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LeAnn Bartok

Noted pioneering conceptual visionary artist, painter, filmmaker, sculptor, poet, actress, and inventor (U.S. patent liquid crystal.) Graduated from Mercy Hospital School of Nursing, Pittsburgh, PA. Actress in early 1960's Japanese Yakuza films. Creator of "SKYWORKS" conceptual art projects in the 1970's, a dramatic art form which consisted of gigantic and symbolic streamers of paper and fabric, dropped from airplanes to make towering, transitory drawings using the entire sky as her own personal canvas. She originally began working in film as a way of documenting such events, including camera footage taken by skydivers who accompanied the dangerous drops.

In 1975, she received a National Endowment of the Arts grant for $6,025 to do a large-scale environmental art performance. In response, she was the recipient of Senator William Promire's notorious "Golden Fleece" award for the controversial NEA grant. Media coverage of the debate was intense and polarizing, inspiring people like Bill Judson, the curator of the film section of the Carnegie Institute Museum of Art to speak out for Bartok. The NEA's chairperson, Ms. Nancy Hanks, spoke in defense of the grant, explaining it was awarded in order to "document on film an event designed to alter an audience's immediate environment for a short period of time." Bartok elaborated, "I'm trying to take the spectator in and out of the planet with monumental aerial drops, ever increasing our perceptions of space. It helps people discover the dual nature of man."

The artist also collaborated with NASA on a proposed "SPACEWORKS" project involving the Aurora Borealis. Bartok participated in numerous national and international art exhibitions, including the opening of Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Contributor to AREA and Hofstra University's acclaimed 1990 video "Environmental Art; Working with the Elements (Air, Earth, Fire, Water"). Profiled in Robert A. Haller's book "Crossroads: Avant-Garde Film in Pittsburgh in the 1970's," published by Anthology Film Archives, 2005. Devoted member of the Baha'i community. Born in Martin's Ferry, Ohio in 1937; died in New York City in 2001. Survived by children Shari, Mark, Dennis, and Jayce.

In Bartok's own words, her work "is in essence the uncovering of what is simply already there - not new visual ideas but the recognition of the spirit, the light, the process reshaping and animating the spiritual life of the kingdom resulting in a new world order, the long sought and sung Peaceable Kingdom."



Films