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Contents for July 30, 2015

Ingrid Sischy, FF Alumn, In Memoriam

We are sad to announce the passing of Ingrid Sischy, member of DISBAND and Director of Printed Matter Bookstore.

The New York Times
Ingrid Sischy, Doyenne of Art and Fashion, Dies at 63
JULY 24, 2015

Ingrid Sischy, a writer, editor and cultural critic known for her long, authoritative associations with Interview magazine, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, died on Friday in Manhattan. She was 63.

Her death, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, was from breast cancer, a friend, Ed Filipowski, said.

For nearly 40 years, Ms. Sischy (pronounced SEE-shee) was an influential chronicler of the cultural orbit - in particular the avant-garde orbit - of New York, the country and the world. A fixture at fashion shows and gallery openings around the globe, she knew seemingly everyone on the cutting edge of creative life and was considered a formidable handicapper of talent.

Ms. Sischy counted among her friends the fashion designer Gianni Versace, who was murdered in 1997; she served, with her spouse, Sandra Brant, as godmother to the infant son of Elton John and his husband, David Furnish.

At her death Ms. Sischy was a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, a post she had held for nearly two decades. With Ms. Brant, she also shared the title international editor of Condé Nast, contributing to German Vogue and to Vanity Fair's French, Spanish and Italian editions.

In 2011, The Evening Standard of London described Ms. Sischy and Ms. Brant as "the very model of a modern media couple, a two-woman magazine writing-editing-publishing phenomenon," adding, "They occupy a cultural nexus where art, fashion, celebrity and money intersect."

In a tribute to Ms. Sischy published on Vanity Fair's website on Friday, the magazine's editor, Graydon Carter, wrote: "She could write about anything, but what interested her most were art and fashion, and she traversed those two hothouses like a bemused empress. She had a crisp mind and an almost uncanny focus when she sat down to write. She was a fun, conspiratorial gossip, but never with malice or envy - the working tools of so many gossips."

Ms. Sischy first came to wide public attention in 1979, when, at 27, she was named the editor of Artforum, a perch she occupied until 1988. There, she helped secure the prominence of emerging young artists - and daring older ones - including Joseph Beuys, Cindy Sherman, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Julian Schnabel.

Ms. Sischy also broadened Artforum's purview to encompass the place where visual art and couture intersect - a place she esteemed. For the February 1982 issue, for instance, she featured on the cover an image formerly thought to be the sole province of fashion: a model clad in a rattan bodice by the Japanese designer Issey Miyake. Her decision to do so provoked wide public comment pro and con.

"The idea that an art magazine could be an object that could do something nothing else could do: That was what drove us," Ms. Sischy, recalling her tenure there, said in an interview with Artforum in 2012. "By making a magazine into a kind of object that gave you primary art, that gave you sound - well, I'm nervous to say it because I don't want it to sound sentimental, but it was a real love letter to what an art magazine is."

In bestowing the title on a long profile of Ms. Sischy, by Janet Malcolm, published over two consecutive weeks in October 1986, The New Yorker called her "A Girl of the Zeitgeist."

Ms. Sischy soon became a regular contributor to The New Yorker herself, writing from 1988 to 1996 on photography and fashion. Her work there included articles about the Corcoran Gallery of Art's hotly debated decision, in 1989, to cancel a retrospective of stark, often unsettling work by the gay photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. She also wrote early profiles of the designers Miuccia Prada, Alexander McQueen and Azzedine Alaïa.

In 1990, Ms. Sischy was named the editor in chief of Interview, which had been founded in 1969 by Andy Warhol and John Wilcock. At the magazine, where she remained until 2008, she began her long professional and personal association with Ms. Brant, its president and publisher.

During her years there, Ms. Sischy "became the public face of Interview," The New York Times wrote in 2008, as she helped expand the magazine's circulation and advertising sales.

For Vanity Fair, which she joined in 1997, Ms. Sischy wrote cover articles about celebrities including Madonna, Nicole Kidman and Kristen Stewart, as well as long profiles of Mr. McQueen and the artists Keith Haring and Jeff Koons.
One of her most talked-about articles for Vanity Fair was a long profile of the designer John Galliano that appeared in the July 2013 issue. In 2011, Mr. Galliano had been dismissed by the House of Dior as its lead designer after a video of him loosing a torrent of anti-Semitic invective became public.

Ms. Sischy, who was Jewish, spent a year helping to persuade Mr. Galliano to sit for an interview. The resulting article, "Galliano in the Wilderness," was, Mr. Carter wrote on Friday, "a marvel of empathy and disclosure."

In it, Ms. Sischy recounted not only Mr. Galliano's addiction to pills and alcohol, but also, in a raw, surprising disclosure toward the end, the similar struggles of her brother Mark.

"Unlike Galliano, he did not come through to the other side, and died an alcoholic," Ms. Sischy wrote. "During that Paris fashion season two years ago, on March 6, 2011, the day of the Galliano fall/winter women's ready-to-wear show, I couldn't be there because I had flown to Edinburgh to be at the stone-setting for my brother's grave."

Ingrid Barbara Sischy was born in Johannesburg on March 3, 1952. Her father, Benjamin, was a noted radiation oncologist; her mother, Claire, was a speech therapist. Public opponents of apartheid, the family fled South Africa in 1961 after receiving a tip that Mrs. Sischy was about to be arrested. They lived for some years in Edinburgh and moved to Rochester when Ingrid was a teenager.

After earning a bachelor's degree from Sarah Lawrence College in 1973, Ms. Sischy worked as an intern under the eminent photography curator John Szarkowski at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

She had homes in Greenwich Village and in Montauk, on Long Island. Besides Ms. Brant, her partner of a quarter-century, whom she married a few weeks ago, survivors include her mother and a brother, David.

In an interview with Women's Wear Daily in 2013, Ms. Sischy described her modus operandi in interviewing Mr. Galliano.

"When you begin a story, your instinct leads you into the person," she said. "You don't have any preset plans. It's when you're there and fully present that the story writes itself."

She added: "It's a good red flag when someone isn't genuine, your stomach kind of tells you. My stomach was saying, 'This is the real thing.' "


The New York Times
Remembering Ingrid Sischy

At the Watermill Center benefit Saturday night, a circus theme prevailed, with greeters whose heads were hidden by balloons and a nymph in a metallic dress, pretending to be asleep amid the trees.

But the topic of conversation for many centered on a person who wasn't there: Ingrid Sischy, the well-known editor and writer, who died Friday at the age of 63 after a long, on-again-off again struggle with cancer.

Ms. Sischy's illness had been a closely guarded secret, known of by only a handful of her closest friends, and that made the whole thing even more upsetting in a way.
"That's why I was shocked when I heard the news," said Simon de Pury, who presided over an auction after dinner. "I had no idea."

In fact, Bob Colacello, a special correspondent for Vanity Fair, had seen Ms. Sischy but a few weeks before, at a dinner for Graydon Carter. Ms. Sischy had been there with her spouse, Sandra Brant, wearing her signature saucerlike glasses, one of her crisp white shirts and a pair of slacks. Although she had edited Interview magazine for roughly two decades and had written many articles about fashion and art for The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, almost no one ever saw her in a dress.

"Ingrid was in fine form," Mr. Colacello recalled, describing the dinner for Mr. Carter. "She was her brilliant acerbic self. Sandy seemed happy. Dinner started at 7:30, and it was 12:15 when Graydon said, 'I'm going to bed.' "Of course, there had been signs something was amiss. Everyone realizes that now. Her hair in recent years looked a little strange. She had been losing weight. Still, Mr. Colacello did not put two and two together. "Five years ago, she and Julian Schnabel started this diet together," he said. "All protein and no carbs. Julian dropped out after a couple of months and Ingrid continued with it. It became a way of life for her. And I left thinking, 'Ingrid's been carrying this diet too far.' "

"Everyone is devastated," said the power publicist Peggy Siegal, who had also seen Ms. Sischy recently at a small dinner held at Calvin Klein's home in Southampton, N.Y.
There, a group including the artist Nate Lowman and Rolling Stone's co-founder Jane Wenner retired to a screening room for a private viewing of "Amy," the Amy Winehouse documentary. As usual, Ms. Sischy knew all about the subject, having met Ms. Winehouse early on in her career. "She had a very creative mind, and she was always on the cutting edge of everything new," Ms. Siegal said. "She was very perceptive about who was a real talent and who wasn't." "I used to see her at parties and I was terrified of her," said Ms. Siegal's tablemate, the writer Jay McInerney. "She would look at me and I would think she was judging me and hating me. I was so scared of her. And then finally, about 10 years ago, we were seated next to each other at a dinner and she turned out to be delightful and incredibly smart. We weren't close friends, but I would always seek her out because she knew everything and everyone. She was amazing."
That Ms. Sischy succeeded to the degree she did was always something of a surprise.
She took over Interview after the death of its co-founder Andy Warhol, at a time when it was less than clear that anyone would have the magnetism to sustain the magazine.
"She was the only one that could have done it," Brooke Shields said. "She wasn't a sycophant or a wannabe."

And then, because it became a big success, Ms. Sischy emerged as a power broker of the first order - a modern-day Gertrude Stein who popped up at art openings in Chelsea, movie screenings in Cannes and gala benefits the world over. Her close friends included the photographer Bruce Weber; the designers Miuccia Prada, Donna Karan, Diane von Furstenberg and Calvin Klein; the actress Nicole Kidman; the director Baz Luhrmann; and the Hollywood agent Bryan Lourd, who described Ms. Sischy as a kind of unofficial talent scout. "She was often the first person I knew to say, 'You have to meet, you have to know,' " Mr. Lourd said. "She loved artists."

In the last years of his life, Gianni Versace became a collector of artwork by Pablo Picasso, thanks to an introduction Ms. Sischy arranged between the designer and the gallerist Arne Glimcher. Madonna's first interview upon giving birth to her daughter Lourdes was with Ms. Sischy in Vanity Fair. So was John Galliano's after being fired from his job at Christian Dior. "In a way," Mr. Colacello said, "she was like a more bohemian version of Anna Wintour." "She was just one of those people you immediately connected with," said Robert Wilson, the evening's host. "Or at least, I did. She had this way of understanding artists and madness. And she knew irony."



1. Michael Smith, FF Alumn, in The New York Times, July 23

The New York Times
Michael Smith Examines Life's Absurdity at Greene Naftali
JULY 23, 2015

What kind of world do we live in, where the fountain of youth is in a Florida theme park, ballet is used to demonstrate the frustrations of airport security, and our greatest existential conundrum is how to keep those white Apple earphones untangled?
It's Michael Smith's world - at least for the sake of this exhibition. His current show also includes heraldic banners with half-finished Sudoku puzzles; photographs of a trip to a Brazilian theme park where kids can role-play as adults; and an actual fountain made of handblown glass but mimicking the mundane office water cooler.

Mr. Smith delivers these gems via a number of means, including his signature performances as Baby Ikki, a ridiculous infant in a sagging diaper, and as the dull Everyman Mike Smith. Photographs show Mr. Smith wandering around Ponce de León's Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park in St. Augustine, Fla., where you can sip spring water from a plastic cup and watch demonstrations of Native American customs. More photographs document his trip to KidZania in São Paulo, where children can pretend to work in a hospital or pass through immigration at an airport. A 20-minute video documents a ballet in which Baby Ikki and a befuddled Mike serve as counterpoints to the young, graceful dancers.

Honed over a long career, Mr. Smith's work is still heavy on irony and postmodern ennui. A different current runs through the works here, however, in the wake of the 2012 suicide of his longtime friend and collaborator Mike Kelley. This show - particularly the ballet video - carries strong echoes of Mr. Kelley's "Day Is Done" (2005), an absurdist ode to after-school activities, as well as Mr. Kelley and Mr. Smith's brilliant 2009 work, "A Voyage of Growth and Discovery," in which Baby Ikki traveled to Burning Man.

Both artists effectively channeled the dissonant sensation of being alone in an overpopulated world, and cultivated a puerile - in Mr. Smith's case, infantile - artistic response to the insanity of "adult" society. Now, however, Baby Ikki and Mike feel a little more alone in the world.

Greene Naftali
508 West 26th Street, Chelsea
Through Aug. 14



2. Karen Finley, FF Alumn, in The New York Times, July 29

The New York Times
Former Club Kids Rally Around Stephen Saban, a Scribe of 1980s New York Culture
JULY 29, 2015

Anita Sarko, a D.J. at epochal nightclubs like the Mudd Club and the Palladium in the 1980s, recalled the time when a pudgy teenage boy spotted her in the West Village and acted as if he had just seen Marilyn Monroe return from the grave.
"It's you!" the boy shouted. "I have all of you on my wall," he said, rattling off her name, along with those of fellow night crawlers like Michael Mustoand Patrick McMullan.
"Why do you have our pictures on your wall?" Ms. Sarko asked.
"Because you're all in Details," the boy answered. "You're all in Stephen Saban's column. You all are the reason I came to New York. I want to be famous."
Mr. Saban was a scene-maker and star-maker in the era of Madonna, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, when partying was a form of performance art.
While the once-ubiquitous columnist eventually fled New York during Mayor Rudy Giuliani's crackdown on debauchery and vice, clubland, it seems, never forgot his influence.

In recent months, dozens of downtown notables from that apogee of hedonism, including RuPaul, Karen Finley and Dianne Brill, have banded together to lend support and to raise money for Mr. Saban, who at 69 is living in Los Angeles on a fixed income and recovering from pancreatic cancer.

A support page on GoFundMe, the crowdfunding site, set up by his daughter, Chloë Saban-Mayor, has raised more than $18,000 to help pay medical bills after surgery in February to remove his pancreas, gallbladder, spleen and part of his stomach.
The outpouring of support is hardly surprising, given his lingering influence in night life. "He was the daddy of the downtown scene, the one who made it cool to be cool," said Mr. Musto, the former night life columnist for The Village Voice and a close friend. (Mr. Musto currently contributes to The New York Times. )

Mr. Saban's column was such a wellspring of social currency that ambitious club kids learned to always stand on the right in a group photo for Details, "so that when the picture runs in Stephen's column, you'll be the first name on the left," said Gabriel Rotello, a founder of OutWeek, the influential gay magazine founded in 1989.

"If you were in Stephen's column, you had made it," Mr. Rotello added.
(Note for those under 40: The Details of the 1980s was a far cry from Condé Nast's slick metrosexual glossy of today. It was an insidery style bible for downtown scenesters, the Danceteria of print.)

Karen Finley, who became a national touchstone of controversy for her performance art involving nudity and, yes, yams, recalled Mr. Saban as a tireless champion of young artists, both in print and in person.One night, after hecklers at the nightclub the World interrupted an early performance of "Black Sheep," which concerned the mounting body count from AIDS, Mr. Saban pulled her aside backstage "and made me promise that I would continue with the work and my writing," Ms. Finley said. "He made a difference in my young life."

Dapper, low-key and given to a mock-weary deadpan, the English-born, American-raised columnist was rarely the center of attention in a circus like Area or Palladium, surrounded by drag queens in four-inch stilettos and misbehaving celebrities.

Even so, his stature rose, to the point that stars themselves considered him an intimate. Julio Iglesias forced him onstage at Radio City Music Hall to join in a duet on "To All the Girls I've Loved Before," Mr. Musto recalled.

Indeed, Mr. Saban, contacted at his home in Echo Park, said he deeply welcomed the support, but felt self-conscious to be the center of attention.
"It's really weird, because I didn't know anyone even liked me," he said. "I've always been considered snarky and disapproving."
Despite the dismal survival rates for pancreatic cancer, Mr. Saban, who until recently ran the blog for World of Wonder, a production company behind "RuPaul's Drag Race" and "Million Dollar Listing," said he remains optimistic.
"I have to have insulin for the rest of my life, because I have no pancreas," said Mr. Saban, who with his flowing white beard now looks like a hipster Gandalf. "Other than that, I'm fine."
His GoFundMe site has become a reunion of sorts, an excuse for old party sidekicks to relive their memories - such as they are.
"It was the '80s," said Dini von Mueffling, a socially prominent publicist who once was Mr. Saban's intern. "A lot of the specifics are fuzzy and most of the great stories will go untold, to protect the guilty - me included."
Correction: July 29, 2015

An earlier version of the summary associated with this article misstated Stephen Saban's age. He is 69, not 71.



3. Yasmin Ramirez, FF Alumn, in The Wall Street Journal, July 14

The Wall Street Journal
July 14, 2015 9:30 p.m. ET

The Art and Activism of the Young Lords

Three New York City venues are looking back at the Puerto Rican nationalist group the Young Lords in the exhibition '¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York.'
The Young Lords were Puerto Rican nationalists who would go on to become one of the most radical civil-rights activist groups in New York City.
The Lords' history began as a struggle for Puerto Rican independence and racial equality.

The Young Lords-whose New York chapter was founded in 1969-aimed to combat social oppression in their community through highly organized protests that sometimes involved run-ins with the law.

When garbage started piling up on East Harlem sidewalks in the late 1960s because of irregular trash collection, a group of young activists decided to intervene. They dragged the discarded mattresses, old refrigerators and abandoned cars into the street, blocking traffic in a dramatic protest. They then set the garbage aflame.
The protesters were members of the Young Lords, Puerto Rican nationalists who would go on to become one of the most radical civil-rights activist groups in New York City. Controversial in their heyday, they are now the subject of a new, multi-venue exhibition.
Like their better-known collaborators, the Black Panthers, the Young Lords-whose New York chapter was founded in 1969-aimed to combat social oppression in their community through highly organized protests that sometimes involved run-ins with the law.

The exhibition, titled "¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York," documents those efforts with photographs, publications, films and artwork that came out of the movement. The Bronx Museum of the Arts, El Museo del Barrio and the Loisaida Center will each focus on different aspects of the Lords' history, which began as a struggle for Puerto Rican independence and racial equality, before evolving into a much larger fight.
"The civil-rights movement is imagined in black and white," said Johanna Fernández, co-curator of the Bronx Museum's exhibition. "But the movement in itself was diverse, and it was concerned with problems of social and economic import" in Puerto Rican neighborhoods, such as unemployment and poor health care. Their work testing East Harlem children for lead poisoning-and trumpeting the dire results at news conferences-helped lead to city legislation on the issue.

The intersection of activism and art is a major theme of "¡Presente!" The Bronx Museum's portion of the exhibition, which runs until Oct. 15, features an artistic re-creation of the Young Lords' headquarters, complete with their distinctive posters and a '70s-era radio that plays interviews with its members.

It also includes around 30 pages from group's bilingual newspaper, Palante, many emblazoned with vibrant artwork by artists associated with the Young Lords. Several in the group were themselves artists and writers, said co-curator Yasmin Ramírez. Founding New York member Juan Gonzáles, for one, has written several books, and the original party chairman, Felipe Luciano, is a published poet.
Prints and paintings from the era are interspersed with newer pieces, such as a reimagined Young Lords poster by contemporary street artist and activist Shepard Fairey.
The walls of the main gallery are lined with photographs depicting the organization during fiery demonstrations in the Bronx.
In 1970, Denise Oliver-Velez became the first woman elected to the party's central committee. (Gender equality was a big issue.) She was among the Young Lords who barricaded themselves inside Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx to protest the facility's unsafe conditions-an event portrayed in the exhibition with both photographs and film footage.

"It was one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen," said Ms. Oliver-Velez, who is an adjunct professor of women's studies and anthropology at the State University of New York at New Paltz. "Rats used to run across the operating table...and there would be cockroaches in the medicine cups."
After the takeover, the building was torn down and a new hospital erected in its place.
Founded around the same time as the Young Lords organization, El Museo del Barrio was instituted to promote Latino art and culture-topics largely ignored by museums at the time, said curator Rocío Aranda-Alvarado.
El Museo's piece of the exhibition, running from July 22 to Oct. 17, will focus on the Lords' East Harlem activity, featuring many images captured by the group's in-house photographer, Hiram Maristany. Among the subjects: the group's takeover of the First Spanish United Methodist Church as well as their free-breakfast program for children.
Paintings and political prints created by prominent Young Lords artists will also be on display in the Harlem museum, including a colorful silk-screen print by Antonio Martorell protesting the U.S. Navy's occupation of an island off Puerto Rico.
Several contemporary works were commissioned specifically for the exhibition.Miguel Luciano fashioned a piece consisting of four fuchsia-colored AK-47s, recurrent symbols in Young Lords iconography.
A third exhibition, opening July 30 at Latino social-service and cultural center Loisaida Inc., will focus on the Lords' presence in the Lower East Side. Documents include audio recordings and found footage of party members reciting poetry and speaking about their cause.
The show will also feature unpublished photos by Mr. Maristany, and posters by graphic artist and poet Sandra María Esteves. It will examine the efforts of the Young Lords Gay and Lesbian Caucus, as well as the organization's influence on the neighborhood's burgeoning Latin-jazz scene, said Wilson Valentín-Escobar, who is co-organizing the exhibit with Libertad Guerra.
"The Young Lords redefined the mainstream stereotypes of Puerto Ricans [as being] prone to violence, drug addiction and welfare dependence," Ms. Fernández said. "They challenged that perception through their eloquent, strategic and smart activism."



4. Susana Cook, FF Alumn, at Festival de Mujeres, Bogota, Colombia, Aug. 21

Susana Cook will be performing a new show
"Samanta Ibarrola , la mujer inexplicable"
at the Festival de Mujeres in Bogota
Corporacion Colombiana de Teatro
Sala Seki Sano
August 21, at 20hs and at 22hs
With local and New York actors:
Sofia O.C
Florencia Minniti,
Alejandro Jaramillo Hoyos
Denial Pit Parce
Angela Vargas
Alois Kronschlaeger
Written and Directed by Susana Cook



5. Robin Tewes, FF Alumn, in The East Hampton Star, July 23

The East Hampton Star
Nightingale Gallery Reimagines Marine Art in Water Mill
"Reinventing the Helm: Self¬Styled Nautical Activists Pirate the Canon of Maritime Art,"
By Jennifer Landes | July 23, 2015 ¬ 12:33pm

Sara Nightingale is an energetic free spirit who manages to be a savvy art dealer. She is not immune to trends, but finds unique angles and original ways to feature them in her Water Mill gallery. Mostly, she trusts her eyes and her ability to make her view of things appealing to an audience.

The latest exhibition in her eponymous gallery is "Reinventing the Helm: Self-Styled Nautical Activists Pirate the Canon of Maritime Art," which began with an invitation to artists to take a short story and use it to make art in reaction to traditional maritime painting. In the story, a framed print of a ship in a down-at-the-heels motel room in a seaside town breaks free from its source in a man's dream and becomes something other than what it was.

Artists eagerly took to the theme, some doing what might be expected and others charting a different course. Ms. Nightingale said she was happy to discover that most of them had a direct connection to the waters of the East End, whether they were sailors, surfers, paddlers, or swimmers.

Robin Tewes offers her "Men in Trouble" series, with a number of collaged tableaux, all water-related and all implying danger and threat, from waterlogged boats and lost oars to one man pushing another one away from his boat.



6. Bill Beirne, Kay Hines, FF Alumns, at The Weigh Station, Callicoon, NY, thru Aug. 9

North School Studio

Fuel for Thought

An exhibition of plans, proposals and models.

Nancy Hwang, Brenna Beirne, Kay Hines, Kat Ching, Bill Beirne

The Weigh Station Callicoon New YorkJuly 25 - August 9 - Wednesday through Sunday 12 - 7PM

Fuel for Thought is an exhibition of proposal drawings, and models by five contemporary artists. The exhibition takes repurposing the iconic Coal Silos in the hamlet of Callicoon as the subject of their work.

Proposals include projections on the silo exterior, transforming the top structure into an Ice cream dispensing performance site, video projections on the interior of the silos as well as transforming the silos into a confessional and an architectural intervention creating "silo - scopes" as a surveillance device or for monitoring the sky



7. Nicolas Dumit Estevez, FF Alumn, in The New York Times, July 13

The New York Times
Seeking a Role for the Old Bronx Borough Courthouse
JULY 13, 2015

The last stop in an art show at the old Bronx Borough Courthouse is a wooden table with a handwritten sign sitting on top that asks visitors, "What would you like to see this building become?"
The outpouring of responses has covered dozens of yellow sticky notes. Art museum. Movie theater. Library. Mall. Haunted house.
The landmark Beaux-Arts building towering over the Melrose neighborhood has opened its doors to the public for the first time in nearly four decades, hosting a free art exhibition organized by the nonprofit organization No Longer Empty through Sunday. Since April, more than 6,000 people have come for a closer look at the courthouse, which was finished in 1914 and once presided over civic life in the South Bronx.
The table was added to the show last month because visitors kept asking what was going to happen to the building.
"People want culture here, they want something to connect to," said Manon Slome, the founder and chief curator of No Longer Empty. "They do not want it closed up again."

The Bronx Borough Courthouse originally housed three courtrooms, a coroner's office and holding cells. It was supplanted by a larger courthouse on the Grand Concourse in the 1930s, though it was used as an adjunct courthouse until the 1970s. Community groups tried for years to buy the property, but in 1996, the city auctioned it for $130,000 to an electrical contractor, who later defaulted on the payments. The city auctioned it a second time, in 1998, for $300,000 to Henry Weinstein, a Brooklyn developer, and his partners.
On a recent afternoon, visitors were entering the art show by passing under scaffolding and black tarps draped over the front of the building, part of a $10 million renovation.
Inside, little remains of the original courthouse. The interior has been stripped bare, leaving an airy rotunda in the lobby and remnants of terrazzo floors and grand staircases, and wide-open spaces that once held courtrooms and judges' chambers.
The art show, called "When You Cut Into the Present the Future Leaks Out," has brought together 26 artists, including nine from the Bronx, to use the building as their canvas. Above the entrance, Kathleena Howie, an artist known as "Lady K Fever," has depicted Lady Justice in reflective tape. Her version hangs over a marble statue of Lady Justice - one of the best known features of the building - that has been covered during the renovation.
Nicolas Dumit Estevez, an artist, performed what Ms. Slome described as a shamanlike ritual of "awakening and cleansing the building," which included brushing it with bunches of herbs. Another artist, Melissa Calderon, filled gaps in the walls and empty window casements with planks adorned with thread to evoke the ebb and flow of the Bronx River.
The second floor, where court was once in session, has been turned into an "open square" for the voices of the disenfranchised and forgotten. In one corner, there is a display showing how redlining practices have contributed to structural racism in the Bronx.

Diandra Matos, 25, a Bronx resident, said she hoped the show would bring the community together and breathe new life into a building that has sat dormant for too long. "It's the Bronx being revitalized," Ms. Matos said. "I think that's something everyone should come out to see, not just if you're in the Bronx."
No Longer Empty has organized 20 other shows in vacant or abandoned buildings around the city since 2008, including one in the Bronx in 2012 at the Andrew Freedman Home, a former retirement home on the Grand Concourse. That show drew more than 9,000 people to the home over three months, helping lay the groundwork for its reopening as a boutique hotel, exhibition space and artist studios, Ms. Slome said.
Naomi Hersson-Ringskog, executive director of No Longer Empty, said she met with Mr. Weinstein after learning about his efforts to renovate the courthouse. Mr. Weinstein welcomed the idea of an art show and agreed to allow the group to use the building and to cover their utility costs.
"I think the building was very standoffish to the community because it's been closed for so many years," Mr. Weinstein said last week. "We wanted a way to reintroduce the building to the community."
No Longer Empty raised $180,000 in city funds, grants and donations to cover artists' fees and materials, installation costs and educational programs such as training young docents and providing family art projects, the group's leaders said. The resulting show was part art, part historical preservation.
Ms. Slome, a former curator for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, said that in researching the building, her group was unable to find pictures of the inside of the working courthouse and had to rely on the memories of local residents and visitors. A former police official showed them the back entrance, where prisoners were brought into the building under the watchful gaze of a guard stationed on a platform. Another man took them to a dark basement corner, where he once sat behind bars.

"The memories of this place run deep," Ms. Slome said. "But it's been inaccessible to people for close to 40 years."
Mr. Weinstein said he had negotiated unsuccessfully over the years with groups interested in leasing space in the courthouse. He added that the renovation had been delayed by the downturn in the economy and construction projects nearby that limited access to the building.
But since the show opened, he said, he has received more than a dozen inquiries from schools, businesses and community groups in the Bronx and elsewhere.
The courthouse will close again when the show ends to finish the renovation, Mr. Weinstein said. He is installing new windows and elevators, updating the electrical and plumbing systems, building three mezzanines and repurposing the basement and attic to create 115,000 square feet of usable space on nine floors. He said he expected the building to reopen permanently by 2017.
Aishatou Coulibaly, 13, who lives nearby and was visiting the show last week for the seventh time, said she would like to keep coming to the building. Reaching for a yellow note, she said that she imagined it as a roller skating rink because it was so big, or a haunted house because it could feel creepy when she was alone.
Mr. Weinstein, who is frequently at the courthouse, said he had read the suggestions and was considering some of them (although not the haunted house).
"It's a wonderful, architecturally significant building," he said. "I'm looking forward to putting it back into use."
A version of this article appears in print on July 14, 2015, on page A17 of the New York edition with the headline: Theater? Haunted House? A Role Is Sought for a Vacant Bronx



8. Kathy Brew, FF Alumn, now online at Knoll.com

Please follow the link below to read the complete illustrated article




9. Bogdan Perzyński. FF Member, at Liliana Bloch Gallery,

August 1 - September 5, 2015
Opening reception Saturday, August 1, 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Adam Wiseman, Tlatelolco, 2013, digital print on cotton paper, 14.17" x 39.37", Ed. 3
Liliana Bloch Gallery is pleased to present Retreat, a group exhibition curated by Rachel
Retreat explores our relationship with nature. Through video and photography that reflects the human condition, artists investigate this topic. Home foundations sit lonely amidst sprawling vistas. Lush forests provide little evidence of humanity. Concrete structures dominate cityscapes. What remnants of humanity do we impose on our environment? What features of nature do we attempt to possess?

The exhibition showcases works by Allison Hunter, Debora Hunter, Leigh Merrill, Bogdan Perzyński, Alison Starr, Sally Warren, and Adam Wiseman.
The labyrinth of late autumn.
A discarded bottle lies at the entrance to the wood.
Walk in. The forest in this season is a silent place of abandoned rooms.
Only a few, precise sounds: as if someone were lifting twigs with tweezers;
as if, inside each tree-trunk, a hinge was creaking quietly.
Frost has breathed on the mushrooms and they've shriveled up;
they are like the personal effects of the disappeared.
It is almost dusk. You need to leave now
and find your landmarks again: the rusted implements out in the field
and the house on the other side of the lake, red-brown
and square and solid as a stock cube.
-Tomas Tranströmer, Out in the Open

Liliana Block Gallery
2271 Monitor St, Dallas, TX 75207
(214) 991-5617



10. Peter Cramer & Jack Waters, FF Alumns, at Cherry Grove Community Arts Project Center, Fire Island, NY, July 30-August 1

Sunscreen Test Boulevard In The Sand.
Peter Cramer (Peewee Nyob) & Jack Waters will create a walking tour/ treasure hunt connecting the landscape of beach, boardwalks and houses with a series of installations, activities and social media engagements. Cherry Grove, the nation's first and oldest LGBT community, is a "Shangri-la" that encompasses New York City's art, theater, literary, film and social world -- from writer Janet Flanner and W. H. Auden, American Ballet Theater scenic designer Oliver Smith, filmmaker Wakefield Poole -- to more recent denizens as cable television host Robin Byrd and bon vivant social diarist Michael Musto.

Talk- Thursday July 30th.@ 7pm. Cherry Grove Community Arts Project Center.
Performance - Saturday August 1. 3-9pm.
Bring your bathing suits, sunscreen, umbrellas and more to spend the day with Peter, Jack and collaborators. Feel free to arrive at any time during the day's events.

3pm. BEACH ACTIVITIES: Towel painting, kite decorating and flying, makeup and costuming. *On the beach where the meat rack beach access path joins the beach near The Pines (see green star on the map above.) This will be the meeting point for people to gather for beach activities and the starting point where we will leave for the walking tour treasure hunt at 6.

6pm WALKING TOUR around Cherry Grove.

7pm - PERFORMANCE at "Bridge of Sighs"
on Bayview Walk between Surf and Beach.

8pm - SUNSET VIEWING at the pier

8:30pm - MOONRISE VIEWING on the oceanside

In addition there will be a MOBILE DEVICE REALITY THEATER,
a non-competitive role playing game to engage on by following these tweets and hashtags:
@DouglASSSS1234 @AnRguyhitmakR
#PrEPoppovir #Truvoppers #PrEPoppers #TakRs

Sunscreen Test Boulevard In The Sand (STBITS) Cast include: Ricardo Horatio Nelson, Ethan Shoshan, David Sokolowski, John Michael Swartz

Visual AIDS is proud to partner with the Fire Island Artist Residency (FIAR) and the New York Performing Arts Collective (NYPAC) to present a lecture by Visual AIDS Artist Members Jack Waters & Peter Cramer (aka Peewee Nyob) as part of the FIAR lecture series. The series brings leading figures in contemporary art to share their experience with the Fire Island community and the Fire Island residency artists at the Cherry Grove Community House through a partnership with the Arts Project of Cherry Grove.

Peter Cramer & Jack Waters are partners in 33 years of international collectivist culture & practice as artists, activists, administrators, archivists, teachers and mentors. Known for their experimental cross disciplinary multimedia works that encompass experimental, non-narrative, documentary and personal history strategies, Peter and Jack bring broad based knowledge and technical skills to practices of socio-political and cultural engagement responsive to issues of ethnic, sexual /gender identity, AIDS activism and archival histories using the mediums of photography, film/video, installation and performance to engage and develop ideas that seek to value the process of creation as one of the most highly regarded part of the experience rather than the end result as a final "product".Their various experiences in addition to their own multitude of works include the creation in 1981 of Allied Productions Inc, a non profit arts umbrella, serving as directors of ABC No Rio alternative art collective from 1983-1990, and founding Le Petit Versailles (1996) a community garden based in New York City. Their collaboration with artists include Barbara Hammer (Nitrate Kisses), Geoff Hendricks (Soma), Sur Rodney Sur (Percodan & Wisdom) and Inbred Hybrid Collective. Significant screenings include the Whitney Museum, New Museum, Center for Contemporary Culture Barcelona, FRISE Hamburg, Anthology Film Archives, and MIX NYC among many others. Various films have been preserved with the support of the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS and the National Film Preservation Fund.Their film works are available thru the Film Makers' Cooperative, Fales Downtown Collection and Allied Productions' archives.

Publications that include their histories are Alternative Histories: New York Art Spaces, 1960 - 2010 edited by Lauren Rosati and Mary Anne Staniszewski and Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Generation by Sarah Schulmann. Cramer and Waters are also subjects of an oral history conducted by Art Spaces Archives Project at the Smithsonian Institution/Archives of American Art. Cramer & Waters were recently featured in i-D Magazine as " radical queers creating a powerful community through progressive politics, community gardens, wild parties, and colorful performance."

As artists in residence at the Emily Harvey Foundation in Venice, Italy and Harvestworks in New York they are creating a multi-media musical opus in development titled "Pestilence". They are recipients of the 2014 Kathy Acker Award established by filmmaker/photographer Clayton Patterson.
Recent group exhibitions include NOT OVER: 25 Years of Visual AIDS and Ephemera as Evidence, both at La Mama Galleria.

Currently, Jack is featured in Jason and Shirley, a new film directed by Stephen Winter based on Shirley Clarke's 1967 film Portrait of Jason, premiering June 18th at BAM CinemaFest with West Coast premieres at Frameline and OutFest later in the months ahead. Peter plays a pivotal scene as the Matron.



11. Linda Montano, FF Alumn, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan, Aug. 16









TIME: 1:30-3:30 PM








12. Candace Hill, FF Alumn, at Printed Matter Books, Manhattan, thru August

Candace Hill after not having exhibited in New York City for more than two decades has completed & is preparing to show a large scale window installation of Giclee ink jet prints to fill the front windows of Printed Matter Books 195 10th Avenue N.Y. This will be the final window installation at this site before relocating to 11th Avenue in September.

Her new book 'Literary Terms Visually Discerned for the New World' will be on view through the month of August. It Is made up of more than 30 handmade prints of the book enlarged to fill & cover the store entirely. The piece shown investigates visual language & literary concepts as a way to reflect the tone of the moment in America & abroad , especially around the issue of race , police brutality , teen pregnancy, spiritual unease or Christian persecution . Hill's creative non- fiction uses her original drawings to construct various scenes that illustrate the literary word used to describe in a tragicomic way, how text no longer has the same meaning it once had .This based solely on the new physical realities the black race is facing on a seemingly daily basis ; we can plainly perceive perceptions have been altered , Video evidence declares this while everyday cellphone documentation shows the world digitally enhanced wrong doings perpetrated on innocent men & Bland women of color. Why ? This book is an attempt to relay how our language must change in order for us to be able to confront that question & how we do this, we have to ask now , that's why why is a word not a letter. Why are the real life actions of some presenting to us a dilemma , why's for the rest to try & solve , if we are wise.This book will be published in limited edition on archival paper in editions of three over y to the X factor , There's power in a sculpture.



13. Mark Havens, FF Alumn, now online at nytimes.com

An illustrated article about my work is on The New York Times website here:


the text of the article follows below. Thank you. Mark Havens

The New York Times, July 23, 2015
Photos that Capture New Jersey's Doo-Wop Motels, After the Tourists of Summer Have Gone

If any single location can perfectly epitomize the nostalgic lazy, hazy days of summer - complete with the Mr. Softee jingle in the background - it might just be the Wildwoods, the three kitschy southern New Jersey shore towns that are home to the largest concentration of mid-century motels in the nation. In the Wildwoods' 1950s and '60s heyday, over 300 "Doo Wop motels" were built there in that unmistakable style: flashy neon lights, kidney-shaped pools, asymmetrical design elements and a plethora of plastic palm trees (now designated the official tree of Wildwood). "The hotels were the backdrop of my summer," recalls Mark Havens, a Philadelphia-based photographer and assistant professor of industrial design at Philadelphia University. "We would always pile in the car and drive around and look at all the hotels in the same way families drive around and look at Christmas lights at holiday season," Havens says of his family's yearly sojourn to Wildwood, which the artist has visited without fail for 44 years running. "Once they started to disappear, I realized just how much I took them for granted."
While in graduate school, Havens set out to document the motels. Initially, he hired a professional photographer; when he was dissatisfied with the results, he set out to teach himself photography and take on the assignment himself. "It became the catalyst for me embarking as an artist," he says. After 10 years of shooting the Wildwoods, he has amassed over 13,000 images in an archive that, as he says, "brings out the interplay of an idealized past and its inexorable disappearance." Shot at the outset and closing of summer, his series "Out of Season" documents the eerie emptiness of the motels before the tourists arrive - and after they've departed.
A version of this article appears in print on 07/26/2015, on page ST3 of the National edition with the headline: Summer Stills.



14. Anton van Dalen, FF Alumn, on CBC Radio, now online

Dear friends,

Thought you would like to know I was interviewed on CBC Radio One Canada on "As It Happens" show on Thursday, July 23, 2015


Thank you.




15. Adrienne Wortzel, FF Alums, named 2015 New York Foundation for the Arts 2015 Artists Fellowship Program recipients


"Solace and Perpetuity, a life story" is Adrienne Wortzel's algorithmically rendered partly fictionalized autobiography of an artist. As in a medieval Book of Hours, various genres of original writings are represented: diary entries, dreams, academic papers, fictive prose, poetry, plays, and video and installation scripts, and more.

Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle in 10 unique editions numbered 709.100 - 709.109
. A Collector's Edition is included in the online exhibition "Altered Books: Digital Interventions" curated for the 2015 Siggraph Conference, Los Angeles.



16. Angel Nevarez & Valerie Tevere, FF Alumn, at Silent Barn, Brooklyn, Aug. 5

Another Protest Song: Karaoke with a Message
Wed, August 5

As part of the Interference Archive's if a song could be freedom... exhibition, Angel Nevarez & Valerie Tevere will host an evening of protest karaoke with their project Another Protest Song: Karaoke with a Message at Silent Barn.
Another Protest Song: Karaoke with a Message (2008 - ongoing) looks to the karaoke songbook as potential for political enunciation through song. Karaoke is communal, social, musical. With protest karaoke, our song choices may speak of present political struggles and histories, rather than music consumed primarily as products of popular cultural.
**All money collected at the door (beyond paying Silent Barn) will go directly towards printing the if a song could be freedom... booklet/exhibition catalog. This booklet will be included with the 7″ record we are pressing as part of the exhibition (for more info, and to pre-order record: http://interferencearchive.org/if-a-song-could-be-freedom-7-pre-sale/
Join us and sing your favorite songs of protest!
For more information: http://interferencearchive.org/ http://silentbarn.org/ http://www.nevareztevere.info/
$5 - $10 (sliding scale)**

603 Bushwick Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11206



17. Steve Epstein & Naimah Hassan, FF Alumns, at Alchemical Theatre Laboratory, Manhattan, July 31-August 1

HASSAN says:
I've loved that cute, funny red headed boy
since first grade".

"I've figured out why I've always been attracted to black girls, my mother dressed me in Nation Of Islam clothing."
(see photo above)

"Going into this play, I didn't know that I would be giggling, chuckling or howling with laughter, minute after minute."
-Mooney-On-Theatre Toronto

"Unbelievable chemistry, the pair are both outgoing and hilarious, but more importantly, they are genuine and honest about everything."
-Charlebois Post, Toronto Fringe
Please come see us Friday & Saturday
July 31st-Friday
August 1st-Saturday
Alchemical Theatre Laboratory 104 W.14 street
You will laugh & cum and help relieve some of OUR stress.



18. Elly Clarke, FF Alumn, at The Roundhouse, London, UK, Aug. 3

Camden Encounters

For my year-long commission for Camden Council in celebration of 50 years since the Borough was formed, I have had, so far, eighteen Encounters - with people aged 15-87, in their homes and on street corners, in offices, hair salon and restaurants where another bar once stood. And I have heard stories dating back five decades.

Seven Encounters are so far online, and may be seen (and heard) here. The others will be uploaded bit by bit over the next few weeks.

CAMDEN ENCOUNTERS @ THE ROUNDHOUSE - Monday 3rd August 2.30-5pm

On Monday 3rd August, The Roundhouse is hosting a Summer Party for Camden 50. At this, I will be giving a short presentation about my project, accompanied by three of the people I have met through it - and a slide show.

In addition, I am honoured to be a judge for a photo competition being run by Camden 50 in association with National Portrait Gallery. More info about this competition is here.


Other news includes my contribution to a beautiful photo book by Vienna-based artist Lena Rosa Haendle in the form of a conversation with the artist (just published),a live performance by Sergina at Oozing Gloop/Jose Vigers' event Painted Ladies in Berlin last month, and the screening in September of three of Sergina's films at the Scottish Queer International Film Festival.

Thanks for reading! Hope to see you in one place or another before too long.

Best wishes,




19. Rachel Frank, FF Alumn, at Franklin Park Art Grove, Boston, MA, Aug. 8-9

Hi friends,

I have collaborating with Boston-based performance artist Ian Deleón and am pleased to announce we have a couple upcoming performances.

The Autobiographical Animal

Borrowing from Francisco Goya's use of anthropomorphized animals as tool for critiquing power roles in society, Brooklyn-based sculptor, Rachel Frank, and Boston-based performance artist, Ian Deleón, will confront park visitors with a series of staged scenes featuring performers in donkey masks carrying out quotidian acts of labor punctuated by frozen, photographic-like tableaux vivants. This performance serves as a meditation of familiar and brutal images of today: on seeing and participating as a means to address inequality and violence in society.

Thursday, July 23rd
Franklin Park Art Grove Kick-Off Party
Samson Projects
450 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA
7:00 pm - 11:00 pm, Performance outside at 7:40 pm
RSVP: http://bit.ly/ArtGroveParty
Performed by: Rachel Frank and Ian Deleón

Saturday, August 8th and Sunday, August 9th
Pop Up : Franklin Park Art Grove
Franklin Park Wilderness Picnic Grove
Valley Gates Parking Lot Entrance (Circuit Drive & Glen Lane)
Boston, MA
11:00 am- 6:00 pm
We will be performing on Saturday around 11:00 am, 3:00 pm, and 6:00 pm
On Sunday we will perform around 3:30
Each performance will be 15-20 minutes long.
Performed by: Rachel Frank, Ian Deleón, and Angelica Pinna-Perez
RSVP: bit.ly/ArtGrove

Saturday, August 8th
Franklin Grove Panel Discussion with Dr. Barbara Lewis
"Empathetic Environments: Animals as Mentors, Masks, and Mirrors"
Franklin Park Wilderness Picnic Grove, exact location TBA
12:15 pm

If you are in the Boston-area, it would be great to see you!


Rachel Frank

Sponsored by:

Boston Art Commission
Franklin Park Coalition
New England Foundation for the Arts
Boston Cultural Council
Boston Parks and Recreation Department
Trotter Institute for African American Studies




20. Anouk Kruithof at Four A.M., Manhattan, thru Aug. 5


I would love to invite you to the 1st version of a new project called AHEAD (Version 1)
shown at the new project space: FOUR A.M. An image of Martha Wilson, Founding Director of Franklin Furnace, is included in the project.

The show is open 24-7 from July 23rd till August 5th.

All warmest,




21. Larry List, FF Alumn, at Jablonka Maruani Mercier Gallery, Brussels, Belgium, opening Aug. 1

FF Alumn Larry List curates exhibition of Man Ray and Sherrie Levine for Brussels gallery

Jablonka Maruani Mercier Gallery is pleased to present Man Ray & Sherrie Levine, a Dialogue Through Objects, Images & Ideas. The show will open August 1st and run through August 31st.

This exhibition is the first to explore the ideas that influenced and inspired the work of both 20th century Dada/Surrealist master Man Ray and contemporary Appropriation artist Sherrie Levine.

On view together will be over 55 choice examples of Man Ray and Sherrie Levine photographs, paintings, drawings and sculptures, many of which have never been shown before. These works reveal the two artists' shared interests in experimental materials; games and play as creative strategies; new realms of subject matter; a fascination with masks and fetishes; pio¬neering use of found objects and Readymades; the willing¬ness to transpose and repeat images across time and media; and the use simple, yet profound gestures to re-define art-making.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a 60 page, large format, all color catalogue with an introduction by Marion Meyer, President of the International Man Ray Association and an extended essay written by List, who is currently working on a book Permanent Attraction: The Art of Man Ray.

For more information concerning this exhibition please contact:
coralie@jmmgallery.com Jablonka Maruani Mercier Gallery
Rue de la Régence 17, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
+32 2 512 50 10



22. Mendi & Keith Obadike, FF Alumn, now online at youtube.com

Mendi + Keith Obadike exhibited their sound installation "Blues Speaker [for James Baldwin]" at The New School in April. It used the glass façade of The New School's University Center as delivery system for the sound, turning the building itself into a speaker. The 12-hour piece was created using slow moving harmonies, melodicized language from Baldwinʼs writings, ambient recordings from the streets of Harlem, and an inventory of sounds contained in Baldwin's story "Sonnyʼs Blues."

Blues Speaker video documentation

more info



23. Harley Spiller, FF Alumn, in Collector’s Weekly, July 15, now online

The text-only version of the Collector’s Weekly article follows below. The fully illustrated article is linked here:


Collector’s Weekly
Funny Money: When Mangled Coins and Defaced Currency Become Works of Art
by Ben Marks — July 15th, 2015

Harley J. Spiller is one of the most voracious collectors in the United States, but you won’t find him wandering around the tony galleries of Christie’s in New York or tromping through the antiques-strewn fields of Brimfield, Massachusetts. That’s because Spiller collects things like seashells, bottle caps, Chinese menus, paperclips, photographs of corn, and “furcula,” which most of us know as wishbones. Spiller has around 80 collections of such modest objects, which are usually easier to stumble upon serendipitously than to seek out by design.

“If you rub the shoulders of Ben Franklin’s coat, you can feel the raised lines.”

Even Spiller’s collections of traditional collectibles such as coins and paper currency are amassed for what can only be described as Spillerian reasons. Spiller only collects coins that are mangled or severely degraded in appearance, paper currency that’s been defaced—the stuff, in other words, that no self-respecting numismatist would give a second glance.

In a recent interview about his first book, Keep the Change: A Collector’s Tale of Lucky Pennies, Counterfeit C-Notes, and Other Curious Currency (Princeton Architectural Press, 2015), Spiller told me how he got into this understandably neglected corner of currency collecting. “By looking at coins and bills through the cockeyed lens of mutilation,” Spiller says, “I had the area to myself. Nobody wanted it. It was a way to have my own Picasso collection, if you will.”

The “Picassos” in Spiller’s currency collection include munched quarters, verdigrised pennies, and dollar bills worn almost to the point of illegibility. What caught my eye, though, in Keep the Change was the chapter on currency that has been transformed into pocket-size works of art.

In fact, money and art have long been something of a mutual admiration society. Andy Warhol painted his “One Dollar Bill (Silver Certificate)” in 1962 because, he quipped, money was the thing he loved the most—a few weeks ago, that painting sold for more than $32 million at Sotheby’s in London. Beginning in the 1960s, Ed Kienholz rubber-stamped words like “For $264” on sheets of watercolor paper, thus combining the object’s price tag with its content. Fellow Los Angeleno Chris Burden got even more conceptual in 1977 with “Diecimila,” a high-quality photo-etching of a 10,000 Italian lire note (the one with Michelangelo on it), meticulously printed front-and-back in a small edition of 35 by Crown Point Press. The printing was so good, the artwork could have been cut out and passed off as currency, which was actually the late artist’s joke—at the time, a scissored “Diecimila” would have been worth about $6, making Burden’s signed piece of paper far more valuable than its inspiration from the Bank of Italy.

Numerous artists are featured in Keep the Change, but Spiller seems to have special admiration for artists Mark Wagner and J.S.G. Boggs. Wagner uses paper currency like a raw material, cutting it up to produce elaborate portrait collages or defacing a bill so subtly that it probably could be passed as legal tender (see “Comedy & Tragedy,” 2013, at top). Boggs produces hand-drawn riffs on U.S. paper money (as works of art, they are not technically forgeries). Each artist is highly regarded in the art world and so potentially difficult to reach, but Spiller encountered them almost as casually as the pelican furcula he picked up one day on a Florida beach.
“In preparation for writing the book, I put out an open call for artists who alter money,” Spiller recalls. “Someone I know through the Museum of American Finance, where I work, forwarded my open call to Mark Wagner, who responded. I went to an opening and met him. He was very nice, very sympatico. Later, I wrote him to ask how much one of his pieces would cost, so I could buy one and put it in the book, even though his work is way out of my price range. But he didn’t want to go into prices. He said, ‘Maybe we could trade something. I like the way you write, and I can’t seem to get a Wikipedia entry.’ So I traded him a Wikipedia entry. He gave me the ‘Comedy & Tragedy’ bills for that.”

Like Spiller, Mark Wagner also appreciates currency for its craftsmanship and beauty. “The new hundred is almost mind-bogglingly complex,” says Spiller. “Mark says it’s the finest quality engraving being done in the world today. It’s got micro-printing that you need a magnifying glass to read, and if you rub the shoulders of Ben Franklin’s coat, you can feel the raised lines. It doesn’t necessarily hang together as a work of art the way the $2 silver certificates do, but that’s because it has so many anti-counterfeiting features. Of those, my favorite is the blue polymer ribbon with micro-lenses in it that dance and move. It’s woven through the front of the bill, only. I defy you to go into your closet and find a piece of clothing with stitches just through the front. It’s an amazing thing.”

Spiller’s connection to Boggs goes back further, but is just as straightforward. “I called Boggs out of the blue,” Spiller remembers of his first contact with the elusive artist in the late 1990s. “I was teaching an after-school program for third, fourth, and fifth graders in Tribeca. Boggs was in the phonebook down in Florida so I dialed his number and asked him to be a guest instructor. He agreed, but when I asked his fee, he answered ‘$17.’ I said, ‘How did you arrive at that number?’ and he said, ‘You said there were 17 children in the class. I want one bill drawn by each child.’”

As Spiller recounts in Keep the Change, Boggs was very good at getting the kids to think beyond an object’s appearances, which is in no small part what his art is about:

Boggs came to New York and started his lesson by drawing a picture on the chalkboard and asking the students, “What is it?”

“A dog?”


“A dog sitting down?


“A beagle?”


“A bear?”


This went on for fifteen minutes, until Boggs elicited the answer he sought:

“A picture of a dog.”

Then he asked, “What’s a dollar worth?”

“Four quarters?”


“Ten dimes?”


Another fifteen minutes elapsed before a child said, “I’d shovel snow for an hour to get a dollar.” Boggs’s Socratic method made everyone in the room realize that money is only a symbol—that dollars are worth different things to each of us.

By all accounts, the hobby of currency collecting could use a lot more people like J.S.G. Boggs if it wants to remain relevant to young people. Spiller knows this from firsthand experience with his 6-year-old son, whom he recently tried to introduce to coin collecting, with mixed results.

“I went to a bourse, which is a gathering for the sale and inspection of currency, at the Museum of American Finance,” Spiller says. “There were going to be a lot of youngsters there, so I brought my son. I gave him a new state quarter’s book and three state quarters. He was into it, and I snapped a photo of him holding a magnifying glass and just gleaming, really digging it. That afternoon, though, the book went in a drawer, and it hasn’t come out since.”



Goings On is compiled weekly by Harley Spiller