January 07, 2016

Featured Contributor: Tammy Fortin

A few times a season, we like to reach out to a current or former Open Space contributor and find out what they’ve been up to. Writer and musician Tammy Fortin is a guest contributor and columnist, and published work here between 2008 and 2012.


So, Tammy, what have you been up to lately?

Just sipping a glass of Montmartre 1924 over a raging fire, and realizing that this velour turtleneck is absolutely unnecessary, no matter how cold a San Francisco winter appears to be.

Has anything (artist, artwork, event) in the Bay Area been particularly inspiring to you lately?

I am eagerly awaiting the opening of a newly reconstructed art museum downtown — on Third Street. Other than that, I was recently invited to read at a local salon hosted by the talented poet and musician Marina Lazzarra and her husband, musician J Lee, where I met and read with some wonderful poets and prose writers, including Stephanie Baker, Rod Roland, and Jackson Meazle. Afterwards, Jackson and his wife Aimee played a set of acoustic ditties, and some kids put on a talent show that included a young MC who had the sophistication and wit of a little Chuck Barris understudy. I was struck by the absurd talent of everyone in the room, and by how cool things still happen in SF because there are thankfully still artists living here (for the time being). I was also perplexed on a mathematical level by how Marina and J fit that many people into 400 square feet of space. Since I live in La Honda now, I don’t get out as often as I’d like because it’s a long ride over the hill, as they say. But I’ve been appreciating the excellent collection of artwork at my place of employment, the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. Most recently at the Cantor, I’ve been interested in the new acquisition of Richard Diebenkorn’s sketchbooks, which allow you to understand the arc of a great American artist in a more intimate way. The recent exhibition Missing Persons (also at Cantor) is a student-curated exhibition where the absence of subject is investigated—in it you will find the highly seductive Untitled (Portrait of Ross in LA) by the artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres. That work is made up of 175 pounds of candy that represent the artist’s lover’s body. As I take the candy away and eat it, I can’t help but think of the Eucharist, the ’90s, AIDS, people I’ve known who’ve died, and the nature of love, loss, memory, meaning and ultimately how all of these reflections and intentions conjure something called art.

You’ve both dreamt up new covers for great books and proposed a payment system for great (or not great) dreams. Any recent reads or dreams you’d like to share?

If I tell you my most recent dream, you will owe me time and a half for it. Because you haven’t approved me for overtime, I cannot relate to you my dreams.

As far as books are concerned, I have three overdue library books on my desk. The first is What If Our World is Their Heaven? The Final Conversations of Philip K. Dick, by Gwen Lee and Doris Elaine Sauter. The second is Earthwards: Robert Smithson and Art after Babel, by Gary Shapiro, and the third is called Play It As It Lays, by Joan Didion. All three are reference material for a new book of short stories I am working on called The Creep. For this reason, these books will remain overdue, and I will owe the library a lot of cashola by spring. Maybe if you approve my overtime, I can tell you my dream, and then you can pay me… and then I can pay the library the overdue amount that I owe them. That would be swell.

the creep

Intended cover for The Creep.

What’s next for you?

Publishing a second printing of my first novel, A Modern Champion of the World, and researching and writing this book of short stories (previously mentioned) called The Creep. Honestly, that’s about it, other than playing music with Excuses for Skipping (new album coming out soon!) and with my kid and wife (who demand original material constantly). We have our own family band. It’s called Tiny Roach. We do not have plans for a world tour as of yet.

modern champion

Anything else you’d like to share?

Thanks for asking. I heart SFMOMA.

xoxoxoxox tammy

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