Louis was born in New York City and is an artist, teacher, playwright, and translator.
He graduated Summa Cum Laude from San Francisco State University majoring in European and Asian history and earned a MA Degree in history from the University of California-Berkeley.
After graduating from UC in 1972, he traveled through Europe, Turkey, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Nepal before landing in Mendocino, California, an artist colony, where he continued his studies of art and creativity, mystical philosophy, and sacred history and where he began writing plays.
He has written a stage-adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s film, The Seventh Seal, and his stage biography of the German Nobel Prize winner Hermann Hesse, HH:77(re-titled The Magic Spiral), was part of the United States representation at the 1978 Hesse Centennial Exhibition in West Berlin, Germany. His verse play Saint Rene won a special citation in Dragon Teeth Press’s International Competition in Poetic Drama in 1983.
He has also written The Epiphany a poem in film play form. Louis was a case study in Marsha Sinetar’s Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics published in 1986 by Paulist Press in New York City. He has taught at a number of colleges and universities, including in the Humanities Department at San Francisco State University and as a foreign expert/professor teaching in the undergraduate and graduate schools at Tianjin Foreign Studies University in Tianjin, China.
During his stay in Tianjin he co-hosted a weekly radio program. He was also a visiting writer/professor at East China Normal University in Shanghai, China where he worked on a book publishing project and taught a graduate seminar entitled Comparative Studies in the Arts and Humanities. While living in Shanghai he appeared in a number of Chinese movies as an extra.
And for five years he was an assistant professor at Honam University in Gwangju, South Korea. Upon returning to America after ten years in the Far East, he and his wife Inrae You received seven Literature Translation Grants between 2004 and 2013 from the Korea Literature Translation Institute and two Grants from the Daesan Foundation, both located in Seoul, South Korea.
In 2008 Louis and Inrae received a Residency Research Fellowship from the Korea Literature Translation Institute and lived in South Korea for four months. During their stay they were interviewed on Korea’s Arirang Global TV’s Heart to Heart program and were invited guests at the Man-hae Writers Colony. In 2010 they were the English translators for the Seoul International Writers Festival and World Writers Festival. Also in 2010 Stallion Press in Singapore published two of their translations. And between 2013 – 2015 Dalkey Archives Press at the University of Illinois published three of their translations as part of its Modern Korean Literature Series. Between 2010 and 2014 he and his wife were invited guests for extended residencies at the Buak Writers Colony, Seoul Art Space, Toji Cultural Foundation, and Damyang Writers Colony, all in South Korea. As an artist he has had numerous art exhibitions, including an invitational art exhibition at the Guilin Art Museum in Guilin, China, at the Bank of America in Fort Bragg, California, and at the Moodeung Municipal Gallery in Gwangju, South Korea.
In 2007 Louis was also the set designer for Korean singer Park Mun-ok’s 30th Anniversary Korea Tour. In 2012 banners containing one of his paintings and poems are exhibited at the May 18 Memorial Culture Center and the May 18 National Cemetary in Gwangju as part of the May 18 Democratic Uprising Commemoration Day ceremony marking the 32nd anniversary of the 1980 uprising. As part of the anniversary he was also invited by the Gwangju-Jeonnam Writers Association to read his exhibited poem at the May Literature Festival held at the May 18 Memorial Culture Center. In 2013 he and Inrae travel to Thailand for an extended stay. In 2015 they were on the staff of the 2015 Gwangju International Film Festival. He was also specially invited artist of the Daedong Cultural Foundation’s 2015 Asia Cultural Artists Residence Project. In 2017 he was invited by the Gwangju International Center to give a lecture and in 2018 he led a discussion group at the Center. His paintings are selected by the May 18 Memorial Foundation as the artwork for posters, banners, pamphlets, and stage backdrop for the 2016, 2017, and 2019 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights Awards Ceremonies and the Gwangju Asia Forum and he was also invited to be one of the speakers at the Memorial Foundation’s 2018 International Conference.
I identify with the Fantastic Realist tradition in the arts. To the Fantastic Realist, artists and their creative process are extensions of the creative process of the universe, mediums through which magical powers fashion works of art. To these artists art is beauty of spirit and art making is sacred practice, a vision quest for solidarity, spiritual unity, harmony, integration, and an enchantment that yields insight into the wonder of life’s sacred dimension. A Fantastic Realist believes that art making is a way of life and a calling and that art has the potential to elevate the human spirit and reveal the Great Spirit’s presence in all things. Yes, art makes visible invisible worlds and is a means to spiritual states of mind and harbors the capacity to purge and cleanse and to open one to the sublime. To me personally art making is a gateway to the Towerland, the mythic home of love, truth, beauty, inspiration, not a place but a space without boundaries, whose center lives everywhere.
In Fantastic Realism real success is achieved when one’s childlike qualities are retained into adulthood. “We must become children again, said the German artist Philipp Otto Runge, if we wish to achieve the best. To retain a child’s heart enables one to capture the soul of things and to remain open to creation’s Master Artist and the vital energy infusing all life and all enchanted art. Yes, real success is of the spirit
The Japanese painter Hokusai proved a kindred traveler on the Fantastic Realist path when he wrote, I have been in love with painting ever since I became conscious of it at the age of six. I drew some pictures I thought fairly good when I was fifty, but really nothing I did before the age of seventy was of any value at all. At seventy-three I have at last caught every aspect of nature – birds, fish, animals, insects, trees, grasses, all. When I am eighty I shall have developed still further, and I will really master the secrets of art at ninety. When I reach a hundred my work will be truly sublime, and my final goal will be attained around the age of one hundred and ten, when every line and dot I draw will be imbued with life.
Yes, creation’s Master Artist and its work will be done in heaven as it is on earth and as it is in art. And what a wonderful thing it is, indeed.