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PHILLY ABE «THIS SIDE OF HEAVEN»

Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project


PHILLY ABE A/K/A PHILLY / KONDOR 8 «THIS SIDE OF HEAVEN» April 4–May 6, 2018 at Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project Howl! A/P/E Volume 1, No. 23


«PHILLY: MY ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN» Todd Verow

PREVIOUS PAGES

Night Spirit, 2008 Mixed media assemblage 22½ x 18½ inches Untitled, 2007 Acrylic on canvas 24 x 20 x ½ inches


I was just a small-town boy fantasizing about life in the big bad city when I arrived in New York in the summer of 1989. I quickly realized the city I dreamed about no longer existed. Then I met Philly and everything changed. I was looking for an apartment and saw Philly’s ad in the Village Voice. She opened the door and welcomed me into her amble bosoms. As Philly showed me the apartment, Onka, her albino ferret, hissed at me, and Birdy, her pet pigeon, followed me around pecking my feet. She told me the building was infested with rats and roaches and junkies. This was the New York I had dreamed about. I moved in immediately. Philly and I would stay up all night talking. She showed me her artwork, and her movies I a Goddess Part 1 & 2. I showed her my short films. It wasn’t until my third feature film, Shucking the Curve (1998), that I was ready to work with her. It was basically a movie about Philly and I and our adventures together. We had a blast making it and she was great. I kicked myself for not doing movies with her sooner, and she laughed it off saying “I knew you would come to me when you were ready.” We worked together on over 20 movies. Some experimental, some narrative, some improvised, some scripted (which Philly hated—she could NEVER remember her lines). Philly loved to talk about all the insane things I made her do in the movies, but the truth is she came up with the craziest ideas, like that double-headed dildo scene in XX (2007). She hated being typecast as a kook, and I tried to give her as many different, unexpected roles as I could. The two films that stand out were the ones that were our most collaborative: Once & Future Queen (2000) and This Side of Heaven (2016). When we were working on the movie A Sudden Loss of Gravity (1999), where Philly played a mother who abandoned her teenage boy to be in a rock band, Philly formed a real band—Eager Meat—and they recorded the song “You Can Be My Toilet When I Pee” (which she wrote) for the movie. It is from this character that we came up with the idea for Once & Future Queen, about an aging wannabe rock star who is desperately trying to get a band together and conquer something, anything. We shot the movie over a whole year. It was such a synergistic experience. We could read each other’s minds the whole time we were filming. It was an amazing experience; it was hard to stop filming. Luckily, the


film was well received and Philly—unlike the character she portrayed—was able to keep the band together. We toured all over the world and had a blast. We decided to make This Side of Heaven when our landlord was doing everything he could to try to get us evicted. Our way of coping with the harassment and absurdity of it all was to make a movie. It was cathartic and exhausting. Every day when we were shooting we would wake up and I would spend an hour doing Philly’s makeup and hair. We would go over the scenes while I did this, and she would get into her character. When we were done for the day, we would both just collapse on the floor, exhausted physically and emotionally. It was the last movie we finished together. Philly would stay up all night doing her paintings. Watching her work was mesmerizing. She was so focused but at the same time playful. That sense of play was infused in everything: her artwork, her performances (on film, onstage, or just walking down the street), her music, her style. Like Philly said in Once & Future Queen: “People just don’t understand how amazingly special I am, and it’s their goddamn problem.” Philly was always there when I needed her. I hope I was there for her when she needed me. There was no bullshitting her. She could be exhausting and invigorating (often at the same time). Most people don’t think of her as being shy, but she was. We had that in common, but she was better at hiding it than I was. We would get dressed up, I would cut her hair (she called it the “Sadistic Beauty Parlor”), she would slather some makeup on, and we’d go out in search of trouble. We had so many crazy, fun, fucked-up, out-ofcontrol adventures together, so many laughs and tears. She was my sister in crime and mischief, my best friend and muse. I miss her terribly.


FOLLOWING PAGES: L TO R

Untitled Acrylic on canvas 20 x 16 x ½ inches

Untitled Mixed media assemblage 32 x 23 x 2 inches Flying Lessons Paint on wood 33 x 19¾ inches


Hell Hole a Go Go Mixed media assemblage 22½ x 18½ inches OPPOSITE

Reptile Brain Dance, Do You Know Who You Are, Do You Know Who You Are, August 2009 Mixed media assemblage 22½ x 18½ inches


PREVIOUS PAGES: L TO R, T TO B

The New Shout, 2005 Mixed media assemblage 20 x 20 inches Signed and dated on verso I Will Come for You, Come for Me Acrylic and marker on canvas 30 x 30 x ½ inches Untitled Acrylic and marker on canvas 30 x 30 x ½ inches Untitled Mixed media assemblage 20 x 20 inches

OPPOSITE

Mama Dada Dead, 2005 Mixed media assemblage 20 x 20 inches The History of Unrecorded Time Mixed media assemblage 20 x 20 inches


«PRAISE SONG FOR PHILLY» Hapi Phace O Philly! Dear Friend; muse; confidant; collaborator; teacher; student; fool and magician; sister; brother; priestess; goddess; trickster; icon; mystic; myth; crone; clown; creature; entity; power; eternal force; guiding light; elemental entity of earth, wind, fire, water, and spirit; I sing your praise. O Philly! Elemental being, let this song flow forever in praise of you, the veils you wove and wore as you moved through multiple circles on intersecting curves, arcs, and tangents in a chaotic yet harmonic sacred geometry you traced on the sidewalks of the city: vaudevillian, merchant, actress, trader, cinema star, noise musician, beachcomber and gleaner, artist, more primal than primitive, shaman, horrible housekeeper, salty-tongued observer, expert cloud watcher, hieroglyphic scribe and graffitist, outsiders’ outsider, fierce-woman-warrior tenant rights advocate. This inventory is incomplete. Bring on the archivists, decipherers, code-breakers, performance studies researchers, gender theorists, art historians, students of sexuality, film critics, documentarians—the curious and the seekers—to explore, discover, and enumerate all your glory. O Philly! You angel, devil. Complexity was your specialty. Synthesis and exegesis your currency. Throughout the years you were always ancient, always nubile, with porcelain doll complexion and rag doll body. The symmetry of asymmetry was a geometry you taught me, giving me courage, confidence, and pride in my own lopsidedness, inside and out. Thank you, angel, devil. Evil grin. O Philly! My old showbiz partner…. No one, but no one, got as much joy from giving a cream pie in the face as you, who got even more joy getting one in the face yourself. We met in the dressing room as I stepped off stage my very first time. We recognized our lives-long friendship in that moment and knew we would be friends for life. We made it, dear one. Oh, we had differences and separations—there was that backstage meltdown during The Hans Christian Andersen Story where we didn’t speak for a long time. But no matter our squabbles, we could always rely on the “Oh Lucy! Oh Ethel!”


conflict-resolution strategy of instantaneous forgiveness, knowing we were happier as a whole. Like oil and vinegar, we were essentially different but always able to blend well. Once, we go-go danced as conjoined twins in a costume that we inescapably sewed ourselves into…mic drop on the metaphor. O Philly! Faithful friend, only you would venture out to Staten Island—train, ferry, and bus—while suffering the lingering gastric distress of a stomach bug to see me in an outdoor performance during a nor’easter. You were there for my first time on stage and my last. Let there be a piece of you in all that I continue to create. Be it a scrap of fabric, bead, or bauble you gave me, sewn into a costume; a tired, tried, and true punchline from our old act; an element of chaos and unpredictability; and a cream pie in the face. O Philly! Creator, both gourmand and gleaner. You made diamonds out of dross. Anything could become something else. Rocks, shards, shells, bones, twigs, nuts, a pile of glass, discarded paintings transformed through a slap of color and a myriad of markings. You were a transformer of objects and of people. You fostered the discarded, not only in your home decor and wardrobe choices, but in your collection of friends. Part beachcomber, part rag merchant, you could see additional value and resilient life in something or someone broken, where others saw little. Once again, thank you. O Philly! Dear Philly, let the melody of your praise song play long and loud in our ears, its rhythms guide our steps. O Philly! Creator; faithful friend; showbiz partner; angel; devil; elemental being; dear friend; muse; confidant; collaborator; teacher; student; fool and magician; sister; brother; priestess; goddess; trickster; icon; mystic; myth; crone; clown; creature; entity; power; eternal force; guiding light; elemental entity of earth, wind, fire, water, and spirit; I sing your praise.


Think of It as Simply Stretching the Truth Mixed media assemblage 14½ x 11½ x ½ inches


My Name Is Forgotten, 2006 Mixed media assemblage 24 x 13 inches


THIS SPREAD: L TO R, T TO B

Dragon Eat the Sun, Dragon Eat the Moon, 1995 Acrylic on canvas 20 x 20 x ½ inches Exploding Medicine Man Acrylic on canvas 20 x 20 x ½ inches Erotic Dance for My Lovers and Friends Acrylic on canvas 20 x 20 x ½ inches Death Moon Rising, 2007 Acrylic on canvas 20 x 20 x ½ inches Untitled Acrylic on canvas 16 x 16 x ½ inches Untitled, 2007 Acrylic on canvas 20 x 20 x ½ inches Buy Me, 2007 Acrylic on canvas 16 x 16 x ½ inches Sold, 2007 Acrylic on canvas 16 x 16 x ½ inches Untitled, 2007 Acrylic on canvas 20 x 20 x ½ inches


Why Me, 2008 Mixed media assemblage 22½ x 18½ inches

Get Me out of Here, Get Me into Here Mixed media assemblage 22½ x 18½ inches


Untitled Mixed media assemblage on Masonite 30 x 22 inches TR End Your War Acrylic and marker on canvas 40 x 30 x 1½ inches B Untitled Mixed media assemblage on Masonite 30 x 22 inches TL

OPPOSITE

God Dog God Mixed media assemblage on paper 18½ x 14½ inches


I Have Touch the Sky but Dance, Death at Cherry Blossom Time, Flying Lesson, 2009 Mixed media assemblage 13½ x 16½ inches


Am I Safe Here, May 2009 Mixed media assemblage 16½ x 13½ inches


OPPOSITE

Paradise Lost Help Now, Mom (You Pick Word Order), 2005 Mixed media assemblage 22 x 18 inches

Goddess Bird Serpent Dance with the Unknowable Mixed media assemblage 22¾ x 19 inches


OPPOSITE

Paradise Lost, Do Something Series, Beauty Wants Needs Mixed media assemblage 22 x 18¼ inches

Untitled, 2010 Mixed media assemblage 22½ x 18½ inches


Tokyo Sketchbooks, 1984-85


Which One of Me Do You Want to Talk to, 2011 Mixed media assemblage 22½ x 18½ inches


Occupy Da Universe, Occupy Now, 2011–2012 Mixed media assemblage 23 x 19 inches


Fun Cats Get Funky with Time in Birdland, 2011–2012 Mixed media assemblage 22½ x 18½ inches (DETAIL OPPOSITE)


Untitled Mixed media assemblage on paper 18½ x 14½ inches

OPPOSITE

Untitled Paint on white leather jacket


Fanatic Voyage, 2005 Philly “Kondor 8�, Steve Ellis, Carlucci Bencivenga, Dave Vulcan Mixed media on canvas 96 x 46 inches


HOWL! COMMUNITY ARTURO VEGA FOUNDATION Lalo Quiñones Jane Friedman Donovan Welsh BG Hacker BOARD OF ADVISORS Curt Hoppe Marc H. Miller Dan Cameron Carlo McCormick James Rubio Debra Tripodi Lisa Brownlee HOWL! BOARD OF DIRECTORS 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

Philly Abe «THIS SIDE OF HEAVEN»

April 4–May 6, 2018 Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project Special thanks to: Steve Ellis Elizabeth Nichols Todd Verow Hapi Phace © 2018 Howl Arts, Inc. Howl! Archive Publishing Editions (Howl! A/P/E) Volume 1, No. 23 ISBN: 978-0-9995847-3-6 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 Todd Verow © 2018 Hapi Phace All artwork © Philly Abe Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project 6 East 1st St. NY, NY 10003 www.HowlArts.org 917 475 1294 Editor: Ted Riederer Copy Editor: Jorge Clar Design: Jeff Streeper


FRONT COVER FRONT COVER

Untitled Acrylic on panel in frame­ 17½ x 14½ inches ENDPAPERS

Photos by Todd Verow Jacket: Untitled Paint on white leather jacket Night Spirit, 2008 Mixed media assemblage 22½ x 18½ inches BACK COVER

Untitled Paint on metal fan 20 x 13 inches


Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project www.howlarts.org info@howlarts.org HOWL! ARTS INC. ARCHIVE / PUBLISHING / EDITIONS 6 EAST 1ST STREET, NYC 10003

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PHILLY ABE, «THIS SIDE OF HEAVEN»  

April 4–May 6, 2018 Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project

PHILLY ABE, «THIS SIDE OF HEAVEN»  

April 4–May 6, 2018 Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project