Schulenberg’s Page: That kind of “different time”!

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My “adopted” sister, Marie-Christine.

September, 1976.

In China, mourning continued for Chairman Mao who at the age of 82 had died earlier in the month. After the end of the mourning period there would be confusion about the direction of the government and actions would be taken against the Gang of Four, leaders of the Cultural Revolution.

The Gang of Four (clockwise from top left): Jiang Qing; Zhang Chunqiao; Wang Hongwen; Yao Wenyuan.

The Revolution, instituted by Mao, had begun in 1966 and lasted for ten years until his death. Its goal was to rid China of any and all kinds of Capitalist influence. A deconstruction of Chinese cultural history also ensued and there was a decade of general chaos with government reorganisation, massacres, suicides and imprisonment of prominent intellectuals and artists.

Meanwhile, back in Manhattan:

And my own schedule was filling up with names and phone numbers of boutiques and fabric and sewing notions providers along with store buyers and fashion journalists while I was still seeing magazine and advertising art directors. I was seemingly overextending myself because I was noticing less and less use of illustrations for advertising which was the area that paid the best. I was thinking that it was time to utilize my versatility in case there’d be a total lack of profitable illustration work.

It had happened in other professional fields.

Sassy Johnson had loaned me her sewing machine so that I could learn to sew — at least well enough to make fabric bracelets and necklaces. Mara had volunteered to stand on the avenues with the Fabric Jewelry Pushcart and she had also enlisted her friend, Susan.

Working downtown at Paraphernalia they were old hands at selling unique fashion.

And they could model the product at the same time. In the meantime, the Alexander’s Department Store display pushcart Bill Rilling had given me was living in my guest apartment across the hall! It had become the storage unit holding the fabric jewelry Ric Mendez and I were turning out!

It looked very festive.

I took a break to meet with friends at Michael’s Pub. The next day was Mary Milton’s birthday. I didn’t ask how old.

Places to go and people to see!

In the evening I was invited to dinner at Marie-Christine and Arnaud d’Usseau’s apartment where the other guest was legendary art dealer, Terry Dintenfass. I was impressed. Hers was one of those names so familiar that I never placed a living person with it.
Yet there she was!

I just learned that her birth (family) name was Schellenberg, a variant of my own family name! At the time she didn’t comment about it but she might not have registered my name.

She was interesting, a style of speaking and communicating that sounded to me like it was from a different time. It could well have been as she’d been showing and selling art since the 1940s! She was an early member of what would become a group of prominent women art dealers and gallery owners in Manhattan.

I could imagine her as being a baseball fan — or knowing Sam Spade!

That kind of “different time”!

Marie-Christine usually carried a fan and that lent her also the aura of a different time but not baseball or Private Eyes — more 18th century Ancien Régime!

Marie-Christine’s sister Katia, whom I’ve previously written about, “adopted” me years ago when I was a graduate student at UCLA and her then-husband Daniel Aubry was studying and making films. When I moved to France, influenced by Daniel and Katia (who were French) her mother and sister “adopted” me too!

It’s been that way ever since!


Living in Paris marked the real maturation of my life, if indeed there has been any maturation!

But in 1976 we were all living in Manhattan and that evening enjoying each other’s company.

Guadalupe Rongieras is the daughter of Marie-Christine from her first marriage.

I couldn’t have imagined those years ago at UCLA that my life would have turned out like this. I could have hoped so. And most certainly, it could have been worse!

But a few days later I was back to the rush and bustle of everything I was trying to do. At least I was trying to do it in Manhattan where anything and everything is possible!

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