When Prospect.1 opened in November 2008, I went exploring on the first weekend and wandered into the back room of a converted funeral home exhibition space on North Rampart Street. I was the only person in the gallery except for a broad-shouldered man in a black T-shirt with an open plaid flannel shirt over it. He sat sort of reclining, but really he was just too large in frame for the couch in the middle of the room. And in a voice I could imagine a member of the Teamsters using to explain that you don't have the right papers to be on the job site, he said:
"Hey, buddy. This is my art."
It was Tony Fitzpatrick, the Chicago-based artist behind the Prospect.1 show "Chapel of Moths." The former boxer doesn't strike one as the sort of person who makes intricate collages with found paper, drawing and aphorisms and observations. But in fact, he was mentored by Studs Terkel and he's got a lot of serious thoughts about art. Some of which were recently posted on Artnet (forwarded by Gambit art critic Eric Bookhardt). Fitzpatrick writes:
"Two years ago I made several moth pieces for my installation in Prospect.1 New Orleans, the inaugural New Orleans Biennial. It was an experience that fairly changed my life — kind of a Road to Damascus revelation. I like to think that I reclaimed my purpose as an artist there — the opening night of the installation for Prospect.1 was the best night of my life as an artist."
See the whole piece for Fitzpatrick's take on the value and scarcity of art with soul, and his disgust with some of the art world's art fair/business and promotion side ("This thing we do is a labor of desire — a thing of the spirit. And if this is not your reason? Get out. You’re fucking it up for the rest of us").
Fitzpatrick posts new works regularly on his website and blog. And he's a mentor to Michael Pajon, whose work is included in the current Prospect.1.5 "Fresh Off the Turnip Truck" show at Madame John's Legacy, which opened Saturday. There's more about Pajon in Gambit's story on Prospect1.5 this week.