Poetry Dispatch ~ November 2016
Norb’s rather astonishing life as an artist came to view recently as his admirers and the general public were able to view a sampling of his prolific experiments in water color and other media, many for the first time.
The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ephraim, WI displayed a good variety of Norb’s paintings in their gallery during the month of October. An Opening Reception was held October 2nd , hosted by partner Jude and featuring three of Blei’s former students who read short passages from his work: Al DeGenova, Sharon Auberle and Ralph Murre, all published authors of Norb’s “Cross+Roads Press”.
As one of Norb’s assistants at The Clearing, DeGenova now carries on his tradition in teaching the Blei Writers Workshop there each summer. Besides being a well known poet and performer in the Chicago area, Al is also Editor and publisher of the notable “After Hours” Journal of Chicago Writing and Art. He read one of Norb’s essays from Winter Book and excerpts from “In Praise of the Country Night” found in “Meditations on a Small Lake”. Al and wife Eden recently purchased a home in Door County with plans to one day re-locate permanently.
Sharon Auberle did just this not that long ago, and is now full time resident of Sister Bay. Active in both artistic and writer’s circles in Door County, Sharon has a bountiful collection of published chapbooks to her credit, and occasionally teaches winter classes at The Clearing and the newly created Write On! Center in Juddville. During the reception, she read an essay from “The Season of Looking Back” found in “Door Steps”, one of Norb’s triology books on Door County.
Ralph Murre serves as the current Poet Laureate of Door County and is a nearly life-long resident of Door, well known in the community as a successful architect. He also secured his Captain’s license from the Coast Guard, but prefers sailing his own boat, and is often seen touring the county by motor cycle as well. As a published poet, Ralph went on to create the “Little Eagle Press” giving back to the writer’s world by publishing the works of others. He read an essay which Norb had contributed to “Bar Code”, one of the “Little Eagle” collections.
Hosting the event, Jude Genereaux briefly described some of Norb’s eclectic collections and their genesis, from his “Berlin” series which was featured at the LewAllen Gallery, Santa Fe circa 1993 and random groupings Norb dubbed as “Mr Death”, “Recovering Catholic”, the “Santa Fe” paintings and more. Heavily influenced by Henry Miller, Ken Patchen and Marc Chagall, their presence can be detected in Norb’s energized art.
The most endearing experience of the showing was seeing people’s reactions – so few knew of his work as an artist, that surprise, amusement and shock were equally expressed. But overall, the most appreciated reaction was feeling Norb’s presence among us once again. — Jude Genereaux