Home > Past Exhibitions > 1999 > James Montford

James Giordani Montford The Artist Dollars Project, 1999
a collaborative installation
Dedicated to Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937)
On October 10, 1998, the Mattress Factory received an envelope containing a one-dollar bill, mailed anonymously from Norwich, Connecticut. These mysterious bills continued to arrive each day. Each dollar bill had a different name written in its margin and an assigned number of 365. The first bill received read "2 of 365 Marlene Rogers." The bill on November 14, "1 of 365 Leonardo Drew," and so on. Mattress Factory staff soon determined that the names in the margins were of African American artists and artists of color. James Giordani revealed himself and his collaborative project proposal on October 22, 1998.

The Mattress Factory agreed to work with Montford on an ongoing installation to be located at 1414 Monterey. The first floor of the installation hosts the 365 artist dollars mounted in pyramid form. Another pyramid of dollar-sized mirrors on the opposite wall reflects both the pyramid of named dollars and its viewers. The following quote by Romare Bearden is installed on a glass divider:

The development of black artists was slowed by these factors:
  1. Lack of a standard form of criticism
    Is it appropriate for the black artist to separate aesthetic from non-aesthetic concerns In the work?
  2. Hindrance from foundations and societies that were supposed to encourage the artist
  3. A lack of ideology or social philosophy to guide the black artist
  4. One of the chief problems of the black artist is the lack of an appreciative audience, i.e. lack of patronage

Romare Bearden, 1934
A Journal of Negro Life

A speakerphone installed in the gallery connects visitors to the Artists on Call, a scheduled event in which visitors and artists may converse. The second floor rooms contain the Artist Archives, an ongoing collection of files containing information provided by the artists, Mattress Factory volunteers, and interested visitors.
Also on display are the Student Dollars, perhaps the most socially interactive, as well as enjoyable, component of the Artist Dollars Project. The students┬╝ choice of medium ranges from graffiti mural renditions to collage and photo juxtaposition. The Mattress Factory encourages students to create a dollar commemorating one of the 365 artists.

List of Artists

Student Dollar Exhibition

Artist Dollar Project Archive

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