“Reading Time,” Painting by artist Michael Bowen, who, in the late 1950s, lived with other hardcore beatniks in the Abalone Factory at Princeton-by-the-Sea. (Photo: L-R: Beat Artist Michael Bowen with beat writer Gregory Corso standing in front of the Trieste Cafe in San Francisco. Photo courtesy Michael Bowen.)
“Hot Day In France” by internationally renowned painter Michael Bowen, who, in the late 1950s lived at Tunitas Creek and the Abalone Factory at Princeton-by-the-Sea. Michael’s in my new book, “Princeton-by-the-Sea,” published by Arcadia.
Michael Bowen says, “the love panting was painted in 1967 and has been continuously used all over the world since then. there were originally two. one on canvas that I have and one on paper which is in a Euro museum. The 2 originals are about 6 ft tall in oil. The paintings were made a week before I did the human be in of 1967 in golden gate park.”
with artist Michael Bowen
accompanied by Svante Henryson on cello.
There have been more developments vis-a-vis my “Search for the Beatniks Who Lived In The Abalone Factory At Princeton.”
I’ve heard from the fascinating artist Michael Bowen, the world traveling painter (there is a room in a European museum named after him–Bowen always felt that his art was more appreciated & understood in Europe than in America ) with his young wife and daughter–Michael was my link to Michael McCracken, “the beat leader out at Princeton” (the Modigliani-type painter, as longevity, and perhaps so-called hard-living goes, both, Modigliani & McCracken died before they were 30).
You might recall that years ago, in the 1970s, I started following up on the so-called “beatniks” at Princeton (they sound more like early hippies to me). That took me to City Lights Books in North Beach and poet Ferlinghettic referred me to M. Bowen. I met M. Bowen at one of the cafes in North Beach and he then invited me out to his fabulous home in Bolinas. By fabulous, I don’t mean there were lots of expensive “things” there–but it reminded me of a movie set. I wish I could think of which movie. How about naive writer, out for adventure, risks her life meeting people she doesn’t know, goes to remote house with big pool guarded by two mastiffs.
Michael Bowen had drawn me a map with directions to the Bolinas pad and told me to honk twice at the gate which would alert the two mastiffs and him. It all turned out to be perfectly safe–my instincts were very good.
More on the details of my adventure at the Bolinas house later.
As it turned out, Michael had hung out at the Abalone Factory a lot–but he lived at Tunitas Creek around the time that the big eccentric landowner John Wickett was there, and free spirit types live on his Skyline property where they built treehouses and domes. Michael was an artist–one who had wealthy collectors buying his work. At least one piece was acquisitioned by the Oakland museum and his work is held in some European museums.
Jerry Kamstra, author of “The Frisco Kid” was another artist-in-residence at the infamous Abalone Factory. Before she was famous, Janice Joplin visited Princeton as did the writer Richard Brautigan (“Trout Fishing in America”)….Now I have learned that Allen Ginsberg also paid a visit or two.
I’ll get into more of all this later…some people have questioned whether the Abalone Factory existed because they lived in Princeton in the 1970s and there was no such place.
Okay–Michael McCracken was out at Princeton from about 1960 to 1964. The Abalone Factory, according to prominent attorney Marvin Lewis (now gone), was located way out at the end of Princeton, the last house before you got to the radar station. (But I have now found out where it was located).
These artists were the bigger-than-life types. After meeting Michael Bowen, I can attest to that. (For example, not only did McCracken paint huge huge paintings, he was a huge huge piece of work himself). Bowen, who lived at Tunitas Creek for a time, went on to live with John and Yoko Lennon in England in the late 1960s, hung out with Timothy Leary (and did not take drugs or drink much–Bowen’s thing is and has always been yoga…)