The city of Manhattan Beach Parks and Recreation Department presents:
“Alone in the Moonlight: Portraits of the Muse”
June 10-29, 2011
Opening reception: Friday, June 10, 7-9 p.m.
Special concert: “The Muse in Music” Saturday, June 18, 7-9 p.m. Admission $10.
Manhattan Beach, CA—The Cultural Arts Division of the Manhattan Beach Parks & Recreation
Department presents a new exhibition titled Alone in the Moonlight: Portraits of the Muse from June 10
to 29, 2011, at the Creative Arts Center (CAC), 1560 Manhattan Beach Blvd. Gallery hours are Tuesday,
Wednesday & Thursday 2-6 p.m., and Saturday 2-6 p.m. Admission is free. An opening reception with
the artists will be held on Friday, June 10th, 7 – 9 p.m. A special concert, The Muse in Music will take
place on June 18th, 7-9 p.m.
Alone in the Moonlight: Portraits of the Muse, is a collection of photographs, each one an interpretation of the Muse,
or poetic inspiration as incarnated in human form. They were taken during the last year by over two dozen men and
women, and yet the same individual appears in each image. Her name is Laura Orr, and she is not a model, an
actress, a television talk show host or a singer, nor was she personally selected by any of the photographers. She did,
however, meet Bondo Wyszpolski, who swears there was a voice in his head that said: This is the reason you’ve
been the arts editor at Easy Reader for 16 years. “Destiny – mine, but hers, too – made a fleeting appearance, and I
glanced up in time to take notice.”
What exactly is a Muse, at least in the context of Alone in the Moonlight”? “A Muse,” Wyszpolski feels, “is a
lighthouse in a stormy sea and yet a quiet, living sanctuary. A Muse awakens us; a Muse embodies enchantment and
hope. She unlocks the cage and confers courage and conviction. Her entire being is a melody, a Siren’s song, for she
is more Circe than Cinderella. There is beauty, of course, and grace, but there is terror; that’s what I’m trying to say.
With a true Muse we’ll risk everything. We’ll do what Orpheus did, we’ll brave calamitous Hell to bring back our
Eurydice and we’ll brave the Hellespont, too, just like Leander for Hero, even if we are to drown in stormy seas. But
the artist brushes aside thoughts of failure, and fixes his sight on the glimmer of a promise, on that breath of
possibility, and yet despite so little to go on he proudly carries the banner of his lady fair into that most uncertain
and dangerous of futures. In the end, and we think of Dante and Petrarch, a few verses are all that remain. And if not
that, then maybe an exhibition in Manhattan Beach, made possible with the generous collaboration of men and
women with similar sensibilities. They are the orchestral component of what has been termed Project Laura.
Without them, Alone in the Moonlight would not exist.”
“It’s been over two years since I met Laura,” Wyszpolski says. “She was heading up a film festival, she lived close
by, and I contacted her about doing an interview for the newspaper. I knew nothing about her, and I didn’t walk
away afterwards knowing much more than when I started, but it seemed I’d become aware of other things, the
person behind the person who was speaking into the tape recorder. I don’t know how to put this, but I knew that I
was in for the long haul and that I had to be extra patient.”
Months went by, and their contact was sporadic. “On my part,” Wyszpolski says, “it wasn’t for lack of trying. A
normal man would have taken the hint. On the other hand, Laura remained cordial and polite. I guess that’s good,
because I was already writing for her; she was already a Muse.”
The genesis for Alone in the Moonlight came about when Wyszpolski decided to write an article about the artist and
the Muse, but from a subjective, reminiscing, point of view. Any young man in his 20s and 30s can produce poetry
and pop songs for a pretty girl in the full thrusters of her youth. But what happens when he reaches middle age?
What happens when the divine Muse squeezes into and emanates from someone who is old enough to have a teenaged
Alone in the Moonlight touches on these and other subjects. Walking through the gallery, glancing at image upon
image of the same anonymous individual who is neither young nor old, the viewer may not realize that one of the
pillars of the show concerns the passage of time. Superficially, the photographs represent a year in Laura’s life, and
we won’t see much change in the core of her appearance between the first image of her and the last. But let’s revisit
this in ten years, maybe even five, and there will be changes.
“That’s where the poignancy comes in,” Wyszpolski says. “One day Laura and I will be history, one day Laura and I
will be dust. No one will know how passionate I was about her. There’s a line in Chikamatsu’s play, The Love
Suicides at Amijima, that grabs me: ‘What will become of the fragrance that lingered when he held her tenderly at
night in their bedchamber?’ This is why I think that art is about defiance. In Copenhagen I saw a painting of a tiny
man thrusting his puny sword upwards as this gargantuan-sized creature, all teeth and talons, swoops down like a
colossal hawk. That little bastard with his insignificant weapon is already snuffed out, but that doesn’t matter now;
he’s giving it everything he’s got. And so, too, we defy Death when we create something we truly believe in, and for
someone who means the world to us.”
As a writer, Wyszpolski knew how he might describe Laura Orr in words, evoking those subtle tones that require a
broad palette. And then he wondered just what might emerge if he described his concept of the Muse – elusive?
haunting? quietly radiant? – to a number of photographers, and to ask if they would try to find and evoke that certain
essence or resonance that in their eyes signifies what a Muse is. What would they find, each with their own special
“I’m intrigued and gratified by the results,” Wyszpolski says. “The correspondence between one depiction of Laura
and another overwhelms me. That dialogue, picture to picture, and picture to viewer, is going to come to life when
one enters the gallery. I’m glad to see that what has been emerging as a collage of images of Laura does not in any
sense define her but rather increases the mystery and the beauty of who she is.
“If an exhibition is built around one individual,” Wyszpolski continues, “it might be assumed that this person has the
stature or recognition of Elizabeth Taylor or Grace Kelly. That said, it must surely be unusual to mount a show that
focuses on someone this anonymous. Well, good! No one walks in with any preconceived notions as to who Laura
really is. All you need to know is that I think she is the most beautiful woman in the world. I could never get her to
attend an art opening with me and so I decided I’d build one just around her. I wanted to be sure that Laura would
have a bouquet of flowers that would never fade. With the help of so many talented men and women with magic in
their cameras I hope that Alone in the Moonlight pleases her, and that it intrigues each visitor who steps into the
Curated by Bondo Wszpolski, Alone in the Moonlight: Portraits of the Muse, features artists: Don Adkins, Joelle
Adkins, Annie Appel, Bob Barry, Paul Blieden, Amy Cantrell, Ray Carofano, Deidre Davidson, Slobodan Dimitrov,
Philip Earl, Bernard Fallon, Pauline Falstrom, Barry Fontenot, DeAnn Jennings, Michael Justice, Gary LeBlanc, Gil
Mares, Jim McKinniss, John Middelkoop, Jan Milhomme, Kat Monk, Melinda Moore, Tom Sanders, Beth Shibata,
Mark Tanner, Cristy Thom, Nancy Webber, and a painting by Harold Plople
For further information or request for digital images, contact Heather Ellison at firstname.lastname@example.org.