Member Spotlight: Billy X. Curmano

Billy X. Curmano is an award winning former McKnight Foundation Interdisciplinary Art Fellow trained as a painter and sculptor (If, of course, painters and sculptors can be trained). His more traditional objects have been exhibited both here and abroad. Notably, his paintings represented the USA in the III Vienna Graphikbiennale. His works are included in the Malta National Collection, the Museum of Modern Art Library, Franklin Furnace Archive and other cultural hubs. With an intermedia approach, he’s won awards for performance, film and a solo CD. But, he is probably best known for eccentric and sometimes unauthorized public art—often with serious underpinnings tempered by irony and satire—as Lucy R. Lippard noted in her book Lure of the Local:

“But few have yet to scan this vast territory of national water issues, which is outside of most of their experiences. There are, of course, exceptions, such as Billy Curmano’s heroic and often hilarious swim down the entire Mississippi as a performance work and environmental statement, accompanied by a deluge of hokey fan club press releases (“As American as Apple Pie, But Better for You!”)…”

The mayors of St. Louis, Cape Girardeau and New Orleans all proclaimed a Billy X. Curmano Day in their cities. His most recent public art, Portrait of the Artist as Political Prisoner, debuted in Rochester and Winona before an authorized run in New York City’s annual Art in Odd Places—followed by an unauthorized one at the Chicago Hilton Hotel. His book Futurism’s Bastard Son, DVD  and CD are available at the Winona Public Library or the store on his web site. You can sometimes catch him, unauthorized or otherwise, around town—alone or with his free jazz ensemble New X. Amused journalist have dubbed him, “The Court Jester of Southeastern Minnesota” with comparisons to P.T. Barnum, Andy Warhol, Marcel Duchamp and even… a happy otter.

Website: billyx.net. Photo: Portrait of the Artist as Political Prisoner, Chicago Hilton Hotel, College Art Association Annual Conference, Feb. 14, 2020, Margarita Baumann.

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