Statement by Alice Bernstein, Journalist
This is to comment on the lies about Aesthetic Realism told by my nephew, Michael Bluejay. He is the son of my sister Gerri-Ellen whose maiden name, like mine, was Musicant, and who is now married to Richard Harmon and is Gerri-Ellen Harmon.
Michael has had nothing to do with Aesthetic Realism for 29 years!—since he was eleven years old. He was 5 years old, when my sister married her second husband and moved to Texas. It is utterly ridiculous that Michael puts himself forth as an authority not only on Aesthetic Realism, but also on the way the Aesthetic Realism Foundation supposedly operates, since he was there once or twice, when he visited New York at age 11.
Aesthetic Realism is not a cult, is not against education, does not stop people from having friends or seeing their families or going on vacations or fulfilling their ambitions or making money or living where they please! The person who asserts these lies was a self-proclaimed nudist and nudist-cyclist, who lists among his proudest accomplishments moving several times entirely by bicycle.
It’s clear from Michael Bluejay’s website that he’s after importance, and that he’s using Aesthetic Realism to try to make himself important—both by presenting himself as having a relation to Aesthetic Realism and by attacking it.
This cult business is baloney. As to Aesthetic Realism’s supposedly discouraging higher education and achievements: Michael’s mother, Gerri-Ellen, graduated from college while she was studying Aesthetic Realism and went on to teach at Long Island University, also while studying Aesthetic Realism. Gerri-Ellen was married to Michael’s biological father, who received a graduate degree. And since I’m on this subject, I myself majored in English at Brooklyn College. Gerri gave performances of the dance and also choreographed works performed by other dancers, and was encouraged to do so. She also wrote a scholarly and lively paper based on Aesthetic Realism about the aesthetics of dance. In several Aesthetic Realism classes Eli Siegel discussed this paper and showed its value in relation to the history of dance criticism.
Far from his being “shunned,” when Michael visited New York at age 11, he stayed with my sister Judy Rappaport and her family, all of whom were studying Aesthetic Realism. I took him on a tour of many sights in the city and we had dinner at a popular restaurant for young people, the Auto Pub. Many photographs show him having a good time.
I resent his denigrating, by presenting as “cultists,” my parents, Jack and May Musicant (both deceased); my husband, photographer David Bernstein; and daughter Rachel Jane Bernstein, who is now taking college courses in preparation for teaching. He knows nothing about our lives. And I also resent his similarly casting a shadow on the life of the noted photographer Nancy Starrels, who was a beloved friend and colleague, and who died in 1984.
I am a journalist whose writing is based on Aesthetic Realism. The book Aesthetic Realism and the Answer to Racism by Alice Bernstein & Others, was published in 2004 by Orange Angle Press. My ambition to be the best writer I can be and as widely published as possible has always been encouraged by friends and colleagues, who cheer my accomplishments. See my website: www.alicebernstein.net