The first time I walked into Lawrence Ferlinghetti's studio it felt like I was walking into a cathedral. Rita Bottoms was there, and, as we shuffled through sheet after sheet of drawings and rack after rack of paintings, we both realized that we were participating in the genesis of a magic moment in the cultural history of the 20th century. This was a Coney Island of the Soul and Spirit. Hassel Smith's presence filled the room all the way from London with a fragrance more pungent than the essence of turpentine that floated like a cloud over Hunter's Point. Martha Washington was there, and so was Kenneth Patchen, and Henry Miller, and Jack Kerouac, and Rodin, and Kandinsky, and Marc Chagall, talking to Ben Shahn about a horse that couldn't play the violin very well, or couldn't subsist on a diet of flowers.
Ferlinghetti paints his canvas with a passion that reaches beyond William Blake and an Expressionist style that rides Der Blauw Reiter's horse… That horse gallops through his paintings sometimes in the back of a Toyota pickup truck that trundles through the streets of Paris and North Beach… Big Sur and Bolinas… Nicaragua… Santa Cruz… Greenwich Village… and home to Rome… with Frank O'Hara, James Baldwin, and Franz Kline, filtering through our memory.
This is a very special artist who has created a legacy of words and images that are documents for historians of the 21st century… Snapshots of the cultural landscape of our time long before there was an informational highway. They brighten the Lights of our City and refresh our souls. 1984 has passed and this is indeed a Brave New World we live in. Lawrence Ferlinghetti paints us pictures that will inhabit that gone world.
Ferlinghetti's Studio, 1996