The Delaware River Anthology (2019) [with Dannielle Tegeder]

The Delaware River Anthology (2019)

This text was developed in collaboration with Dannielle Tegeder (as part of our collective The Alpine Rooster)

and presented in Mildred’s Lane’s Social Saturday series in the summer of 2019. The project is inspired in Edgar Lee Master’s Spoon River Anthology, a series of dramatic monologues by the spirits of deceased inhabitants of the fictional  American town of Spoon River — these ones adapted to represent the spirits of deceased artists.



De todos los hombres que he sido

No he sido nunca aquel

En cuyos brazos desfallecía Matilde Urbach


Of all the men that I have ever been

I have never been the one

Whose onto arms Matilde Urbach swooned.


Jorge Luis Borges




Benjamin Crispell



My father was the famous artist Tobias Crispell

Who I am sure you all know

for his masterful, delicate miniatures.

He abandoned me in Chicago at three years of age

When he left to Paris to start a conceptual art movement.

He thought I would just grow on my own.

I was always told I should be grateful for his legacy.

He called his studio assistant his real son.

I was never mentioned in the many interviews he gave.

destined to be an afterthought

of posterity.

Upon his passing,

it was time for sweet revenge,

Holding the copyright, I sued any person who even dared say his name,

I overpriced all his works, making fortunes at auction,

And made “authorized” replicas of his works.

He might have been my father

But I then became his owner.

In death today,

We still don’t speak.





Ying Yu


My name in life was Ying Yu

But I usually was Pollock, Barnett Newman, and Clifford Still.

It started in high school

With my elaborate schoolbook drawings

and my uncanny ability to draw

like Michelangelo.

Soon I was making forgeries of the greatest artists,

I became their hand, followed their sensibility,

Made masterpieces of others.

I believe my work as sometimes an improvement of theirs.

No one found out, at first.

I often can’t distinguish my own works from theirs.

I made enough to pay the rent of a two bedroom apartment in Sunnyside.

And when suspicions arose of my work

I moved back to Shanghai

And became a data analyst for Huawei.

This grave bears my name

Despite the fact that I asked

For it to be labeled “anonymous”.






Harmon O’Reilley


My father was a famous dealer

The best gallery in 1978.

We knew Frank Stella

We were friends with Clemente

And would dine with him at a Sushi restaurant in the Village

Whose name I have forgotten.

I thought I would be like my dad,

Becoming a powerful curator

So I created a blog

Describing everything I saw every day

And telling others why it was important.

Aspiring artists could hire me

To get their work shown.

I used to charge $500 an hour.

I am happy with my legacy.




Mary Avery


My legacy is my teaching

And all my teaching was my art

Every lesson I taught was a masterpiece,

Every lunch break was like the

negative space that shaped a Rachel Whiteread.

But mostly, I was generous.

Some people will forget what you said,

Many will never forget how you made them feel,

No one will ever forget if they didn’t show up to class

And you still let them graduate

With honors.




Lydia Schoepp


I joined a convent in Siena at 16,

And then,

after many years of labor of faith

I discovered performance art.

I realized that the work of God

Was extended through my body-based gestures.



was unavoidable.


I left this world

Without being able two bridge two worlds.

I miss the humility and the silence

And often yearn for the sweet and

Irrecoverable gift

of unawareness.




Alberto Gálvez


Being invisible

Is a curse that some consider a talent

I attended the most important art historical events

Performances, actions, memorable openings

Of a legendary decade in a legendary city of a legendary generation,

The secret gatherings of radical minds in cheap lofts

Those that are romantically evoked in the books,

I was there.

But no one saw me.

The blurry photographs of those events

somehow missed capturing my presence.

And then those there, looking at their own black and white photographs

Forgot me.

I am the proverbial tree

That fell in the art historical forest.



Gertrude Merritt and William Margison



For some of us recognition arrives too early,

And for others it arrives too late.

I, William was world famous at 14

For my radical sculptures and films.

At 16, my career had ended;

I decided to become a pet walker.

We married at 18.

80 years passed by.

At 98, me, Gertrude, received my first museum retrospective,

And encountered the curious case

of being hailed as a novelty

after nearly a century of existence.

I should confess,

I am grateful for those years of obscurity,

As youth and old age

Rarely feel real, anyway.



Henrietta Rhodes


I was born in a small town

And while growing up

Lived in a sedentary household.

Going to the park was always an adventure.

So as artist

I decided to travel as far as possible

Siberia, Botswana,

Reykjavik, Patagonia.

I became the ultimate art nomad.

I lived in airports

Conceived exhibitions on planes,

And slept in the back rooms of galleries.

My studio was my hard drive,

Soon I could only make work in the move

And somehow

All that movement

Was not enough to overcome

The final permanence

of this inscription.



George Pritchard


Many years ago,

At the beginning of my career

One rainy Sunday morning

I made a bold painting.

It became popular.

It made some people cry.

Others wrote long essays about it.

Magazines published it.

It came to define an era.

The era of George Pritchard’s painting.

I was asked to make another one

Just like the first one.

I made five, ten, one hundred,

The public thirst was unquenchable.

Eventually I got tired

And wanted to change.

I then learned

people don’t like change.

Ten, twenty, forty years,

I am still made the same painting.

Sisyphus forever carrying

The same work to the finish line and back.

Inverted Orpheus, never allowed to look ahead.

Making a universal art work, in my case

Made the same art work to each person individually

All my life,

And thus counted myself king of infinite space.



Daniel Osterhout


Those of us who were enfant terribles

Especially in our youth

Lived through some exciting

and inebriating times.

No rules really applied to us,

A life freed of responsibility,

Creating problems for curators to solve,

Insulting naive collectors,

Making indecent jokes

Because anything one does is art,

With profound significance.

Then we turned 40

But we continued pushing

The boundaries of immaturity.

Evergreen insolence

For an audience of equally aging fans

In a quest for freedom

And an ever more elusive ecstasy.

Soon we got white hair and wrinkles

And our private self wanted to stay home

Instead of hanging out at a dive in Berlin.

We created masks, for ourselves.

It’s a performance after all.

And, following our commitment to irresponsibility

We only continued to act

Saying we only were asking questions.



Thaddeus Dodge


In life

I was the beloved professor,

The one who could not do, but instead taught.

My large body and my voice

Resonated in a baritone

In the darkened slide lecture

To a captive and impressionable

Student audience.

I could read minds and hearts

A student consciousness

Was clear to me like pure water.

I could memorize every date and image

And recite long quotes and paragraphs.

My dark secret?

I could not write a single line of my own.

At times I felt I knew too much,

I felt that more ignorance

might have made me

ore creative

More willing to imagine.

But the world was too real,

Too clear for me.

The best artists have to be slightly blind

to the obvious.

Instead, I will not be remembered


My eyes were too efficient.



Eliza Talmage


I was a sound artist

In a deaf world.



Elisure Bogart



You probably heard of me,

The famous heir of the Bogart fortune

The monopoly of pipe cleaners

for half a century.

I dedicated my fortune to collecting,

Inspired in the great artists

Of the great museums

Of this great century.

I worked for posterity,

But somehow

Something was missing.

I was never thought as great

As those artists.

I funded my own art career

Hiring the greatest thinkers

To think the greatest ideas

And hiring the greatest artisans

And carpenters and coders

To fabricate the greatest installations.

I hired a PR firm

To spread the word of my genius

And I landed in the cover of all magazines.

But something was missing.


At some point I realized

That this existential vacuum

Was perhaps the masterpiece

I was working towards.

A masterpiece

made for a single audience member.




Oliver Hadden


Happiness, I once reflected,

Is unattainable in life.

Always the belief that we are happy

Soon ends in disappointment.

In life thus we only have

Acceptance, denial,

and professional advancement.

Once, at an exhibition

I made very negative comments

That impressed my friends.

I elaborated my negativity

On a blog

And became an art critic.

Disliking art became a status symbol.

Seeming to know that there were better art works

And never having to mention what they were

Was an exhilarating feeling.

I seemed to hold a secret

Akin to the knowledge of a prophet.

I was interviewed many times

About why something wasn’t art.

I was deeply loved,

many saw my negativity as inspirational

For a better art world.

I no longer walk the earth,

But my legacy of indifference

Lives on.



Sidney Benedict


Perhaps the worst mistake

That God ever made

Was to allow us spirits,

To exist,

And continue looking at the world


As it moves on.

I was celebrated, adored

As a great artist that I was.

I nourished generations,

Monuments were made of me.

Schools and grants would be named after me.

Then one day,

Those signs got dusty,

And minds changed.

They no longer thought of my work

As worthy of their era.

Soon my paintings were confined

To a warehouse

And I was forgotten.


Given I am eternal,

Before the world ends,

I still hold hope

That someone one day

Will enter that warehouse

And rediscover me,

And I might be reborn again.