Public Collectors - Spring 2019 Newsletter
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The Courtroom Artist Residency has been a quiet project that chips away at a difficult and complicated subject, bit by bit, month by month, one resident at a time. It is low key by design, but the results are made public through publications. Slowly people are starting to notice the power of the conversations and observations that result from the time I spend in Criminal Court in Chicago with the artist residents. Hyperallergic spotted the booklets at the recent LA Art Book Fair and Elisa Wouk Almino wrote: 

“In September of 2018… Marc Fischer began the Public Collectors Courtroom Artist Residency, for which he invites artists to attend courtroom hearings in Chicago and then process what they observed over a meal. We sometimes forget that these hearings are open to the public (most of the time you’ll find the courtrooms largely empty) and the conversations documented in The Courtroom Artist Residency Report series reveal how much we could learn about the American criminal justice system if we physically participated.”

On her great Twitter account @prisonculture, the always inspiring activist Mariame Kaba wrote: “I love this project. I have the first publication. It’s a great resource for students to read if you are teaching about racism, the criminal punishment system, inequality, etc.”

Last month I completed the second booklet of Courtroom Artist Residency reports for residents #5-8. Featured in this booklet are discussions with Edward Marszewski, Tara Betts, Josh Rios, and Claire Pentecost. Activist Sarah Wild provides a response to the residency with Edward Marzsewski, filling in additional details on the case of police torture victim Gerald Reed. Josh Rios and I observed murderer ex-cop Jason Van Dyke's entire 9 hour sentencing hearing and Josh contributes an additional text on the victim impact statement read by the great uncle of shooting victim Laquan McDonald. Tara Betts turns in a beautiful page of thoughts about the women who stand by in support of their men who are trapped in the prison system. A conversation with artist Claire Pentecost takes some lighter turns as we discuss the art and photography in courtroom 700, as well as a judge's address to potential jurors in room 402.

Copies are available from Half Letter Press for $8.00, as well as in a number of stores including Printed Matter, Quimby’s Books in New York and Chicago, Build Coffee, Pilsen Community Books, City Lights Books and more. If you'd like to help with distribution, please get in touch.
To encourage people to read the entire series about these Meal-Based Artist Residency Programs, you can also order all three booklets at a discount ($20.00) from Hall Letter Press.

At the end of March I hosted Courtroom Artist Residency #9 where artist Dana Sperry traveled from Pittsburgh to spend a full morning in court with me. His insights, which were exceptionally sharp, will be featured in the next booklet. The project will continue indefinitely. There is a long waiting list, however you can still apply simply by responding to this email and expressing your interest and I’ll add you to the list. As always, I encourage you not to wait for me. Visit court on your own or with a companion, share a meal after to debrief, and if you go, let me know what you observe. 

In addition to selling the booklets from this project, I’ve also been placing some out in public for people to discover. Artists always say they want a big diverse audience for their work but the work rarely circulates in the places that will help make that wish a reality. If you live in Chicago, be on the lookout as you go about your day and you might get one for free.
As always, thank you for reading and for supporting this work. I’m still tending to various other projects as well and hope to have the tenth issue of Library Excavations completed in about the next month or so. 

Marc Fischer / Public Collectors

P.S. I got a thing in the mail.

Public Collectors organizes exhibitions and events, participates in exhibitions organized by others, creates exhibition opportunities for collectors, teaches, lectures, responds to research inquiries, and makes its own publications. The administrator of Public Collectors is Marc Fischer. He is based in Chicago, Illinois.

Our mailing address is:
Public Collectors c/o
Half Letter Press
P.O. Box 12588
Chicago, IL 60612

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