Monday, February 6, 2017

J.S.G. Boggs, clever craftsman of currency, is dead


     Chicago has played a role in the arts. Poetry, of course, ever since a teenage Charlie Sandburg took $1.50 earned on a milk truck in Galesburg and came here to check out the city's big shoulders. Music certainly, from Louis Armstrong coming up from New Orleans to the Rolling Stones cutting an album at Chess Records on South Michigan Avenue in 1964.
     The visual arts? Not so much. The School of the Art Institute draws talent — Grant Wood comes to mind, or Ivan Albright. In the 1960s, a casual group formed around the school sometimes referred to as the Chicago Imagists: Roger Brown, Jim Nutt, Karl Wirsum and top dog Ed Paschke, a source of civic pride, with his walk-up studio on Howard Street with its garish lucha libre masks and Swedish postcards. Though I suppose Paschke's student, Jeff Koons, he of metal balloon dog fame, eclipsed them all, though that could just be now. Lasting fame or passing popularity? Hard to tell.
      Most artists dwell in oblivion, and even those who are quite well-known can still be hardly known at all to most folk. When I heard J.S.G. Boggs was dead, I felt sad, but then I had read Lawrence Weschler's 1999 profile of Boggs in The New Yorker, and was impressed by not only his artistry but by the schtick — whoops, the concept — behind his art. The local media ignored his passing, even though Boggs' art was sparked in Chicago in 1984.
     Boggs was in town for the Art Expo at Navy Pier. At a diner, he ordered coffee and a doughnut. He began doodling a numeral "1" on a napkin, then embellishing it into a dollar bill.
     His waitress, impressed, offered to buy the drawing — offering $20, then $50 Boggs later claimed....

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  1. I knew that Lord Boggs was alive and was a little surprised at his death and his age -- I thought he was much younger. However, I do appreciate reading of the interesting lives of even those Lords I had not known were alive until I found out they were dead -- sort of like being introduced to someone after they left the premises. I wish I'd gotten acquainted with a few prominent politicians that way.


  2. congratulations on totally omitting all references to politics today mr. Steinberg. i for one truly appreciate it . clearly the regular commenters are not moved to respond. don't be click bait Neil's beneath you

  3. Always glad to read about something, or someone, unusual and interesting. Boggs fits that bill perfectly.



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