On September 24,2012 panelists Gregg Bordowitz Joy Episalla, Loring McAlpin, and Harvey Weiss with moderator Barbara Hunt Mclanahan, gathered for Frank Moore: Together in Art and Activism. Presented by Visual AIDS and Grey Art Gallery at NYU’s Fales Library, the panel discussion was an opportunity to explore the life of Moore, while diving into relationships between art and activism. Each panelist took a personal but diverse approach.
Artist and designer Harvey Weiss was a friend of Frank Moore and collaborator. They met through Weiss’ partner Marc Happel who met Moore first in Happel’s costume store. Speaking at Together in Art and Activism, with Happel joining him at the podium for love and technical support, Weiss began by establishing the time in which he knew Moore. Here are Weiss’s notes:
Early 1990s. A decade into the AIDS crisis:
- By this time 9 million people had been infected with HIV
- Every 8 minutes someone was dying of AIDS.
- ACT-UP stages protests within St. Patricks Cathedral,
- At the National Institutes of Health (NIH),
- At the CBS and PBS Evening News disrupting the live
- And at a massive action paralyzing Grand Central Station in response to President George H.W. Bush spending a billion-dollars-a-day on the Gulf War 1 while claiming there was no money for much-needed increases in AIDS programs. All this while the military, with the Supreme Court’s blessing, could afford to discharge outed gays and lesbians from the armed forces.
- John Sex, Alvin Ailey, Jack Smith, Bruce Chatwin, Ethyl Eichelberger, Halston, Vito Russo, Keith Haring and Ryan White among the many notables succumbing to the illness around this time. White, a hemophiliac put a white middle American teenager’s face to the disease and whose death finally shamed congress to enact the Ryan White Care Act which sought funding for low-income, uninsured and under-insured people with AIDS and their families.”
Having transported another time Weiss shared a few stories about life with Moore:
"One summer he (Frank) got the idea to have a group of us including his sister Rebecca and dancer Jim Self, his collaborator of the film Beehive, to build a Native American sweat lodge out of tree saplings which we harvested together on his land, and covered with a quilt that Marc made from fabric scraps which he had sewn in the barn’s studio. This had all the traits of a Frank Moore production; environment, health, history, and any excuse to get everyone naked for a party…he was definitely a Boy Scout with a Radical Fairy merit badge. It was this sort of informed study that reflected his later political activism as very pragmatic and reality based. Frank always did his homework.”
After the event Weiss was approached by many people in the audience who thanked him for his words, sharing a laugh over the boy scout / radical fairy line. Watching Weiss speak, one could not help but let their eyes wander and take in the beauty of his shirt. A starched button-up, the patter was pure Moore, weaving together everyday shapes with vines and flowers. With his heartfelt words, all of it together made for a moving tribute.
Harvey Weiss is a New York based artist, graphic designer, photographer, and decorative painter, whose works have been exhibited nationally, in Canada, and in Europe. He was a member of Visual AIDS' Artists Caucus who collectively conceived and produced the Red Ribbon. He holds an M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He currently lives in New York City and the Hudson Valley.