From the most interesting thoroughfare in the world carefully avoiding
the chastity of a tea shop, and stumbling over bales and sweet scented crates
from far Cathay; through a dingy, sunken hallway, then Ethiopianly piloted
in the most incredible elevator to the attic. Another warren of a hallway and
then the gallery.
Our cosmopolitan Mecca is cruel and hard. In the grind and flow there
is scant refuge for the person who craves mental friction. Where can he
find it? We lack the rendezvous of the cafe, “Theme d,absinthe.,, Of course
the foot may be raised to a brass rail, the hand placed upon an onyx other,
and jostled, and crowded, one may hastily receive that across wet mahogany,
and “toss off,” what would mean excuse for conversation, in Paris, sitting
calmly at a brass-bound marble table on the Boulevards. Where will one
meet in New York strangers interesting enough to be engaged in conversa-
tion? The artist is a jackal, solitary he is a prowler, in a pack he howls, and
here at “291” in a room no larger than a box-stall he may lift his voice.
The cry is constant yet variant, now thin and strident, pale, anaemic, per-
verted, sexless: now vigorous, sonorous, distinctly male. Now again the
cry is female, mate enticing, then changing to the cries of Sappho, and the
whickerings of a Lesbian.
What has caused such a place to be? How can the critic, the percheron-
minded professor, the hare-trigger artist, the vain musician, the lachrymose
poet, the Gargantuan muck-raker, meet the poseur, the art student, the
society matron, the sempiternal actress, the invertebrate clubman, the lecher,
the baggage? How can the siren of the slums sing in this close harmony
with upper Fifth Avenue? What makes the orthodox Jew tolerate the Jew
apostate? Because there is one dominant note struck at “291”: Truth!
Organized truth, and it’s organizer is a Man.
As about the village blacksmith shop the socially inclined congregate,
and seem to derive by induction some of the smith’s power, this motley
mass absorbs something from this Man. From this attic has emanated
the essential knowledge of so-called “New Art” in this country. Through
this small room have passed tremendous revelations. Amid the discussions of
critics, and in spite of their disagreements, there has been a revelation of
what the “Moderns” were doing. Through this room photography has
taken its place with the Arts.
Here one can crucify himself if he is not careful. Sincerity can find an
opening, but affectation never.
This gallery has drawn the fire of many critics, has afforded amusement
to many persons, and has been a revelation to a few.
With incredible patience this Man has met this gamut of humanity.
The question of the savant has been answered with the same courtesy as
that of the cretin. The vigor of the man’s mind is amazing, flaying would
have been a mild punishment for some of the concrete stupidity that this
man has met with urbanity. A very liberal estimate of vital discussion