Opening Reception: Friday, August 28, 6-9 pm (only 4 to 6 masked people at a time)
69 Witch Eyes
"Legend has it that while filming the 1956 film noir picture “Autumn Leaves” director Robert Aldrich asked the 51 year old screen Goddess Joan Crawford if she could “cry on cue.”
Crawford, at this time was a 31 year veteran of the motion picture business who had already received three Academy Award nominations and won once, 10 years earlier. When ask this question she is reported to have turned to the director and replied,
“Out of which eye?”
That response was the impetus for this show.
Underestimation, condescension, misogyny, and bullying seem to be running rampant in our current age. Frustratingly angry, ignorant men seem to be throwing down the gauntlet and misguided patriarchal attempts at domination are making the world a very dangerous place indeed.
At the time I’m writing this the Covid-19 pandemic is accelerating in the U.S. with no end in sight. The arts are suffering as social-distancing makes it practically impossible for live performers to do their work -especially actors and singers. We are being silenced and isolated, separated physically from our collaborators and audiences.
Lots of performers I know are now finding other outlets for their creativity. Many are creating visual art. I found myself joking recently that those of us who found safety from bullies in high-school by hiding out in art class are finding ourselves, once again, back at the drawing board.
Underestimation, identity, magic, power, protection, self-preservation, responsibility, adaptabilty. These are all themes I’ve been exploring in my work and in my life. How do we care for others during times when we ourselves feel existentially threatened on the daily?
Just as I did when I was back in high school art class I’ve been exploring our queer history and camp icons in the hope of finding clues.
One powerful moment I recently witnessed while isolating at home was of Truman Capote defending his old friend Tennessee Williams in an interview with Dick Cavett on YouTube in 1980. Queers defending queers. I was deeply moved by his impassioned defense of the aging playwright, along with another Dick Cavett interview during which Gloria Swanson whimsically explained to Janis Joplin and Margot Kidder that she was, in fact, the inventor of the panty-girdle!
Like Joan Crawford, Gloria Swanson had made the transition from silent films to talkies, they both lived through the Spanish Flu pandemic and the depression, and made strong comebacks in their later years. I wanted to know how.
How do we survive the dark times and muster the resolve to remain in or at least return to the light?
When Billy Haines, a successful young movie actor in the early 30’s refused to deny his gayness his contract was dropped and he was out of work. Instead of giving up he became an interior decorator and Joan Crawford became his champion, commissioning him to do her home and promoting his talent whenever possible.
Truman Capote and Joan Crawford -however problematic their legacies may be - were both defenders. Gloria Swanson and Billy Haines adapted!
Adaptors and defenders are the people I’ve been studying and gaining strength from for most of my life.
Most of these “Witch Eyes” I have painted are the magical left eye of people who I have been a fan of or been inspired by over the years. These are either the eyes of real people people who stand up to bullies and who defend others or they are abstract eyes I have “tranneled.”
Historically to give someone the “evil eye” is to place a curse on them. I’ve created these “Witch Eyes” as little magical spells of protection to ward off evil “chodes” or to put it more simply to keep you safe from tools of the patriarchy -bullies, creeps, and con-men.
Each of these Witch Eyes, by Viv, includes a few particles of Vivianite which, according to SpiritofIsis.org opens and balances the heart chakra. Vivianite eminates the energy of love helping one to heal deep emotional wounds. Vivianite helps increase self esteem, confidence and combats issues of inferiority, anxiety and frustration. Vivianite instills a sense of deep peace and is a useful aid to meditation.
Glamour is resistance and these glamorous “Witch Eyes” are infused with special powers to help make your personal space a more peaceful and safe one, that is if you believe in that sort of thing."
Mx Justin Vivian Bond has appeared on stage (Broadway and Off-Broadway, London’s West End), screen (Shortbus, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Sunset Stories), television (High Maintenance, Difficult People, The Get Down), nightclub stages (most notably a decades long residency at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater in NYC), and in concert halls worldwide (Carnegie Hall, The Sydney Opera House).
Their visual art and installations have been seen in museums and galleries in the US (Participant, Inc, The New Museum) and abroad (Vitrine, London).
Their memoir Tango: My Childhood Backwards and in High Heels (Feminist Press) won the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Nonfiction.
They are the recipient of an Obie, a Bessie, and a Tony nomination, an Ethyl Eichelberger Award, The Peter Reed Foundation Grant, The Foundation for Contemporary Art Grant for Artists, and The Art Matters Grant.
They have self-released several full-length recordings: most notably Dendrophile, and Silver Wells. As one half of the legendary punk cabaret duo Kiki & Herb they toured the world and released two CDs: Do You Hear What We Hear? and Kiki and Herb Will Die For You at Carnegie Hall.
Mx Bond has been at the forefront of Trans visibility and activism since the early 1990s.
They have a Master’s Degree in Live Art from Central Saint Martin’s College in London and have taught performance composition and Live Art Installation at NYU and Bard College.
Currently Viv divides their time between residences in New York City’s East Village and the Hudson Valley.
In December of 2019 they made their debut at The Vienna Staatsoper in the world premiere of Olga Neuwirth’s Orlando as Orlando’s child.
"The historical root of this is from stock taking - counting or assessing the number of animals on your farm, or the number of items in stock in your shop etc.
To review or make an overall assessment of a particular situation, typically as a prelude to making a decision.
To think carefully about the things that have happened in a situation in order to decide what to do next.
In this installation, which is made up of dozens of pieces made recently to long ago, I am taking stock: putting things together to look at them; to see how much I can cram into a room like puzzle; to see all the parts of me; to understand the facets, the time, the ideas, the divergences, the tracks, the patterns that repeat themselves through the decades; to take stock of the idiosyncratic artist I am. To revel in this, and to see it anew, with you."
Liz Collins is a visual artist with a constantly-evolving practice that combines historical art and design vernaculars—such as Op and Pop Art, Arte Povera, and Memphis Design—with her own queer sensibility and spirit. Her work ranges in scale and medium, from small stitched drawings to woven textiles, paintings, video, furniture, and large scale installations which re-imagine the functions of social space.
Collins has presented solo exhibitions at the Tang Museum, LMAK, BGSQD, and Heller in New York; AMP in Provincetown, MA; at the Knoxville Museum of Art in Tennessee, Galerie DLUL in Slovenia, and at Rossana Orlandi in Milan. Select group exhibitions featuring her work include the ICA/Boston, Leslie Lohman Museum, the Museum of FIT, the New Museum, Museum of Arts and Design, MoMA, Sargent’s Daughters, September Gallery, Luis de Jesus Los Angeles, and the LA Municipal Art Gallery. Collins has been awarded a USA Fellowship, a MacColl Johnson Fellowship, and residencies at Siena Art Institute, MacDowell, Haystack, Yaddo, and the Museum of Arts and Design. Collins received both a BFA and MFA in Textiles from the Rhode Island School of Design (91/99).
Collins is multi-year Queer|Art Mentor, a member of the Exhibitions Committee at the Leslie Lohman Museum, was in the Open Sessions program at the Drawing Center from 2018-2020, and is a resident in the Two Trees Cultural Subsidy Studios in Brooklyn. Upcoming is a special exhibition at The Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, MA, for which Collins was commissioned to produce a new body of work; and the Tang Museum has just published her first major publication Liz Collins: Energy Field.