because art: Commentary, Critique, & Conversation

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Essays, speeches, and conversations by artist, arts administrator, and Vermont state legislator, John R. Killacky.

Highlights include:

  • Cultural, social, and political commentary on leadership, disability, equines, Buddhism, AIDS, arts producing, philanthropy, and legislating.
  • Critical analysis of such artists as Ron Athey, John Cage, Douglas Crimp, Keith Haring, Peter Hujar, Dona Ann McAdams, Kevin McKenzie, Eiko Otake, and Sarah Schulman.
  • Interviews with such art luminaries as Alison Bechdel, Trisha Brown, Janis Ian, Bill T. Jones, Tony Kushner, and Meredith Monk.

In his concise collection of essays and interviews, Killacky offers behind-the-scenes perspectives on his decades of arts administration, and his own struggle to deal with physical limitations.

His insight on the successes and failures of arts funding, and government censorship at the height of the 'NEA Four' and Robert Mapplethorpe controversies, provide a look back at the ups and downs of funding efforts to support the arts.

Q&As with several notable creators (Bill T. Jones, Tim Miller, Janis Ian, Judith Smith, Tony Kushner and more) make for insightful reading for anyone in the arts, and those interested in how art gets made.

-Jim Provenzano, Bay Area Reporter

[John Killlacky's] new book offers a raw, personal account of the legislator's life and career connected through art. The mosaic he produced, bound in a black and pink cover, and composed in three parts-commentary, critique, and conversation-spans from 1993 to 2021. Many of the essays offer snapshots into Killacky's personal life, his early career, his experience as an openly gay legislator and as a queer, disabled artist.

-Avalon Styles-Ashley, The Other Paper

Officially, "because art" is an anthology of thirty years of written works and edited speeches. But read together, it is a series of meditations on the social role of art, the sometimes dysfunctional structures of the cultural sector, and the effect that unexpected, horrific loss-and the necessity of moving past it-can have on a person, a community, and the art created in response.

-Debra Cash, The Arts Fuse

The book's subjects of critique and conversation comprise a who's who of late 20th- and early 21st-century American art and culture, including composer John Cage, choreographer Bill T. Jones and cartoonist Alison Bechdel.

-Sally Pollack, Seven Days

What a magnificent book! The whole book reflects his courageous spirit of inquiry and independence. We need this book so profoundly in our insane world.

-Meredith Monk, composer/performer

John Killacky has a wonderful book out: "because art". A combination of conversations, critical reviews, interviews with people ranging from yours truly to Meredith Monk and Bill T. Jones. Plus, a striking cover - who could ask for more?

-Janis Ian, singer/songwriter

John Killacky, a former dancer and arts administrator, now a member of the Vermont legislature and driver of a cart pulled by his Shetland pony, has written "because art," a book you ought to read because he's both incisive and fun.

-Leah Garchik, former columnist San Francisco Chronicle

Some great interviews and essays herein. Bill T. Jones: "This is my religion; something keeps pulling me forward that has to do with artmaking as a spiritual activity."

-Wendy Perron, former editor Dance Magazine

Opened my eyes to the generation before mine's struggles and pains around the AIDS epidemic that put it into (tearful) context.

-Justin Marsh, Pride Center of Vermont

Publisher: Onion River Press
Pub date: August 26, 2021
252 pages
Format: Paperback