THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 17 Ted Dreier, Black Mountain College Co-founder


Nicholas Sparks Talks Adapting ‘The Longest Ride’ to the Screen

The Longest Ride Official Trailer #1 (2015) – Britt Robertson Movie HD

Fully Awake – PREVIEW

Tucked in the mountains of Western North Carolina, Black Mountain College (1933-1957) was an influential experiment in education that inspired and shaped 20th century modern art. Through narration, archive photography and interviews with students, teachers and historians, Fully Awake explores the development of this very special place – and how its collaborative curriculum inspired innovations that changed the very definition of “art”.

Original Black Mountain College faculty, September 1933

Front row: Joseph Martin, Helen Boyden Lamb Lamont, Margaret Loram Bailey, Elizabeth Vogler, and John Andrew Rice.


Back row: John Evarts, Ted Dreier, Frederick Georgia, Ralph Lounsbury, and William Hinckley.


Black Mountain College Collection, Western Regional Archives, Asheville, North Carolina


My first post in this series was on the composer John Cage and my second post was on Susan Weil and Robert Rauschenberg who were good friend of CageThe third post in this series was on Jorge Fick. Earlier we noted that  Fick was a student at Black Mountain College and an artist that lived in New York and he lent a suit to the famous poet Dylan Thomas and Thomas died in that suit.

The fourth post in this series is on the artist  Xanti Schawinsky and he had a great influence on John Cage who  later taught at Black Mountain College. Schawinsky taught at Black Mountain College from 1936-1938 and Cage right after World War II. In the fifth post I discuss David Weinrib and his wife Karen Karnes who were good friends with John Cage and they all lived in the same community. In the 6th post I focus on Vera B. William and she attended Black Mountain College where she met her first husband Paul and they later  co-founded the Gate Hill Cooperative Community and Vera served as a teacher for the community from 1953-70. John Cage and several others from Black Mountain College also lived in the Community with them during the 1950’s. In the 7th post I look at the life and work of M.C.Richards who also was part of the Gate Hill Cooperative Community and Black Mountain College.

In the 8th post I look at book the life of   Anni Albers who is  perhaps the best known textile artist of the 20th century and at Paul Klee who was one  of her teachers at Bauhaus. In the 9th post the experience of Bill Treichler in the years of 1947-1949  is examined at Black Mountain College. In 1988, Martha and Bill started The Crooked Lake Review, a local history journal and Bill passed away in 2008 at age 84.

In the 10th post I look at the art of Irwin Kremen who studied at Black Mountain College in 1946-47 and there Kremen spent his time focused on writing and the literature classes given by the poet M. C. Richards. In the 11th post I discuss the fact that Josef Albers led the procession of dozens of Bauhaus faculty and students to Black Mountain.

In the 12th post I feature Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) who was featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE and the film showed Kandinsky teaching at BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE which was not true according to my research. Evidently he was invited but he had to decline because of his busy schedule but many of his associates at BRAUHAUS did teach there. In the 13th post I look at the writings of the communist Charles Perrow. 

Willem de Kooning was such a major figure in the art world and because of that I have dedicated the 14th15th and 16th posts in this series on him. Paul McCartney got interested in art through his friendship with Willem because Linda’s father had him as a client. Willem was a  part of New York School of Abstract expressionism or Action painting, others included Jackson Pollock, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Arshile Gorky, Mark Rothko, Hans Hofmann, Adolph Gottlieb, Anne Ryan, Robert Motherwell, Philip Guston, Clyfford Still, and Richard Pousette-Dart.

In the 17th post I look at the founder Ted Dreier and his strength as a fundraiser that make the dream of Black Mountain College possible.

Theodore Dreier. Photo courtesy North Carolina State Archives, Black Mountain College Papers.


Gisela Kronenberg Herwitz:
: If challenging a student to explore and analyze concepts as well as the evidence on which they are based and make such an exercise stimulating and enjoyable, then Jack French was my best teacher. He encouraged his students to think for themselves, often playing the “devil’s advocate.” He encouraged me to pursue independent study of perception and let me teach what I had learned to one of his classes.Claude Stoller: Calculus with Ted Dreier. Mathematics had been my bugaboo, but Ted held a weekly seminar along with the regular classes in which we read excerpts from Russell, Hogben, White, Newton and others. I became aware of Calculus as a precise description of observed beauties such as the curve of a waterfall’s descent or that of a ball thrown in the air, etc. (It was an adjunct of Albers’s admonition about learning to see).Claude Stoller: Architectural Design with Larry Kocher…. Larry’s teaching was largely “hands on.” We generally built what we designed. Larry was a highly experienced and dedicated architect who nonetheless made us feel that he accepted us as colleagues. We worked hard and all played major roles in the construction portion of the Work Program.

Robert Sunley: I took a math course with Ted Dreier; quite a few considered him a poor teacher. Yet he earnestly sought to find the dynamics underlying math, and to help me and others work out the formulation of concepts into figures and graphs. But in my class of four I was the only one remaining at the end of the term.

Emil Willimetz: It was a course on Form in Literature and was given to me by two of the top professors, Fred Mangold and John Rice. During the year I studied the literary form of ten writers—how words were put together to reach an effect. Thomas Browne, Dickens, Hardy, Hemingway, Proust, Gertrude Stein and others. I then wrote a short story which I had to rewrite in the style of each of the ten authors. It was, without a doubt, the most exciting and fulfilling course I’ve ever taken.

Robert Sunley: John Evarts’s classes in music I found particularly valuable. Rather than the usual “music appreciation” course he combined intense attention to listening and understanding a few pieces; and going along with that (which he did with his playing at the piano as well as records) we learned the elements of harmony, counterpoint, beginning composition, training of the ear, and so on. By trying my hand at a simple canon or fugue, or later a simple atonal piano piece, I gained first hand a feel for and love of music….

Lucian Marquis: Heinrich Jalowetz, who taught us both to listen to the music but also understand the social context of that music, taught us through Brahms’s German Requiem to listen and to understand in a wider sense.

Theodore Dreier. Photo courtesy North Carolina State Archives, Black Mountain College Papers.

Allegra Fuller Snyder – Black Mountain: The Start of a Critical Path

Published on Oct 12, 2012

Reviewing 4 Black Mountain College Museum International Conference
Allegra Fuller Snyder (Conference Keynote Speaker)
Black Mountain: The Start of a Critical Path

Allegra Fuller Snyder is Buckmister Fuller’s only living child and is the Founder, first President, and now Board member emeritus of the Buckminster Fuller Institute. She is also Professor Emerita of Dance and Dance Ethnology, UCLA; 1992 American Dance Guild Honoree of the Year; former Chair of the Department of Dance; and founding Coordinator of the World Arts and Cultures Program. She has been on the Dance Faculty at Cal Arts as well as Professor of Performance Studies at New York University, and Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Surrey, Guildford, England. She began her career as a performer and choreographer and has been concerned with the relation of dance to film since the late 1940s. She has made several prize winning documentary films on dance. She has done dance research around the world, was the recipient of several Fulbright Scholarships. Among many special projects Snyder was a Core Consultant on the PBS series DANCING for WNET/Channel 13. Recently returning to performance, Jennifer Fisher of the LA times said of her in “Spirit Dances 6: Inspired by Isadora,” “She was a haiku and an epic.”

Sponsored by the Green Restaurants of AIR (Asheville Independent Restaurants)

Videography and Post by Michael Folliett
at Image


Theodore (‘Ted’) Dreier was – in many ways – the unsung hero of Black Mountain College. John Andrew Rice receives much of the credit for the College’s founding, though Dreier was at his side following the famous ‘Rollins fracas’ (1) and remained a central member of the College community for the first sixteen years of its existence. Dreier was never the outspoken and confrontational pedagogue that Rice was, nor was he a ground breaking artist like Josef or Anni Albers, the other longest-serving members of the BMC faculty. However, Dreier’s contributions to the College were just as – if not more – crucial to its survival than anyone else’s. Through his dogged commitment, patient accounting, and relentless fundraising, Black Mountain College continued operation through immense difficulty. Dreier gave much of his life to the College, which could never have survived without him.

Summer Arts Institute Faculty, Black Mountain College, 1946. Left to right: Leo Amino, Jacob Lawrence, Leo Lionni, Ted Dreier, Nora Lionni, Beaumont Newhall, Gwendolyn Lawrence, Ise Gropius, Jean Varda (in tree), Nancy Newhall (sitting), Walter Gropius, Mary "Molly" Gregory, Josef Albers, Anni Albers. Courtesy of Western Regional Archives.

An engineer with a degree from Harvard, Dreier always wished he could spend more time teaching at Black Mountain. He was listed in various Black Mountain Bulletins as the instructor in mathematics and physics. Later, he spent a great deal of time preparing a course on the ‘Philosophy of Science.’ Yet most of the time, he found himself in charge (first as treasurer, later as rector) of the College’s finances and its physical plant. Many of his wealthy contacts were called upon time and time again to rescue Black Mountain from collapse. Dreier had an unshakable belief in the College’s mission, so eloquently put forward by Rice from the beginning, but he matched that ideological commitment with a practical ability to raise funds and win supporters – the much-needed ‘Friends of the College.’ His family lived at Black Mountain, and his son – Ted Jr. – grew up and studied there. The distressing chapter of Dreier’s Black Mountain story came years after Rice’s departure, when – after the Second World War – the College went through its most difficult and trying period.

An American of German descent, Dreier had very close relationships with Josef and Anni Albers, and also – on even more personal terms – with Walter and Ise Gropius, and their daughter Ati, who graduated from Black Mountain College in 1946 and who was the godmother of the Dreiers’ daughter. Founder of the legendary German design school, the Bauhaus, Gropius exercised enormous influence over Black Mountain. Though he never served there permanently, he was a member of the Board of Advisors, taught at the famous summer art institutes, and acted in generous friendship toward Black Mountain and the Dreier family.

In the Bauhaus Archive, Berlin, a large portion of Gropius’ collected correspondence illustrates the close relationship his family had with the Dreiers. It also – quite painfully for one invested in the history of the College – tells the story of Dreier’s disillusionment and, finally, his departure from the radical institution he played such a large part in creating. One letter to Dreier shows the sacrifices Gropius was willing to make in order to allow his daughter Ati’s continued education at Black Mountain:

I had meant to write to you regarding Ati when your letter arrived. Meanwhile I have carefully checked up on my financial status regarding a second college year for Ati. I have given up my horse, our second car and we put up a roomer in Ati’s room. After this the utmost my shrunken budget allows me to spend for Ati’s next College year is 1000$. I should like to leave it to you to decide which may be the better way for Ati to make good on the difference either in your summer camp or here in war work.(2)

In response, Dreier assured Gropius that Ati might find work as part of the summer music institute – work that would not be so demanding as in a war factory or on the College farm, and which would allow her time and energy to pursue her studies in art. On April 26, Dreier wrote, ‘Ati was quite jealous of my having heard from you before she did but she was really extremely happy to think that there was a good chance now of her coming back next year […] I have a feeling myself that it would be a good thing and I believe that the Albers agree with me.’

Many other letters between Dreier and Gropius sketch a close, familial relationship. They invite one another and their families for visits to Cambridge, Mass., Black Mountain, and New York; they recount holidays together and hopes for putting the College’s affairs in order. Dreier even wrote to Ise Gropius about the possibility of moving to post-war Germany:

The other day we had a faculty candidate for history who had been in Military Government in Germany for a year speak. He had been Educational and Fine Arts Officer […] Most people liked his talk which was certainly very interesting, but there is something that bothers me terribly about the kind of aloof objectivity with which such a man can talk about Germany and the people and the problems of education and denazification. Although I am naturally not considering any such thing seriously because I still hope things may work out here at Black Mountain (and please consider my mentioning it confidential), the idea had crossed my mind that if I left maybe a place that I could be of as much use as any would be in Germany […] But the very thought of living comfortably in a country while everyone else was half-starving and discouraged is something that would be almost impossible to do if one has any feelings for the people at all. (3)

With the closeness of their relationship, it is no wonder that Dreier included Gropius in the mailing of his resignation from Black Mountain. On August 31, 1948, Dreier wrote to Walter and Ise, ‘This is just a line to say that the die is finally cast. A few days ago I came to the conclusion that I simply could not undertake another reorganization of the college […] I said I wanted to leave.’ (4) In fact, Dreier stayed on just a bit longer in order to help transition to the leadership of Josef Albers as College rector.

Beside personal correspondence, one of the most fascinating pieces in the Gropius collection is Ted Dreier’s ‘Summary Report – Black Mountain College: the First 15 ½ Years,’ written as part of his resignation. The ten-page document was written at a point when Dreier was understandably frustrated and bitter, yet the clarity (and even charity) of his writing still comes through when addressing the core principles of the Black Mountain experiment. He writes, ‘For 15 ½ years Black Mountain has stood for a non-political radicalism in higher education which, like all true radicalism, sought to find modern means for getting back to fundamentals.’ (5) This, he concedes, was largely achieved in the early years, and the character of the College under Albers exemplified these ideals. Dreier saw the reconstitution of the College after the War as the period in which things changed. Infighting was rampant. Younger members of staff who – Dreier points out – had no connection to the foundation of the College advocated divergent pedagogies. ‘There has to be agreement,’ Dreier wrote, ‘about method as well as about aim, and readiness to follow the method.’ (6)

Yet Dreier had not entirely given up hope for Black Mountain, even as he knew his time there was finished: ‘If the effort is made to continue the College it will have to be made by others who may or may not stand for what Black Mountain has stood for in the past.’ Even in despair, Dreier anticipated a rebirth of the College. This is exactly what would happen, very much in the way Dreier describes. When Charles Olson became the dominant force at Black Mountain in the early 1950s, he looked back to the founding principles laid out by Rice and Dreier, while also looking toward a future that would be, in many ways, quite different. Olson’s Black Mountain – and especially his style of leadership – would probably not have been met with Dreier’s enthusiasm. (We must recognize, Olson’s leadership finally failed; he was not the organizer and fundraiser that Dreier had been.) In the end, it was Olson – not Dreier – who had to spend years liquidating the College’s assets and setting its affairs in order. But, after Dreier’s departure, the College did gain new life. Many people today know of Black Mountain through the Olson phase, which included writers Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan, and the creation of the “Black Mountain Review”. However, Dreier must be given his due. If it were not for his strenuous efforts on behalf of the institution, there would have been no place at Lake Eden for those who followed.

by Jonathan Creasy
Trinity College Dublin/ New Dublin Press

(1) Rice was terminated from his tenured position as professor at Rollins College in Florida when the College’s President, Hamilton Holt, objected to Rice’s teaching practices and general demeanor. A famous hearing occurred, held by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), in which Rice was vindicated, but he left Rollins anyway. This is the fabled beginning of the move toward Black Mountain. Most of the initial faculty and students at BMC followed Rice from Rollins. Dreier was a key member of this group. (For more detail, see Martin Duberman’s Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community, Dutton: 1972.)
(2) Letter from Walter Gropius to Theodore Dreier, April 16, 1944. The Bauhaus Archive, Berlin.
(3) Letter from Theodore Dreier to Ise Gropius, August 22, 1947. The Bauhaus Archive, Berlin.
(4) Letter from Theodore Dreier to Walter and Ise Gropius, August 31, 1948. The Bauhaus Archive.
(5) Dreier, Theodore. ‘Summary Report – Black Mountain College: The First 15 ½ Years.’ Walter Gropius Collection, The Bauhaus Archive, Berlin.
(6) Ibid.

Book Review: “The Longest Ride” by Nicholas Sparks

Ok, so I may be a bit biased with my first official book review because #1: I’m a hopeless romantic and #2: I’m a die hard Nicholas Sparks fan.  But I’m still going to review the heck out of this book

“The Longest Ride” Book Review

“The Longest Ride” tells the story of two couples in North Carolina.  The first is about Ira Levinson, an old widow who became stranded after crashing his truck down an embankment.  While struggling to stay alive he relives the memories of his late wife Ruth and we get to experience the love they had and how they came to spend their lives together.

The second follows the story of a young couple Sophia Danko, a college senior at Wake Forest University,  and Luke Collins, a cowboy and Champion bull rider.  After meeting during a rodeo after-party, they begin to fall in love, but both have different paths and their love is tested.  They have life decisions to make and put them aside until they finally have to face them.

This book shows you the beginning and end of life with another person.  It’s like the “I Do” and “Till Death Do Us Part” combined into one book.  It’s about making memories and looking back on them for comfort and joy.  It’s about sacrifices a person makes in order to make a relationship work.


While the book seemed to be primarily about Sophia and Luke, I really enjoyed Ira’s story.  It’s sad how he’s remembering his wife while trying to stay alive long enough for someone to find him, but the stories told about their life together makes me feel that true love really does last forever.

At ninety-one, the crash left him with injuries that made him immobile and struggling to stay awake.  This is when his subconscious brings his beloved wife, Ruth, back to him.  Ruth asks him to tell her about significant moments in their lives like when they met, when Ira went to war, his proposal, and their honeymoon.  All in an effort for him to hold on just a bit longer because he still had unfinished business to do.

*Spoilers Ahead

The more I read about Ira, the more I realized that it’s the simple things in life that are important.  I think this is one reason Ira was one of my favorite characters.  The relationship he had with Ruth seemed real, not some fairytale romance.  There were ups and downs, but Ira and Ruth worked through even the toughest of times.  This is something that many marriages fail to do these days…fight to keep love alive.

There were two significant times during Ira and Ruth’s relationship that truly tested them.  The first is when Ira returned home from serving in WWII.  Before going off to war he had proposed to Ruth and it was completely lacking romance.  Not in the sense that Nicholas Sparks didn’t add enough romance to the proposal, but Sparks created Ira as a man who has a tough time being romantic, which is how many men are.  However, even seemingly unromantic men can surprise you.  Keep that in mind when you read this book.

Ira had returned home as a wounded solider.  He was in the hospital for a few weeks recovery from gun shot wounds during an air raid.  Doctors thought he wouldn’t survive especially since he developed peritonitis and had a severe fever for thirteen days.  When he returned, he broke off the engagement to Ruth.  Of course Ruth was heartbroken…what woman wouldn’t be?  She didn’t understand why he had made this decision, but months later he finally told her.

Due to the peritonitis it was likely he couldn’t have children.  Ira knew that having a child was something Ruth really wanted in the future and he didn’t want to deprive her of that.  He thought the right thing to do was to let her move on with someone that could give her exactly what she wanted.  This is when Ruth had to make the decision to stay or go…she stayed.

Ira should have told Ruth right from the beginning the reason they shouldn’t get married.  It’s worse to leave a woman in the dark because she wonders, what did I do wrong?  But I also see Ira’s side of the story.  It’s a painful feeling knowing you can’t give someone you love exactly what they want.  But I was glad that he finally had the courage to tell her, considering how much he loved her.

The second most trying moment for Ira and Ruth was many many years later.  They still had no children and Ruth was a school teacher where children came from very poor families.  That’s where she met Daniel who became the son she never had.  They were contemplating adopting Daniel, but after coming home from their yearly anniversary trip Daniel was gone and she never found out where he had been taken.  It’s not until much later in the book that you find out.  Ruth took this terribly and their marriage was in turmoil.  Ira thought that it was ending between them.

But they made it…

What you don’t know yet, about Ira and Ruth, is they had started collecting art pieces during their first honeymoon.  They would take a yearly trip to Black Mountain College or exhibits in various places, where they would buy artwork from young upcoming artists.  By the time Ira was stranded in his truck he was worth millions and millions of dollars based on their art collection.  This is an important part of the ending because Ira and Ruth never sold one painting….they kept them.  That meant Ira had to decide where they would go once he was gone.

Now, I want to turn the attention over to Sophia and Luke.  I believe they embody what being a young couple is about.  Everyone has been in the phase when you try to spend as much time as possible together because it’s so new and exciting.  That’s what was going on with Sophia and Luke.  But they both had things that troubled them.  Sophia was worried about school and what would happen after she graduated.

From personal experience, when you’re in college things are really put into perspective about where you want your life to be going.  Sophia was no different.  She was starting her senior year as an art history major and wanted to end up working in a museum.  Sophia’s struggles are like many college students preparing to graduate.  Studying for finals, applying for jobs or internships, and essentially dealing with the fear of the unknown because nobody ever really knows what will happen after graduation.

Luke is on the complete opposite spectrum of Sophia..but there’s a phrase “opposites attract”.  He never went to college and had no plans to go in the future.  All he knew was farming and bull riding because that’s how he grew up.  Tending to cattle, growing and harvesting pumpkins, and bailing hay were just some of the daily chores Luke grew up doing.  He was also a very good bull rider.  He was well known in the sport, but a little over a year before he met Sophia, Luke had a terrible accident.  When Luke finally told Sophia just how serious this accident was she gave him an ultimatum.  He had to choose between Sophia and riding.

I did understand the internal struggle Luke had with this because he wasn’t riding again for the glory.  He was riding so that his mother wouldn’t lose the farm.  The money he won helped pay bills that were overdue and mortgage payments that would eventually double.  It was like he had to choose between Sophia and his mother.  Sophia did have a good reason to give Luke an ultimatum.  Riding would most certainly kill him.  Bull riding is dangerous to begin with, but the injuries he sustained a year before increased his chances of death substantially.  This is why I believe Sophia made the right decision.

Thankfully, right before an important ride, Luke makes the decision…he chooses Sophia.

I know you’re probably wondering if Ira makes it, which was what I was thinking through most of the book.  A good thing because it kept me on my toes and wanting to read more.  I’m going to tell you that yes, Ira does make it and guess who found him….Sophia and Luke.

Ira didn’t last too much longer…but he asked Sophia to do one thing for him.  He asked her to read a letter that he had written to his wife.  This is when I was tearing up.

Now, I don’t want to give away the ending, but I will say that you may or may not know what’s coming.  I certainly figured out what was coming, but that didn’t take away from how sweet it was.  I will say that you shouldn’t forget about the large estate of paintings Ira had left.

In the end, everyone got what they needed and things turned out right.  While Ira did pass on, he was able to join Ruth again…something he truly wanted.  Luke got more than he ever dreamed of, which would change his life and that of Sophia’s forever.

All four main characters, Ira, Ruth, Luke, and Sophia were giving up something in order to have something worth so much more….the chance to have a life filled with love and happiness.  I believe this is what the book was striving for.

Favorite Quotes:

“If we’d never met, I think I would have known my life wasn’t complete. And I would have wandered the world in search of you, even if I didn’t know who I was looking for.”

“After all, if there is a heaven, we will find each other again, for there is no heaven without you.”

“His voice, even now, follows me everywhere on this longest of rides, this thing called life.”

“Remember me with joy, for this is how I always thought of you. That is what I want, more than anything. I want you to smile when you think of me. And in your smile, I will live forever.”

“Sophia, after all, was the real treasure he’d found this year, worth more to him than all the art in the world.”

Overall Rating

From a scale of 1-10 I give “The Longest Ride” a 9.  This book didn’t have as much of an emotional impact on me as others he has written, like “The Last Song”.  I literally was bawling reading that book, but this one is still very good.  I would recommend this book to those who enjoy love stories and are hopeless romantics like myself.

Let me know what you think or if you have any book recommendations by leaving a comment.

The Longest Ride Movie CLIP – Bull Riding Lesson (2015) – Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood Movie HD




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