MAX’S KANSAS CITY, (1965-1981) the famous artist’s hang out located on 213 Park Avenue South and 18th Street in NYC, was my favorite bar/restaurant when I lived around the corner on East 18th Street in the 1970s. I enjoyed free drinks from the guys at the bar and often ate Max’s famous steak dinner, salad and chickpeas before going to gallery openings and huge loft parties. In this scene, a Double Dialogue from my screenplay THE GODDESS IN EXILE, artist Elvira and her friend art critic Joanne talk about the New York scene and try to predict how Elvira’s work will hold up in the future while conceptual artist Hans (Elvira’s future husband) and poet Larry discuss putting an intellectual handle on Hans’ sculpture. Elvira’s authentic concern for her feminist vision contrasts with Hans’ indifferent ambition.
Max’s, now a legendary locale in art history, was frequented not only by Andy Warhol’s entourage but iconic artists such Larry Rivers, Dan Flavin, Brice Marden, Mark di Suvero, Robert Rauschenberg and many others as well as top literary and upcoming pop stars (Bruce Springstein, Madonna and Lou Reed) who performed upstairs at the beginning of their careers when stars were created by the audience, not corporations. The owner, Mickey Ruskin, favored his stable of artists whom he let build up enormous tabs while kicking out Hollywood celebrities who wanted to crash their private parties.
What made Max’s so special was what made the 1970’s pivotal in American culture. After the ferment of social and political revolutions in the 1960s – Women’s Liberation – The Civil Rights Movement and Anti-War Protest – people experienced an explosion of freedom to experiment with new art forms and ideas. The pioneering movements following abstract expressionism of Pop Art, Conceptual Art, Minimalism Environmental Installation, Performance Art and Photo Realism- flourished before global media flooded an overwhelming amount of content drowning out the emergence of individual avant-garde innovation.
In recent past issues of Scene4, I presented the beginning scenes of my screenplay THE GODDESS IN EXILE, a fictionalized account of the brief life of Cuban born artist Ana Mendieta that deals with themes of wife murder, the natural versus the man-made world and the mythic feminine. Ana Mendieta’s death at age 36 became a scandal that rocked the art world at its zenith making headlines. My screenplay adapts the basic story of her alleged murder by her husband, prominent conceptual artist Carl Andre, who was acquitted by a judge without a jury and explores the premise ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. Elvira, my original character, creates art that celebrates the divine feminine in sculpture and performance art pieces while her husband Hans arranges geometric forms in abstract spaces. The action takes place in the vivid milieu of the New York City art scene in the
1970's, capturing the excitement of the elite intelligentsia with character vignettes from the highest echelons of American artists and art world doyennes.
61 - ESTABLISHING SHOT – MAX’S KANSAS CITY- LATE WINTER EVENING
[NOTE: MAX’S KANSAS CITY was a famous bar located on Park Avenue South and 18th Street in NYC that was considered the ultimate hang out for New York's art elite.]
62 - INT. COLORADO'S BAR - WINTER EVENING
[NOTE: The interior of the bar/restaurant is lined with dark leather covered booths and black tables against raw brick walls. On the sides of the tables are small jukeboxes, which create a medley of pop tunes over the din of laughter and glasses clinking. The authentic decor creates just the right atmosphere for intellectual discussion and casual pick-ups.]
JOANNE walks with ELVIRA through the glass doors of Max’s greeted warmly by the owner MICKEY RUSKIN [a tall, gangly man with aquiline features and long black hair which insists on hanging over his eyes, wearing black pants and an open white shirt.]
As JOANNE and ELVIRA walk past the long bar on the left, several male artists sitting on the stools turn and signal greetings to JOANNE.
JOANNE (in a low voice)
That's Flash - makes neon installations - a fixture here - NED even allows him in for private parties. That's Sam - a big bodyguard, just hangs out with his dogs and takes care of things. That's Reinfeld - What's he doing here. I thought he was teaching at Yale.
Do you sleep with these guys?
No, they want me to review their art.
TONY (a young, slender, good looking Italian painter) is seated on the last stool. JOANNE goes over and gives him a kiss on the cheek. JOANNE and ELVIRA sit in a booth in the rear facing each other.
CUT AWAY - TWO BOOTHS BEHIND
HANS [a tall 42 year old man with sandy hair wears his trademark outfit - tan cowboy hat, suede boots, worn out blue jeans with blue shirt and leather jacket] sits alone 1 booth behind JOANNE and ELVIRA pensively drinking a draft beer.
[NOTE: During this Double Dialogue between JOANNE and ELVIRA and HANS the camera switches to their respective booths. Neither couple is aware of the other.]
NED brings JOANNE and ELVIRA two glasses of white wine.
Now that you've seen uptown galleries, what do you think?
I don't sense a connection to anything real. The artists are taking parts of the man-made world, exaggerating or interpreting.
The hot artists here are just a flash in the pan. Commercial technology will take over soon - They won't be able to keep up. Some will be appreciated for predicting new ways of portraying the man made world. The next generation will have to reinvent the environment.
Will my art - a vision of the feminine using my body stand a chance?
Exotic maybe. Feminine, it will take a catastrophe.
WIDER SHOT of LARRY [a disheveled intellectual looking poet) walks past ELVIRA and JOANNE. He sits next to HANS and puts his arm around his shoulders.
I bought you the book - "Philosophical Investigations".
Thanks for thinking of me, Lar.
LARRY hands HANS the book and takes a swig of HANS' beer.
Wittgenstein - Austrian philosopher - puts into words what you are doing.
Austrians are all Nazis.
Open your mind - you're a star in a world market art scene with no real education - you've got to articulate - give the critics a handle. You need a backbone. Put some meat on your blocks.
LARRY opens the book and reads a highlighted quote.
"For there seemed to pertain to logic a peculiar depth – a universal significance - Logic lay it seemed at the bottom of all sciences."
What's he getting at?
It's not what he's getting at - It's how it sounds.
My concept holds up - I'm in the Dadaist tradition - take a familiar object - put it in an unexpected place and you're shocked into seeing with new directness. My format uses wood blocks or bricks that are storable - packable - square forms which allow your eyes to orient to the space around them.
LARRY (quotes book)
Well said. "Someone suddenly sees an appearance which he does not recognize (it may be a familiar object but in an unusual position or lighting). The lack of recognition perhaps lasts only a few seconds." Science will back you up. The brain responds well to harmonic sequence visual and sound.
NED takes HANS’ order for 2 beers.
CUTAWAY to ELVIRA and JOANNE.
When men develop rational mathematic theories, they work on paper but it doesn't take long for them to blow up in our faces
That holds true for Einstein and the A-bomb.
They detach from the natural world - intuition and fail.
ELVIRA opens a book on pre-Columbian art she bought at the Met.
CLOSE on photo of the Goddess COATLIQUE.
COATLIQUE - the Aztec mother of all. They believe she ate the sun at night and gave birth to it in the morning.
ELVIRA reads from the book.
"She is our mother
Whose thighs are holy
Whose face is a dark mask
She came from Tamacanehan
The first place
Where all descended
Where all are born
She is our mother
The dark obsidian butterfly."
You must come to my next Women's Circle.
CUTAWAY TO LARRY AND HANS
Next I'll bring you a book by Pound.
No... Ezra Pound - he's a poet...
I have something for you, Larry.
HANS takes a yellow envelope outlined like a brick and gives it to LARRY.
You made it - one-man show at the Guggenheim -
The opening will be a real party - champagne - music - the works.