2020.01.06 Hero in Art - The Vanished Traces of Richard Hambleton

Yes, I knew Richard Hambleton &, yes, because of that I'm mentioned in passing in this book. I started exchanging correspondence with strangers in 1978. Most participants in this process called it "Mail Art" but since I'd eschewed the context of art I preferred "P.I.N.-U.P." (Postal Interaction Network - Underground Participant). As far as I know, I'm the only person who ever used that acronymn. When Richard & I connected it was still back in the day when I was sending out gratis copies of my 1st book (published 1977). I keep records on 4X6" cards of who I correspond with & listing what I send them & what they send me. My correspondence with Richard didn't last long because when he changed address in NYC I didn't learn where he'd moved to. I heard various stories about him that led me to believe he'd 'gone down the rabbit hole' & that we weren't likely to connect again.

BUT during the admittedly brief time of our friendship, roughly 1981, I enjoyed his work & his company very much. As Istvan Kantor remembers, we probably met in BalTimOre 1st during "81 APT", the 3rd International Neoist Apartment Festival & the 1st one I organized. Here're my 2 cameo appearances that give Istvan's memories:

David lived with me at the same place where the APT was & I recall him staying there for a whole month. I remember (or misremember) him being there for the whole APT. As such, he would've been there when Richard was. I DO remember Richard's appearance as being much more brief, at least a few days but probably not for the whole festival.

As for other aspects of the above description: Kirby Malone did participate & initially he & I had discussed coorganizing the festival but in the long run it was basically (dis)organized by me. The fact that there was no money for it, etc, is a testimony to how committed the participants were. Ricky Kilreagan's performance with Some Queer as what was probably the 1st manifestation of N.E.M.B. (Non-Erotic Male Bonding) was excellent & in some ways a precursor to my own booed usic of 2.5 years later. Many of the locals were involved with the Church of the SubGenius at this point (or soon to be): myself, Richard Ellsberry, Doug Retzler, & Lizard. The highlight of anything SubGenius related were 16mm films sent to me by the Reverend Ivan Stang from, at that time, Dallas, Texas.

My vaudeo quasi-documentation of the festival is online following the links below. Unfortunately, Richard Hambleton never shows.

013. a. "81 Apt" {version 1}

- shot by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE (1/2" reel vaudeo), Lizard Media Systems (1/2" VHS cassette), & Mannette Letter (super 8) -> edited to 1/2" VHS cassette by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

- 2:00:00 [not "worth" presenting]

- may-june '81 (etc..)

b. "81 Apt" {version 2}

- 32:00

c. "81 Apt" {version 3}

- dramatically re-edited using audio tape & scans & titles & brightness & contrast adjustments, etc..

- broken into 9 parts, one for each day of the festival (except from Monday, June 1, when, as far as I can tell, 'nothing' happened) - w/ the 1st day abridged, for YouTube:

81 APT - May 29

81 APT - May 30

81 APT - May 31

81 APT - June 2

81 APT - June 3

81 APT - June 4

81 APT - June 5

81 APT - June 6

81 APT - June 7

- edit finished february 3, 2010

- 1:06:31

The 'blueprint' (strictly speaking a blackprint - the same thing as a blueprint but using black ink) of his roughly life-sized self-portrait was both used as a guerrilla paste-up AND as an artist's book that came neatly folded & bound so that one could unfold it to its full glory & still have it attached to its binding. I was fortunate enough to get 3 of Richard's wonderful publications, including the self-portrait - which came in this form:

Despite the smoke damage visible in the above photo, an effect of having my apartment set fire to in 1985, I've managed to keep Richard's self-portrait blackprint relatively unexposed to light so it hasn't faded much over the decades.

Ricky Kilreagan, mentioned above as an 81 APT participant, also participated in the Public Works festival in Toronto soon thereafter. That was the 1st half of the 4th International Neoist Apartment Festival, the 2nd half of which was in Montréal immediately after the Toronto event. I attended both. I must've gotten the next photo from Istvan, probably to show me that Hambleton attended APT 4 in Montréal as well as 81 APT.

Shown in the forefront of the photo are Richard on the left & Napoleon Moffat on the right.

I'm shown in the background left wearing a red fake fur. I seem to be showing Richard something but it might be someone else. I don't recognize the other 3 people but I find them intriguing.

Since I grew up in the depths & general environ of that exemplary working class hell-hole BalTimOre, where drug addiction & race war have ruled the day for entirely too long & where if you have imagination you're valued as much as dog shit in bed (unless you're rich - in which case you stand some chance of being overvalued), it wasn't unusual for me to know people who were desperate to move to New York City where there was the very feeble hope that their talents might yield wealth & popularity. What they were most likely to encounter was dramatically overpriced rent & their old pal from BalTimOre, heroin addiction. Richard Hambleton, not from BalTimOre, was the only person I knew who got somewhat famous for his painting & who reputedly sold paintings for reasonable amounts of cash.. with which he became a junkie. Oh, well.

When Istvan was planning this book he asked me for a photo of myself with the blackprint of Richard so I enlisted my friend Julie Gonzalez to shoot a series of them for him. He wasn't satisfied with the resolution of those so he asked us to shoot some more. We did. Still not satisfied, he requested a 3rd set. We complied. I think he picked the following photo as his favorite. The plan was to use it in the book.

As I recall, I think Istvan liked this one because it evoked for him Richard as my bodyguard reaching for a gun. Richard's grafitti art had a vague menace to it. Imagine looking in an alley & seeing this figure apparently reaching for something where a gun might be. In dim light the image might've seemed like a threatening real person. Richard was a very soft-spoken nice person in my experience. I've imagined him as liking to imply a 'dark side' to his character. As it turned out, he did lead a pretty self-destructive life, becoming a heroin addict & neglecting his health to the point that in his final years his scoliosis had him bent sideways & he no longer had a nose - a far cry from the debonair young man shown above.

As it turned out, none of the photos were used in the book. As such, with my usual tedious thoroughness (not adequately displayed in the above text) I present all of the photos, including the ones that were cropped (which I've left larger because I thought they were the best).

- November 3, 2020 (Vision) notes from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE








idioideo at gmail dot com


to the tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE Anti-Neoism page

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