RIP

" The last New York bohemian " - El País, the main newspaper in Spain.

Steve Cannon, in the living room of his last home in New York, in December.  ACAUTHEN9

Steve Cannon, in the living room of his last home in New York, in December. ACAUTHEN9

By Mireia Sentis

With the death of the popular publisher, gallery owner and writer Steve Cannon, a way of life that seduced the less conventional artists of the Big Apple disappears

If the word "oxymoron" were a person, who would it be? How easy is the response to this children's game for those who knew the epicenter of the most productive clutter in downtown New York: "Steve Cannon!". This blind of panoramic vision directed To Gathering of the Tribes, organization founded in 1991, that included an art gallery, a publishing house for novice authors, a magazine and a seat - his own apartment - that fulfilled the function of the performance hall (concerts, performances , poetic recitals, book presentations), university classroom and refuge for anyone who wanted to converse, at any time of the day or night, with strangers who were converted from that moment and for always part of the Tribes family.

Professor Cannon, a true Hamelin, orchestrated all these activities from a dilapidated sofa that did not leave or sleep (the bedroom was a temporary shelter for artists who came looking for a place in the sun in the Big Apple), something he did when he felt like it , whatever happened at that moment in his room. On that island where there were no rules of any kind, they were going to smoke who could not do it in another covered place, to drink those who did it at the wrong time, or to face constructive as well as destructive criticism who needed to show or comment on an incipient creation in any discipline. Also, those who wanted to find out where the intellectual or artistic currents of the city would flow next. In that intergenerational, interethnic and international space to which books arrived, magazines and invitations at a dizzying pace, access to extensive information. In 2014, Cannon moved to a smaller place, in the same neighborhood, the East Village, where he continued with the magazine - already in digital format -, the publishing house and its activitygriot or transmitter of stories and knowledge for all.

Steve Cannon, who died on July 7 after stumbling on his stationary bike - "I was run over," he joked from the hospital - was born in New Orleans in 1935 . After living a couple of years in London among the group of writers known as Angry Young Men ( comprised of John Osborne, Harold Pinter, Kingsley Amis, Alan Sillitoe ..., he settled in New York in 1962. In 1969 he published a novel that would reach the category of worship: Groove, Bang and Jive Around (Enjoy, fuck and have fun out there), built in the style that his friend Ishmael Reed would announce as neohoodoo and published by Girodias, son of the editor of Henry Miller. The vicissitudes of a girl who runs away from home and lives the most extreme adventures are narrated with an accelerated rhythm, full of Southern lingo and poetic cadences. What should have been his second novel disappeared in a fire, and since then he opted for theater and poetry. At the present time he was working on a memoir that dictated to a tape recorder and he thought it was entitled Never Too Old To Blush (Never too old to blush).

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Joe Overstreet, Purposeful Painter Who Made Space for Artists of Color, Is Dead at 85

Overstreet. Courtesy Eric Firestone Gallery | Artnews.com

Overstreet. Courtesy Eric Firestone Gallery | Artnews.com

“My paintings don’t let the onlooker glance over them, but rather take them deeply into them and let them out—many times by differ­ent routes,” artist Joe Overstreet once said, describing viewing experiences that can be variously harrowing and exhilarating. “These trips are taken sometimes subtly and sometimes suddenly.”

Over the course of a six-decade career that cut across artistic movements and unflinchingly addressed issues of racism and inequality, Overstreet established himself not only as one of the signal painters of postwar American art, but also as a vital organizer. As an African-American man working in a cultural sphere that has long marginalized non-white artists, he helped create exhibiting opportunities for numerous artists of diverse backgrounds at Kenkeleba House, the arts space he cofounded in Manhattan’s East Village in 1974.

Overstreet’s death on Tuesday night in New York at the age of 85, which was confirmed by Eric Firestone Gallery, his representative in New York, marks the end of a trailblazing life, and it comes amid renewed interest—both scholarly and commercial—in the artist’s relentlessly innovative work, resulting from museum exhibitions focused on the work of African-American artists and other artists of color.

Because Overstreet worked in a wide variety of modes, his art resists any simple summation. But he is best known for his incisive political works of the 1960s and his “Flight Patterns,” the gloriously colorful abstract pieces—inspired by Tantric drawings and Navajo sand painting—that he began making in 1970 on shaped canvases that he attached to walls, floors, and ceilings by running ropes through holes at their edges so that they appear to be floating or flying.

“I was making nomadic art, and I could roll it up and travel,” Overstreet said of those stretcher-free works. “We had survived with our art by rolling it up and moving it all over. I felt like a nomad myself, with all the insensitivity in America.”

Joe Wesley Overstreet was born in 1933 in the small town of Conehatta, Mississippi, about 60 miles east of Jackson, and wanted to be a painter from an early age. Speaking with an interviewer a few years ago, Overstreet noted that he was then 78—and quickly added, “I’ve been trying to be a painter for probably 70 of those 78 years.” He credited his rural upbringing with shaping the direction of his work. “Because I had experienced beauty and freedom in nature, I could recognize it in art,” he told Barry Schwabsky in a 1996 profile in the New York Times, and in some of his work, he drew on Choctaw iconography that he first saw growing up.

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