MARY BEACH EXHIBIT: American Surrealist Couple's Works On View

The Enderlin Gallery, located in Roxbury in the Catskills of upstate New York, announced its first exhibition, the works of Claude Pelieu (1934-2002) and Mary Beach. The show includes collage, drawings, mixed media and works on canvas.

The show, which will be held at the gallery's Main Street location on Route 30 in Roxbury, runs from May 17 through June 15, 2003. A reception was held for the exhibition May 31, at 3 p.m.

Claude Pelieu and Mary Beach met in 1962 and, until Claude's unfortunate passing in December of 2002, they shared an exemplary rich and creative life. Traveling extensively while living primarily in Paris, New York and San Francisco, their existence was a bohemian adventure during which they ceaselessly explored and continuously created: With a keen and graceful eye they deconstruct, critique and reinterpret the classical and contemporary worlds of art and media, while creating striking new works of wit and beauty - drawing subconscious associations that are both mysterious and poetic.

Long hailed in Claude's native France as the natural inheritors of the Surrealist legacy (a direct line has been drawn by French critics from Picasso and Braque to Schwitters and Duchamp to Warhol and Pelieu), their works are highly prized and respected. However, in Mary's native America, the pair remain relatively unknown - their work still awaits discovery by both mainstream critics and collectors.

This show, the first of Claude's work since his passing, will afford the opportunity to discover, or reassess, a large body of their work. Including a great number of collages on paper; large collages on board; paintings and drawings, the show represents an overview of their life's work - providing insight not only into their individual development, but into the workings of their unique creative partnership.

The Enderlin Gallery will also exhibit, for the first time, many of Claude's final works. Not only are they some of his most intriguing and beautiful, they also provide a fitting and touching coda to a life of art and passion exceedingly well lived.

Claude Pelieu was born in 1934 in Beauchamp, Val D'Oise, France. The first of his many shows was at the famed Galerie du Haut Pave, in Paris. (This gallery was, and still is, known as one of the foremost Parisian venues for talented young artists and was, in Claude's time, under the partial parvenu of Raoul Dufy and Henri Matisse.) While living the life of a young French artist in 1950's Paris, Claude continued to work and exhibit (at the Le Soleil dans la Tete in Paris; the Galerie Alphonse Chave in St. Paul de Vence). Although largely self taught, and greatly influenced by artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst and Kurt Schwitters, Claude did deviate from the "bohemian norm" long enough to study under Fernand Leger.

In 1962, in Paris, Claude met Mary, and they soon departed for San Francisco: Mary had given Claude a copy of Allen Ginsberg's "Reality Sandwiches", the two artists had corresponded with the Beat poet - had shown him some of their work and Claude's poetry - and, with poet/publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti's encouragement, they left for America. In San Francisco the two quickly found themselves in the midst of the flourishing West Coast art scene, and struck up lifetime friendships and creative associations with Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg and Charles Plymell (poet and publisher of Zap Comics). Soon after, in 1965, they left for New York City where they lived and worked for several years - spending all of 1969 living at the Chelsea Hotel, where they became friends and worked with such writers and artists as William Burroughs, Ed Sanders, Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe and Harry Smith (who would later live with them for a time when they finally decamped to upstate New York, to Cooperstown, in the 1980's).

Other travels followed (to England, France); other artistic collaborations flourished (with William Burroughs, Brion Gysin); and different mediums were explored (writing poetry - "Pilote Automatique", published by City Lights; French translations of Burroughs and Ginsberg; illustration) - yet throughout all this time Claude continued with his collages, exhibiting at various galleries in Paris and Caen; at the Mohammed Gallery in Genoa, Italy; at the Biennale de Sao Paolo in Brazil; the Centre Pompidou, Beaubourg in Paris; the Suzan Cooper Gallery in New York.

Claude and Mary wed in 1975, and finally settled in upstate New York - first in Cooperstown, then in the nearby small town of Norwich. It was there that the two quietly lived and constantly worked - Claude always exploring, always experimenting, always finding new ways to deconstruct and reinterpret the world that had forever been both his inspiration and provocation - until, ill with cancer and diabetes, he passed away on December 20, 2003.

Mary Beach was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1919. In 1925, after her mother's divorce, she moved to France. During the first part of World War II she lived in the small town of St. Jean de Luz, but, with the entrance of the United States in the war in 1941, she was soon viewed as a suspicious alien and was, for a time, interned in a Nazi prison camp.

Despite her parents protests (but perhaps under the influence of her relative Sylvia Beach - famed proprietor of Paris's Shakespeare & Co. and the first publisher of James Joyce), Mary pursued her life as an artist with great passion and from an early age. Her first solo show was at the Galerie du Bearn, in Pau, France in 1943, and she has since then continuously exhibited her work all over the world: In New York, Algeria, Paris, Brussels, Caen, Strasbourg, Vienna, Grenoble . . .

Mary returned to the United States in 1946, where she married Alain Beach (the American war hero she had met in France) and had two children. She attended the Hartford Art School (where she won first prize in her class), and also attended school at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

In 1957 Mary and her family returned to France, to Strasbourg, and then to Paris in 1959. She attended the esteemed Grande Chaumiere, where she studied under Henri Goetz. She exhibited at the historic Salon des Indepentes in Paris in both 1957 and 1958; won the Prix du Dome at the Salon des Femmes Peintres in 1959; won 1st Prize, Vichy, France, Silver Medal in 1959 as well; and was exhibited at the Salon des Suindependents in Paris in 1960.

These early accomplishments stand alone, and would be exemplary for any artist. But for an American woman in France - for a wife and mother in the late 1950's anywhere - Mary's success in the male-dominated art world is truly astounding. She is one of the great, underappreciated pioneers of her generation. Both as a woman and as an artist.

After the loss of her first husband, Mary met Claude Pelieu. (See above). While living with Claude she continued to work and exhibit all over the world (Galerie du Moulin Rouge "off" Biennale de Paris; Suzan Cooper Gallery in New York; Galerie Wandragore, Rouen; etc., etc.). During this time she worked at City Lights, in San Francisco, where she discovered and published the poet Bob Kaufman and, under her own imprint of Beach Books, published William Burroughs. She also collaborated extensively with Allen Ginsberg. Today, Mary lives and works in Norwich, New York.



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