Saturday, June 25, 2016

Hugh Steers

Here's a 20 minute document I made of a gallery talk at the Montgomery Glasoe Fine Art Gallery in the Minneapolis Warehouse District at the opening night of the show Hugh Steers: Paintings and Drawings. Steers was a New York City artist who was dying of AIDS. The video was recorded in mid-January and he died less than two months later, in early March 1995.

I recorded it with my SVHS camera and used an audio mixer from MTN public access so I could put a lav mic on him and also a shotgun mic to record audience questions - you can even see it pop into the shot at one moment. I had the camera on a tripod and held up the shotgun mic in my hand.

Steers was fairly soft-spoken, so I probably heard him more clearly through the headphones than anybody else in the gallery in reality. At one point, Carolyn Glasoe adjusts my mic on Steers to help the audience hear him and I might have tried to say something like, that's only for the camera.

I did some slow motion inserts from the gallery and people interacting with the paintings just by playing the tape back slowly on the video deck. This was long before slow motion was easy with computer editing.

I edited it a little fragmentarily and randomly - maybe to match what his mind might have been like late in his illness - I don't exactly remember. He was right around my age and he was near death - I think it was Carolyn Glasoe who I had met somewhere and who asked me to tape this and told me that his health wasn't good. By the time I had gotten around to edit the video, he had passed away, and I ended the piece with his obituary from the New York Times.

I remember being introduced to him just briefly as I set up my equipment, and I also remember feeling so strange putting the lavaliere microphone on his collar and seeing so closely how thin he was from his illness. It's just a quick little video I made for public access TV, and I was making quite a few back then, but it has stayed with me because of his age and how close he was to death when he gave that talk.

I put this video on-line a few months ago, but yesterday got an email from the gallery in New York that represents his estate. First I thought they were going to ask me to take down the video, but they actually liked it and wanted to link to it on their page for him, which is here.

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