April 13, 2009

Tony Fitzpatrick's gallows humor

The other night I revisited the Hector Babenco film Ironweed, based on William Kennedy’s 1984 novel about Francis Phelan, a one-time baseball pitcher turned alcoholic drifter who returns to his hometown. The movie reminded me of Tony Fitzpatrick’s latest series of collages based on hobo legend and lore, and then, today, Tony sent a note about a new piece inspired by Francis Phelan and other characters from Kennedy’s novels. “I think part of what has drawn me to Kennedy's novels all of these years is that they are set among the Albany Irish-- and we're not all that different after many generations -- we are still easily shamed by improprieties real and imagined, we love our mother's and we are the most vengeful, grudge-carrying, motherfuckers on earth,” Tony writes. “The deep well of bitterness wired into our history of being the conquered has imbued into our DNA a gallows humor, so black and yet so funny; it makes people think we are a cheery bunch of happy assholes. We're not. When crossed our hearts are as deeply black as the north Atlantic ocean-- and when untethered-- we wander the earth looking for grace.” Tony’s hobo collages, cobbled together from vintage print ephemera and handmade papers, are at Dieu Donné through May 16.

"Tony Fitzpatrick: Big Rock Candy Mountain," Dieu Donné, New York, NY. Through May 16.

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