“Orange Sunshine and the Mystic Artists” Panel Discussion – Tonight!

Posted by

A panel discussion moderated by the original Mystic Arts World Gallery Director, Dion Wright, featuring many of the people involved with The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Mystic Arts World, is happening at 6pm tonight. The discussion is part of the programming correlating with the exhibition “Orange Sunshine and the Mystic Artists” that opened on saturday night and runs through August is located at the Coastline Community College Art Gallery.

Panelists include Beth Leeds, Joe Miller, Carol Griggs Randall, Michael Randall, Star Shields, and Gerd Stern. Bios follow:

Beth Leeds is an artist and idealist operating mostly in Laguna Beach, whose creative medium beyond painting was largely political action, and the challenges of how to make the positive palatable to people only interested in short-term profits. Politics as Art. Beth was instrumental in several “happening”-type events, where she characteristically ignored the odds against her visions, and pressed on with marked courage and bravery during a time when idealism was often met with violence.

Joe Miller is an artist with cosmopolitan skills and boundless energy, who emerged from the USMC artillery to embrace bohemianism and to enter the field of art, where he might find elbow room for his wide arc of expression. When Mystic Arts World was bogging-down trying to get ready to open through the service of inefficient remodelers, Joe took over as straw boss and got the place up and running expeditiously. In 1968, he joined forces with Dion Wright and some other zanies to build the first Sawdust Festival under the umbrella of The Experimental Artists of Laguna Beach, such as they were, derived from USCO. The entrance of the Joe-Dion axis into the new show made the reactionary wing of the so-called rebel group bolt, in the face of real rebels, with the treasury, to go off and start the Art-A-Fair.

Carol Griggs Randall was the Godmother of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, and widow of its short-lived founder, John Griggs, who also founded Mystic Arts World. She is the keeper of the keys to the kingdom, and maintainer of spiritual values.
Michael Randall was the Godfather of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, who was the original general manager of Mystic Arts World, and the de facto chief of the tribe after the demise of his friend and brother, John Griggs. Between them, the Randalls carry the torch of idealism represented by Mystic Arts World, and the movement that created it, up to and following the act of arson, which destroyed that spiritual center.

Star Shields is an artist and activist who expounded the ethereal possibilities of the art of the airbrush, and was the foremost exponent of militant vegetarianism during and after the Mystic Arts World era. He and his colleagues were the founders of the dedicated group, Love Animals: Don’t Eat Them.

Gerd Stern is a poet and originator, along with Allen Ginsberg and Carl Solomon, of the philosophy of the Beat Generation, popularized by Jack Kerouac. He is a renaissance man who helped Harry Partch construct his hand-made percussion instruments, just now being employed in the production: “LSD, the Opera”, for which Gerd wrote the libretto. In the mid-60s, Gerd conceived an art group, USCO, meaning US Company, characterized by joint effort without hierarchy, under the motto, “In a world of simultaneous operations, you don’t have to be first to be on top”. USCO was an experimental society ensconced in a 19th Century Hudson River church where they pushed the frontiers of media to break new aesthetic ground in synch with the ideas of Gerd’s colleague, communications philosopher Marshall MacLuhan. Gerd coined the phrase “Human Be-In”, later expropriated by Doctor Timothy Leary, whose post-Harvard media events were produced by USCO. Stern published several volumes of poetry throughout the period, and continues to be a playful synthesizer of language, and the “matrix-man”, a sort of human switchboard through which cultural exponents were and are connected.

Dion Wright was a Festival of Arts exhibitor from 1959 to 1964, tail-end participant of post-Beat San Francisco culture including the Batman Gallery, and participant of the shift from Beat to Flower Child, Painter of the taxonomy Mandala in Woodstock New York in 1965, 66, while being ensconced within USCO, and showing at “USCO Down by the Riverside”, NYC, plus sampling the airs at Timothy Leary’s Castala Foundation in Millbrook, NY. 1967 participant in Stewart Brand’s “Whatever It Is” media Festival at San Francisco State, bearing witness to the Summer of Love while having a one-man show at the Canessa Gallery of Montgomery Street in San Francisco. Returned to Laguna Beach in 1967 to manage the art gallery function of Mystic Arts World. Maker of many mostly-representational sculptures in welded metals.

For more details about the exhibition, check out the related press here from
Cartwheel Art with their preview and here with a photo re-cap of the opening reception. In addition, this is the article that is related to the exhibition by Daily Pilot,  Huffington Post and OC Weekly.

Location of tonight’s panel discussion and exhibition:
Coastline Community College Art gallery
1515 Monrovia Avenue, Newport Beach, CA 92663

Leave a Reply