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Art show honors terror victims

Dollar bills stamped with special messages will be among artists' tributes to the victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks at a special First Night St. Petersburg venue.

By BRANDY STARK

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 27, 2001


Dollar bills stamped with special messages will be among artists' tributes to the victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks at a special First Night St. Petersburg venue.

New York artist David Greg Harth, 26, really knows the value of a dollar. Since the events of Sept. 11, Harth has used money and rubber stamps to print his messages to the world: "I am not afraid." "I am not terrorized."

Several of these specialized dollar bills will be on display in "Life and Liberty: To Honor the Victims of September 11th." As a venue in St. Petersburg's annual First Night celebration, the art show is open to the public from 6 p.m. to midnight on Monday, New Year's Eve.

Organized at the request of the Tampa Bay art community, gallery owner Tiffani Szilage and actor/producer Megan Brown have focused the show on artists' reactions to the events of 9/11.

Harth, who lives 20 blocks from the Twin Towers, was inspired by first-hand experience.

"After the attack, I spent a week trying to volunteer for the rescue effort," Harth explains. "At the time, they were so flooded with volunteers that the only thing I could do was to put my name on a list. But as I went through the city I saw that people were afraid to be in New York. My own reaction was totally opposite, that I would not be terrorized. I knew I had to get that message out to others."

Money seemed a natural medium (and one Harth has used in the past), since it moves quickly among so many people. Messages are printed in red or black ink on bills with denominations ranging from $1 to $100. With $80,000 in marked bills already in circulation, the artist is well on his way to his goal of $100,000.

Harth is careful to follow certain guidelines when dealing with money. The printed messages do not cover more than half of the bill's surface. The marked money is useable just as if it had never been marked -- which is the whole point.

Since the artist and his project were featured on CNN and in the New York Times, volunteers have come forward from across the nation to assist in the stamping process, with participants from cities such as Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago and St. Petersburg.

"Life and Liberty" also features the works of other conceptual artists, including mixed-media sculptor Jon Karl Holm, digital photographer SKI, money artist jsg boggs and multi-media artist Ryan Arcieri. Several will be on hand to discuss their works.

Also with the show is the Children's Art Silent Auction. Featured are works from the children's programs at the Arts Center, John Hopkins Middle School and Madison Middle School. All money raised will go directly to benefit America's Fund For Afghan Children.

Some stamped bills will be available for trade at the show. For more information, go online to the artist's web site at www.davidgregharth.com/dollars or contact the Szilage Gallery at (727) 896-5504.

Preview

"Life and Liberty: To Honor the Victims of September 11th," a venue of First Night, St. Petersburg, in the lobby of the Bank of America building, 200 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Advance tickets for all First Night events are $8 adults, $5 children; all tickets $10 on New Year's Eve. Show hours: 6 p.m. to midnight Monday. Call (727) 823-8906 for ticket venues and more information on First Night St. Petersburg.

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