Size: 5 Items, Sound recording: 5 sound files (5 hr., 18 min.), digital, wav; 136 Pages, Transcript
Summary: An interview with Frank Holliday conducted 2017 January 24 and 26, by Theodore Kerr, for the Archives of American Art's Visual Arts and the AIDS Epidemic: An Oral History Project, at Holliday Studios in New York, New York.
Holliday speaks of a beautiful relationship with his Grandmother Holliday; growing up in suburbia with a glamorous mother and industrialist father; being encouraged to draw and paint constantly to keep busy and out of trouble; realizing at a young age that art can bring happiness and cheer to others; feeling free and open until society told him he was different and the resulting need to protect himself by trying to be super-masculine; attending junior high in Greensboro, North Carolina during integration and becoming a young politician bringing people and groups together; studying ballet at the North Carolina School of the Arts during high school; continuing his study in New York City until visiting the Museum of Modern Art and deciding he was destined to be a painter; moving to San Francisco at age 18 to live among gay people; the utopian counter-culture that existed before AIDS; making art constantly through photography, film, painting; the theft of much of his early work over the years; realizing he needed to return to New York to escape his street-oriented lifestyle in San Francisco; attending School of Visual Arts; studying gay men semiotically through signs and social cues with Keith Haring and Bill Beckley; working at Warhol's Factory on Union Square and Interview magazine; the genesis of Club 57; imagining his sets at Club 57 as installations with live people; the appeal of his projects being anti-everything; learning about a "gay cancer" and his then-boyfriend becoming sick and dying from an unknown brain issue; living under the assumption that he was HIV-positive for eight years before falling extremely ill with pneumonia; learning of his HIV/AIDS diagnosis two weeks before "the cocktail" came out in 1996; his breakthrough show "Trippin' in America" in 2001; the process of getting sober six years before his diagnosis; learning to make art without the feeling the need to rely on drugs for creativity; meeting his partner of nineteen years and learning to feel worthy of love; self-hatred and homophobia after getting sober; gaining a tremendous respect and appreciation for the gay community living bravely just as they were; witnessing the World Trade Center towers collapse on 9/11; answering a Craigslist ad and being cast in a movie; acting in several films including "American Gangster;" trading three years of acting lessons with Bill Esper for one painting; how acting helped with his painting; comparing his body being tuned to painting as a dancer's is to music; how living with AIDS has made him very aware of the physical-ness of his body and what it means to be alive; the importance of leaving his mark on his art; academia taking over the art world; feeling looked over in retrospectives of AIDS artists, but identifying more as a human with a disease than as an "AIDS artist;" and purposefully leaving room in his paintings to allow the viewer to enter and experience. Holliday also recalls Harvey Milk, Michael Lowe, Mike Bidlo, Philip Taaffe, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Art Garibay, Henry Post, Bill Collum, and Elizabeth Murray.