According to a friend, Alvin Novak, Aufderheide's personal qualities were largely responsible for the longterm harmony of The Benton Way Group: he had quick insight into the needs and motives of his circle of acquaintances and friends, liked to entertain, and was able to talk practically on a wide range of sophisticated subjects.
The Benton Way Group became a special haven for certain intellectuals who belonged neither to the Hollywood film world, not to the continental high culture of the refugee community. The Benton Way Group were almost exclusively Americans, apart from the Egyptian-born scholar and intellectual Edouard Roditi (who was evidently attracted to them precisely because they were unlike himself).
Aufderheide also wrote poetry, and after he died his friends collected some of his verses in a book.
Eddie (1918 - June 27, 1994) and Sam From (1918-1956) were twin brothers at the center of The Benton Way Group, they were both gay.
Eddie's real name was Isadore, and some of his friends called him Isad. The Benton Way Group began when Ruby Bell, a librarian from the Midwest, inherited some money and encouraged a group of her friends, mostly homosexuals and including the Froms and Charles Aufderheide, to move with her to Los Angeles. There she used her inheritance to acquire the house in Benton Way where they settled together. The house was called The Palazzo because it looked like an Italian villa, and the name later accompanied the household to other settings.
Some of the group were able to find work in the film industry, and Eddie From worked for Technicolor before taking up psychotherapy. According to Alvin Novak, Eddie was once picked up by the police for an offense related to his homosexuality, and Christopher Isherwood made a lasting impression by coming to his aid. There are many passages about the Froms in Isherwood's Diaries.
Isadore From was one of the formulators of the innovative approach to psychotherapy called Gestalt therapy.
From died of a stroke during treatment for cancer on June 27, 1994, said Hunt Cole, his companion for 34 years.
Of the original circle of founders of Gestalt therapy, Mr. From was a main theorizer. That circle included Dr. Frederick Perls, a psychiatrist, and his wife, Lore, a clinical psychologist, and the social critic and writer Paul Goodman. Mr. From had been one of the earliest patients of Dr. Perls in the late 1940's.
The group met regularly in the Perlses' apartment during the 1950's; during these meetings the basic principles of Gestalt therapy were established.
The Gestalt approach to psychotherapy was a radical revision of psychoanalysis, focusing on the therapist's and the client's attention to the present rather than on the search for underlying causes of disturbance.
Its roots were in German experimental Gestalt psychology in the 1920's and in European existential philosophy and phenomenology, a philosophical movement that stressed the study of events rather than inferred causes.
Out of existentialism it took an emphasis on a person's responsibility for the creation of experience, and from phenomenology it took an intense focus on what the patient experiences and the therapist observes in the therapy session.
Mr. From was not widely published but had an extensive personal circle of influence. "All of his transmission of theory was through teaching and teaching of psychotherapists over close to four decades, and leading groups studying theory," said Dr. Michael Miller, a Gestalt therapist in Boston. "He was a therapist's therapist."
Most of his teaching was in New York City, but Dr. From spent several months teaching in Europe each year.
Mr. From was born in South Bend, Ind., and attended Butler University in Indianapolis and the University of California at Los Angeles. He studied philosophy at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan, with a focus on phenomenology.
"Mr. From said he learned as much to learn and see from Henry James and Proust as he did from Freud," said Dr. Miller.
Sam From became close friend with Evelyn Hooker (née Gentry, September 2, 1907–November 18, 1996), an American psychologist most notable for her 1957 paper "The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual" in which she administered several psychological tests to groups of self-identified male homosexuals and heterosexuals and asked experts to identify the homosexuals and rate their mental health.
In 1942, while Hooker was a teacher at UCLA, she married writer Don Caldwell and took his surname. She became close to one of her students, Sam From, who introduced her to the gay and lesbian subculture, in 1943. He challenged her to scientifically study "people like him." Despite the social, moral and scientific climate of the post-war period, Caldwell became increasingly convinced that most gay men were perfectly socially adjusted and that this could be proven through scientific tests.
Over the next two decades she became established professionally. In 1948 she divorced her husband and moved to a guest cottage at the Salter Avenue home of Edward Hooker, professor of English at UCLA and poetry scholar. They married in London in 1951, and she took his surname. In the mid-fifties Christopher Isherwood became their neighbor and they became friends. She was against the gay relationship of Christopher Isherwood with the much younger Don Bachardy, they were not welcome at her house. Sam From died in a car accident in 1956, just before her ground-breaking research was published. Hooker's husband died in January 1957 of cardiac arrest
Édouard Roditi (1910–1992) was an American poet, short-story writer and translator. He was born in Paris and subsequently studied in France, England, Germany and the USA. He published several volumes of poetry, short stories, and art criticism. He was also well regarded as a translator, and translated into English original works from French, German, Spanish, Danish and Turkish. He had an affair with African-American Harlem Renaissance poet and artist Richard Bruce Nugent.
In 1961, Roditi translated Yaşar Kemal's epic novel Ince Memed (1955) under the English title Memed, My Hawk. This book was instrumental in introducing the famed Turkish writer to the English-speaking world. Memed, My Hawk is still in print.
In addition to his poetry and translations, Roditi is perhaps best remembered for the numerous interviews he conducted with modernist artists, including Marc Chagall, Joan Miró, Oskar Kokoschka, Philippe Derome and Hannah Höch. Several of these have been assembled in the collection Dialogues on Art.
Richard Bruce Nugent (July 2, 1906 – May 27, 1987), aka Richard Bruce and Bruce Nugent, was a writer and painter in the Harlem Renaissance. He was born in Washington, DC to a middle-class African American family. He was the oldest child of Richard H. Nugent, Jr., a train porter, by his wife, Pauline. Spending a large part of his life in New York City, he died in Hoboken, New Jersey.
In 1926 Nugent published "Smoke, Lilies, and Jade," a short story regarded by many scholars as the first publication by an African American to depict homosexuality openly. The story, on which he collaborated with other authors, appeared in the only issue of the art magazine Fire!!. From 1926 to 1928 he lived with the writer Wallace Thurman at 267 W 136th Street in Harlem, New York. The apartment complex in which they stayed was known as "Niggeratti Manor," and the walls were decorated by Nugent with murals representing homoerotic scenes.
Many of his illustrations were featured in publications, such as "Fire!!", "Opportunity" and "Palms". Also, four of Nugent’s works were included in the Harmon Foundation’s exhibition of Negro artist, which was one of the few venues available for black artists to show their work in 1931.
Nugent’s only stand-alone publication, Beyond Where the Stars Stood Still, was issued in a limited edition by Warren Marr II in 1945. He later married Marr's sister, Grace on December 5, 1952. This marriage however was never consummated since Nugent was openly gay, but she insisted they marry with the notion that she could change him. It was not seen as a ploy to hide his homosexuality, but rather they were just very close.
Nugent attended the Community Planning Conference at Columbia University in 1964 as an invited speaker. The conference was held under the auspices of the Borough President of Manhattan/Community Planning Board 10 and Columbia. The idea of forming an organization to promote the arts in Harlem emerged from the conference’s Cultural Planning workshop and led to the formation of the Harlem Cultural Council. Nugent took an active role in this effort and attended numerous subsequent meetings. Nugent was elected co-chair (a position equivalent to vice president) of this council. He also serves as chair of the Program Committee until March, 1967.
He is a principal character in the 2004 film Brother to Brother.
In 2002 Duke University Press released Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance: Selections from the Work of Richard Bruce Nugent which included examples of his writing and artwork.
He was a contemporary of Langston Hughes, Aaron Douglas, Wallace Thurman and Zora Neale Hurston.
Queer Pollen: White Seduction, Black Male Homosexuality, and the Cinematic (New Black Studies Series) by David A. Gerstner
Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1st Edition edition (March 1, 2011)
Amazon: Queer Pollen: White Seduction, Black Male Homosexuality, and the Cinematic
Queer Pollen discusses three notable black queer twentieth century artists--painter and writer Richard Bruce Nugent, author James Baldwin, and filmmaker Marlon Riggs--and the unique ways they turned to various media to work through their experiences living as queer black men. David A. Gerstner elucidates the complexities in expressing queer black desire through traditional art forms such as painting, poetry, and literary prose, or in the industrial medium of cinema. This challenge is made particularly sharp when the terms "black" and "homosexuality" come freighted with white ideological conceptualizations.
Gerstner adroitly demonstrates how Nugent, Baldwin, and Riggs interrogated the seductive power and saturation of white queer cultures, grasping the deceit of an entrenched cultural logic that defined their identity and their desire in terms of whiteness. Their work confounds the notion of foundational origins that prescribe the limits of homosexual and racial desire, perversely refusing the cordoned-off classifications assigned to the "homosexual" and the "raced" body. Queer Pollen articulates a cinematic aesthetic that unfolds through painting, poetry, dance, novels, film, and video that marks the queer black body in relation to matters of race, gender, sexuality, nation, and death
Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance: Selections from the Work of Richard Bruce Nugent edited by Thomas H. Wirth
Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Duke University Press Books (May 2, 2002)
Amazon: Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance: Selections from the Work of Richard Bruce Nugent
Richard Bruce Nugent (1906–1987) was a writer, painter, illustrator, and popular bohemian personality who lived at the center of the Harlem Renaissance. Protégé of Alain Locke, roommate of Wallace Thurman, and friend of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, the precocious Nugent stood for many years as the only African-American writer willing to clearly pronounce his homosexuality in print. His contribution to the landmark publication FIRE!!, “Smoke, Lilies and Jade,” was unprecedented in its celebration of same-sex desire. A resident of the notorious “Niggeratti Manor,” Nugent also appeared on Broadway in Porgy (the 1927 play) and Run, Little Chillun (1933)
Thomas H. Wirth, a close friend of Nugent’s during the last years of the artist’s life, has assembled a selection of Nugent’s most important writings, paintings, and drawings—works mostly unpublished or scattered in rare and obscure publications and collected here for the first time. Wirth has written an introduction providing biographical information about Nugent’s life and situating his art in relation to the visual and literary currents which influenced him. A foreword by Henry Louis Gates Jr. emphasizes the importance of Nugent for African American history and culture.
Brother to Brother (2005)
Actors: Anthony Mackie, Larry Gilliard Jr., Duane Boutte, Daniel Sunjata, Alex Burns
Studio: WOLFE VIDEO
DVD Release Date: June 14, 2005
Amazon: Brother to Brother (2005)
Critically acclaimed drama that invokes the glory days of the Harlem Renaissance. As an elderly man, poet Bruce Nugent meets a young black gay artist struggling to find his voice and together they embark on a surreal narrative journey through his inspiring past.
Garden of Games: The Collected Poems by Charles E. Aufderheide
Paperback: 92 pages
Publisher: Asylum Arts (January 1, 1993)
Amazon: Garden of Games: The Collected Poems.
Isadore From: Retelling the Story by Joe Wysong
Publisher: The Gestalt Journal Press (October 20, 2011)
Amazon Kindle: Isadore From: Retelling the Story
Isadore From was a founding member and Fellow of the New York Institute For Gestalt Therapy for over forty years. He conducted training seminars throughout the United States and Europe and was importantly responsible for training many of our leading Gestalt Therapists. In so doing he made a unique contribution, especially through his emphasis on the theory of Gestalt Therapy as presented in "Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality." (Perls, Hefferline and Goodman). He fostered an attitude of scholarship and sharp attention to detail in language and practice, and in his wit, charm and grace illuminated the theory, practice and spirit of Gestalt Therapy.
The contents of this special issue of the International Gestalt Journal is includes previously unpublished materials by From, Miriam Polster, Michael Vincent Miller and Journal publisher Joe Wysong.
The complete contents:
"Retelling The Story: An Unrevised History," Joe Wysong; "Isadore From: My Teacher and Colleague His Contributions to Gestalt Therapy and Influence On My Practice," Perry Klepner; "Dreams: Contact and Contact Boundaries – E. Mark Stern & Don Lathrop Interview Isadore From,"; "Isadore From Workshop Notes – Compiled From A Two-Day Workshop Held in Boston in 1982"; "And What Now . . .," Noël K. Salathé; "Ordinary Talk – For Isadore," Michael Vincent Miller; "Accommodation, Assimilation, and Support – For Isadore," Miriam Polster; "Reflections On Gestalt Therapy After Thirty-Two Years of Practice: A Requiem for Gestalt," Isadore From.
Lost Years: A Memoir 1945 - 1951 by Christopher Isherwood
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (September 5, 2000)
Amazon: Lost Years: A Memoir 1945 - 1951
The English writer Christopher Isherwood settled in California in 1939 and spent the war years working in Hollywood film studios, teaching English to European refugees, and converting to Hinduism. By the time the war ended, he realized he was not cut out to be a monk. With his self-imposed wartime vigil behind him, he careened into a life of frantic socializing, increasing dissipation, anxiety, and, eventually, despair. For nearly a half decade he all but ceased to write fiction and even abandoned his lifelong habit of keeping a diary.
This is Isherwood's own account, reconstructed from datebooks, letters, and memory nearly thirty years later, of his experience during those missing years: his activities in Santa Monica, and also in New York and London, just after the war. Begun in 1971, in a postsixties atmosphere of liberation, Lost Years includes explicit details of his romantic and sexual relationships during the 1940s and unveils a hidden and sometimes shocking way of life shared with friends and acquaintances--many of whom were well-known artists, actors, and film-makers. Not until the 1951 Broadway success of I Am a Camera, adapted from his Berlin stories, did Isherwood begin to reclaim control of his talents and of his future.
Isherwood never prepared Lost years for publication because he rapidly became caught up in writing the book that established him as a hero of gay liberation, Christopher and His Kind.
With unpolished directness, and with insight and wit, Lost Years shows how Isherwood developed his private recollections into the unique mixture of personal mythology and social history that characterizes much of his best work. This surprising and important memoir also highlights his determination to track down even the most elusive and unappealing aspects of his past in order to understand and honestly portray himself, both as a writer and as a human being.
More LGBT History at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Gay Classics
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