Cameron (1922-1995)

January 20, 2007

cameron-work-12-high.jpg

Many years ago, my friend Scott Hobbs took me to a house that belonged to Cameron [aka Marjorie Cameron Parsons Kimmel]. I knew little about who she was, only that she was an artist, had occult interests, was supposedly the first actress who posed nude in a motion picture (non-porn), and was an eccentric personality. Scott had been appointed the executor to her estate. After she died, he asked me to come along with him to see her old West Hollywood house that was a mess. He told me to take stuff if I wanted (he took all the important art work). I ended up with an old stool, a smelly old leather hippy bag, a fantastic silver necklace, a few miscellaneous nick nacks, and a white dove called “Pax.”

Cameron had worried about Pax’s fate after her death, but Scott assured her he would give her to me, a bird person. So we inherited Pax–a beautiful white dove that we knew would be a great member of our family.

The only problem was that Pax was a very horny 6-year old male, whose only thought in life was finding a mate. Cameron could not have helped this urge. For two weeks, we heard day and night: oo ooooh, ooooooh. oo ooooh, ooooooooh, over and over.

I came up with the idea of putting Pax in a pitch black closet at night. No such luck, just a muffled ooh, ooooh, ooooooooh. We resolved to give her to our neighborhood bird store, Flo. “Just put him down there with the others–those are all little girls.” Little girls? JUST what Pax needs. I grabbed and kissed goodbye our little Pax and put him into the cage. Immediately the strutting started. All the girls were wowed by the mighty Pax, the dude, the white dove of Cameron. We left knowing that Pax had just gone to dove heaven, or at least for a little while.

I am happy to learn that Scott is working on a documentary film about Cameron, and that there is a New York exhibit of some of her work going on now (from the gallery’s press release):

Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of work by Cameron (1922–1995), curated by Michael Duncan, George Herms, and Nicole Klagsbrun. The exhibition runs from January 12 until February 10, 2007. An opening reception will be held on Friday, January 12, from 6–8 pm.

This survey is the first solo gallery exhibition of artist, performer, poet, and occult practitioner, Cameron (Marjorie Cameron Parsons Kimmel). A maverick follower of the esoteric mysticism of Aleister Crowley and his philosophical group, the OTO (Ordo Templi Orientis), Cameron was also an accomplished painter and draftsman and mentor to younger artists and poets such as Wallace Berman, George Herms, and David Meltzer. While enlisted in the Navy, she was assigned the tasks of drawing maps and working in a photographic unit, which led to attendance at art classes after being discharged. In Los Angeles, she became the wife and spiritual avatar of scientist and mystical thinker Jack Parsons (1914–1952), one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and an influential leader of the OTO.

[Fossil (Bat) 1958; white ink on black paper. Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery]

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