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“You can’t separate Cameron’s magic from her art.” -Shirley Berman

Marc Selwyn Fine Art is pleased to present The Lion Path: Art, Astrology, and Magic, an exhibition of work by Cameron (1922-1995) curated by Scott Hobbs, Director of the Cameron Parsons Foundation. The Lion Path: Art, Astrology, and Magic follows Cameron’s retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 2014.

An enigmatic figure in the early years of California’s burgeoning art scene, Cameron was a visionary painter, draftswoman, actress, and poet who bridged the spiritual and artistic countercultures flourishing in mid-century Los Angeles. Her drawing skills first earned her work as a cartographer for the US Navy during World War II and then as a fashion illustrator before she developed her practice as an artist. Her work was heavily influenced by her study of astrology, a subject she discovered through her first husband, rocket scientist and occultist, Jack Parsons. Wallace Berman, a close friend and mentor, introduced Cameron to the Ferus Gallery circle, and she appeared on the cover of Berman’s publication Semina in 1955. 

In a legendary 1957 incident, a Cameron image included in a Wallace Berman sculpture on exhibit at Ferus was deemed obscene by the LAPD and the gallery was temporarily closed down. The Lion Path: Art, Astrology, and Magic explores the convergence and evolution of Cameron’s mystical and astrological practices. 

The exhibition includes drawings from The Lion Path series and important early paintings that adorned her last residence, a bamboo-shrouded bungalow in West Hollywood. East Angel and West Angel served as protectors of the home. The Dark Angel, a portrait of her late husband Parsons hung above her bed, and Black Egg was installed above her altar, their placements reflecting their sacred nature.  

Mystical themes permeate Cameron’s oeuvre, but Hobbs considers the artist’s later work from The Lion Path series to be closely related to her magic in that their synthesis was a direct extension of her spiritual practice. Works from The Lion Path were part of Cameron’s rigorous observation of Dr. Charles Musès’ daily meditations on the mystery of death during a cosmic cycle in Egyptian astrology by the same name.  

In her series Pluto Transiting the Twelfth House (1978-86), Cameron refers to Pluto’s passage through the twelfth house of the zodiac. The undulating parallel ink lines in these works function as maps of her psyche during intensely meditative drawing sessions. A third series of drawings consists of six astrological charts plotting the location of stars and planets at the time of birth for people significant to Cameron --Jack Parsons, Aleister Crowley, John Barrymore, Viva, Marlon Brando, and herself. These astrological drawings are a blend of portraiture, cartography, spiritualism, and the tracing of time.   

Cameron was born in Belle Plain, Iowa in 1922 and died in Los Angeles in 1995. Her work has been exhibited in major exhibitions including Drawing Down the Moon, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2022), America is Hard to See (Chapter, Scotch Tape), The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2015), Cameron: Songs for the Witch Woman, MOCA Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles, (2014), L.A. Raw: Abstract Expressionism in Los Angeles 1945–1980, Pasadena Museum of California Art, Pasadena (2012), PACIFIC STANDARD TIME: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture 1950 – 1970, The Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2011), Traces du Sacré, curated by Jean de Loisy and Angela Lampe, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2008), and Beat Culture and the New America 1950–1965, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1996).   

Cameron’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others. Her work was concurrently on display in Of Mythic Worlds: Works from the Distant Past through the Present at The Drawing Center, New York.

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