VDB Asks... Anne McGuire

Emily Eddy
I am Crazy Anne

Anne McGuire began making videos in the late 1980s while she was a student. Through her single-channel works, McGuire translates traditions of personal and poetic performances to camera, playing off of conventions of television. She has taught at various institutions in California including the San Francisco Art Institute, University of California Santa Cruz, and Stanford University, as well as KyungSung University in Busan, South Korea. She writes poems and sings them as songs, and has performed as Freddy McGuire with San Francisco-based electronic musician Wobbly, live and on radio.

1. Can you tell us something about your background?

Born and raised on a beef farm in rural Minnesota surrounded by woods, streams, and gravel roads.

2. What inspired you to become an artist? To use video?

TV, my mom, nature, the World Book Encyclopedia, music, and that trip to the Walker Art Center in grade school.

3. Did you have formal art training/schooling?

Yes! I received an Associate of Arts degree at Cottey College in Nevada, MO, then moved up to the Kansas City Art Institute for a couple of years before transferring to the San Francisco Art Institute where I finished my BFA, and stayed to get an MFA.

4. How do you balance life and art?  

Are you able to make a living through creating art? I work part time in an unrelated industry.

5. What influences or motivates you in the world?

The wonderful world of everything.

6. What artists or movements are you following right now?

Well, I watch anyone who is still here (in San Francisco) and can maintain an art/writing/music/creative/nonprofit practice. This is an intense place to live, you know, with all the billionaires, all the homeless. There’s lots of activism. We’re getting the message out in sound and visuals, words, poetry, dance. It’s happening all over the world.

7. What was the last exhibition you saw?

Andy Warhol’s big show — good to see it all up close!

8. What has been the best screening experience of your work? 

Video Valentines — a February 14th double bill with George Kuchar in San Francisco in 2008.

9. What are you working on right now?

I’m writing songs, singing, teaching myself guitar, painting water colors, defacing otherwise perfectly good postcards with tattoos and graffiti, writing poems, prose, and fiction. 

10. How do you start a piece? How do you know when a piece is finished?

Anything lyrics/music related usually pops into my head or I dream it and make a note of it. Luckily, songs tend to have a three-minute time limit. Same with videos. Usually, it arrives complete, though my process has improved by working with an editor and asking for help/advice.

11. What are you currently reading? Watching? 

Reading is tough, I listen to a lot of BBC radio productions; I read lots of news online. Books by Kevin Killian and Dodie Bellamy (my writing mentors). What We Do in the Shadows is the best movie/series.

12.  Room for final thoughts:

I’m growing my career/vocation for the next phase of life, moving in a particular direction. Yeah!   Interview conducted, August 2019 Read more in the VDB Asks... series