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The Citizen Artist

The Citizen Artist: 20 Years of Art in the Public Arena

Title Pages

The Citizen Artist:
20 Years of Art in the Public Arena

An Anthology from
High Performance magazine 1978-1998

Edited by
Linda Frye Burnham and Steven Durland

Volume 1

First Edition, Copyright © 1998

Published by Critical Press,The publishing arm of the Gunk Foundation
PO Box 333
Gardiner, NY 12525

All rights reserved. Compilation copyright © Critical Press, 1998. All copyrights for the essays in this book are retained by the authors.

This Internet edition of "The Citizen Artist" is published by the Community Arts Network with permission from Critical Press and the authors of the essays. This Internet edition was partially supported through a grant to Virginia Tech from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

The following writers’ articles have also appeared in: Robert C. Morgan Art into Ideas: Essays on Conceptual Art (Cambridge University Press, 1996); Arlene Raven Art in the Public Interest (Da Capo, 1993); Coco Fusco English is Broken Here (The New Press, 1995); William Cleveland Art in Other Places: Artists at Work in America’s Community and Social Institutions (Praeger1992); Susan Perlstein and Jeff Bliss Generating Community: Intergenerational Partnerships Through the Expressive Arts (Elders Share the Arts, 1994); Douglas Paterson “Theatre of the Oppressed Workshops,” Webster’s World of Cultural Democracy (World Wide Web), 1995.  

Available through D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers
155 6th Ave, 2nd Floor
NY, NY 10013
Tel: (212) 627-1999 Fax: (212) 627-9484  

This book was desktop published using QuarkXpress, and typeset using Gill Sans. Cover design by Bolle Design, interior design by Christine Heun Design. Additional thanks to Ann Rubin.

Printed and bound in the U.S.A. The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1984.

ISBN: 1883831-10-5

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 98-70739

Dedicated to Susanna Bixby Dakin

Publisher’s Statement

Thinking Publicly: The New Era of Public Art

The Citizen Artist is the second book of The Gunk Foundation/Critical Press series Thinking Publicly: The New Era of Public Art

As public space becomes increasingly saturated by corporate culture, a new generation of artists is emerging. Frustrated by the insulated art world, encouraged by the politicization of art in the ’80s, and desirous of the rupture between high and low art, artists are looking into the space of everyday life to find a new canvas. The cement wall, the basketball court, and the bathroom stall have all been recent galleries for these artists. Public art, as it moves away from its traditional association with the bronze-man-on-horse statue, is rethinking some fundamental questions of the postmodern era: What is art? Who is the audience? Who is the artist? What is the message? Most importantly, artists working in the public realm are attempting to challenge corporate leverage on the production of knowledge and to reclaim public space as the site of political, social, and cultural thought.

In attempt to understand this changing realm of art and thought, the book series Thinking Publicly will broach many of the crucial topics relating to this field. How do we define art, the public, the artist, the community? Who should make the decisions about public art and who does? How does the meaning of art change when it is no longer sequestered into the museum/gallery/private home? Thinking Publicly intends to question the current market-dominated system of art production and to understand how the function of art transforms when it is moved out of the market and into the “public realm.”

Series Editors:
Nadine Lemmon
Michael Read



This book would obviously not exist if it were not for the hundreds of innovative and dedicated artists we have met over the last three decades. Many of them never appeared in High Performance, and many of those who did, do not appear in this book. But without them our work would not be what it is, and we thank them.

Thanks, of course, to the writers all over the world who worked for less than 25 cents a word to produce all the millions of words we published in 75 issues, especially Guillermo Gómez-Peña and Jacki Apple, who wrote about half of them.

Heartfelt thanks to Richard Newton, who was there at the very beginning of the magazine, provided essential help with every aspect of creating it, buttonholed people at art openings and strongly suggested they subscribe, and thought of the name “High Performance.”

Thanks also to art historian Moira Roth, who, when Linda told her in 1977 that she wanted to start a magazine, didn’t laugh. And who, for 20 years, has supplied encouragement, writing, tea, sympathy and the wonderful book we were so lucky to publish in 1983, The Amazing Decade: Women and Performance Art in America 1970-1980. Thanks, too, to Suzanne Lacy, Lucy Lippard and John Malpede, whose artwork and writing made a difference.

Thanks to those most vital contributors, our staff, who worked long hours for relatively little pay, put up with a difficult working environment in downtown L.A., and understood when we had to downsize for survival—especially Karen McCarthy, Lin Osterhage, Jan (Ventura) Freya, Lewis MacAdams, Francis Shishim, Rebekah Berendt, Jane Leslie, Judith Spiegel, Karla Dakin, Claire Peeps, Sara Wolf, Dylan Tran, Carole Tormollan, Eric Gutierrez and the rest, too numerous to mention. Thanks also to our contributing editors over the years, especially Arlene Raven, from whose book, Art in the Public Interest, we took the name of our nonprofit organization. And to the many members of our boards of directors, who helped keep the magazine alive, especially to our current board—Kathie de Nobriga, William Cleveland and Alan Dachman—each of whom is an inspiration in his/her own work with art-in-the-community.

Thanks to the residents of the 18th Street Arts Complex in Santa Monica, California, for their diligent work in creating the intercultural community we were part of in the early ’90s, especially Tim Miller, who was Linda’s partner in creating Highways Performance Space at the Complex. And to the 200+ members of Alternate ROOTS, whose vital work drew us to the Southeast in 1993.

Thanks to all the funders who helped us publish the magazine over the years, especially the National Endowment for the Arts, the states of California, New York and Illinois and the County and City of Los Angeles.

We’re grateful to Jan Williamson at the Complex for her help in mining the High Performance archives for many of the pictures in this book. And thanks to Nadine Lemmon, Critical Press and the Gunk Foundation for publishing it.

Thanks to our mothers, Margaret Frye and Sheila Durland Fitting, who sent money even when they weren’t sure they understood what the hell we were doing, and to Linda’s sister, Jan Freya, and her daughter, Jill Burnham, who truly did understand.

And last, but of course not least, all our thanks and blessings to Susanna Bixby Dakin, our partner, patron, spiritual guide and dearest friend, without whose support High Performance would have gone the way of all small arts magazines by 1980. Whatever good the magazine has done is due to her faith in us and in our quest to ascertain the place of art in our world.

Original CAN/API publication: September 2002


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