Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Art of Death.........John, Hart Island & Patricia..........

Press Release

A Book About Death ~ Memento :: Willo North Gallery, Phoenix, AZ :: Show Dates: May 3 – 28, 2011
Opening Reception: May 6, 2011, 6 – 10 p.m.
Contact: Patricia Sahertian :: :: 602.218.6046 ::

Phoenix, Arizona – Artist, Patricia Sahertian, is organizing an A Book About Death ~ Memento exhibit, following the tradition started in 2009 at the Emily Harvey Foundation in New York City, which inspired a long list of international ABAD exhibitions subsequently. This show, at Willo North Gallery, owned by Kristin Shears, will not only highlight postcards from artists around the world, but will also ask the participants to include an added feature: small mementos. “Each person participating in the ABAD show has a story to share; they may have experienced a loss, or have a profoundly felt sympathy towards death. The work is very personal and the mementos extremely touching,” said Sahertian.

Sahertian’s own work turned to the topic of death when she collaborated on an artists book that expressed the plight of those buried on Hart Island – potter’s field for New York City. That work focused on the sadness behind the stories of thousands of unknown, unclaimed or indigent infants.

During her research, Patricia learned of Julie S. Lantz whose brother died in 1972 at the age of 24 and had also been buried, without the opportunity of family consent, on Hart Island. Patricia was deeply moved by the story of this Honorably Discharged Air Force Veteran, John S. Turner AF 18844546, and his sister’s efforts to have his body exhumed and brought home to Southern California. Initially Julie had been told that her brother’s remains, buried for nearly 38 years, were found, however, to her profound disappointment, a bureaucratic mistake had been made.

In addition to the long-overdue military burial Julie was trying to obtain, she wanted to include John’s personal items (his mementos) with his body. Unfortunately without John’s remains, no plot or niche could be used to bury only his things. Julie contacted the Veteran’s Administration seeking authorization to bury her brother’s items in a designated Veteran’s cemetery, but she has been rejected, citing “no remains”. She has written to Senators, Congressmen, and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in Washington, D.C. and, as a final effort, to President Obama, all to no avail. Julie did receive authorization for a military ceremony at the Riverside National Cemetery in Southern California – these arrangements have yet to be finalized.

With the upcoming ABAD ~ Memento exhibition approaching, Patricia contacted Julie with the proposal that she would like to base her postcard entry for the show on John’s story. In addition, Julie agreed to loan all of her brother’s personal items to Patricia, who will display these mementos, in a special area of the gallery, telling the unique story of a long forgotten soul, an Air Force Veteran and a beloved brother.

For every story shared, there are millions more untold. The A Book About Death ~ Memento exhibit is dedicated to respectfully presenting these uniquely interpretive postcards and mementos from artists around the world.


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