Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pat Oleszko introducing George

Clio Winning ad for S. F. Art Institute w/ Father Guido Sarducci

George Manupelli - Unauthorized Biography

from Dr. Chicago

From the Washtenaw Voice via Bill Farley

Death of a visionary

Founder of Ann Arbor Film Festival dies at 82

Managing Editor
Ann Arbor is a city fueled by arts and academics, a city where the movie theaters are treated like cathedrals and art galleries like candy stores.
George Manupelli, founder of the Ann Arbor Film Festival, was a visionary who represented all the things that made Ann Arbor “Ann Arbor.”
Manupelli died in Bethlehem, New Hampshire, where he lived, on Sunday, Sept. 14 at age 82.
He was a filmmaker, artist and professor at the University of Michigan School of Art and Design. He was also a member of the ONCE Group, an Ann Arbor art collective in the 1950s and ’60s.
“He was an amazingly generous spirit,” Leslie Raymond, executive director of the Ann Arbor Film Festival said.
Throughout the years, the film festival Manupelli founded became one of the largest and most acclaimed venues for avant-garde and experimental filmmaking in the world.
But Manupelli did far more than just create a stage for this specific breed of filmmaker, he was one of them himself.
“As a filmmaker, he was quite groundbreaking,” Raymond said. “He really explored the narrative form, almost as a pre-Altman figure.”
Perhaps his most well-known films, the “Dr. Chicago” trilogy, are acclaimed and respected in the world of avant-grade cinema.
“When it comes to artists, it kind of opens possibilities,” Raymond said of Manupelli’s films. “They take tools and use them in ways they were never intended.”
Though his films were not made for the masses, Manupelli still managed to achieve a cult following and fan base, which was partially due to his success as an artist.
He often used whatever he could find to creature sculptures, which, according to Raymond, may have not been too far off from how he made his films.
Instead of casting actors, he often casted fellow avant-garde artists and friends to act in his in films.
At next spring’s festival, Raymond plans to honor the late founder and filmmaker, though details are still developing.

Monday, September 29, 2014

from Ann Arbor News

A remembrance of artist, U-M prof and Ann Arbor Film Festival founder George Manupelli

Jenn McKee | jennmckee@mlive.com By Jenn McKee | jennmckee@mlive.com
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on September 19, 2014 at 11:41 AM, updated September 19, 2014 at 11:20 PM

This article included several videos that I could not copy and include. I put them up as separate posts above.

George Manupelli, the former U-M art professor who founded the Ann Arbor Film Festival, died on Sunday, September 14, just 2 weeks shy of his 83rd birthday.
Born in Boston’s North End on September 29, 1931, Manupelli earned an MA and PhD in fine art and fine art education from Columbia University before embarking on a 38 year teaching career. In addition to being a longtime faculty member at U-M, Manupelli also taught at York University in Toronto and the San Francisco Art Institute.
What locals will likely remember most about Manupelli, though, is his founding of the Ann Arbor Film Festival in 1963, which he oversaw as director for 17 years. AAFF, the longest-running independent and experimental film festival in North America, began life as the First American Film Festival at U-M’s old Architecture and Design Auditorium.
Still in its infancy, AAFF drew iconic film critic Pauline Kael as a judge in the event’s second year (1964); was accused of showing “pornographic films” in 1965; enticed Andy Warhol, The Velvet Underground and Nico to appear in 1966; and showed work by Yoko Ono, George Lucas, Gus Van Sant, and a music video by Devo.
“Indie film is really about a single person with a vision, making shorts or features that are groundbreaking or polarizing,” said former AAFF director Donald Harrison. “(Manupelli) saw the need for a platform for work that was being marginalized. There wasn’t a place to share this kind of work, or see it, if you weren’t living in New York or Los Angeles or San Francisco. So he recognized the need for it, created a platform to celebrate it, and it worked.”
But how did Manupelli make a modest indie festival – at a time when there were very few festivals - into a landmark event, seemingly overnight?
“I think George knew the time was ripe (for AAFF),” said current AAFF chair Leslie Raymond. “Things were things happening on East Coast and and the West Coast, and I think he saw an opportunity to do something in the Midwest. And he was connected to people. They came to Ann Arbor by knowing George, and … (AAFF) was emerging from this time of cultural and social upheaval. … That kind of spirit has endured, to a degree.”
Manupelli had also been a member of the Once Group, an Ann Arbor-based collective of “artists and architects and musicians and dancers who were making work together in the early ‘60s and late ‘50s,” said Raymond. “George’s involvement with them led to a projected moving image component of the group, and out of that was born the Film Fest.”
As a avant garde filmmaker, Manupelli – whose private collection of previously unseen artworks were unveiled in an exhibit in Jackson this past February – was best known for his Dr. Chicago series.
“Working from the perspective of a visual artist is different than coming at it from the other side, where someone’s a filmmaker first,” said Raymond. “He was coming at the language of film in a different way. … His films often worked in a way that was similar to his artwork, in that he did a lot of collage and assemblage work, where you take what already exists, put it together and make something new. And instead of using trained actors, he’d use other artists. That’s another example of taking the resources available to you and using them in your artwork.”
Raymond said that the 52nd annual AAFF - scheduled for March 24-29, 2015 - will pay tribute to Manupelli.
But when AAFF marked its milestone 50th anniversary in 2012, Manupelli traveled to Ann Arbor from his home in Bethlehem, New Hampshire, despite his failing health.
Indeed, Manupelli had to spend a significant amount of time in the hospital during that trip; and Harrison (then director of AAFF), though worried that Manupelli wasn’t feeling well, also felt grateful in the end for getting to spend more personal time with Manupelli than he would have otherwise.
“Even in bad health, even in the hospital, he had this spirit that was magnetic, and I spent a full day with him,” said Harrison. “ … It was really inspiring to spend time close to him. … It made me hope that someday, when I’m at that point when I’m not feeling well, I’ll remember that it’s so much more about the spirit of who you are.”
Raymond met Manupelli for the first time in 2009, when he came to AAFF and delivered a Penny Stamps lecture.
“I just remember … I felt an immediate connection to him,” said Raymond. “He was such a warm and generous and open person. … His spirit is still living through the festival. He was irreverent and fun and had this great wit.”
That’s evident in Manupelli’s Clio Award-winning short, starring a character regularly featured then on “Saturday Night Live,” Father Guido Sarducci.
Harrison echoed the sentiment that AAFF’s identity remains an extension of Manupelli’s own personality and values.
“For him to be a filmmaker and artist and event organizer, for him to wear those different hats – that gave him the perspective to create a festival that’s artist-centric,” Harrison said. “ … (AAFF) was a representation of the qualities that were in George: uncompromising, showing work that might be unpopular and challenging, but at the same time, doing it with a charm and humor that draws people like me, and people from around the world, to go to something that might be more alienating if not for this magnetic sort of charm and charisma.”

Jenn McKee is an entertainment reporter for The Ann Arbor News. Reach her at jennmckee@mlive.com or 734-623-2546, and follow her on Twitter @jennmckee.

    Friday, September 26, 2014

    George was the consummate artist. Every aspect of his life was subsumed in his art message. Whether making a film, drawing, poem ,organizing an uprising, bringing art materials to Nicaragua, starting a teacher’s union, running for selectman in Bethlehem, NH of fighting the sludge landfill, he used his unique comic sensibilities with no holds barred. As a result, he made scores of friends who admired his various commitments and uncompromising humor while infuriating others clinging to their opposing views.

    The last years of life were not easy. Legally blind, he also had circulation issues requiring major surgery with nasty complications, he then fell and broke his pelvis and lost much of his mobility and required pain medication that brought on random bouts of cognitive impairment. Despite all this, more often than not he was mordantly humorous as only George could be. When hospitalized his charm and humor won the hearts of the caregivers.

    After a number of hospital admissions it seemed that a nursing home would be needed yet he would not consider leaving the church/studio/home he so loved. Through the efforts of Mike Buckley, a second cousin who lived in southern NH and the close friends he had made in his years in Bethlehem, a team of helpers provided the home care he needed. When he needed even more care, His daughters Ingrid and Aune moved in to provide fulltime assistance.

    In going through the church after his death and sorting a well ordered, voluminous, and compulsively organized stash of all of his work, records, correspondence, and early works, we uncovered just one book, a thin paperback on Magritte. George was proud to acknowledge that he had never read a book and yet had achieved a Doctor of Education degree from Columbia University. Betty Johnson, his first wife, says that he had read Camus, “The Stranger”.  Back in his art school days. Give or take one book, George learned to live not from books but by living intensely and being selectively focused on every aspect of it.

    He worked on his touchingly funny art constructs until the very end. In the spring of this year he worked up the graphic layout of the catalog of a show of his work in Jackson Michigan though he was not well enough to attend. In November, the Wren Gallery In Bethlehem has scheduled a show his work.

    George never met a “last supper” that he didn’t like. His last version was completed for all but the label just before he died. The backdrop was a cheap reproduction of the Da Vinci painting with four plaster or plastic versions in various sizes and modifications. The work was to be titled, “Vote …seven to five.”

    At a memorial gathering in Bethlehem on Sunday, Sept 21, from 11:00am to 5:00pm served to bring together the many longtime friends that George had made in his over 50 years of part time and permanent residence in the church, with his family members. It was clear that he was loved and appreciated for his creative talents, generous spirit, good humor and social responsiveness. Through-out the afternoon, 80 to 100 folks stopped by and celebrated a life well lived.

    A similar gathering for friends in San Francisco will be announced for a date in Mid October

    San Francisco Art Institute

    Stephen Goldstine, former President of the San Francisco Art Institute,

    "George Manupelli was the Kindest, most imaginative administrator I know in the arts. He was totally devoted to the facility, especially long term faculty and the students and their long term aspirations." " He was one of a kind."

    Monday, September 22, 2014

    Slideshow from Allan Schreiber

    From Lori-Ann Bellissimo

    Hi there
    My name is Lori-Ann Bellissimo.
    I was one of George’s students at York U in Toronto and friend since 1993.
    We’re missing George at this end and I’m in touch with some friends of his round the world.
    I’m an artist and visited George at the church many times and I have posted a few photos and memories and collage at my Facebook page. You are welcome to share the page if you like. Some people are writing their comments there too.
    I feel like I know you all out there. I was instrumental to putting out the Chicago Trilogy and packaging.
    Oh I can still hear his voice and have had many experiences of his presence round me since he passed…even though he didn’t believe int hat stuff…guess he found out! :)


    Lori-Ann Bellissimo

    Friday, September 19, 2014

    George and Tom Wehrer

    George with Mom- Anne Wehrer

    From Joseph Wehrer

    George Manupelli, artist, filmmaker and founder of the Ann Arbor Film Festival died peacefully in hospice care in Littleton NH. He was 82.

    George was born in Boston’s North End in 1931 but by the age of 12, through the north Bennett Street Industrial School summer caddie program, he was working as a caddy at the Maplewood Country Club in Bethlehem NH. It was and experience that colored his life. Early in the Seventies, the church in Bethlehem that he attended as a caddy was deconsecrated. George bought it in 197? And made it his home and studio. After 40 years of constant art making, his church is a shrine to a truly creative artist.

    George studied art at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and went on to receive a M.A. and Doctor of Education from Columbia University. While at Columbia he lived in the International House where his roommate was composer Robert Ashley who provided musical scores to his early films as well sound work on his later ones Years later they continued their work together with the ONCE Group.

    He taught at Central Michigan University, University of Michigan, York University in Toronto and the San Francisco Art Institute. He was a creative and challenging teacher.  His projects were exploring the edges of the art and students responded with enthusiasm.  Many of his students have gone on to strong careers.

    He served as Dean at the San Francisco Art Institute for three lively years where he was popular with students and faculty, but a torment to the administrators. In an effort to boost enrollment, he produced a TV admission commercial featuring Father Guido Sarducci (Don Novello). This very humorous film won a CLEO, the advertising industry’s equivalent of an Oscar.

    George founded the Ann Arbor Film Festival in 1963, remaining its director for 17 years. During those years George designed all the announcements, posters and tickets. These became sought after collector’s items for their graphic impact. The AAFF was a key venue for influential filmmakers and artists such as Bruce Bailey, Kenneth Anger, Andy Warhol, Agnes Varda, Robert Breer, Yoko Ono, Gus Van Sant, Lawrence Kasdan, Devo, and George Lucas. When Andy Warhol came to show his films he brought the Velvet Underground with Nico and Gerard Malanga.

    During those same years George was one of a small group of artists, composers and architects of the ONCE Group  who staged performance art works in Ann Arbor and on tour performing at Art Museums and Universities. The ONCE Group brought the best of the art world to the city of Ann Arbor, John Cage, The Merce Cunningham Dance Company and the Judson Dance Theatre.

    A pioneer in experimental film since 1955, he won international awards including the 1964 Venice and 1965 Sao Paulo Biennials. George won the Avant Garde Film Masters Award in 2007 for his Dr Chicago film trilogy. His many films are preserved at the Anthology Film Archives of New York.

    In declining health and failing eyesight, George continued to make and exhibit his art until his death, combining and re-combining objects gleaned from flea markets and antique stores into assemblage sculptures whose iconic juxtapositions and telling titles offered offbeat insights into these “modern times.” Recent exhibitions include a one-man show at the Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson Michigan, and an invitation to screen Dr Chicago at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Thessaloniki, Greece.

    He is survived by his daughters Aune Manupelli-Hamilton, of Ann Arbor, MI and Ingrid Manupelli of San Francisco, CA, their mother Betty Johnson of San Francisco, CA., his cousin Michael Buckley of Hudson, NH, 4 Grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

    Tuesday, September 16, 2014

    George's Polaroid Paintings

    I loved George's Polaroid Paintings. I spent thousands of dollars on polaroid film after he introduced me to his technique of exposing the film with a set of xmas lights, then placing various objects under the film before rolling the sheet with a rolling pin to spread the developing chemicals. A very hit and miss proposition that resulted in some fabulous images and a large pile of film to throw away.

    He had a whole collection of greeting cards featuring his polaroid paintings that I thought should be marketed commercially. He could work wonders with a heart.

    Sunday, September 14, 2014

    George Manupelli, 9/29/1931 - 9/14/2014

    Please contribute any stories, rememberances, photos you have. Anyone can comment on the posts here but if you want to add your own post you have to be signed up as an author. To do that please email  me at mb@marthabruce.com and I will add you as an author - I need your email address to do that. Or you can email me content you would like posted and I can post it for you.