early winter of 1972 Rebecca Cambell, a sister
of the Holy Order of MANS, visited the Frank Gallery. Later, she would
express her highest admiration for Mulleians
work, stating that she believed that the artist was on the leading
edge of spiritualism in the world of art.
Upon first meeting the artist and then viewing Mulleians exhibit, Rebecca
expressed her appreciation of Mulleians
paintings by saying, You paint what I teach: the Inner Light. To
this the artist responded cryptically, A
kiss of light upon the whisper of the inner, while the outer sleeps. Rebecca
smiled, and without missing a beat, replied, I see that it holds
you in communion in its presence. This mutually
insightful exchange marked the beginning of a mutually influential relationship
between Mulleian and Campbell.
Mulleians personal recollections of Rebecca Campbell is an impression
that formed unexpectedly one day while walking with her through San Franciscos
Tenderloin District. It was in impression that had to do with the energy generated
by this young woman. He describes the incident as profound, out-of-this-world,
mystical, and it had an indelible impact on the young artist that has lasted
to the present day.
Campbell was a woman of effective action rather than conspicuous presentation.
As was required as a Sister of The Holy Order of MANS, (a Pauline Christian
group modeled on Roman Catholic orders) Rebecca had taken vows for life of poverty,
humility, obedience, purity and service. The Holy Order of MANS was created
under the mandate to work for the unity of science and Christian teachings,
committing its members to a life of service to the creator through service to
man. As a Sister of the Order, Rebecca dressed in an ankle-length moderately
tailored navy blue habit with a white clerical collar, her hair drawn back and
gathered modestly into a knot at the back of her head. Her physical demeanor
was confident and direct, outgoing and energetic, with clear-eyed intensity
of focus and a candid, matter-of-fact style of communication. She had about
her a mysteriously disarming, uncannily positive way of expressing herself.
Her thoughts and style of expression are best emblematized in a concise essay
entitled Weapon of
War, a written work that she presented
to Mulleian shortly before their final meeting. The introduction to the piece
claims anonymity, though, for various reasons, Mulleian is certain that it was
written by her.
the two made their way along the sidewalk that afternoon in the Tenderloin,
deep in animated conversation, Mulleian took notice of Rebeccas confident,
unflinching pace, her upright posture and steady, rhythmic stride. She kept
her eyes straight forward as she spoke, her square-heeled shoes striking the
pavement in emphatic, cadenced meter, never once missing a beat as she developed
her train of thought. He was also immediately aware of the scene that surrounded
them, mentally juxtaposing Rebeccas profile against a slowly passing diorama
of faces, white, black, yellow and gray. He felt the surreal clash of energies
embodied in the faces of the men along the way, derelicts, alcoholics, drug
addicts; a steady, surreal stream of gray-faced, impoverished humanity. Against
this was the energy in Rebeccas profile, which stood out from the background
in stark, stunning contrast, light radiating from the fresh glow of her skin.
It was like the violent collision of two energy frequencies, or the explosive
meeting of two opposing force fields. Ironically, it was as though the circumstance
was meant to personify the concept of polarity, a subject that Rebecca often
talked about, and one that, as it happened, would be the last theyd ever
discuss. In any case, in witnessing this event, the impact was so great that
Mulleian fell ill to his stomach and came very near to passing out. It was an
event he never forgot.
many of her countless visits to the artists studio, usually at night,
the two would share their metaphysical and philosophical speculations, many
of which would eventually create, along with Mulleians insightful visions,
a haven of transcended ideas, later to be translated to his viewers in his paintings.
In fact, it was during this period that Mulleians work The Crypt was created.
Named by Rebecca, the painting evolved from their insightful discussions on
the subject of the Inner Light, which both Rebecca and Mulleian embraced. Rebecca
would later that year present to the Holy Order of MANS a gift, a reproduction
print of one of Mulleians 1968 inner light paintings, in golden hues,
entitled The Door Knob. The print was hung in the main office of the Holy Orders
headquarters in San Francisco.
relationship would last, regrettably, only a year. Their last encounter would
take place at Solomons, a popular restaurant with theater- and gallery-goers,
just down the street from Union Square on Geary Street. Their subject was polarities,
a theme they had returned to time and time again. Nothing can exist without
polarities. was Mulleians position and, to an equal degree, Rebeccas
position as well. But on this occasion, their discussion came to an impasse,
and, try as they might, they couldnt get beyond it. In a gesture of absolute
frustration, Rebecca abruptly rose from the table, gathered her coat and, without
a moments hesitation, exited the restaurant through a side door that had
always, but always, remained locked. At 1:00 AM, at the beginning of this particular
day, the door offered not the slightest resistance. This would be the last the
artist would see of her, except for a photograph that he received from her just
a few days later. On the back of the photo was written, in her perfect cursive
style, Heres one way of transcending words. Love, Rebecca.
brevity of their relationship, though regrettable in some respects as it may
be, actually reinforces Mulleians belief that there are certain people
and events that come into our lives and are intended to reveal or teach certain
facts, realities and truths. These events may inform, enlighten, admonish or
encourage, events that alter the way we perceive and make us aware of truths
which, without the event, we might never have experienced and understood. These
brief encounters with Rebecca Campbell, to this day, were among those kinds
of fortuitous gifts.