What Ever Became of Gilbert Stone?
While still a teenager, he
painted a crucifixion from the deep perspective of blue pigments.
I last saw Gilbert
in the mid-1970s, when, driving down from Cambridge, I stopped at the farmhouse north of New York City they had made their home, converting a barn into a studio.What's trapped in my mind was that the transformation into apes also occurs in Talmudic versions of the Tower of Babel story, in which the builders were changed into 'apes, ghosts, spirits, and demons.' We can similarly understand the appellation 'God's ape' which was used to characterize the artist in the Renaissance, from Villani to Shakespeare.A denigration in antiquity, it became a title conveying high praise in the Renaissance ... meaning he
had for a pet a monkey in a cage.
A few years later, I was living above a storefront in San Francisco's Mission District occupied by a musician whose drums would explode up through my floor.On one of those head-banging evenings I phoned Gilbert
to ask if he'd like to illustrate some poems I had written during my last trip to New York.Carol, his
wasn't home.To my inquiry, she
has a patron and is very busy."His
patron was the publisher of Penthouse
trained himself in the tradition of the Renaissance Masters, becoming one of the best draftsmen in the world, New York was in the throes of Minimal Art.This, and because of his
successful career in commercial art--he loved things that money can buy--, he
was ignored by the critics whose approval he
needed to historicize his
work.It must have been disheartening and immensely depressing to have seen artists a generation younger than him, whose only talent was for surfing the current, gaining almost instant recognition, and wealth, from critics, galleries, and collectors.
Now I will try to contact Gilbert
again.As he had illustrated stories for Playboy, I query the magazine, and receive this terse reply: "The artist Gil Stone is deceased."He is no longer painting, but is now a musician.
I ask him: Have you stopped painting?He
says that he
has.Then I tell him that I wrote Playboy to find his
whereabouts, only to receive word that he
is deceased.Hearing this, he
looks surprised; then laughs. The School of Visual Arts, where Gilbert taught for some 20 years, sends me Carol's address.
But it's her
brother who replies:
Jean went on to say that, during one of their kitchen conversations, Gilbert
told her: "I got one up on the devil because the devil doesn't have a sense of humor."
There was Gilbert
, doubled over in hysterics, feeding his
muse's insatiable imagination. Gilbert Stone
was one of the first persons in the US to die from AIDS