featured gallery for December 2001

Retracing: 20 Years/20 Artists A Look at Art Through the Age of AIDS

As artists, who would have thought we would ever celebrate a Day Without Art? We certainly would not have twenty years ago when art, dance, sex, drugs and rock and roll were everything that fueled our creative impulses. AIDS challenged all of that for better and worse. Like a true marriage, we are wed to that time and forever changed. Not that people won't repeat the same lapses of judgement. . . . If we remember promiscuity without regret, perhaps it is because the one-night stands may have made it easier to experience the intense loss of friends, family -- loved ones. So here we are, still together twenty years later -- no cure but people living longer, even as different complications arise from the drugs that give us some hope.

Our curatorial choices look back at twenty years of the AIDS crisis. We selected a work of art for each year of the epidemic. It was a revelation to see how many people's lives had intersected with ours during years at ABC No Rio: Mike Parker who first exhibited his "Post Surfrealism" painting series there in NYC; Bruce Witsiepe who performed at No Rio as a member of the band Circle X and exhibited with the print collective Anti-Utopia; artists Valerie Caris and Hugh Steers who also exhibited there. The memories that are triggered by these works bring a gladness that is rudely overshadowed by questions. Who of these people has died? Who remains? We struggle to simply look at this art and appreciate its directness independent of such awareness, for this is what remains and continues to speak to us -- not of lives lost, but of lives lived in pursuit of their artistic visions and dreams.

Our thanks to Visual AIDS for inviting us to participate and be involved in their mission.

-- Peter Cramer and Jack Waters, 2001