Kansas Heritage Group]

Beats In Kansas: The Beat Generation in the Heartland

July 25, 1955

Dear Sylvia,

Well...I was pleased and surprised to hear from you. You know really....it was my very first "fan letter type" and an immense amount flattery abounded around my soul.

At least you are not dead like most of All-State girls, that is to say you are very much alive. Whatever you do, do not die.

If this letter is confusing---don't be discouraged....I write darn poor letters. What I mean is when you love something of non-material quality it means your scope, insight, aesthetics---are very much alive and those senses of feeling---beauty, love, etc.... are the items which constitute the main things in a human, growing soul.

Now that the introduction has been run to the hilt of verbal hodge-podge, I will say a few things about art.

1. ART is a quality (this is indefinable)

ART is a way of life.

The thinking, acting process of a person.

You must remember that there are no absolutes in ART. One simply cannot say what is ART or what in art is good or bad. THERE ARE some standards to which artists should adhere to, but even then these standards are ambiguous and nebulous. Sylvia, dear, you must exclude from your mind pre-concepts of what Modern Art is...

Mr. Keiler and I, I'm afraid do not agree on just anything, so.....I feel what Mr. Keiler said about art is an excuse after the fact.

Certainly Picasso did look through a microscope and rush to his easel and paint a cubist painting. BUT what you said about beautiful walls I think is fine, or things to put it more correctly. This shows to me you see with a romantic seeing eye. This facet of an artist's life is a prime requisite. WONDERFUL!

Some art, like the FUTURISTS--1912-1916 did get ideas from speed and machines, etc....but this art along with DADA, SURREALISM, etc..was literal and non-aesthetic but I think from our point of view we will be interested mainly in the beautiful.

My wife had an idea--if you could come to Lincoln for a couple of days you could stay with us. I could talk and show you some things better than I can write them. Painting after all is visual and not literal.

Some questions for you to answer in your next letter.

1. Do you read? What things do you read--novels, essays, poems,--etc.

2. Do you like music? Bach, Mozart, or Brubeck, King Cole,just anything you like and give reasons if you can. I know that may be exceedingly difficult because many times I feel too inadequate myself and some feelings just cannot be expressed in words.

3. How old are you?

4. Do you intend to come to the University?

The following was copied by a friend of mine for you and he was also interested in your letter.

"Let art sound like a fairy tale and be at home everywhere. Let it work with good and evil as do the Eternal powers. And to men let it be a holiday, a change of atmosphere and a point of view, a transfer to another world which presents a diverting spectacle so that they may return to everyday life with renewed vitality."

Paul Klee--on the purpose of Art

Sylvia, I hate writing letters---but I enjoy this one very much. It may be confusing---but that is OK. We hope soon to meet you, and I hope to continue hearing from you. There is so much to say---and not enough time.

Sincerely and love from another artist,


"Art is a Priesthood"

Jean Cocteau

Write and let me hear from you!



(© 2001, Sylvia Kleindinst)

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