John Kelly: Sideways into the Shadows

Page 1

Howl! Happening:

An Arturo Vega Project

Sideways into the Shadows grew out of revisiting my 42 years of journal writing, a trove of written artifacts that trace how my personal life and creative work have intertwined. My life and development as an artist have been graced by the presence of some extraordinary people, many of whom were lost to the AIDS pandemic, beginning with my partner in 1982. My experiences have been both significantly enhanced by their spirit and devastated by their absence from the world we currently navigate. From my vantage point as a survivor and witness, I have chosen to celebrate these friends, lovers, and colleagues with this series of memorial portraits. These 11 x 14" mixed media drawings have been rendered from the available photographs.

Published on the occasion of the exhibition John Kelly: Sideways into the Shadows. February 28–March 25, 2018 at Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project

Howl! A/P/E Volume 1, No. 22

John Kelly: The Lines are Open by Mark Harrington

I saw the Cockettes (in November 1971) on their second night at the Anderson Theatre next to the 4th Street bar; the theatre was maybe a third full, with lots of gender-fuck type faeries in the audience. I was in high school, went with my best friend and a patchouli-soaked senior to the mysterious East Village. The show was Pearls Over Shanghai, an epic travesty. They showed the film Tricia’s Wedding, and Act 2 began with Larry Ree—the founder of the original Trockadero Gloxinia Ballet Company (not the campy Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, who essentially ripped off the name). This night completely changed my life. Live irreverent art. —John Kelly, February 4, 2018 In the exhibition Sideways into the Shadows, which runs in conjunction with the performance Time No Line at La Mama Experimental Theatre Club, John Kelly performs the role of a lifetime—himself—and pays tribute to those lost to the AIDS pandemic, “pondering the scenario that if his generation had not been lost to the epidemic, they would still be flourishing in their absolute prime. As a balm to this tantalizing but painful fantasy, Kelly pays tribute to the men, women, and trans folk who held crucial and supportive roles in his life and work as it unfolded over the past 36 years.”1 My wing is ready for flight I would like to turn back. If I stayed timeless time, I would have little luck.

Mein Flügel ist zum Schwung bereit ich kehrte gern züruck, denn blieb ich auch lebendige Zeit, ich hätte wenig Glück.

– Gerhard Scholem, – Gerhard Scholem, “Greetings from the Angelus”2 “Gruss vom Angelus” A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress. —Walter Benjamin, “On the Concept of History” IX3

Like Klee and Benjamin’s angel, John Kelly would like to like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise.... This storm is what we call AIDS.  I believe that I first saw John Kelly perform as Dagmar Onassis at the Tunnel, a nightclub in New York City, on the night of June 4, 1987, when a star-studded party was held at Sotheby’s with a host of celebrities, artists, and patrons to raise funds for Art Against AIDS, a benefit for AmFAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Seventy-two galleries and a host of artists contributed to this benefit. As People magazine reported: After cocktails at Sotheby’s, paired-off celebrities led the guests through the rain to 10 separate dinner parties at some of the city’s toniest restaurants.... The event did not entirely transcend the status game. Unwilling to give up their super-snobby admissions policy just for a good cause, the doormen at Nell’s nightclub turned away at least one invited guest. Those who couldn’t get into Nell’s and some who did headed at midnight to the Tunnel nightclub.4 Needless to say, I was not among those at Sotheby’s. At the time I worked doing data entry at a film archive for minimum wage. AIDS was all around. One of my friends had worked on the Art Against AIDS catalog and so we got comps to go to the Tunnel. I wrote in my journal: A cold terror descended over me yesterday. I felt grim & skull-faced as I went about the motions of life. Breakfast, bus, work. Where an unnatural & theatrical ebullience radiated from me. Afterwards I met Steven & Jay at the Spike. We were getting loaded there on the cheap before going to Art Against Aids at the Tunnel.... Marijuana, vodka, beer & camaraderie had the effect of reversing my daylong despair. I thought even if I’d contracted a virus last Thursday or this Tuesday, I’d still have five years of life. And last night, having fun under the gaudy chandeliers & Madonna-booming speakers, five years sounded like a long time. Today it seems short...I want to take the antibody test. Upon entering the Tunnel, we were given VIP passes & told to find the open bar. It was a red-roped enclosure taking up half the dancefloor, flush to a special flower-festooned stage, with two bartenders. We were the first three to enter this elite area, though the club was full & people lined the railings around us & gyrated on the other half of the dance floor. We felt like zoo animals or test subjects. It was an odd example of the lengths club impresari will go in setting up a spurious distinction between VIPs and hoi polloi. We got Absolut Greyhounds & debated dancing to Motown & Aretha or waiting around talking. Before long we were joined by Dan Mahoney & Jack Pierson, then by descending hordes, sleek-suited art lions & shrill slinky blondes.... Karen Akers read a bad Edna St. Vincent Millay poem as Philip Glass played recurrent chords. Then Laurie Anderson & Gidon Kremer played a violin duel, with Kremer producing amazing sounds with impressive power. Then Liza Minelli dedicated the evening to Charlie Ludlam and introduced Barbara Cook, who sang a ballad.

As you can see, it’s not clear that Dagmar Onassis was on the program that night at the Tunnel. But we learn more about Dagmar’s background in this exhibition.  That summer would be full of heat and sex and drugs and emotions and performances. Wigstock ‘87 was featured in The New York Times “Going Out Guide” as “Tompkins Sq. Tumult” in September 1987…. A celebration of outrageousness called Wigstock ‘87 will bring some of the downtown performance-art world’s best-known performers and parodists to Tompkins Square Park, near Avenue A and Seventh Street, today from 2 to 8 P.M. The free festival, which is being presented for the third year by the nearby Pyramid Cocktail Lounge, is partly a send-up of late 1960’s psychedelia and partly a statement about fashion and the arts in the late 1980’s. Performers in the park’s band shell will include Ethyl Eichelberger; John Sex, who is to bring Las Vegas to the East Village; Das Furlines, an all-female polka band; John Kelly, performing as Joni Mitchell; and a transvestite troupe of Pyramid regulars. Information: 420-1590. All Day Music.5

 I admire John’s calm courage in the face of his HIV diagnosis in December 1989. He wrote in his journal: 12/14/89 – HIV-Positive—and a T-cell count of 325—on the low side. Doctor recommended low doses of AZT—I told her I’d think about it. NOT. My cholesterol is 94—average for an average man is between 120 and 160—but am I average? What is my reaction? I am energized, to not get sick. Ignorance was not bliss. Everything seems more intense. Removed the gauze covering, revealed a truth which I don’t take to be a death sentence. A chance to affirm my life.

And: 3/16/90 – From total despair to a sober, clear, and euphoric relationship with this moment in time, in my life, in this world. All this trivia, all these distractions are little hurdles which pale in relation to the large picture. From one to the other. There is no secret—it is always just in front of me—I just have to find the clarity to embrace it, to continuously find POINT A.

He pours himself into his work (and takes care of himself): 6/19/90 – Began rehearsals for my new group work DOWN IN THE MOUTH. My main concern with this work is to wake people up to my present reality as an HIV+, my status as part of a ‘high risk group’—as if we all weren’t at high risk all of the time—at risk of apathy, indifference, intolerance, prejudice, judgment, and ignorance. My goal is to faithfully and theatrically mirror my feelings toward this dilemma. SURVIVAL. Push myself more into the stylistic realm, to move away from naturalization, realize individual psychologically-rich moments, the otherworldliness of the stylization, of the separateness.

The New York Times wasn’t crazy about Down in the Mouth: 8/4/90 – The aftermath of all that. Today, the reviews: in the Times, Jennifer Dunning writing “...once again, he proves he is a master of atmosphere,” then going on to say that the stage looked cluttered and I seem to “miss the mark.” I would like to know what mark—whose mark—which standard—whose standard—standard of what—mark of what? Clive Barnes seems to just dismiss the whole evening of works. About my work, he says it built and seemed to take off once the Lucia music came around, but it was good only with one’s “eyes closed.” The project seems to have disappointed everyone except Liz and the cast. Most of my friends who saw it were visibly disappointed. The audience seems to have been bewildered. There was anemic applause but with one BRAVO! sticking out like a patch of red in a black and white film. I am disappointed by the lack of support and trust from some friends and people. A lot of confusion. Still processing, although—point blank—I know I was right, and on my track TOTALLY.

But not everyone agreed with the Times…. 8/7/90 – Delayed reaction and welcome news in the fact that John DiFazio and Mark Harrington both loved the work. Artist and Activist got it.

I had just found out—after returning from the International AIDS Conference in San Francisco that June—that my ex-lover Jay Funk had tested HIV-positive in June. In August, CD4 T-cell tests showed that he had AIDS. My CD4 count was higher—660—but my CD4/CD8 ratio was inverted. I too was HIV-positive. That weekend my world got smaller. I canceled my plans to go to Puerto Rico with ACT UP. Jay and I saw Wild at Heart. Everything seemed to be breaking down. My computer broke on Tuesday. My telephone and my answering machine broke as well. I felt cut off from the world. Each night I lay awake feeling restless and alone. Saturday I felt isolated. I couldn’t find any of my friends using the payphone on the corner. Sitting on my roof, I read an article in Nature about immune cell adhesion molecules, and listened to a punk concert in the backyard two lots down. Sunday my isolation continued. I scrubbed the floor, hand-washed several items of clothing, cleaned out my bedroom, paid bills, had a cheap sandwich, and wrote: The computer is out. The phone is out (or the answering machine). Everyone is a walking time bomb, and the one likeliest to explode soon was the ONE I LOVE MOST IN THE WORLD. And something—to be specific, HIV, “the virus believed to cause AIDS”—is most likely in my own body, taking a few years longer to become acute. And there is a crisis that isn’t a crisis because it will never end, and they are leaving us to fight it isolated, confused, and alone, by ourselves. And each other, if we’re lucky. I was wholly unprepared for the overwhelming vulnerability and helplessness I felt as I came to grips with our now utterly transformed future. I looked back at the two and a

half years of my AIDS activism as a strategy designed to bargain away the possibility of being personally at risk—one that ultimately proved hollow.

 At the heart of the East Village is Tompkins Square Park. At the southern end of the park used to be the stage where in the mid-1980s the drag queens and their friends from the Pyramid Club scene used to hold their annual Labor Day dragfest, Wigstock. That’s where I first saw John Kelly as Dagmar Onassis as Joni Mitchell singing “Woodstock”, in 1987. In the center of the park is a tree around which members of ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) held a political funeral for activist Jon Greenberg (1956-1993) on Friday, July 16, 1993. Jon’s portraits—beautiful, alive, open, and vulnerable—were shown in Stephen Barker’s exhibition The ACT UP Activists and Avatars in September 2017. In that exhibition6 was a haunting photograph of the singer and performer John Kelly (also known as Dagmar Onassis and for his indelible incarnation of Joni Mitchell) leaning against the tree in the center of Tompkins Square park. There is another photograph—which you see in the catalog7—of John a few minutes later, showing why he was waiting, and what he was waiting for: he is singing over the open casket of Jon Greenberg at the conclusion of Jon’s political funeral march through the East Village, where Jon’s casket was carried through the streets by ACT UP members and set to rest in the midst of the park. John then sang his famous version of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock”, the one he’d sung before at so many Wigstock festivals—which concluded every summer for many years from the mid-80s to the early 90s. In the song, redubbed “Wigstock”, John sings, “And I dreamed there was a cure for AIDS.” We wept, and a wind came up and swept through the leaves of the tree “and everyone and I stopped breathing”.8  There’s still no cure for AIDS. But we are still working for one, every day. A single man, Timothy Ray Brown, has been cured through an unlikely combination of immune system transplants, graft-versus-host disease, chemotherapy for an underlying leukemia (which was also cured), and sheer luck. Researchers are trying to figure out a simpler, less invasive, less dangerous approach. In the meantime, almost 20 million of the world’s 39 million people living with HIV are receiving life-saving antiretroviral treatment. Two million people become infected by HIV and one million still die of AIDS each year. No one really knows how many people have died of AIDS. Most estimates are somewhat higher than 25 million—a number which is unimaginable. In the United States, over 628,000 people have died of AIDS. Right here in New York

City, over 100,000 have died, and another 120,000 people are living with HIV. Most of them are diagnosed and on treatment. Younger gay men and women of color are still getting infected. The city and state health systems are doing better than they used to when ACT UP used to get arrested at the Department of Health three times in one summer, as we did back in 1989. All through these years of the epidemic, John Kelly—sometimes as Dagmar Onassis, or as Joni Mitchell, or as Egon Schiele, and most of all as himself—has illuminated our world and given us reasons to appreciate the lives we lead, those around us, those we’ve lost, and those we need to inspire to keep on working to end this plague. Thank you John Kelly for singing of our lives and our loves, and giving us so many reasons to celebrate, to mourn, to struggle, to remember, and to look forward to more life. To those that are queer and younger than me—I am your father, and there were our fathers before me. I am a survivor of a lost generation of comrades, of the rupture of our adhesion. Use me as a bridge over the sinkhole of our interrupted dialogue—I am curious to know where you are and where we are. The lines are open. Public forums to follow—I will respond. —John Kelly, journal entry, December 13, 2016  1. John Kelly, Sideways to the Shadows, personal communication, January 15, 2018. 2. Gerhard Scholem, The Correspondence of Walter Benjamin, trans. by M.R. Jacobson and Evelyn M. Jacobson (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 184-195. 3. Walter Benjamin, “[Theses] On the Concept of History” in Illuminations, 5th ed., trans. by Harry Zohn. (New York: Schocken, 1969), pp. 257–8. 4. Michael Small, “Top artists draw the beautiful people to a big bash to boost the battle against AIDS,”, http://people. com/archive/top-artists-draw-the-beautiful-people-to-a-big-bash-to-boost-the-battle-against-aids-vol-27-no-25/ 5. Andrew L. Yarrow, “Tompkins Sq. Tumult,” The New York Times, September 7, 1987, arts/going-out-guide.html 6. Stephen Barker, The ACT UP Portraits: Activists & Avatars exhibition catalog, September 14–October 28, 2017, Daniel Cooney Fine Arts, New York, 7. Stephen Barker, Activists & Avatars: 1987-1997 (October 2017), at 8. From Frank O’Hara, “The Day Lady Died”:

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT while she whispered a song along the keyboard to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing


—Frank O’Hara, The Selected Poems of Frank O’Hara. Ed. Donald Allen. (New York: Vintage/Random House, 1974), 146.

John Kelly: The Legacy of a Lost Generation by Carlo McCormick

As one of the most beguiling performers of his generation, John Kelly brought drag culture to dance and performance art, and in the process infused high-drag culture with a sophistication and subtlety that was at once eloquent and highly emotive. Morphing identity, bending gender, mapping space through gesture, and singing the song of suffering so exquisite that its high notes touch the exultant limits of transcendence, for over three decades it is fair to say that Kelly has been a foundational figure of the downtown stage. This would, could, or should be enough. Now however, like a diva’s surprise encore in an entirely different voice, John allows us to see his concurrent practice as a visual artist—more modest and ancillary to his career in hybrid theatrics, but just as central to his aesthetic core, quieter and suffused with a fragile melancholia, and just as revelatory. Kelly’s exhibition Sideways to the Shadows is a beckoning, a flickering illumination in the depths of a cultural gloaming, disclosing the echoes and traces of lives and remembrances from an untimely silence. It is filled with confusion and sadness yet speaks with such beauty and clarity; it is less about the past it conjures than the recollection of what is gone that remains palpably present. The show is woven of two distinct yet akin bodies of work: excerpts from 40 years of journals, sketchbooks, and workbooks John has kept, as many artists do, to capture ideas and make plans as well as function as a kind of personal and private diary; and portraits of some 50-plus friends and lovers, all lost to the AIDS epidemic. In resonance, those who are absent are registered in the artist’s memory. The effect is far from morbid, somehow spirited with the vitality of life. Between the incidents from Kelly’s life and the events of so many deaths, we’re allowed to experience an essence of truth in the only way it can be understood—as what is ultimately subjective and psychological. A haunting, yes, but these are not phantoms; they are utterly present. To be honest, it is fair to be wary whenever an artist from another medium decides to bust out their fine art. What John Kelly delivers, however, has the same care and craft as he invests in his performance work. These are not the casual sketches of an artist plotting a more ambitious project, but painstakingly meticulous endeavors, the kind we might associate with the amateur naturalist detailing their discoveries in words and drawings. Kelly’s universe is tellingly less of nature itself than of culture, particularizing the sentiments of self and the physiognomy of others as if their ephemeral pulchritude were of such rare quality that it is the captivating he is trying to capture. Taken from preexisting records, be it the pages of his own accounts or the casual snapshot photographs all our lives inevitably leave behind, this is a creativity of re-creation, the materialization of something intrinsically immaterial summoned up like the mighty creatures of yore from mere fossils in our faulty comprehension of natural history, born

as all of John’s myriad gestures as an externalization and amplification of what is within. How do we remember, and how do we carry the weight of memory when it is itself such a burden? These things forever fail us, chimerical glimpses of what is continuously receding into the shadows, all that we can recall but never call back, the murmurs of reminiscence that stir ever so quietly in a deafening silence. There is no magical madeleine for us as could set Proust off on his magical remembrance. The details escape us as the actuality proves just as elusive. To bear witness is not simply an act of looking; it is an act of feeling. I am as impressed by the veracity of John Kelly’s steady hand as I am overwhelmed by the honesty of his unsteady heart. His is an exacting memory, perpetually wrestling with the slippery and subjective shape of the bygone, clinging all the more tightly at those very moments when most of us would lose our grip, dancing a last waltz as the band plays on, slow and lingering, each step closer to a farewell kiss, wistful and wonderful, eyes glistening in the fading light with the tears we shed not just in pining but in magnificent thanks.

Lost by Cynthia Carr

John Kelly began his celebrated performance career in a world now outlawed and gone. There he was—in torn fishnet stockings, lip-synching to Maria Callas at the Anvil, a notorious gay sex club currently bearing the adjective “sleazy” on various I-remember-the-70s websites. He had already left home (Jersey City), left art school, and left the ballet academy—where he’d started too late to ever become a principal dancer. And he’d retired from the stage, or so he thought. Then he encountered Tanya Ransom, a drag artist who would lip-synch to Nina Hagen. Years later Kelly told me, “It was the Tanya thing that pushed me back into performing.” When she invited Kelly to be part of New Wave Night at the Anvil—enter Callas. Through Tanya, Kelly saw that drag could be androgynous and angry, “a wailing kind of experience, and that’s what I did with Callas in punk drag. It was 1979, 1980, and I had a lot of rage. You know. Jersey City. All the male expectations. And back then, drag could still be a big ‘fuck you.’” In 1981, Kelly began performing at the Pyramid Club—not a gay bar, but an artists’ bar run by gay men and home to the edgiest drag queens in New York. There, every night was New Wave Night. Soon Kelly was not lip-synching but singing the arias himself as Dagmar Onassis, “the love child of Maria Callas and Aristotle Onassis.” Playing Dagmar unleashed a part of him he hadn’t known was there, and he began to develop his own unique theatricality. It took me a while to figure John Kelly out. Very early in 1986, I saw him do a bit from Born with the Moon in Cancer at Poetry Project—Chaplinesque in his suit and mannequin-like with eyes painted onto his eyelids. I could not recognize what he was singing or what it meant, but it was riveting. He was even more unforgettable a few weeks later in Diary of a Somnambulist—inspired by The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and featuring Huck Snyder’s amazing forced perspective set. Kelly created a dreamlike atmosphere of menace and madness, but I saw it through the prism of postmodernism and all the zaza then prevalent about “the loss of the real.” I hadn’t noticed the pathos in these shows. Kelly had already lost his first partner—the painter William Schwedler—to AIDS in 1982. At that point, the illness had just acquired its acronym, and no one knew what caused it or what devastation we were about to face. But AIDS had been there to shadow Kelly right from the start. The year he began performing at the Pyramid Club was the year of the infamous New York Times headline: “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals.” He began addressing the epidemic in his pieces, sometimes directly, sometimes by suffusing the work with loss, grief, and premature death. He played artist Egon Schiele in Pass the Blutwurst, Bitte (1986); Schiele died at age 28 during the 1918 flu pandemic, three days after his wife succumbed to the same illness. Kelly sang Boito’s “L’altra notte” by way of mourning. Find My Way

Home (1988) was the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, that is, the story of someone who goes to the underworld to bring back his loved one. Kelly learned of his own diagnosis late in 1989 and then created Down in the Mouth (1990), a piece that included a scientist who’s searching for a cure; it ended with the whole cast holding hands, shaking with fear and rage while the curtain slowly descended in silence. In Love of a Poet (1990), he sang Robert Schumann’s Dichterliebe, a sorrowful song cycle about doomed love. His Maybe It’s Cold Outside (1991) was “a sustained meditation on the terror of approaching death” according to Artforum, evoking “almost unbearable sadness,” according to The Village Voice. In Akin: True but Dour (1992) Kelly played a troubadour who time traveled from the days of the Black Plague to the days of the AIDS plague, singing “There’s no hope in sight/Close your eyes and say goodnight/So many deaths untold/We’re too young to be so old.”* Divine Promiscue (1992) was a solo piece about an artist confronting his mortality. Then, when Kelly took on his most physically demanding role ever—that of the transvestite aerialist Barbette in Light Shall Lift Them (1993)—he overcame his terror by thinking about all the loved ones he’d lost and all the others struggling to remain alive. “After that, the act became a cinch.” He took the title of Constant Stranger (1995) from the Joni Mitchell song “Down to You”—“Bad news comes knocking/At your garden gate/Knocking for you/Constant stranger.” It was about searching for love while living with a death sentence. These completely oversimplified descriptions do establish a theme. The other key to Kelly’s work is that it’s art about art, based on characters he could only know through film, recordings, or art history: Schiele, Cesare from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Orpheus remade as a Depression era radio crooner, and so on. Drag, too, can be art about art. His beloved performances as Joni Mitchell or quasi-Mitchell: that’s more art about art, not deconstruction, not parody. He shows how one can work with artifice to get to a state of heightened emotion. It always seemed to me that AIDS killed more artists than any other group. But maybe I’m prejudiced. Maybe it’s just that those were the obituaries I was collecting. John Kelly lost over 50 people—“friends and lovers, people I knew, worked with, hung out with, loved,” like his inspiration Tanya Ransom (aka Michael Norman), his company member John Beal, and his one-time lover and most important collaborator Huck Snyder, along with Ethyl Eichelberger, John Sex, Charles Ludlam, Peter Hujar, Cookie Mueller, and everyone else he’s drawn for this show, whose faces he wanted to “caress with graphite.” We lost a world when we lost those people. And who among us hasn’t asked, “What if they had lived?” * lyric excerpt by Mark Campbell


Lalo Quiñones Jane Friedman Donovan Welsh BG Hacker


Curt Hoppe Marc H. Miller Dan Cameron Carlo McCormick James Rubio Debra Tripodi Lisa Brownlee


Bob Perl, President Bob Holman, Vice President BG Hacker, Treasurer Nathaniel Siegel, Secretary Brian (Hattie Hathaway) Butterick Riki Colon Jane Friedman Chi Chi Valenti Marguerite Van Cook, President Emeritus HOWL! HAPPENING: AN ARTURO VEGA PROJECT

Founder and Executive Director: Jane Friedman Gallery Director: Ted Riederer Gallery Coordinator: Scout Woodhouse Production Team: Ramsey Chahine, Josh Nierodzinski Program Director: Carter Edwards Collection Manager: Corinne Gatesmith Marketing and Public Relations: Susan Martin Social Media and Development: Michelle Halabura Videographer: Yoon Gallery designed: Space ODT/Teddy Kofman Creative Consultant: Some Serious Business The Arturo Vega Project: Jane Friedman

John Kelly: Sideways into the Shadows February 28–March 25, 2018 Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project Special thanks to the Millay Colony for the Arts, Craig Hensala © 2018 Howl Arts, Inc. Howl! Archive Publishing Editions (Howl! A/P/E) Volume 1, No. 22 ISBN: 978-0-9995847-2-9 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Howl! A/P/E. © 2018 Carlo McCormick © 2018 Mark Harrington © 2018 Cynthia Carr All artwork © John Kelly Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project 6 East 1st St. NY, NY 10003 917 475 1294 Editor: Ted Riederer Copy Editor: Jorge Clar Design: Jeff Streeper

Howl! Happening takes its name from the unpredictable, free-form happenings of the 60s and 70s, where active participation of the audience blurred the boundary between the art and the viewer. More to be experienced than described, Howl! Happening will curate exhibitions and stage live events that combine elements of art, poetry, music, dance, vaudeville, and theater— a cultural stew that defies easy definition. For more than a decade, Howl! Festival has been an annual community event—a free summer happening in and around Tompkins Square Park, dedicated to celebrating the past and future of contemporary culture in the East Village and the Lower East Side. The history and contemporary culture of the East Village are still being written. The mix of rock and roll, social justice, art and performance, community activism, gay rights and culture, immigrants, fashion, and nightlife are even more relevant now. While gentrification continues apace and money is king, Howl! Happening declares itself a spontaneous autonomous zone: a place where people simultaneously experience and become the work of art. As Alan Kaprow, the “father” of the happening, said: “The line between art and life should be kept as fluid and indistinct as possible.”

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