Greer Lankton

I LOVE your site... all these people I had almost forgotten, Pinkietessa, Tok Tok, Bell and Kahn, Ronny etc!!! But is there anyway to get an update in the website a where are they now... more of a biog for younger kids perhaps who don't know who these 'legends' were?'
But a great site!
Cheers, I have moved this message posted by Cinni, 09-30-05 01:20 AM as a second Greer Lankton topic into this, the primary Greer Lankton thread.

quote:
Hello peeps!!
I'm new to this site, but have been reading the dialogue about Greer. I'm an artist, post op trans, and quite a few years back I came across Greer's name when I was searching the net for info about trans artists. Not that it really matters what the heck a person is....art is art. Still, just wanted to see what other artists were out there that had experienced some similar things in life as myself. Anyways, though I have only seen photographs of Greer's dolls and Greer herself, I have become a fan of her work. I can't wait to go to the Mattress Factory to see the G.L. display. I feel sad that she died so young, and that there seems to have been quite a bit of tragedy in her life. I can relate to a lot of it...maybe thats why seeing even just photographs of her dolls has moved me so. I'm very glad that you have had this running topic about her, and that those that knew her (like JoJo) have been kind enough to relay some information about the artist and human that she was. Thanks. I put a little information about her on my website in the hopes that people will search out more info on her and her dolls. I hope people keep posting stuff about her and her life!!


Welcome, Chinni, to the ArtMaker forum. You will find Greer is much adored and often celebrated in this topic. Please continue to share your thoughts about her and her work freely here. However, when making future posts, please use the "reply" botton at the bottom of the screen and not the the "new topic" option from the menu. Smile
Cloey, Thank you for sharing this collection of letters about Greer. I knew her well for many years and spoke to her on the telephone about a week before she passed away. I loved her very much as did so many many people. She was so fortunate to have a great family like yours. You are a talented writer and story teller and I hope you continue to write. Greer is most surely sending you love and encouragement from wherever she may be. thanks again.

Bobby Miller
Cheers Cloey, your post is of enormous value to the people here on these boards who were close to Greer, and to all who come here in the future to find her, who she was, and what she meant to so many.
quote:
I would like to see her work permanently displayed in a museum under the condition that the pieces not be separated or sold.

It would be truly wonderful if you could make that happen. Good Luck!

In the interim, welcome to our community, and if you need any assistance posting images or anything else you wish to share that requires uploading – please email me. I'd be more than happy to assist you if I can.
i can only go by what greer told me.this is my truth.i have not told any lies.the family may hate me for still feeling this way....o-well.my truth is seeing her whole life in a dumpster,sad. i will keep the wedding dress as i know what an artifact it is to prove this.and i'm not making it rich saying any of this or off of any artwork i have,they are all relics to me .i can never have that time of my life back....and i miss it.i have never been able to have that patnership with anyone like that since the death of greer.i have tryied .i dont even feel i'm as good as greer ,but that strive is still with me,i still hear her when i make dolls....give it some ears , it looks like an alien. and to cloe' it was nice talking to you on the phone,and dont be mad at me, i'm just a drag queen who loved your aunty greer.and i happy to have known her, and i think she would be proud of me for the work i have done and still do, and for keeping her truth alive.
Cloey,

Thank you SO MUCH for your post. I never, ever thought that when I started this topic that we would get such a touching look at Greer's life told by her own family members. I am just floored (and grateful) that you shared this with us. I know I'm going to be returning to your post to read it again and again.

My reason for starting this topic was that there was so little information available about Greer online. My biggest fear was that her memory would not be kept alive. Now I don't have to worry.

I was contacted a couple months ago by someone interested in putting together a retrospective of her work at their gallery. If you are interested, I can forward you their contact information.

Again, Thank you!
XXXOOO
Satori
JoJo - You were REAL FAMILY to Greer and have every right to keep the dress. The Both of you shared a bond that transends titles and blood. You do not need to be sorry or apologize to ANYONE .... You have honoured Greer, and her memory, and her amazing gift, by not only taking great care of what you have of her-but in your own art and by unselfishly sharing it with others since Greer died, thus keeping Greer, her memory,and her Art alive.
XOXO-Gigi
(P.S. Don't Fuck with My JoJO Wink )
That is really cool Jo Jo that you were the only student of Greer Lankton. I love the art that I have seen at the matress factory. You are so right to care for her art and take good care of it. And you really have a big heart give the niece the dress to wear in her wedding. That is very kind. I bet Greer would be happy about it too. Just make sure she wears it and doesn't cut it! GL is probably watching over you and continues to guide you. I think spirits stay with us and what a force you get to have around you. You were lucky to have her for your mentor. Her work is excellent. I like yours too. You can see the influence she had on your work. I am not an artist but I think you both are really good. Does Greer have any work on display around here? In NY? db
i told you on the phone, i dont have many things of greer's.and to take the most prized of my collection.would just be too much,you have everything, and you told me so. why be greedy,you never even offered giving me something in its place? and i wont settle for just anything.you have a dream and so do i.i will take muffin out of the andy worhol show and sissy from your grandparents....nothing else....sorry, i saw greer work on both these dolls , and they mean alot to me, and sissy is not even finished,i miss him and love him, and as far as muffin , i had started paying greer for her but i have no proof ,as well someothers have had problems.i will not settel,and if no dice ...i'm still very happy with the dress, i'm done.and i cant believe , i would consider it.and if any of you think i'm wrong for this,o-well...we all have are price,..cloey ...your not a museum.i am
Actually, Jo Jo, I think that is a very fair solution. Cloey – would you consider leaving muffin and sissy with Jo Jo while you borrow the dress? This way you can use the dress, and Jo Jo can spend some time appreciating these dolls that mean as much to him - obviously as much to him as the dress means to you? If the dress is returned in the same condition as it left, I am sure Jo Jo would return the dolls. And if you need to alter the dress for your wedding, then you should keep the dress and let Jo Jo keep the dolls. I'm sure you two can come to some agreement of this nature. It's a shame to let this bitterness harden both of you. Yes, it would be very fair indeed, Cloey, to offer something of equal value to Jo Jo in return for the dress.
well, the dress is in fine shape,gi-gi has said she will come over to photograph it so all of you can see it,the train of the dress was cut in half, but is still beautiful,i know for a fact sissy is at your grandparents house i saw him there,he will just be my fantacy, as will be GREER'S dress.everytime someone comes into the gallery they say" that bride looks likes she has been left at the alter".and my greer doll is very happy to be wearing it....on another note i have just bought two photos of greer off of e-bay, from the mattress factory show,i will share them, when i get them scaned,and whats funny is they are signed by greer?the photos were done by the late michael chikiris,but you can see in the photos how greer is very sick, but i love them.greer gave me a gift, a gift that i have teaching to stop animation students at the art institute here in chicago,the art institute has been sending students here to show what a gallery should be like,so funny.because my gallery is very like greer's apartment,i too have drowers of teeth and eyes but its very victorian at the same time the walls are packed with art, you are wacthed in every room by dolls,thou mine are happier....greer delt with pain all the time and it shows in her art work, i deal in fantacy, i live in a fntacy world,where greer is still alive, and she hangs out with fairies and drag queens, and punk rockers...this is my life and i wouldn't trade it, thank you mother boards for leting me fight on here, i hope to never fail you,i keep it interesting dont i, kisses
these photos were taken a month to two weeks before greer died, she is in her instalation" its all about me, not you"!she is above a bed where a dool called "20cc more please" is sleeping, and all of greer's old perscriptions are all over the bed, i have some of these too,greer would give me paint in them.she would be proud how skinny she looks in this photo,i think she was 80 pounds when she died
right, i have won,this wedding dress is the same one from all of the nan golden photos.you are so silly cloey,and like the rest of your family- stupid!because you cant have it , you knock it now.i also was remembering that the first time greer's name was mention at her memorial was by me everyone else refered to her as my dead son , greg, sad!even nan golden came up to me at the memorial and said" thank you".and then you told me you were still mad at greer because she got more attention then your father,i'm sorry greer had more to offer.so cloey , please take care of all of greer's things, i beg you!because i think they are in the wrong hands.
if you look behind the greer doll,there are two water colors that greer did of me and her,and two of her sculptures candy darling and the bllue babe.i dont have the jewelry from the wedding, paul monroe has it still...i wish he would put it on here,its beautiful and he made it.
i don't understand why there are all these personal family letters printed here. should not the LANKTON FAMILY save them for a more personal FAMILY web page? the reason these letters bother me so much, is due to the fact that they are so filled with LIES.

i don't understand why the LANKTONS choose here to paint their distorted portrait of GREER.
so if i may, please let me correct a few statements that they have made.

All of my information is based on what Greer personaly told me, and from what I witnessed first hand. including the countless hours i had to endure in the LANKTON FAMILYS pressence.

i first met Greer in 1981, we started dating in 83 and in 84 Greer moved in with me at 34 east 7th street. 1987 we were Married, Teri Toye was Greers maid of honor. As far as i am concerened we are still LEGALLY married. the only way we wouldn't be is if one of the LANKTONS forged my name on the divorce papers. which is what Greer told me her mother did so her mother could get Greer on finacal aid from the goverment.
Greers family did not support her sex change- they forced her to have it. Greer told me her mother was so humilated to have a gay son that she badgered and belittled Greer into having the sex change. making Greers " problem " perceivable as a medical one. and allthough several doctors declined approval for Greers sex change her mother found a private doctor to perform it.

Cloey states here that the surgery was "botched", UNTRUE there was nothing botched about Greers surgery except the fact that it should not have taken place. Greers man made vagina was exquiste and fully functional.

the fact is, Greer was not mentally prepaired to be a female because she was happy being male. her body could never handle the hormone replacement. this was the main reason that Greers mental state was so erratic.

and Cloey the teeth you found in Greers apt were for DOLLS. if you would just LOOK at her ART you would easily see that. instead you try to portray Greer as some sort of deviant. which she clearly was not.

and Cloey- trying to discredit JOJO here is also pointless. JOJO was a very good friend to Greer, and Greer told me that she loved him. and YES he does indeed have the DRESS that Greer wore at our Wedding.
if your family didn't toss all of Greers possesions in the dumpster you would still have it.
i find it quite telling that your family choose to DESTROY all of Greers work, photos, and her PRIVATE personal belongings.

OUT OF SIGHT OUT OF MIND...
isn't that the LANKTON family song.
if your FAMILY cared for Greer at all they would have CHERISHED her things, every last thing!

i will also never forgive LYNN LANKTON for lieing to me about Greers funeral service, telling me there was not going to one so i wouldn't show up. and having Greer cremated was against her wishes. if you knew GREER at all you would have known she wanted a PLOT with a Monument, so her FANS could worship her there.

i could go on and on about how here in print the LANKTON family are trying to rewrite Greers history to suit their needs. out of GUILT i suppose. but let me just tell you all this...YOU CAN"T. too many people know the TRUTH.

and for Greers FANS that would like some factual information- a brief list follows-

Her favoite color was Baby Blue.
her skin was flawless like paper. she used Shiseido face powder and Chanel lispstick- usually RED. heavily mascarred eyes. and the finest of penicled brows. she would sit at the mirror for hours perfecting them. for scent she wore a mix of Keils Chinese Flowers and Chanel #5. her nails were either Tiffany blue or cherry red.
Greer had a closet full of Gernreichs, Puccis and Chanels and she loved denim. Greer loved poka dots, anything sheer and the color Cream. She piled on the jewelry faster then i could make it. Greer loved big pearls and rhinestones of every color.
She wore Maryjanes in the day and Kitten heels at night. nearly always with a black sheer stocking.
at home with me she wore an old silk chiffon Balenciga Gown with layers of tattered tulle beneath. outside in public she liked to be nearly nude. she loved to expose her perfect breasts.
usually wearing a see through blouse with a beaded mini skirt. the skirt would be constructed from one of those 1960's beaded shells. she would sew up the arm holes and be able to use the neck hole as a waist band. Greer was a very skinny girl!
Greer was a natural blonde, who highlighted her hair to a creamy gold tone, and her hair was as smooth as pure silk.
She loved Hot Tamales, ice coffee and dope. she practacally lived on Ensure, vanilla flavored. and she would giggle like mad at the sight of a Pink Frosted Dunkin doughnut. she was hardly ever without a ciggarette or a joint in her hand. Winston lights in the Gold pack were her then favs.
she loved Candy Darling, Diana Vreeland and Sunny Von Beulows Glamourous ways. Greer lived GLAMOUR HARD. i never once saw her when Glamour wasn't oooozing out of her. even in her darkest hours, the dignity of glamour was always about her.

Greer loved New York. She loved stalking the upper east side ladies for dieting tips. we would follow certain beige icons through the small food stores spying their goods.
Greer loved Serendipty, with all its Warhol mystique and the eye high hot fudge sundaes.
she loved Sutton Places Boars Heads Park and Tompkins Square. we moved into the Christadora so she could be close to the trees. Greer loved to be in nature.
She loved to fuck outside too, when we would be in Palm Beach she loved to fuck on the beach right outside the Kennedy compound or in the doorway of the Chanel boutique after midnight.
Greer fit right in in Palm Beach, her look her walk her manner.

Her favorite movie was Freaks, and she devoured any info on Marilyn, Garbo and liz. She was a constant reader of bios, and loved any doomed socialites life. her favorite song was Patti Smiths Horses. she loved nina simone iggy pop and madonna.
Greer had a huge collection of dolls, her favorites were the wimseys and trolls. She kept boxes of clippings for inspiration. they were over flowing with photos of midgets anorexics and the obese.
and she was crazy for models and eccentrics like edie peggy twiggy divine.

Greer was her happiest when she was working on Dolls, high in the tub, or garnishing praise from admirers.
i was the happiest with her in my arms.

She had an incrediable wit charm and grace. and a talent beyond anyones imagination. she was the master of any artistic endeavor, she was untouchable with her knowledge and skill. her work was breathtaking, godlike.

i unlike the LANKTON FAMILY am not relieved that GREER is dead. and would give anything for even just a few seconds more.


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
thank you , thank you, thank you... paul i love you, and i wish i worked at goo,but i love gi-gi, jay-jay and chicago too much.you should move here.thou you, i think might go kill the lanktons.i have two of greers trolls from the garbage too.her parents sent me "horny homer"{ homer simpson in drag} because they didnt like it.i also have timmy and tommy { siamesse twins}, and princess muffin from the mattress factory show.and a doll that was to be raegan{greer's transgender sidekick and lover}.its nice to know , i'm not fighting alone.your jo-jo always, kisses from chicago, i also have two photos of you and greer nude"hot".
greer wanted to make a book of her dolls.and she was collecting polaroids of all of her dolls,i mean everyone of them, in shoeboxes. and these like many other things were in the garbage, and i was fighting with a homeless man for them, but i bet you can quess who won,i'm still sad to this day,i sometimes think i will find them under a bridge in chicago somewhere, i always check used bookstores, still after 9 years.i was always buying greer raggety ann and andys, because she was making a padded cell of them in her washroom, it was quite funny, after awhile she told me to stop,it got to be too much, some of them are in the mattress factory along with a sign i gave her saying 'there is a differance' with a boy and girl looking down their undies.she once told me she feathered the first big bird for kermit, so i thought she should have one, so when i showed up at the door with one ,she threw it out the window,i said" what did you do that for " she said 'i had to hot glue and stich every fucking feather on that dame thing, i never want to see it again!
As a fan of Greers, and someone just trying to find out more about her, I was glad to have found this site and group. But I was getting kind of depressed with some of the negative vibe. I also was wondering why all the personal letters would be posted publicly. I could see maybe a few quotes or lines, maybe a section or two, but whole letters with personal feelings etc. ? Just my opinion. I didn't know Greer, and I don't know anyone posting, family or friends, and I don't know who is right or wrong about facts and information. I just like to hear things about Greer, hopefully things that are true.
I have enjoyed JoJo's posts with pictures and stories. The picture of your Greer in the wedding dress, thats so cool. I love the doll, and the dress too. Thanks JoJo. Also, the photo you got on Ebay, I have one too, but mine is signed by the photographer Chikiris, but not Greer Frown . I know she was ill when it was taken, but I cherish it, because it is Greer. I always tell people about her and her art.
I'm also so glad Paul Monroe posted......thanks Paul. Hearing all the little things about Greer is just too cool.
I would like to add just a few personal thoughts. Like Greer, I'm a post op transsexual female. Big deal but...the fact is for most people like me, you end up being a lot closer with friends and lovers than you ever are with your family. Most families struggle with tg family members, and some end up not accepting you at all. Like you did something wrong by being yourself. So you end up creating your own damn family of friends that just love you and accept you for who you are. My friends know me one hell of a lot better than anyone in my family. Maybe Greer was the same?
I was bummed out to hear that so many of Greer's things were tossed out in the trash after she died. I don't understand that. Guess all that is in the past. And one final thing, JoJo, I laughed out loud when I read the story about when you gave Greer Big Bird, and her tossing it and saying what she did. Big Grin
i have been unpacking , and i forgot...i have a muppet, that greer made when she was with the muppets, its a teddy bear that has teeth and a tounge that you can move and hte eyes go back and forth, but jim henson hated it because it had a tounge and teeth,so she kept it,i found it in the garbage, thanks lanktons
seeing the teddy brought back this story, jim henson had asked greer to come up with a story about toys being trapped in an attic for the holidays,well greer?,told of a story where the toys started hunting one another because they got hungry,teddy and raggety ann were the better hunters,but raggety andy was not but raggety ann protected him, thou she wouldn't feed him and he got so shriveled up,both raggety ann and andy are in the andy warhol show " its all about me , not you", mixed in with a bunch of other raggeties.she told alot of stories in watercolor, beautiful, some are on her sex change,drugs,being sexualy molested, her family, i believe her family still has these, they even have some of my skecthes, funny
I grew up in Park Forest, next door to the Lanktons. I knew Greer when she was Greg, the sweet, gentle boy-nextdoor, who was always ready and willing to help out with any problem. I remember running over to the Lankton's house one day when I was home alone and had received a frightening prank call, and how caring and comforting Cathy and Greg were.

When Greg became Greer, my fundamentalist family was shocked and horrified. I, however, was secretly amazed and thrilled for her courage. I had yet to come out as a lesbian, and my family was blissfully unaware of my orientation. I remember spending some time with Greer when her sister, Cathy, was married in the backyard of their parents' home. I embroidered some pillow cases for Cathy, and Greer and I spent the afternoon in the kitchen, washing dishes for the ongoing party in the backyard.

I knew that Greer had become a successful artist, but had completely lost track of her and her family until just this past week, having moved to California about 18 years ago. I thought of her and of Bill and Lynn regularly, though, because of what happened when I came out. My parents still lived in the house next door to the Lanktons, and my parents, terribly upset about learning that I was gay, and knowing about Greer, went to talk with Bill and Lynn about me, and what they should "do" about me.

Bill and Lynn sat them down and very kindly listened and comforted them, and then told them that they should accept me and love me as the person God created me to be.

My mother did not take their advice, but I will be forever grateful to them for offering it.

As I said, I think of them often, because I tell people this story when I discuss the events surrounding my "coming out." I was having an online discussion this week about transgendered/transsexual people and I thought about Greer and decided to look her up on the internet. That is when I learned of her death. I am so terribly, terribly sad both to know that she is gone, and to learn how much she suffered over the years. She was three years older than me, and I idolized her when she was the boy next door, and again when I met her as the woman she grew up to be.

The emails Chloey posted are very consistent with my memories of Bill and Lynn, and of Greer herself. I got back in touch with Lynn after learning of Greer's death, and her love and appreciation for Greer were clear throughout our conversation.

I'm grateful for having known Greer and her family, and my heart goes out to Jo-Jo and Paul and Greer's family and all who suffer from the loss of her.
ten years ago tonight greer died-

the only words that feel appropriate are those of patti smiths'

ELEGIE

i just don't know what to do tonight
my head is aching as i drink and breathe
memory falls like cream in my bones
moving on my own
there must be something i can dream tonight
the air is filled with the moves of you
all the fire is frozen yet still i have the will
trumpets, violins, i hear them in the distance
and my skin emits a ray
but i think its sad, its much to bad
that greer can't be with us today.

i love you
A wonderful recent Memoir with some fantastic photos that I've never seen

XXXOOO
Satori

-----------------------------

GREER LANKTON,
A MEMOIR
by Julia Morton

At the funeral of East Village artist Greer Lankton, held just over ten years ago in November 1996, her grieving parents displayed a family picture showing an ordinary middle-class mother and father, brother and sister all standing on a beach in khaki shorts, tees and walking shoes. Their hair was blowing and their suntanned faces were all smiling for the camera. Posing next to the group of happy hikers was the youngest child. Pretty, pale and model-thin with neatly coiffed blonde hair, she wore a stunning black Chanel outfit accessorized with jewelry, high heels and red lipstick. It was Greer Lankton.

Only weeks earlier, the sickly but still glamorous Lankton had attended the opening of "It's about Me. . . Not You," a modest retrospective installation at the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh. Lankton's sculpted dolls, mounted body parts, photographs, paintings, heroine shrines and memorabilia were displayed in a perfect reconstruction of her tiny studio apartment in Chicago. A minor scandal erupted over the nude photo of Greer that graced the exhibition's poster, but the fuss only added to the crowds and critical acclaim.

The installation featured an Astroturf front yard that led to a white house built of wood and measuring only 10 x 10 ft. Inside, Greer had arranged her collection of Raggedy Ann dolls near the door. Scattered shelves held more dolls and a lifetime of memorabilia. The walls, painted turquoise and trimmed in pink, were covered with drawings, photos of dolls and a collection of sculpted torsos, their chests branded with crosses or hearts.

Faux niches served as shrines to Greer's idols -- Patty Smith, Candy Darling and Jesus. Several "self-shines" featured well-known portraits of Greer herself, taken by Nan Goldin, Peter Hujar, David Wojnarowicz and others. The photos revealed a younger Greer, the glamorous art world muse whose daring presence and challenging work had help to illuminate the 1980s East Village art scene.

Although most of the figures in the installation were small, three corners held dolls that were almost life-sized. The most riveting work was a pallid figure on its deathbed, covered in a red blanket that overflowed with empty prescription bottles. It stared with half-closed eyes up at a deep blue ceiling covered with gold stars.

Greer's dolls, ingeniously constructed out of soda bottles, coat hangers, umbrella hinges, panty hose, layers of paint, and glass eyes obtained from a taxidermy shop, have a surreal yet jarring vitality. Their skins are marked with stitching and other surgical handiwork, as she generally put each figure through several incarnations on its way to completion. Some dolls gained or lost weight, others had face-lifts or sex changes, and some were chopped into pieces and left as torsos or heads.

Greer's work was often compared to the "poupées" of Surrealist artist Hans Bellmer, as well as to the bone-thin figures of Egon Schiele, who also had an interest in self-portraiture and edgy sexuality. Freakishly seductive, the dolls can seem to inhabit a fairly grim bohemia. But studying Greer's installation at the Mattress Factory, which read like a visual memoir, it was clear that in her world, vanity and garish glamour weren't symbols of social decay, but a life-affirming force.

One of my favorite works by Greer is a sad-faced bust of Candy Darling. In her chest is a heart-shaped window void that holds a model of a strong human heart side-by-side with a colorful valentine, suggesting that the artist's life was sustained as much by fantasy as reality. Looking at some old photos, an object by Greer that had once hung in my apartment caught my eye, the flayed skin of a life-sized doll hanging on the wall. I'd remembered it as female, but now I noticed that it was in fact male.

Greer, too, was in "fact" male. Born in 1958, Greer began life as Greg, the third child of a Presbyterian minister from Holly, Ill. From the start Greg wanted to be a girl. He made dolls, played dress-up and acted like other girls. Though his family was understanding, life as a "sissy boy" wasn't easy. So, in 1979, with financial help from his father's church congregation (of all things), Greg, then only 21, underwent a sex change.

It must have been shortly after the surgery that I saw Greer for the first time at Pratt, the art school we both attended. I remember her welcoming smile, her strange kinetic manner and the curious good-girl outfit she wore. We met again in late ˜82 or early ˜83 in my East Village clothing boutique, Einstein's. By then Greer was famous for both her art and her transsexual status. She and her best pal David Newcomb became close friends with my business partner Paul Monroe and myself.

Around 5'7" tall, Greer had a thin face with full hazel eyes, and a pretty, doll-like quality. Ambitious, with a drive to "get over," she was also warm and generous. Though she followed art-world issues, she preferred playful gossip to academic or political banter. Friends would drop by with stories just to hear Greer squeal with delight, or laugh contagiously until her asthmatic rasp would nearly choke her.

Perhaps because of her joyous, open nature, I was surprised to learn that only a year after her sex change operation that she had regretted her choice and attempted suicide. She was staying at Nan Goldin's loft on the Bowery at the time, and after she recovered she moved to a sunny walk-up on East 4th Street. The year was 1980, and the East Village art scene was just taking off. Goldin's many photographs of Greer, made around that time, helped to cement both of their careers, and provided the decade with some of its most haunting images of desire, isolation and self-deception.

In 1981 Lankton was featured in the seminal "New York/New Wave" exhibition at P.S.1 in Long Island City. She also began showing her work at Civilian Warfare in the East Village, the gallery started by Dean Savard in his ground floor studio apartment. At that time she was making terrifying little burnt dolls locked in tiny wire cages, sculptures of erect penises, belly button casts and a family of hideous trolls. She also made and wore a life-sized fat-body suit that she photographed herself in, perhaps in response to the feminine softening of her once-masculine muscle tone.

Paul and I attended her second solo show at Civilian's spacious new digs on Avenue B. Packed with admiring fans, the opening was a great success, and is widely remembered as one of the era's best. Greer glowed in the spotlight; she had true star appeal. The show featured her elaborate cloth sculptures of sideshow freaks and a toddler-sized hermaphrodite giving birth to twins. Another work, a favorite of mine, was an emaciated, near-life-sized figure titled Sissy Boy.

Greer's dolls reflect her unique, isolated vantage point on both sexes, and her exploration of gender, outcasts and norms of beauty meshed perfectly with art world trends. As I look back now, this 1985 show was probably the high point for both Greer and the East Village.

While her public life soared, her private relationships were a constant source of heartbreak. Greer "passed" quite well, and guys were always interested. They'd date and start having sex, and then at some point she'd feel compelled to tell the whole truth, and the affair would end -- sometimes violently.

Eventually, she and my business partner Paul began dating. He was bisexual and, like Greer, he loved ornate esthetics and had an eating disorder. They quickly became inseparable, and she moved into his apartment and started working in our shop. Her next solo featured a number of portrait dolls, including one of her and Paul in bed (a la Yoko and John). Greer and Paul married in 1987. Terri Toye was the bridesmaid, Goldin took the wedding photos, and Greer's father was the minister.

Earlier that year, I'd left my East Village life behind and returned to work in the "real world," getting a job in the fashion industry. The art zeitgeist of the early 1980s, which had begun with so much promise, was over. Death had claimed many East Village artists and art dealers, and others were moving on up and out to SoHo. When Civilian Warfare closed, Greer began selling commissioned portrait dolls out of Einstein's. One depicted Diana Vreeland, then head of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I ran into Greer again in the early ˜90s and we shared a cup of tea, while she filled me in on the years I'd missed. It wasn't a happy story -- she and Paul had become abusive drug addicts, her career had tanked, and they'd divorced. Not long after our meeting, Greer moved back to Chicago to clean up and start over. We communicated by phone for a while, but finally lost touch.

Then, suddenly Greer's art was back in the limelight, when her work was included in the 1995 Whitney Biennial and Venice Biennale, and plans for her installation at the Mattress Factory began to take shape. The show was organized by Margery King, a visiting curator, who with Mattress Factory curator Michael Olijnyk went to Chicago to see Lankton. They were both amazed and appalled by what they found. Her apartment was a creative disaster site. Greer's figures, half hidden in the chaos, reminded King of Northern Renaissance sculptures. Together they decided to recreate an idealized replica of her studio, and so with boxes of stuff in tow, Lankton was flown to Pittsburgh to oversee the installation process.

Looking back now I imagine the weeks that led up to the Mattress Factory opening must have been some of her happiest; working on her largest installation to date, money in her pocket and surrounded by an admiring staff. She was sick from continued drug use, and down to 90 pounds, but the curators told me how impressed they were by her dry wit, creative process and work ethic. Her old friend David, who accompanied her to the opening, felt she must have known the end was near.

At the same time, back in New York, Goldin opened her retrospective at the Whitney Museum of Art. She chose a photograph featuring Greer as her exhibition poster; it was plastered all across the city. And so, Greer died as she had lived, an inspiring muse and gifted artist who stimulated the art world with her crafted conceptualism and explicit, unapologetic humanity.

The Mattress Factory is mounting a permanent display of Lankton's It's about Me. . . Not You installation in the summer of 2007. Her dolls, doll photography, and sculptured body parts will live on as unique objects in their own right, as reflections of Lankton's life, and as examples of the East Village era in which they were created.



JULIA MORTON is a New York-based curator and writer on the visual arts. Her first book, Amalgam: Kent Williams, was published in 2006.
Hey Smile

We are happy to report that we scored a wonderful treasure off of ebay. A set of negatives from the estate of the late photographer Michael Chikiris.

He shot Greer on the opening of her Matress Factory show in October of 1996. We just got the full set back today, and are going to have a select set enlarged and professionally scanned.

We'll be sharing many more images later, but for now, here's one of our very favorites. It's Greer with "20CCs More Please."


Enjoy!
Satori

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