George Hermes, Bruce Conner. And I was the only one with any money, because I was a working actor. So I felt separated from them in that way. Even though I made pieces myself, I just didn’t feel on their level. I think the exposure to Berman and the Beat Generation opened a door partway in my mind, just opened a crack. And I left it there and didn’t open it until way later. I never thought of just devoting myself to art until my children, Austin and Sophia, left the nest. I bought a draftsman’s table and started with, Well, I can make collages. That was summer of 2003, and I haven’t stopped since. I find myself constantly learning about myself as I go through life. And in the ensuing years it just gets easier, and my access to dig deep becomes more facile. Stockwell holds A Cube of Inspiration. Opposite: Stockwell’s latest work, Black Theatre Piece.
AD: Your body of work as an actor is prolific, but one role in particular was responsible for bringing you to Taos. Stockwell: Sons and Lovers got me to Taos. I read some essays of D. H. Lawrence, who’s buried here, and said, I’ve gotta go to this place. And I knew: This is it. This is where I’ll end up. That was ’64. I think a phenomenon like coincidence is a spiritual phenomenon. It’s a hell of a coincidence that I portrayed Lawrence, read his work, and found Taos. A spiritual matter brought me here. I’ve traveled all over the world, and there’s no place that even touches this place right here. We’re connected to it. The energy here, it’s higher, higher, higher. It’s incredible! AD: You’ve done several adaptations of classic literature. Like Hemingway’s The Killers. Stockwell: I met Hemingway, actually. It was very cool. He comes into New York on a ship, gets off all scruffy with white shit in his beard. I liked him right away. He invited me to his stateroom, way down in the decks, and pulled out this Coca-Cola bottle filled with black syrup. To this day I don’t know what it was. It was strong as
hell. He gave me a big ol’ glass of the stuff. It was like a cognac concoction of some sort. And we had a nice drink and I went off and did his character, Nick Adams. AD: You starred in Long Day’s Journey into Night with Katharine Hepburn. Describe your experience of working with her. Stockwell: It was divine. There were four of us: Jason Robards, Sir Ralph Richardson, Katharine Hepburn, and myself. The three of us guys all worked the same way, but Katie liked to run the scene. Even when they’re doing lighting, she’s running the scene, and I’m running it with her. This is Katharine Hepburn. I’m not gonna say, “You know, I don’t like rehearsals.” For her, I’d read the lines back. So she was special, very special. She tried to get us all to stop drinking, but Jason and I would go off every night. And Ralph would offer up fine cognac. That was a great experience. AD: Today, you’re an established artist, but that aspect of your creative life began with the Beat Generation. Stockwell: I met all those artists in Venice [California]: Ed Moses, Wallace Berman,
AD: Your early art intersected rock ’n’ roll history in profound ways. For instance, a photo of Wallace Berman that you snapped actually graces the Beatles’ iconic Sgt. Pepper’s cover. Would you say you’re a fan of the album? Stockwell: Oh, God. Of course! Berman and I had a friend, an Englishman, curator type, and he knew the Beatles. He was in England when they put the cover together, and he said, “Listen, there’s this artist that should be in this.” So he took the photograph of Wallace that I’d taken, and got it in there. I saw my photograph on the album, and thought, Oh, this is too much! Another fate deal. That’s a very historical, very heavy album. To have a little photograph on it . . . is not bad.” AD: How did your album cover of Neil Young’s American Stars ’n’ Bars materialize? Stockwell: I wrote this screenplay, After the Gold Rush, which I won’t show to anybody. A copy got to Neil, and that inspired After the Gold Rush. It’s on the album: “inspired by a screenplay written by Dean Stockwell.” He wanted me to do a map of Topanga as the cover, which would’ve been cool. But the record company rejected it. One of the great, vivid experiences of my whole life was being in his Topanga studio when he trendmagazineglobal.com Spring/Summer 2010 » Trend 27
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