By Helen Gee
Within the past due Nineteen Fifties, Limelight used to be the busiest coffeehouse in long island and the one images gallery within the kingdom. this is often the tale of Helen Gee's efforts to open Limelight and her struggle to maintain it afloat for seven years. the main figures in images seem during this story--Edward Steichen, Robert Frank, W. Eugene Smith, Berenice Abbott, and others--and so do the large photographic occasions of the interval: the outlet of The kin of guy, the booklet of The american citizens. Gee has her personal own tales in addition: elevating her Asian American daughter on my own, facing a landlord with underworld ties and bookies who did enterprise within the corridor of her condo residence, and dealing with unwelcome advances, quixotic staff, and suicidal photographers. this can be additionally a portrait of a time while Greenwich Village was once a middle of inventive job, while actors, writers, painters, and photographers have been a part of a burgeoning coffeehouse scene. images as an artwork shape was once getting into its personal, and Limelight Gallery made heritage with a few seventy indicates. the tale of its seven years is fun and heart-breaking, interesting and strangely jam-packed with experience.
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Additional resources for Limelight: a Greenwich Village photography gallery and coffeehouse in the fiftees : a memoir
But I still preferred a legal bond, so we drew up a contract. Rubin agreed that for four thousand dollars, he would gut the premises, strip the walls and expose the brick, lay a new floor, install new plumbing and wiring, replace the two broken skylights, restore the front window (which had been bricked up when the place was a strip-tease joint), make repairs in the kitchen and rest rooms, construct the gallery, and paint. This was a very good deal. But Rubin was inclined to be touchy. He wasn't accustomed to working with women (especially young women), so Sam advised using tact.
I painted, played Chinese music on the butterfly harp, practiced Chinese boxing (a form of tai chi ch'uan) and continuing my education where school left off, pored through Yun's hundreds of books, reading everything from the Confucian Analects to Freud's Interpretation of Dreams. I also helped care for his forty-odd birds-nightingales, skylarks, canaries, finches, and a giant mynah with a raunchy vocabulary. Yun was a connoisseur cook, and though I'd learned to prepare several Cantonese dishes, I never inflicted these efforts on our guests, many of them Chinese men.
Yun was charming, gifted, and thirty when we met. He was born in China, had lived in Paris, and exhibited in leading galleries and museums both here and abroad, including New York's Museum of Modern Art. Yun encouraged me in everything I did. I painted, played Chinese music on the butterfly harp, practiced Chinese boxing (a form of tai chi ch'uan) and continuing my education where school left off, pored through Yun's hundreds of books, reading everything from the Confucian Analects to Freud's Interpretation of Dreams.