1. How do we know you?
I make visual art. But I know Patrick from the eighties; I was doing performance in the nightclubs of the era (the Pyramid, Palladium, 8 BC, Darinka, to name a few), and Patrick was taking a lot of pictures of the scene.
2. What is your latest project?
I just had my first show of sculpture, involving something I began working with decades ago (toothpicks glued to dried grape stems, evoking crystal formations and neural networks). Finally had some enlarged and cast in bronze or carved in hardwood, and also showed some three dimensional grids made of bamboo skewers, glue and string. Now I’m drawing my way out of the third dimension.
3. Where are you living?
Currently spending a month in Mexico, on the coast. Usually I divide my time between New York and an old brick farmhouse in the Southern Berkshires.
4. What don”t we know about you?
I’ve been an amateur musician for the past few years; playing casually with friends and working up a couple of sets of music with my wife, the artist Katia Santibañez, doing songs in Italian, French, Basque, and English. We perform occasionally in unusual places.
5. What is your favorite travel destination?
I don’t do tourism, gives me the willies. When we travel, we go away for a while and live in one place. I would say my favorite place to do that is a little island in the Mediterranean called Ile du Levant.
6. What inspires you?
A wise man named Chuck Close once said: “Inspiration is for amateurs.” The whole fershlugginer world makes me want to get up in the morning and do something. Every morning, the world says, “Get up and do something useful, dog!”
7. If not yourself, who would you be?
8. What book is your bible?
Bible, schmible. Favorite, schmavorite. The Complete Short Stories of J.G. Ballard is one book I can go back to again and again, but there’s always the Encyclopedia Britannica…
9. What is your favorite word?
10. Who is your biggest hero?
My shrink. Is that fucked up or what? I’m predisposed to admiring people who do repairs.
11. How would you define success?
Success is setting out to do something, realizing it isn’t good enough, making the adjustment(s), and ending up in another dimension.
12. What would the last question of this questionnaire be if you were the one asking?
“If you found yourself in a situation where you had to talk someone down off a ledge, what would you say?”
My answer would be: “This isn’t your movie. It’s our movie. Come down, come inside, let’s have lunch.”
James Siena is an artist.
Photography by Patrick McMullan for PatrickMcMullan.com
Design by Mina Darius
James Siena, IFPDA ANNUAL PRINT FAIR, Park Avenue Armory, NYC, NOVEMBER, 2, 2011, Photography PATRICK MCMULLAN for PatrickMcMullan.com