After graduating from Cottage Grove’s Park High School in 1973 and spending two years at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Anderson left home, hitchhiked across Europe and finally landed in Boston in 1979.


John Cage, a composer and musical pioneer, was impressed by Anderson’s use of his mesostic invention (a style of writing using acrostics, or word puzzles) in her poetry. He became a mentor to her and his advice would influence her work mixing words with art.


A self-described poet, Anderson found ways to use her gift across a multitude of disciplines. She wrote for dance companies, collaborated on books and wrote off-Broadway plays. She crafted lyrics for the band Mission of Burma. The song “Mica” was described by Spin Magazine as “a punk rock benchmark,”  Jonathan Kane said.


She met Kane, a musician and photographer, at a party in 1982, a year after she’d moved to New York City’s Lower East Side, where artists mixed with immigrants and drug addicts.

He was on tour with the Kitchen Center for the Performing Arts, even playing at First Avenue in Minneapolis. At the party, he was impressed by Anderson.



“I realized immediately I was in the presence of an extraordinary woman,” Kane said. They married and had Lucy in 1993. Kane’s father, Art Kane, had been a photographer, capturing images of music legends such as Jim Morrison and of historic moments such as Harlem in 1958 for big-name magazines.


After 9/11, Anderson spent much of her time working on Art Kane’s legacy, a collection of his best photos over the years, which was published in 2014.


courtesy of Lucy Kane
courtesy of Lucy Kane

Later in life, she dabbled in politics, sitting in on the Occupy Wall Street movement and donating some of her work to the “Nasty Women” art exhibition in January in conjunction with the Women’s March on Washington.


In March, Anderson started getting what has come to be called the “World Trade Center cough.” Kane said she began to feel tired and complained of pain in her side and back. Her cancer diagnosis came on Sept. 11 of this year.


Of her experience at Ground Zero, she wrote this in her journal about the men working in the debris: “Some of these guys, the iron workers and steam fitters could be dying before our eyes. Already there are some ghosts walking in their lug-soled boots. Their faces blank under battered hard hats. Goggles and particle masks at their throats.The impulse is strong to take them into your arms. Say something. But what?


“A Queens cop told me, ‘We’re all lab rats down here anyway, no matter what any agency says.’ He was referring to physical health concerns. … God help us all.”


Little did she know she was writing about herself. Her cancer was aggressive and the treatments did nothing to slow it down.

“She was up for the fight,” Kane said. “But the odds were stacked against her.”

Eventually, she just wanted to go home to Minnesota. Home to where her life story had begun, a story that had inspired many of her poems and projects over the decades and had touched lives in the art world and in the horrors of the Pile.

from TWINCITIES (full article)

on JellyFant:

Chris Brokaw & Holly Anderson - The Night She Splept with a Bear

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