Billy X. Curmano returns to Milwaukee for the signing and release of his art/adventure book Futurism's Bastard Son at Boswell Book Company, 2559 N. Downer Avenue on August 13 at 7 p.m. The former Milwaukeean is an award winning artist, UWM alumni and combat wounded Vietnam Veteran. He was instrumental in organizing exhibitions at Milwaukee's Broadway Galleries and forming the Wisconsin Art Guild that brought alternative art festivals to Milwaukee, Madison and Manitowoc.
Futurism's Bastard Son is a kind of coffee table art book with an optional DVD that documents several decades of work from somewhat traditional objects to conceptual plans, performances and intimate musings often with a sly touch of humor. The birth of performance or "live" art is often placed at the feet of the Italian Futurists inspiring the title.
The book exposes both major and minor works. Curmano was once buried alive for three days in the internationally acclaimed Performance for the Dead. It was followed by a 10-year, 2,367.4-mile lengthwise Mississippi River swim as performance and environmental statement with re-creations in among other places the Milwaukee Art Museum. His search for what separates the masterpiece from the common piece included a 40-day Death Valley Desert Fast. His welded steal Vietnam War inspired sculpture, Tiger Cage on Wheels, was a familiar site around UWM and went on to exhibitions in Minneapolis and at the New Orleans Contemporary Art Center. There are plenty of odds and ends like Arbitrary Time Zones, In Case I should Ever Be Murdered and Live Art for cows and other under-served audiences.
Futurism's Bastard Son was published by Mark Pezinger Verlag – Vienna and released in Kassel, Germany parallel to the international art exposition Documenta 13. The US release followed at the Museum of Modern Art's New York Art Book Fair. It's an artist's life as art in 164 black and white images, poetry and text on 115-gram Munken Lynx paper with stitched thread binding and French Flap covers designed by Astrid Seme. The hard copy is relatively guilt free. Curmano spent several years as a tree planter.
The optional DVD, with original score, includes a singular moment from each day of the Death Valley Desert Fast, scenes from the live burial, a short clip in which the Earth Speaks - literally - and the Henry Hampton award winning documentary Swimming the Mississippi.