Block title

Work Samples

Aspects of The Forgotten History of Staten Island, a Site Specific Public Art Project

Aspects of The Forgotten History of Staten Island, a Site Specific Public Art Project. by Edward Weiss.
Aspects of The Forgotten History of Staten Island, a Site Specific Public Art Project by Edward Weiss.

Detail From Sputnik: With a New Dress From Lila Lova and Some Fake Pearls I Asked Her to Hold.

Detail From Sputnik: With a New Dress From Lila Lova and Some Fake Pearls I Asked Her to Hold. Gouache on Paper by Edward Weiss
"Sputnik: With a New Dress From Lila Lova and Some Fake Pearls I Asked Her to Hold" is part of he East Village 1980s Memory Series is a look into my past, using gouache and ink on watercolor paper, with decoupage, calligraphic text, and handmade, gilded, distressed frames. It was painted over the past few years in Baltimore.

Rocco and Foster, Everywhere Sweet in Baltimore is Somewhere You Lived or Died.mp3

Written by Edward Weiss, performed by (Ed, Eddie) Edward Weiss.

Share:

About Edward

Baltimore City

Edward Weiss's picture
Edward Weiss's career dates back to the early 1980s, East Village art, performance, theater, and music  scene. His work during that era falls into all of those categories. His serial, The Onyx Fool, (pictured above) ran at the scene's apex, a club called 8 BC, for a span of 3 months.  In 2016, materials -- including original art, photos, posters, and scripts -- from the Onyx Fool  became part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Archive of American Art in Washington, DC.... more

Baltimore City People

I have lived most of my life in one city or another. I'm obsessed with streetscapes, and feel edgy and slightly lost if I'm not around concrete for extended periods. But in the end, it's the people who are in those streets that make a city what it is. Although I didn't move to Baltimore until 2012, I visited my Grandparents here going back as far as the 1960s. And I feel that history informs the pictures. Although, I'm not sure exactly how it informs them. But the people of Baltimore City have always seemed effortlessly colorful to me ever since I came here as a small boy, and I think you can see that in the photos.

East Village 1980s Memory Series (begun in Baltimore in 2012)

The East Village 1980s Memory Series is a look into my past. Using gouache and ink on watercolor paper, with decoupage, calligraphic text, and handmade, gilded, distressed frames.

Moving about a year ago stirred a lot of emotions, especially when I came across photos, letters, etc. from a long time ago. In middle age, there is a poignancy in coming across the artifacts of youth. A simultaneous feeling of intimacy and alienation, possession and loss. Intimacy and possession – because I possess the richness of memory. Alienation and loss – because the person I one once was is forever lost; and the places and people I once knew, are forever changed (if they still exist). This series is an attempt to visualize that state of mind.

Delirious Baltimore

Wandering around Baltimore, I couldn't help notice that often you see things in the city that don't seem exactly real. Part of it has to do with the sky, I think. I've been a lot places, and I've never crazy skies occur with this kind of frequency anywhere else. But sometimes it has nothing to do with the sky. It just has to do with Baltimore. Occasionally, I had a DSLR camera with me, but I don't usually carry it. And I was haunted by what I'd seen. So I bought a small camera that I could carry around in my pocket to try to capture the phenomenon. Partially, I think, I wanted to prove to myself that I hadn't just imagined everything. The camera has high resolution, but (since it fits in your pocket) it doesn't have a great lense, sometimes that adds to the effect, as if it's filling in with pixels what it can't see clearly in the first place -- the way your memory would.

The Forgotten History of Staten Island

Funded in its initial phase an Original Work Grant from the New York State Council of the Arts, The Forgotten History of Staten Island, was/is an interdisciplinary, conceptual, public arts project. Its subject is the unreliability and mutability of history.

In the piece, the history of Staten Island, a location which is (oxymoronically) famous for its obscurity, became a metaphor for the ambiguous nature of history itself. The project took the form of a celebration of real and imagined historical events told through the eyes of the mythical, Dr. D. I. Kniebocker (Staten Island’s self-described “greatest" and most controversial historian), in a series of on-site installations, a pamphlet, a website (fhsi.wordpress.com), and a live performance at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center (A Smithsonian affiliate institution) on Staten Island. Onsite installations were maintained on the streets of Staten Island, from that point, until the end of the year, 2011. There was an additional chapter (Alice Austen) that was introduced at The Wonderland Show at the Staten Island Museum – Dec 10, 2011. The Forgotten History continues to live on as a blog and a free downloadable PDF. Future physical manifestations of the project can never be ruled out.

What I was trying to do with the Forgotten History, was to find an entertaining way of making a serious point: That history is malleable, unreliable and should be read as such. “Fact” and, (sometimes) bizarre, fiction are interwoven in the the Forgotten History in order to provoke the viewer to question what is "real" and what isn't.

It seemed to work. I regularly visited the installations and engaged people I found reading the text, and (after finding out I was the creator) they were eager to know what parts I had made up. I was more than happy to go, point by point, and tell them. But I also pointed out that -- the information I had garnered from historical sources might also have been simply invented by someone, and that much of it was contradictory and/or counterfactual. Although, I thought this was kind of a complicated idea, it seemed to be easily understood and appreciated by the woman/man in the street -- literally, as my installations were on the streets of Staten Island.

I feel that, now, in the current era of 'fake news,' the Forgotten History of Staten Island has even more resonance. For more details, visit its website.

The Modern Venus Series

In short, the Modern Venus Series combined pin-up art with the modernist compositional structures that led to abstract painting at the beginning of the 20th Century. As I put it at the time "my goal was to combine a modernist abstract compositional sense with the fervent representationalism of classic pin-up art." For a more complete understanding of what I was up to, read the PDF, "Modern Venus, a Context," which is in the details section, to the right. It places the Modern Venus series in the context of 25 thousands years of art, and references everything from the Venus of Willendorf to Michelangelo and Tom of Finland.

Peter Pigeon of Snug Harbor

As an unpublished manuscript, Peter Pigeon of Snug Harbor won the 2006 COAHSI (now known as Staten Island Arts) Award for Literary Excellence sponsored by JP Morgan Chase and Poets & Writers. It was published in 2009 by Rocky Hollow Press. At that point, the book was illustrated by me. It is still available on Amazon.

Keep Baltimore Inexplicable

Keep Baltimore Inexplicable is public art piece based on the concept that Baltimore is inexplicable and should remain so.

It was inspired by hearing a number of notable figures appropriating the famous Austin slogan and suggesting that we "Keep Baltimore Weird." I thought this was terrible idea and that the slogan did not sum up the city at all. Although I haven't lived here for many years, Baltimore and I go back a long way. My Grandparents moved here during WW2 and never left. I first came to Baltimore over 50 years ago and have developed quite a complex vision of it in the intervening years.What slogan would sum up Baltimore, I wondered? Then it struck me that Baltimore could not be explained in a simple slogan, and that was a good thing. So instead I created a slogan that wouldn't attempt to explain things, but would emphasize the fact that Baltimore can't be easily pigeon-holed

These days, much of the high end of Art Market is leveraged with sophisticated marketing campaigns to maximize profit. I wondered, if at the other end of the market, where I dwell, I could create a cheerfully unsophisticated marketing campaign that was a piece of art in itself. That was selling nothing other than a consciousness about the city which I feel other people share, but have not yet found the words for.
I became intrigued with the idea that an art project could do a better branding job for a city than advertising and marketing people, because there wouldn't be anyone in particular to answer to, and there wouldn't be a profit motive involved.

I thought that the best way to put forth this proposition was with a multi-media campaign that would highlight the complexity of this fascinating city centering around the crazy quilt of personalities that have made it what it was today. To that end I've created the website http://keepbaltimoreinexplicable.wordpress.com/
Also in the works are a music video, bumper stickers and posters. The song for music video is already written.

The website has one page that will catalog various Baltimore Inexplicabilia. Another page shows celebrity endorsers of the project. (So far only deceased Baltimore celebrities have signed on, but we will solicit live ones before long). It also has a poll where people can cast their vote as to whether Baltimore should remain Inexplicable. And the following manifesto is posted there:

“A city that has been called:“the southernmost city in the North and the northernmost city in the South;” that goes by the dual nicknames “Charm City” and “Mobtown;” and is best known nationally for fictional TV series about crime (The Wire and Homicide: Life on the Street) and a non-fictional series about cake decorating (Ace of Cakes); is not easy to sum up, or even explain.
In fact, there’s a long list of inexplicable things about Baltimore and Keep Baltimore Inexplicable intends to compile it! And why not? Evidence of a multi-faceted, diverse, and (often) contradictory city is not something to be stifled. Instead it should be celebrated! And indeed, Keep Baltimore Inexplicable is an organization created to do just that.”
We call upon the citizenry to ignore the implementation of simplistic labels such as the lamentable, oft- floated, ‘Keep Baltimore Weird’ slogan, or the ‘Greatest City in The World’ tagline featured on the city’s public benches. Baltimore defies this kind of simplistic explanation and you should too!

Too aid us in our cause, we have enlisted luminaries (past and present) to endorse our campaign to Keep Baltimore Inexplicable in a series of posters – Men and women who have either lived, or achieved greatness, in Baltimore. Watch this page in the upcoming weeks for announcements of the Great Baltimoreans, past and present, who have joined the campaign to Keep Baltimore Inexplicable!”

Music: From Bleach House to Baltimore

I played with a bunch of bands in the Twentieth Century. My favorite was Bleach House, which I put together with Steve Shiltz (main guitarist), Dave Marchese (bass) and Chris Krippas (drums), and myself (songwriter, vocalist, and second guitarist), around the turn of the century in New York. Bleach House (we were named after a laundromat in Brooklyn, NY, not a smilar-sounding B'more band) gigged a lot around lower Manhattan, and, at a couple points, went into a studio to lay down some tracks. But they were never given a real mix as I having some vocal problems at the time and hoped do redo those tracks, but in the meantime the band broke up. These recordings though rough, are a document of what we did, and reminder of when I thought the most perfect manifestation of art was a 3-4 minute rock song.

Due to the aforementioned vocal problems, and a painful condition in my elbow called 'radial tunnel syndrome' that made it difficult to play guitar, I stopped performing music in public for a long time. But, something was triggered after I moved to Baltimore and after a 15 year gap, I was, gigging again with an outfit called the Fake Furriers. It was just for fun, I thought. But I experienced a lot of loss in 2015, and it inspired a bunch of songs and it remined me of music's ability to transcend the depths of human experience, and what it had meant to me at one point of my life. When that band broke up, I decided to continue myself and use the current home studio revolution to record my recent work songs. The song Rocco and Foster is my beginning of this process. I haven't finished recording the tracks yet, but I like the start, so I thought I'd post it.

The Onyx Fool

The Onyx Fool was a serial that I created, directed, and performed in, with a mind-bogglingly large and talented cast and crew (30-40 people) that in its totality was every bit as oddball as the project’s creator. It started at 8BC in the fall of 1984, where episodes 1 through 6 ran on a weekly basis. Each episode was performed twice – once on Sunday and once on Wednesday. Just south of Tompkins Square Park, in the East Village, tucked in between shooting galleries and crumbling tenements, 8BC was the fulcrum of the avant-garde performance scene of that era.

Later in 1984 there was a staged reading at the Mark Taper Annex in Los Angeles (with a cast of local LA actors) and there was a consolidated performance of episodes 7-9 at the Courtyard Playhouse. A 2 part condensed version was presented in 1985 at the Nameless Theater in 1985 under the Title Danger’s Back/Is Danger Finished. In the summer of 2016, original art (a painting I did for posters), photographs, slides used for rear projections, scripts and other emphemera from my performance piece the Onyx Fool were added to the permanent collection of the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Although I have been in a few in a couple of exhibits at museums, I was never in a collection before, so it was kind of a thrill. There photos contain of about a quarter of the wonderful cast. They are by Lynne Kanter. The color photo (from 30 years later) is of Mary Savig, Smithsonian curator, holding up an original poster that is now in their collection.

Connect with Edward

Edward's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.