Brooklyn Rail’s New Social Environment #215Lisa Pearson and Connie Lewallen in conversation

Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 1 pm EST (online)

events, 01/19/21

Spread from The Nancy Book by Joe Brainard. Connie was instrumental in realizing Siglio’s first publication.

Brooklyn Rail editor-at-large and curator Constance Lewallen interviews siglio publisher Lisa Pearson about the origins of Siglio, its mission, and books that embody it. The conversation is archived on YouTube.


Postscript, September 17, 2022

As I post this link to the new siglio website, I am both grateful and heartbroken that this was Connie’s and my last long conversation. While we zoomed occasionally during the shutdown, I had not seen her in so long. Unlike here, where we had mapped out precisely what we wanted to cover, my conversations with Connie wound around so many different tangents. This is the note I wrote in May in the wake of her death:

A dear friend of Siglio passed away quite suddenly in April. Curator Constance Lewallen will be remembered as the indomitable force behind extraordinary exhibitions during her long tenure at the Berkeley Art Museum. I will remember her as one of the sharpest, kindest, and most surprising people I’ve ever known.  In 2007 when Ron Padgett and I began working on The Nancy Book, he said it was essential to meet Connie (she had curated the Joe Brainard retrospective). I remember following this tiny, elegant woman (whose walk told me she wouldn’t stand for any nonsense) to her office at the museum. I also remember being more than a bit intimidated. And I remember, though she didn’t smile right away, she took me (someone who had yet to publish a book) seriously and gave me her full attention. We started with Joe, but we ended up weaving through Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Nancy Spero, Carol Rama, and others. It was the first of many marvelous conversations that left me energized and reeling with possibility. Not only did she (and her husband Bill Berkson) help immensely with the Joe Brainard book, she was instrumental in the conception of Tantra Song. One evening while having a drink at her house, she quietly pulled me away from a conversation with Bill and my husband, motioned for me to follow her upstairs as if to share a secret, and then pointed to two small paintings on the landing. They were tantric paintings from Rajasthan, and I had never seen anything like them: I was completely moved. I think she delighted in observing my reaction as I first laid eyes on them. And I certainly felt that her intention was to share something extraordinary with me. It was that real generosity along with her puckish sense of humor and critical acumen that I will remember most. I feel so very lucky to have known her.
—Lisa Pearson, publisher

see also

✼ elsewhere:

“In my opinion, genre is a way of speaking about conventions of reading and looking, where you sit or stand and whether you’re allowed to talk to other people or move around while you’re communing with an object or text.”  —Lucy Ives, from her interview with Karla Kelsey in Feminist Poetics of the Archive at Tupelo Quarterly


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