"Matta-Clark may be best known for his “building cuts,” in which he sliced structures like loaves of bread," Karen Rosenberg explains in New York Magazine. "This house in Englewood, New Jersey, was split in two, over four months of jacking and tilting. Manfred Hecht, who helped out, said, 'It was always exciting working with Gordon—there was always a good chance of getting killed.' The house’s corners are now in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, but the rest is gone— it had been chosen because it was slated for demolition anyhow."Matta-Clark also knew how to transform abandoned industrial sites — the closest things Flint has to tourist attractions — into artistic statements, into the cathedrals of economic decay.
"Matta-Clark cut five openings into the decrepit shed of Pier 52, calling it a “basilica” with a “rose window” (a bean-shaped hole facing the sunset) and illuminating a spot known for seedy nocturnal misbehavior," Rosenberg writes. "It was all done illegally—he later said, 'I had no faith in any kind of permission … there has never, in New York City’s history, with maybe one or two minor exceptions, ever been any permission granted to an artist on a large scale'—and once the city got wind of the project, Matta-Clark ended up leaving the country to avoid arrest."Matta-Clark carved out a name for himself in the seventies, a decade when many exhausted residents wanted nothing more than to escape from New York, to flee from the crime and economic indignities. Sound familiar?
Here's to Flint's kindred spirit and unofficial patron saint of the arts.