I Remember Joe Brainard: a gathering

On the occasion of 30 years since his passing, The Flow Chart Foundation, in collaboration with the Network for New York Schools Studies presents a daylong Gathering celebrating the legacy of New York School artist and writer Joe Brainard. It will feature talks, readings, screenings, participatory events, and fun designed to engage all by welcoming us into the world of this joyously generative and collaborative artist.

This third annual Gathering event at the Flow Chart Space—“I Remember Joe Brainard”—will celebrate the work of Joe Brainard (1942–1994), a queer New York City-based artist and poet, who died from AIDS, and who created a body of work committed to collaboration, friendship, generosity, and joy. His work—in all of its generative, hybrid modes—enjoys a cult status in a range of milieux, speaking to people of all genders, sexualities, ethnicities, and educational backgrounds.

Presenters include: Rona CranThye CooperPaolo JavierAnn LauterbachJeffrey Lependorf, Betsy PorrittLucy SanteMatt Wolf and John Yau. Special thanks to Ron Padgett for helping us in planning!

This year’s Gathering will offer participants the opportunity to come together to reciprocally engage in a day-long series of accessible, pleasurable, and shared processes of art-making, reading, active listening, and conversation, for free, taking away with them a physical memento that they have made in collaboration with a new friend, as well as new ideas and memories.

NOTE: Registering allows one to attend any event or the entire day. Registration is not required, but highly appreciated as space is limited. If you are subseuqnetly unable to attend after registering, please cancel your registration if possible. Information on traveling to/from Hudson from NYC, including lodging and dining suggestions can be found on our full event page for the Gathering.

SCHEDULE (subject to change):

[10am—bagels & coffee]

11am–11:15am — Welcome by Rona Cran & Jeffrey Lependorf

11:15am–12:15pm — Screening of Matt Wolf’s “I Remember: A Film about Joe Brainard” and a reading of “I Remember the Fabled Rat Man (Apologies to Joe Brainard)” by Lucy Sante, followed by a conversation between Wolf and Sante.

[12:15–12:30 — break]

12:30pm–1:30pm — John Yau on the art of Joe Brainard, followed by a conversation between Yau and Thye Cooper

[1:30pm–3pm — lunch break in town]

3pm–3:30pm — Rona Cran on Brainard’s collaborations and collages

3:30pm–4:30pm — Betsy Porritt leads a collaborative collage writing workshop

[4:30pm–4:45pm — break]

4:45pm–5:15pm — Paolo Javier on Brainard, poetry, comics, and the combination of text and image

5:15pm–6:15pm — Ann Lauterbach on Joe Brainard

6:15pm–7pm — group reading of The Vermont Notebook, for all who wish to participate!

7pm — Reception

On Joe Brainard:

Brainard’s output continues to inspire many. His 1970 book-length poem I REMEMBER is globally revered. Geoffrey O’Brian, in THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS wrote that the book “revealed [Brainard] as the inventor of an altogether new sort of book,” which has served as the basis for many new works by others since. Our Gathering project partner Rona Cran’s recent I REMEMBER KIM is just one example; Sigrid Nunez’s 2023 novel THE VULNERABLES is another. Brainard’s artwork includes his seminal “Nancy” collages, drawings, and paintings, consisting of more than 100 manipulations of the popular comic strip figure, created from 1963 through 1978. They are collected in what was the very first book published by art+literature press Siglio (THE NANCY BOOK) to considerably wide appeal, and they demonstrate what publisher Lisa Pearson describes as Brainard’s “beguiling balance of mischief and innocence, irreverence and wonder, spontaneity and calculation.” In 1975 he collaborated with poet John Ashbery on the innovative hybrid work THE VERMONT NOTEBOOK, which combines more than 50 ink drawings by Brainard with as many prose texts by Ashbery, in a book that Peter Schjeldahl called “touched with genius.”

Brainard’s art and writing has recently informed as diverse a set of cultural venues as Sterlin Harjo’s acclaimed TV series RESERVATION DOGS (2021-2023), Sheila Heti’s ALPHABETICAL DIARIES (2024), and the fashion house Loewe’s 2021 menswear and womenswear collections, in addition to the works by Nunez and Cran mentioned above. But beyond this influence, his life and work were (and are) a testament to gentleness, to togetherness, and to the humanity that inheres in attending with joy and dedication to our everyday experiences—a humanity that deserves celebration and cultivation now more than ever. As Laurie Langbauer notes, “attention to the everyday is important because it is there that we can see how society works.” In this sense, Brainard shares a lineage with French writer George Perec’s notion of the “infra-ordinary”—a turning away from “the extra-ordinary” to attend to “what’s really going on, what we’re experiencing, the rest, all the rest.” The “rest” might simply be what Amiri Baraka called “tales about our own lives”—tales that in 2024 might remind us that we have more in common than that which divides us. Brainard’s work enacts and celebrates cooperation and collaboration—it did so during his lifetime, and it continues to do so today.


May 18 2024


10:00 am - 7:30 pm


Flow Chart Space
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