Society of Fellows


SOF News June 2016

Grover Mouton and Bitsie Werlein on a boat from Italy to Greece
Photo: courtesy Grover Mouton
Grover Mouton and Bitsie Werlein at their wedding in Italy
Photo: courtesy Grover Mouton
Ralph Ellison
Photo: Life Magazine
Edward Field
Eliza Griswold
Photo: Antonin Kratochvil
Eli Gottlieb
Elena Fanailova
Mark Halliday
Photo: Green Mountain Review
Robert Francis
Photo: Eric Stahlberg
Nadine Gordimer
Photo: youtube
Stephen Greenblatt
Photo: Pat Greenhouse/Globe file
Jorie Graham
Photo: Blue Flower Arts
Oscar Hijuelos
Phot: Ulf Anderson/Getty Images
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Grover Mouton on life as a Fellow. Reading list continues.

Grover Mouton, FAAR 1973, is Director of Tulane Regional Urban Design Center and an adjunct associate professor of architecture there. Here's a short memoir describing some of his adventures in Italy in the early 1970s with his wife-to-be Bitsie Werleins, and their many friends. 

"Rome for Bitsie and I was an endless adventure which changed our lives forever and probably changed the lives of all the people we ran around with. We rather took to the southern part of Italy, being southern in America as well.  Positano and Caprice and Paestum made much more sense to us than the Tuscan hills, which at that time were full of British aristocrats and very rich Americans.  

It is important to know I that had been living in London on an undergraduate fellowship, allowing me to study at the Architectural Association. I was 22 when I won the award and was in my last year of the five-year architecture program at Tulane University. I had several contacts abroad before I arrived in Rome from London. As a student at the AA I lived with the president of of AA Jane Drew and her husband Maxwell Frey in the sun house, one of the early Modernist houses. Through Max and Jane I became very good friends with Richard and Frances Hughes. Upon winning the prize I informed Frances that I wanted to spend the summer in Greece on an island, and they arranged for me to have a house in Lindos, on the Island of Rhodes. Our neighbor was some of the members of Pink Floyd, and we became very close to many Italians as Lindos and Rhodes was restored by the Italians under Mussolini. It was here that we met the great hostess and art dealer Beatrice Montie along with her wonderful husband.  We were introduced to the Italian world of intellectuals. All this after just having left London, where Max and Jane had become friends with Julian and Juliet Huxley and other socialists. The Italians in Lindos were mixed with the art world of Milan, all the Italians we met were Milanese. A group of English aristocrats made the mix.
We also had a house in Positano where we went every weekend, and while we were there we were introduced to Tennessee Williams at a party at Zeferella. Tennessee was just back from spending his money in Russia (in those days he could not take his funds from his books out of Russia). We discovered that my wife's (we were not married then) family, the Werleins, an old New Orleans family that published Dixie, was good friends with Tennessee from when he was in New Orleans writing A Streetcar Named Desire. When he was finished he told Bitsie's cousin the title and she said it was mad and would never sell.
I was invited to spend the weekend in the south of France with a friend from Lindos named Tony Richardson. John Mortimer was there as well along with several people in the English theater and film world. Tony asked me to bring something to a friend who was staying in his house in Paris, who turned out to be David Hockney. He was having an exhibition at the Louvre of his prints; I was there about three days when Henry Geldzahler arrived, and I spent several weeks going to the Louvre with them. David didn't know anybody in France so I introduced him to the de la Tour du Pins at the Chateaux Combourgne, and we all went out together every night. Then Francis Bacon had a show at the big gallery; I went through the show with Francis and David. I asked David who he liked as a painter he told me Lucien Freud, so I called a friend at home and told him to buy Lucian Freud.
One of the most amazing evenings was dinner at the French academy. Dinner included Baltus, who was and is still my favorite painter, and much to our surprise the French fellows were playing the piano and got very drunk and filled the piano with champange. Only the French, but with a name like Mouton all I had to do was keep quiet.
We become good friends with Peggy Guggenheim in Venice. We had dinner with her quite a lot in her palace, and once she said I should go introduce all the wives of the painters because many were still alive. I wanted to meet Mrs. Von Doesburg who's work I adore.
The next day we were having lunch at Harry's bar, which we did a lot in winter. It was fun...not crowded ...just the Venetians and a few tourists. Venice is damp and cold in the winter and it was a very nice place on a cold day for lunch. I was sitting with Peggy and a nice guy walked in and went to the bar; Peggy said, "That man has the most beautiful palazzo but he does not like me." I went over to him and said "I am the Rome prize fellow, and I would like to have a tour of the place." He said, "You can come for lunch with my mother on her floor which you will is Napoleon the 1st, but without Mrs. Guggenheim." Alessandro Albrizze opened all the doors of Venice and Milan, and a few in Florence. Alessandro used to say, "Grover and I have one thing in common. Both our wives sell Yahama."  They ran the piano boutique of Florence which is run by his son now.
The Venetians become our greatest friends. Alessandro had balls, dinners, and all kinds of entertainment in the Palace. I drew each morning from the place in his garden, and best of all everyone who came to Venice wanted see the palace so we went out with a different person each night, from English duchesses to royals.
While we were in Rome we had an apartment in the Palazzo Odescalchi. I drew the chaplet tower of the place across the street, the Palazzo Doria. My cousin, Monsignor Bert Mouton, was in residence, and worked for the cardinal who was head of the propagation of the faith.

I hope you enjoyed my memories of the time that the Academy gave me to work, to meet people, and to have a wonderful time all over Rome and Italy."

The reading list continues, E through H.

Young Men’s Gold, 1978
Daniel Mark Epstein, FAAR 1978

The Russian Version, 2005
Elena Fanailova, AFAAR

After The Fall: Poems Old and New, 2007
Edward Field, FAAR 1982

Come Out Into the Sun: Poems New & Selected, 1965
Robert Francis, FAAR 1958

Il numero dei vivi,  2015
Massimo Gezzi, AFAAR 2007

The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994
Jorie Graham, RAAR 2008

Thresherphobe, 2013
Mark Halliday, FAAR 2002

The Darkness and the Light, 2001
Anthony Hecht, FAAR 1952, RAAR 1969

Gabriel: A Poem, 2014
Edward Hirsch, FAAR 1989

Green Squall, 2006
Jay Hopler, FAAR 2011

Invisible Man, 1952
Ralph Ellison, FAAR 1957

Elizabethan Trilogy: Death of the Fox, The Succession, Entered from the Sun, 1998
George Garrett, FAAR 1959

The Pickup, 2001
Nadine Gordimer, RAAR 1984

Best Boy, 2015
Eli Gottleib, FAAR 1999

The View From Stalin’s Head, 2004
Aaron Hamburger, FAAR 2006

Winter’s Tale, 1983
Mark Helprin, FAAR 1983

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, 1989
Oscar Hijuelos, FAAR 1986

The Swerve:How the World Became Modern, 2011
Stephen Greenblatt, RAAR 2010

The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam, 2010
Eliza Griswold, FAAR 2010

Hiroshima, 1946
John Hersey, RAAR 1970