THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 26 Theodore Dreier Jr. (student at Black Mountain College and son of founder)



Group photo taken at the entrance to the Studies Building (?), Lake Eden Campus, Black Mountain College, Summer 1946. From left to right: Kendall Cox, Theodore

Interview with Theodore Dreier / © Sigrid Pawelke 2010

Theodore Dreier Jr. (born June 21, 1929) was the son of Black Mountain College founder Theodore Dreier and Barbara Loines Dreier. When he was 2,5 years old, in 1933, Theodore moved with his parents and his younger brother Mark to Black Mountain College. He spent there most of his childhood, living in a little cottage called Overlook behind the college’s Dining Hall until 1941. He attended the first grade at Black Mountain College together with two other faculty children, being taught by a BMC student, who left after one year. In the years that followed, Theodore was visiting several schools, amongst them the Black Mountain public school, which he left after one year due to its aggressive hierarchy, the Asheville Country Dayschool, the Warren Wilson Junior College, and finally the Putney School, which he considered “a little bit parallel to Black Mountain College” because of its arts and music lessons and its work programm. After graduating successfully, he studied two years at Black Mountain College, Harvard and one year at the Nordwestdeutsche Musikakademie in Detmold, focussing on cello studies. Considering himself “technically not so good”, he decided to remain an amateur musician rather than a professional and started to work with the psychiatrist John Nathaniel Rosen, recommended by his parents, who was creating a treatment in a home setting for individual patients. Being fascinated by his work, he decided to become a psychiatrist, studying and graduating at the Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia. He settled in Boston, where he worked as a psychiatrist until his retirement. In the interview Theodore Dreier recalls a performance of the “Dance of Death” by Xanti Schawinsky, his classes with Merce Cunningham, John Cage and the prepared piano and other influencing faculty at Black Mountain College.

Source: Interview with Ted Dreier Jr. by Erin Dickey and Alice Sebrell, 9 September 2014

Original Black Mountain College faculty, September 1933

Front row: Joseph Martin, (See comment below for this lady’s name), 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

I fell in love with the story of Black Mountain College and I have done posts on many of the people associated with the college such as  Anni Albers, Josef Albers, Donald Alter, Sylvia Ashby, James BishopJohn Cage,   Willem de Kooning (featured  in 3 posts)Ted Dreier, Ted Dreier Jr. Robert DuncanJorge Fick, Walter Gropius, Heinrich Jalowetz, Pete Jennerjahn, Wassily Kandinsky,   Karen Karnes,  Martha King, Irwin Kremen, Charles OlsonCharles Perrow, Robert Rauschenber,  M.C.Richards, Dorothea Rockburne,  Xanti Schawinsky, Claude Stoller,  Bill TreichlerSusan Weil,  David Weinrib,  and Vera B. Williams

Ted Dreier, Jr., Interview with Erin Dickey + Alice Sebrell


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. In the 18th post I look at the life of the famous San Francisco poet Robert Duncan who was both a student at Black Mountain College in 1933 and a professor in 1956. In the 19th post I look at the composer Heinrich Jalowetz who starting teaching at Black Mountain College in 1938 and he was one of  Arnold Schoenberg‘s seven ‘Dead Friends’ (the others being Berg, Webern, Alexander Zemlinsky, Franz Schreker, Karl Kraus and Adolf Loos). In the 20th post I look at the amazing life of Walter Gropius, educator, architect and founder of the Bauhaus.

In the 21st post I look at the life of the playwright Sylvia Ashby, and in the 22nd post I look at the work of the poet Charles Olson who in 1951, Olson became a visiting professor at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, working and studying here beside artists such as John Cage and Robert Creeley.[2] 

In the 23rd post is about the popular artist James Bishop who attended Black Mountain College towards the end of its existence. In the 24th post I look at the Poet-Writer Martha King. In the 25th post I talk about the life of the architect Claude Stoller and his time at Black Mountain College. In the 26th post I look at Ted Drieir. Jr., who was a student at Black Mountain College and the son of the founder.


Black Mountain College

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Black Mountain College
Black Mountain College seal.jpg
Active 1933–1957
Type Liberal arts college
Director John Andrew Rice (until 1940)
Administrative staff
about 30
Students about 1,200 total
Location Asheville and Black Mountain, North Carolina,United States
Black Mountain College Historic District
Nearest city Black Mountain, North Carolina
Area 586.9 acres (237.5 ha)
Built 1923
Architectural style Bungalow/craftsman, International Style
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 82001281[1]
Added to NRHP October 5, 1982

Black Mountain College, a school founded in 1933 in Black Mountain, North Carolina (near Asheville, North Carolina), was a new kind of college in the United States in which the study of art was seen to be central to aliberal arts education, and in which John Dewey‘s principles of education played a major role. Many of the school’s students and faculty were influential in the arts or other fields, or went on to become influential. Although notable even during its short life, the school closed in 1957 after only 24 years.[2]

The school’s Lake Eden campus, used from 1941 to 1957, is now part of Camp Rockmont, a summer camp for boys.


From 1933 to 1941, Black Mountain College was located at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly.

Its Lake Eden campus, used from 1941 to 1957, is now part of Camp Rockmont, a summer camp for boys.

Founded in 1933 by John Andrew Rice, Theodore Dreier, Frederick Georgia, and Ralph Lounsbury, all dismissed faculty members of Rollins College,[3] Black Mountain was experimental by nature and committed to aninterdisciplinary approach, attracting a faculty that included many of America’s leading visual artists, composers, poets, and designers, like Buckminster Fuller, who developed the geodesic dome.

Operating in a relatively isolated rural location with little budget, Black Mountain College inculcated an informal and collaborative spirit and over its lifetime attracted a venerable roster of instructors. Some of the innovations, relationships, and unexpected connections formed at Black Mountain would prove to have a lasting influence on the postwar American art scene, high culture, and eventually pop culture.[citation needed]Buckminster Fuller met student Kenneth Snelson at Black Mountain, and the result was their first geodesic dome (improvised out of Venetian blind slats in the school’s back yard); Merce Cunningham formed his dance company; and John Cage staged his first happening[4] (the term itself is traceable to Cage’s student Allan Kaprow, who applied it later to such events).

Not a haphazardly conceived venture, Black Mountain College was a consciously directed liberal arts school that grew out of the progressive education movement. In its day it was a unique educational experiment for the artists and writers who conducted it, and as such an important incubator for the American avant garde. Black Mountain proved to be an important precursor to and prototype for many of the alternative colleges of today ranging from College of the Atlantic, Naropa University, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Marlboro College to Evergreen State College, Hampshire College, Shimer College, Prescott College, Goddard College, World College West (1973-1992), and New College of Florida, among others, including Warren Wilson College located just minutes down the road from where Black Mountain College was located. Bennington College was founded the year before Black Mountain College based on the same philosophy.

For the first eight years, the college rented the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly buildings south of Black Mountain, North Carolina. In 1941, it moved across the valley to its own campus at Lake Eden where it remained until its closing in 1956. The property was later purchased and converted to an ecumenical Christian boys’ residential summer camp (Camp Rockmont), which later became a long-time location of the Black Mountain Festivaland the Lake Eden Arts Festival. A number of the original structures are still in use as lodgings or administrative facilities.

The college suspended classes by court order in 1957. This was due to debts not sustained by the decreased number of students. In 1962, the school’s books were finally closed, with all debts covered.[5]

Faculty and alumni[edit]

Among those who taught there in the 1940s and 1950s were:

Josef and Anni Albers, Eric Bentley, Ilya Bolotowsky, Josef Breitenbach, John Cage, Harry Callahan, Mary Callery, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Edward Dahlberg, Max Dehn, Willem de Kooning, Robert Duncan, Buckminster Fuller, Walter Gropius, Trude Guermonprez[6] Lou Harrison, Alfred Kazin, Franz Kline, Jacob Lawrence, Richard Lippold, Alvin Lustig,[7] Charles Olson, M. C. Richards, Albert William Levi,Alexander Schawinsky, Ben Shahn, Arthur Siegel, Aaron Siskind, Theodoros Stamos, Jack Tworkov, Robert Motherwell, Emerson Woelffer, and William R. Wunsch.

Guest lecturers included Albert Einstein, Clement Greenberg, Bernard Rudofsky, Richard Lippold and William Carlos Williams.

Ceramic artists Peter Voulkos and Robert C. Turner taught there as well.

Notable alumni[edit]

The college ran summer institutes from 1944 until its closing in 1956. It was however influential to the founding of the Free University of New York.[9]

Black Mountain poets[edit]

Various avant-garde poets (subsequently known as the Black Mountain poets) were drawn to the school through the years, most notably Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov, Jonathan Williams, Ed Dorn, and Robert Creeley.[10] Creeley was hired to teach and to edit the Black Mountain Review in 1955, and when he left two years later for San Francisco, he became the link between the Black Mountain poets and the poets of the San Francisco Renaissance. Through Allen Ginsberg, a link with the Beat generationwriters of Greenwich Village was initiated.


  1. Jump up^ “National Register Information System”. National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
  2. Jump up^
  3. Jump up^ Mary Seymour, “The Ghosts of Rollins (and Other Skeletons in the Closet)”, Rollins Magazine, fall 2011,; John Andrew Rice, I Came Out of the Eighteenth Century (1942), reissued, with new introduction by Rice’s grandson, William Craig Rice, University of South Carolina Press, 2014, ISBN 1611174368
  4. Jump up^ Harris, Mary Emma (2002). The Arts at Black Mountain College, p. 226. MIT Press.
  5. Jump up^
  6. Jump up^ “Trude Guermonprez”. Collection. Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  7. Jump up^ Heller, Steven; Lustig Cohen, Elaine (2010). Born Modern: The Life and Design of Alvin Lustig. pp. 178–180. ISBN 978-0-8118-6127-4.
  8. Jump up^ Fox, Margalit. “Jane Mayhall, Poet Who Gained Prominence Late in Life, Is Dead at 90”, The New York Times, March 19, 2009. Accessed March 19, 2009.
  9. Jump up^ Berke, Joseph (29 October 1965), “The Free University of New York”, Peace News: 6–7 as reproduced in Jakobsen, Jakob (2012), Anti-University of Londin–Antihistory Tabloid, London: MayDay Rooms, pp. 6–7
  10. Jump up^ Harris (2002), p. 245.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]


How Nicholas Sparks Came To Write His First Jewish Characters

‘I sometimes think to myself that I’m the last of my kind.”

And thus begins “The Longest Ride,” Nicholas Sparks’s latest novel. Sparks has written seventeen novels, eight of which have already made it to the silver screen.

What makes this Nicholas Sparks novel different from all other Nicholas Sparks novels? Well, the speaker continues:

“My name is Ira Levinson. I’m a southerner and a Jew, and equally proud to have been called both at one time or another.”

Levinson, 91, is trapped in his car, which has skidded down an embankment. He has no idea when or even if he will be rescued. In his delirium, he keeps up a conversation with Ruth, his wife of 55 years, who died nine years ago.

The Levinsons are Sparks’s first Jewish characters. “I wanted to do something to keep my stories fresh and original for the reader,” Sparks explained in a telephone interview from his home in New Bern, N.C. “I think they’re going to love these characters. They’re just great, great characters.

“It was something I hadn’t done before and I thought people would like it. Also, not a lot of people know there are Jewish people in the South. We all know there are a lot of Jewish people in New York and other big cities. Not a lot of people realize how prominent they are in the history of the South. New Bern is the home of the first synagogue in North Carolina.”

Though he has never written Jewish characters before, the Levinsons are typical Sparks creations in at least one important way. The protagonists in all his books — from “The Notebook” in 1996 to later titles such as “Message in a Bottle,” “A Walk to Remember” and “Nights in Rodanthe” — find a fairy tale love and happiness.

And so it was with the Levinsons, whose marriage was seemingly bashert. He was the son of a Greensboro, N.C. haberdasher. She was the descendant of refugees from post-Anschluss Vienna by way of Switzerland.

They met when she was 16, shortly after she arrived in the States. Ruth and her mom walked into the Levinsons’ store, and it was kismet. They went to the same synagogue and walked home together on the Sabbath. There was never any doubt that they’d be married and live happily ever after. Their love would ultimately impact the relationship of the novel’s two other principal characters, Sophia, a senior art major at Wake Forest University, and Luke, a rancher and professional bull rider.

Though romance is a constant in his work, Sparks, 47, does not consider himself a romance writer. “It’s an inaccurate term to describe my work,” he said. “Romance novelists have a specific structure and very strict rules they follow.

“My books don’t fall into what romance novels are. Family dramas, Southern literature, love stories, are a lot of terms that are more accurate.”

I told him that the term “romance” was not meant in a pejorative way. Certainly his books are full of romance. He agreed, sort of.

“Romantic elements are part of my books,” he said. “But I write novels that cover a lot of different emotions and my goal really as a writer is to accurately reflect all of those emotions — happiness, fear, loss and betrayal. I want to make all of these emotions come to life so that the reader feels he knows all of these characters.”

I asked if he was familiar with the word bashert, and explained that it’s often used to refer to one’s predestined soul mate. I wondered if he believed in that kind of love outside of novels.

“I think romance is alive and well,” Sparks responded. “I think that feeling is a universal human experience. When you meet the person you are meant to be with, there’s this overwhelming feeling that this was preordained.”

“I can tell you that from my own experience. I met my wife on spring break in Florida. I was down with my friends, and I saw her walking through a parking lot. If we had stopped for one more red light, we never would have met. Was that preordained?”

Sparks’s father was a college professor who taught business and public administration. Sparks was raised Catholic and attended the University of Notre Dame on a full track and field scholarship.

Yes, he had Jewish friends growing up. And yes, he attended several bar mitzvahs — “though strangely I’ve never been to a Jewish wedding,” he remarked.

Sparks said that Ira Levinson was based on someone extremely close to him, a Jewish man who became almost a surrogate grandfather. After Sparks’s grandparents divorced, his grandmother moved to San Diego, where she kept company with a Jewish gentleman.

“They went to Israel together, they had lunch together. We didn’t have a lot of money, so we’d vacation in San Diego and stay at Grandma’s house. I became very close to him. He was almost like a grandfather to me. He taught me how to snorkel. He taught me how to body surf, and was very much part and parcel of my life.”

“Ira was modeled on him, probably less in the religious aspect than the generational aspect. He was born in 1920, as was Ira.”

Sparks was already familiar with the Shoah. “I’ve always read a lot of history and World War II is one of my favorite periods of study. I certainly consider myself fairly well-read on the Holocaust.

“We started [the Epiphany] school here in my home town. The basis of it is love in the Christian tradition, and what we mean by that is you shall love God and your neighbor as yourself, which comes from Leviticus and the Gospel.

“Our sophomores read the ‘Diary of Anne Frank’ and ‘Night’ by Elie Wiesel. We fly them to Poland and they visit the Krakow Jewish quarter and Schindler’s factory and Auschwitz. It’s an independent school in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

Interestingly, the school’s headmaster is Saul Benjamin, who is Jewish. In fact, Sparks works with numerous Jews, including his attorney and several of his agents. He used them to vet the authenticity of the Levinsons.

“My attorney told me, ‘My gosh, you wrote my parents.’ That was a wonderful feeling that I really got this right.”

Curt Schleier, a regular contributor to the Forward, teaches business writing to corporate executives.

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

Related posts:

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 22 Poet Charles Olson, friend of Ezra Pound

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 21 Sylvia Ashby playwright

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 20 Walter Gropius, Bauhaus,

THE ARTISTS, POETS and PROFESSORS of BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (the college featured in the film THE LONGEST RIDE) Part 19 composer Heinrich Jalowetz, student of Arnold Schoenberg



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  • Edgar Soberon  On July 15, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    The second photo on this page of teachers and students sitting on the steps should have a correction. The young lady/student bottom row center wearing a white dress is master printer Sheila Marbain she was a good friend. Thought you may want to correct the attribution. Cheers

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