ustream.


Michael Manning is a mythological painter creating narratives surrounding the birth of a new cosmology.  Working in issues of morality, morality and justice, he creates stories from an individual point of view but with universal significance and meaning.  His focus is the central archetypal figure of the hero.  With the traditional journey presented by Joseph Campbell as a starting point, extraordinary deeds and adventures  are substituted with events that abound in everyday life. The end results are narrative paintings that use allegorical images to show daily events as equivalent to the actions of a classic mythological hero.

Mark Wiener is an abstract painter who studied under Bauhaus influences at Philadelphia College of Art, where he focused onpainting and photography. In 2007 he took on re-defining what he calls the “Cross Narrative” between action painting and minimalism,a dialogue between geometric worlds and fluid visual languages on canvas, wood, vellum and similar substrates. Mark Wiener exhibits inLos Angeles, London, Paris, Milan and Tokyo, as well as New York, his studio is in NYC’s West Chelsea Art District.

Lisa Paul Streitfeld is a cultural writer, metaphysician, curator, performance artist, educator and pioneer of new art forms for the 21st century.  Her innovations in expression occur at the intersection of new technology with business, metaphysics and fine art.  For a decade she was a regular critic for Tribune newspapers in the New York metropolitan area, interpreting a new movement in over 300 reviews and articles.

In 2006, she was a recipient of the Unitarian Universalist Margaret Fuller Award for a 21st century theology of the hieros gamos derived from mystery schools around the globe.  Currently, she is exploring the multimedia avenues by which she can communicate a new art theory to a broad public.  These include: art exhibitions, fiction and non-fiction books, catalogue essays, blogs, websites, live performance, art talks, video and television.  A member of the U.S. chapter of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA), she contributes to several media outlets, anthologies and operates a series of blogs presenting a new art movement along with the dissemination of her newly published Critical Trilogy series: http://www.criticaltrilogy.com


Margaret Fuller’s 200th Birthday Celebration

May 29, 2010

Fuller to Emerson:  “You are intellect, I am life!”

“Persephone” steel mask by Suzanne Benton

“What I mean by the Muse is that unimpeded clearness of the intuitive powers,which a perfectly truthful adherence to every admonition of the higher instincts would bring to a finely organized human being.”

— Margaret Fuller

More than Muse, Margaret Fuller was Minerva guiding my hand throughout the process of selecting works and mounting the “Woman in the 21st Century: Margaret Fuller and the Sacred Marriage” exhibition.  Her spirit was invoked in a ritual conduced at the start of her 200th birthday on May 23, 2010 and She raised the vibration of the celebration which brought together scholars and Unitarian Universalists with revolutionary poets, cutting edge artists and dealers.

The Curator after invoking Margaret Fuller's spirit; wearing Selma Karaca's "Embodied Woman: Kundalini Couture" and standing before Marina Tsesarskaya's "Celebration"

Rev. Dorothy Emerson, Chair of the Margaret Fuller Bicentennial Project and Daniel Patrick McKanan, inaugural incumbent of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Chair of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School (HDS).

Joan Von Mehren, author of "Minerva and the Muse"

Revolutionary poets Aldo Tambellini, Ton Ton Gi and Askia Toure

Shahla Haeri, director of Women’s Studies Program at Boston University

Pierre Menard Gallery owner John Wronoski with Anna Salamone and Aldo Tambellini

James and Martha Volcker with John Wronoski and HP Garcia in Background

Andrea Kalinowski, Pierre Menard Gallery Director

Anna and Aldo with Aaron Olshan before his painting in the background

Aaaron Olshan with his painting "Emergence"; photo by Dianne Bowen

Gallery owner John Wronoski and artist Aaron Olshan; photo by Dianne Bowen

Friends of Margaret

Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson come to terms == at last!!

Daniel McKanan telling me how much he likes the show!

Walter Crump with friend before his "Manieh & Chains"

Suzanne Benton performing "Persephone and Demeter" before Tanya Ragir's "Sacred Geometry" and beside Harlan Emil Gruber's "Amethyst Portal Outline"

All photos, unless otherwise noted, by Tanya Ragir.



May 26, 2010

Suzanne Benton and Persephone performing at Pierre Menard Gallery on the occasion of Margaret Fuller's Bicentennial Birthday

Who sees the meaning of the flower uprooted in the ploughed field? The ploughman who does not look beyond its boundaries and does not raise his eyes from the ground ? No — but the poet who sees that field in its relations with the universe, and looks oftener to the sky than on the ground. Only the dreamer shall understand realities, though, in truth, his dreaming must not be out of proportion to his waking!

— Margaret Fuller, Free Hope p. 127

Margaret Fuller was fascinated by the myth of Persephone and Demeter.  I overheard two scholars discussing how she tried to encourage Emerson to participate in some re-enactment of the myth and interjected: “Oh, the origin of American performance art!”  Combining Margaret Fuller’s dramatic talents, knowledge and mercurial mind would have made shamanic performance a natural extension of her “Conversations.”  She clearly sought, in her gift for conversation, to transport her audience/collaborators on Mercury’s wings up to heaven and down to Hades.

Nancy Spero's scroll incorporating the gender opposites into a reworking of the myth of the Garden of Eden, the phallus/serpents on the tree attuned with astrological timing: the Yod represented by words

This fascinating piece of American history makes the Pierre Menard Gallery apt for an exhibition incorporating the  underworld descent into its theme.  So when Suzanne told me her Persephone mask was available, I rejoiced.  And not only that, she agreed to do her marvelous Persephone/Demeter performance for the opening.

Black Madonna (Grace Roselli) Gives Birth to Woman in the 21st Century (Aldo Tambellini's premiere of his 1957 Pregnant Woman); Pierre Menard Gallery, Cambridge, MA

To do her performance in this setting, replete with so many fertility symbols, after I conjured up Margaret Fuller through a ritual at the precise time of the opening, could only mean one thing: a conscious re-visioning, over the course of this exhibition, of the underworld myth that Fuller dramatized in her life!

Suzanne Benton performing Persephone and Demeter before Tanya Ragir's "Sacred Geometry" Pierre Menard Gallery, May 23, 2010


A Woman Without Labels

May 26, 2010

Mask of Persephone (Suzanne Benton), mythical archetype beloved by Margaret Fuller, introduces the journey: Woman of the 21st Century: Margaret Fuller and the Sacred Marriage

“Humanity is divided into Men, Women, and Margaret Fuller”

— Edgar Allan Poe

Tanya Ragir installing Sacred Geometry
at the Pierre Menard Gallery, May 22, 2010
…the sixth piece of the hexagon

The installation of the exhibition went off without a hitch, until we reached the discussion about labels.  To have them or not have them?  I was fierce about not wanting labels, having had just written a Critical Trilogy post about witnessing a new momentum in the New York art world with Richard Humann’s creative decision to forgo labels for his splendid integration of organic and human-formed imbedded into Nature of the Beast at HP Garcia Gallery, a move that aroused the ire of critics.

"A Portfolio of Models" by Martha Wilson; 1974 vintage photo/text series in its first appearance outside New York City

The point is, it is time to publicly reconcile this internal struggle between opposites, as Martha Wilson pioneered in her seminal A Portfolio of Models (left) which reveals an outer “modeling” of the inner archetypes of masculine and feminine.

Although the photo/text series was created in 1974, this is the first time the vintage prints are being shown outside of New York City.  When I literally backed into Martha when I was standing before them stunned, at Mitchell Algus Gallery in the spring of 2008, I asked her where she had been hiding them.  She replied, “Under the bed!”

No joke!  It seems that this Mother of downtown performance (www.franklinfurnace.org), which seems to have birthed every star in the performance art galaxy, was awaiting a new time for her own post-gender inventions to be placed in its proper timing.  What better context than a show about Margaret Fuller, which opens under three planetary oppositions!

Reconciling the oppositions (male/female, dark/light, insider/outsider, conscious/unconscious) is what Woman in the 21st Century: Margaret Fuller and the Sacred Marriage is all about!!

Tanya Ragir after completing the hexagon

Finally, after a discussion that engaged critic Francine Koslow Miller,  who wandered in during the hanging

Gallery owner John Wronoski, Francine Koslow Miller and her husband, Mark, and myself in discussion about labels during the hanging of Woman in the 21st Century

because she was getting a watch fixed nearby, I relented and said, before leaving the gallery:  “OK, If you want to have labels on the works, then do it.”

“Art can only be truly art by presenting an adequate outward symbol of some fact in the interior life.”

–Margaret Fuller

"Woman in the 21st Century: Margaret Fuller and the Sacred Marriage" opening at the Pierre Menard Galery, 6:00 PM, Cambridge Mass.

By the morning of Fuller’s birthday, when I awoke in the surreal environment of the Royal Sonesta hotel, where I was staying with Tanya,  I realized that the outward struggle with labels was a projection of an internal dynamism: Saturn opposing Uranus on my Pisces Moon.  This was confirmed by my hotel room rendering of the chart for the opening.

By the time I talked to the gallery director, Andrea Kalinowski, who warned me to “be ready for signage,” I realized that the outward symbol of my interior struggle — the very symbol that  Margaret Fuller defined as art  — was manifested by the holism of this show.  In fact, hanging the exhibition was such a joy because it felt as if every piece of a metaphysical and transcendent puzzle was coming into form (the cardinal cross in the opening chart) —  a long cherished dream come true at last!

The struggle for the messy content of the birth of a new archetype to make it to a marketplace demanding slickness and confinement!

There is a finality, one that I have been praying for, to this aspect.  What better sign did I need than the impromptu arrival of a critic arriving due to the need to fix her watch nearby!  The timer, Saturn, imposing on my nine year journey of Uranus in the collective unconscious (my 12th house in Pisces), and giving warning that it is time to face the marketplace — its demands for labels and categorization.

Andrea Kalinowski, director of Pierre Menard Gallery before mask of Persephone (Suzanne Benton)