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Ten views of the moon, these are called. I suggest you pay no attention to the article, because the moon, when otherwise unspecified, usually means our own, the one we walk on, write poems to, name lunatics after, and respect as governess of the tides.
Obviously our own faithful satellite is not the moon which Joseph Mugnaini gives us the option of viewing from ten different sites. For if it were, it would be seriously out of place riding above his City of Mars and the sharp pinnacles of the Bradbury Range. And our moon is certainly not one of the pair proceeding in the red sky behind the plumed Tower on Mars; these are more likely Deimos and the speedy Phobos.
Nor is ours the ornamental mass just beyond the claws of the feeding tyrannosaurm oleum in Robot World. judging from its complex surface features, this moon is even more mysterious than the braided rings of Saturn.
So which, then, is the moon of the Ten Views? Why, it's the Mugnaini-Bradbury Moon, of course. It belongs to a family of jointly-named space phenomena such as the Kennelly. Heaviside Layer, and the Pons-Winnecke and Schwassman-Wachmann comets. But the Mugnaini-Bradbury is beyond question the grandest of the orbs: it is not just one moon but all moons, it stands for the whole cosmic inventory, it is in fee to no local system of gravity, its orbit lies in the boundless plane of the imagination. Mugnaini-Bradbury brings art and literature together in a happy embrace, like the element 0 hugging H, to make the most popular of all drinks, and fill the basins in which the oceans flow
Joseph Mugnaini was born in Viareggio, Italy, on a shore of the Mediterranean, not far from Florence, Flower of the Renaissance. Ray Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois, on the shore of Lake Michigan, not far from Chicago, Hog Butcher to the World. One might expect their artistic genes, backgrounds and identities to be as different as a wagon from a dragon, but they are remarkably compatible. Theirs is a happy marriage of talents, a union that Bradbury himself endorses as a way of life. 'Artists and writers often forget' he has written, "that they should on occasion take marriage vows (that they) can run shouting in some amiable competition and find at the end that they both break the ribbon, both win, at the same moment
Their shared events in the Ten Views are triumphs in a sort of Olympic decathlon. Both win, hands down. Was ever wagon better rendered into dragon than in both the short story on which the print is based, and the print itself? Did ever an April Witch float as serenely, trailing stars behind her, over a paisley Mugnaini-Bradbury moon that is either rising or setting, it doesn't matter which? (and a. most beautiful witch she is, too, with her comely feet barely touching each other, like a bailerina's, and a long, lovely extended hand trailing roses). "It was a good body, this girl's body' wrote Bradbury in the story of the same name, "it held bones of finest slender ivory hidden and roundly fleshed"
Was ever there -a meaner cur than the skulking Hypodermic Hound whose snout and generator are. so sharp, prickly and ready? There is powerful malice in its mein; it metaphorizes the book-burners of Fahrenheit 451, who here have set a roaring fire, Understandably the Mugnaini-Bradbury moon in this view is dark: it is about to eclipse it sun that symbolizes enlightenment.
Was there ever a work of art less likely to hang on the wall of an oil executive, than in Robot World, with its ghastly 70-Exxon-Texaco dinosaur trampling a horde of creatures very much like us except for their headgear and shoulder blades? But at least this monster is being resisted; weapons are raised against it, and a pterodactyl has spiked it where it hurts. Perhaps we read ourselves in the trampled resisters, and we pray all able pterosaurians will join us. And off in the sky of this world, though seeming fairly under the talons of the carnivore, is still another Mugnaini-Bradbury moon, again with busy topography
But all ten lithographs are works of beauty and wonder, and one could dilate upon them for pages. That could not be excused in this portfolio, since if ever two artists were able to speak for themselves, they are Mugnaini of Viareggio and Pasadena, and Bradbury of Waukegan and Mars. Let them take over.
One night in the spring of 1952, I was strolling through Beverly Hills with my wife, passing shops I couldn't afford to go in, when I stood riveted in front of a benefit art show window. I was looking at my first Magnaini, a small etching of a Victorian Gothic house I knew down on Temple Street, where I had lived just across the street.
I was instantly in love and groaned. Of course we couldn't afford this lovely etching. My income, at the time, was roughly one hundred dollars a week, if and when it came in at all, through the sale of stories.
My wife read the love in my face and insisted I come in the next day to at least price the etching. It's no use, I cried, but went anyway . The price: $70.00. But still, I couldn't afford to lower our bank account by that huge amount. The art gallery said I could buy it over three months. I seized the chance, seized the etching, turned, and fell in love again!
There were two Mugnaini paintings on display. One was a duplicate, in oil, of the Gothic house in the etching. The other oil was simply miraculous: it told in imaginative metaphor a story that, at that very moment, lay unfinished in my writing files at home!
I had made notes the prior year concerning a dark carnival train arriving at midnight in a wilderness town to tempt people with its delights and threaten them with its terrors. And there was that train! But, a Gothic train, a train built of architectures long before trains were invented. A train, therefore, that ran mysteriously through history!
Here in sum was my soul mate. This Mugnaini chap, whoever he was, had to be found, met, known. And - I had to own this painting! It was madness maddened to run it off home! But, it was hopeless, of course. The price on the painting was four or five hundred dollars.
I contrived to get Mugnaini's address, and had a friend drive me out to meet Joe. It was instant love.on another level.
Joe took me through his studio, cursing amiably all the way.
There were wonders on all sides. Our tastes coincided more often than they fell away And, Joe made me feel as if we had known each other for half a life time. I told him that if his train painting didn't sell at the gallery I would buy it from him at whatever price he would have received as his share of the sale. Two hundred dollars I could manage over a period of months. Two weeks later, the art show closed. Three weeks laterjoe showed up at my house with the painting. "It's yours:' he cried. "Hell, the damn thing didn't sell".
Of course he was lying. I found out years later, that he had pulled the painting from the show, just so his wild new Martian friend could have it.
That's Joe Mugnaini. And here, in this portfolio meet him again . . . matcher of my metaphors, sharer of my illustrative dreams, stealer of my wings which he takes and builds into more amazing shapes so as to fly higher than I imagined he could.
Joe has grown old along with me and --has become better every year. This is no idle claim. Most artists, as we know, standstill, or repeat old clowns, old streets, old horses and gypsies in the sky Joe has escaped meeting himself coming in by the far door, His images have grown stronger, more fluid, more exciting as he has cursed and stormed and drawn and painted his way into his sixties.
Now here is the portfolio, and how did it happen?
Joe and I had a series of quick meetings a year ago and unless you have seen Joe in action you don't know how quick. He is, for me, the personification of the old 20's song which I have probably misremembered, "Shut the Door. He's comin' through the Window, Shut the Window He's Going out the Door."
I have never seen him for more than twenty minutes at a time, save when there's a bottle of wine to he drunk, and then he will stay an extra hour.
Anyway Joe came to me a year ago and said, "Give me metaphors:' What is a friend for anyway, if not for that? So I combed my stories and found the illustrative metaphors and handed them over and here they are. Some are new I made robot hunters hunting robot dinosaurs, just for Joe. I think he did them proud.
How much do I try to influence Joe while he is working? Not at all. I hand him a notion and turn my back, My intuition has done its job: his must take over and do its best work on its own. Occasionally I have done ink sketches of an idea, which Joe demanded, but the difference between them and Joe's final lithography is the difference between mediocrity and the garden of Le Notre in and around Paris.
Finally, I love Joe and I love his work, may this not be our last portfolio together. May he show up on my porch again one summer day soon and shout, "Damn, give me a metaphor!" And may I cry back, "Damn, here it is!" and the rest be pandemonium ... and Beauty.
1. THE APRIL WITCH
Imagine a girl named Cecy
whose magic was to place herself in body after body, mind after mind, to
look out through now this set of eyes, now that. Then set her free to float
and dream on the winds of April.
|2. ROBOTS: THE HUNTERS AND
What if there was a world where robot hunters went gunning after robot dinosaurs lost on earth, robot pterodactyls found in sky? ,
|3. THE HALLOWEEN KITE
From the sides of autumn barns rip sections of old circus posters, shreds of tigers 'teeth, bits and pieces of shrieks and screams, glowers and grimaces - paste it all up on a frame, and go fly that kite, a wild bunch of boys for its tail!
|4. THE VISITOR
Send your dog out through October country, prowling the forests, the meadows, the graveyards. But don't be surprised if he brings back a strange -Visitor.
|5. MARTIAN TOWER
Find a tower on Mars in which are ancient books which, touched, sing histories of this world when it all was new, and men from Earth were only dreams that had not arrived.
|6. THE HOUND
In a world where books are burned, send the Hound forth, with hypodermic muzzle, to hunt, find, anesthetize, destroy those who dare to read.
|7. THE GREEN MORNING
Like Johnny Appleseed on Earth, move over Mars, and plant the seed and ask for rain, and watch the green grow up next morning, and give thanks.
|8. LEVIATHAN 99
And God created Him great
Whales, but this vast one in Space, and it a Comet blanched all White,
and hear its name, pure terror to the soul: Leviathan!
|9. A MARTIAN TOWN
And in the hills, among the silences, behold! a Martian town; a thing of crystal pillars where old Time holds court, and Beauty stays, and Mars does civilize a Universe.
|10. THE DRAGON
Imagine locomotive train upon a midnight track, but in the flashing of a breath, consuming Time, becomes a Dragon on the path, in search of knights. Or, no, does it begin as Dragon, then become Machine?