Congratulations on Art in General’s anniversary! What a wonderful institution it is! I remember being in a show there eons ago — back in 2000, a show called Private Worlds, curated by Joan Semmel. How different the world was in 2000. Who knew everything would change and our sense of private worlds would become dominated by wars and overreach. I remember the atmosphere of Art in General always being SO welcoming and full of people interested in what you were trying to do with your work. Always appreciative of artists — such generosity in the art world is kinda rare! Bravo Art in General!
Art in General was a laboratory: a place for experimentation, discussion and reflection. It was far enough off the beaten track that you could do what you wanted to do without compromise, but it was enough on “the scene” that art critics, museum curators and gallery owners went there to find out what young artists were thinking about and making.
I met Holly Block in the early to mid 80’s, when she was the director of Art In General on Walker Street. It has been a privilege and honor to have known Holly as a friend and colleague.
I was in a few shows at Art In General. In 1992, I was in a Salon Show and in 2000 I was in a group show titled Private Worlds, curated by Joan Semmel. In 1995, I was invited to make an installation piece in the street level window. It was titled Boys Room. At the time I was a single mom with a 5 year old son and the piece was related to that experience. The backdrop was a painting of a boys room and the objects on the floor were some of my sons old toys and collected toy weapons. I’ve included images of the installation.
It was a pleasure working with Holly during this time. She was so supportive and helpful making sure that it all went smoothly and I was well taken care of. In 2000, I was asked to be part of the Art in General Artist Studio tour. I remember it very well because it was the night before the clocks were changed for day life savings and I among other artists were late for the event. Holly was very understandable and forgiving. Holly made Art in General what it was and she did the same when she became the director of the Bronx Museum. Her dedication, enthusiasm, vision and the programs she put forth there were so valuable and progressive. I miss her energy and our talks. When I picture her face I see her smile. She was always smiling.
The anonymous group of women artists who called themselves the Guerrilla Girls had an agreement that when one of the Girls died that her identity would be revealed. Each Girl chose the name of a deceased women artist to identify themselves and in a way keep that artist alive and unforgotten. Holly took the name of Ana Mendieta. There is also another Girl who adopted that name and it was the only time this happened that two Girls wanted the same name. I’m sure Holly would be happy to be honored and remembered as Guerrilla Girl Ana Mendieta in addition to all the other impressive work she accomplished in her short lifetime.
In 1985 I was 25 years old—just out of art school. My work was included in October Exhibition at Art In General. I cannot recall now how that came about but it was one of the very first exhibitions I had and perhaps the very first opportunity to see my work taken seriously as some sort of serious expression. That my work was seen as something worthy of looking at or thinking about was so validating and very much helped launch my career. What I remember most is how grateful I was although I probably had no words at the time to express it. How wonderful it is to have places, especially in New York City who can offer young artists a venue!