January 17, 2022 the Full Moon is in Cancer, and it takes place just after Curtis turns 70 years old! I wanted to honor him this year, by not only writing the newsletter for him, but also to have a zoom party. Well he said a definite NO to the zoom party, so instead I am seizing the opportunity to write the newsletter. All blame surely falls on myself!
I’ve also decided to take the huge risk of including the first part of the story of how we met, a great saga, which for years, when we would tell it to people, they would always say, ‘Oh my goodness, that should be a book or a movie’ or some such. I began writing it in the beginning of last year. And it’s been percolating in various forms in our work for decades now!
photo by Win Rider
So here we go, amidst all the crashing and terrifying and disappointing events of the last pandemic year and of politics, environmental destruction, death and severe challenges so many of us have endured, I decided to tell an amusing tale instead of the usual mixed bag of cosmic weather, literal weather and political climate.
We both wish you all good health in the year ahead, and the strength and grace to deal with whatever challenges are on the horizon.
Husband #3, The Keeper of My Heart © Jane Sherry April 2021
Once upon a time, when NYC was broke and artists could afford lofts in the pre-gentrified Lower East Side, there was a severe drought throughout much of the land. We were all hot, parched, minds aflame with desire and the passion of political art and upheaval.
Infrogmation, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
That summer a group of artists called Collaborative Projects had taken over a three story corner building, a once-upon-a-time massage parlor in Times Square for an artist curated show of over 100 artists ranging from the graffiti of Samo, aka Basquiat, Keith Haring, Nan Goldin, Kiki Smith, Jenny Holzer and many more known, unknown, soon to be known and never to be known artists. We called it The Times Square Show.
[Warning: this may be construed as libelous, but mostly toward myself and I don’t mind sharing this tale.]
I was sweating away in my loft where the oily rancid smells from Bernstein Deli’s smoke stack on Essex Street would waft through the open windows of my loft on the breeze, never quite cooling me off. I was up to 3 quick showers a day to stay cool.
My job as daytime manager and bartender, cook and general bottle washer at the infamous Tin Pan Alley Bar in the Times Square area was a fun job. I was serving drunks and drug addicts, blue collar workers, film producers, whores, pimps and a few strays. It was a grand time, especially since Maggie, the owner, (or was it her mafia boyfriend and his twin brother who were the owners?) had one of the best rock jukeboxes I’d ever been around.
Who would have thought they would much later make a hit TV show called The Deuce about Tin Pan Alley from the crunchy days when I worked there?
Each morning before I opened the bar, I’d go over to 10th avenue to the butcher, the baker, the grocer (no candlestick maker though), and buy good quality supplies for the lunchtime working crowd. Tin Pan Alley had the best burgers and home-fries around, real food for real working people.
But I digress in the telling of this story of how I met husband #3, the Keeper of My Heart.
My girlfriend, Aline Mare and I had been working on our collaborative installation of a punked out version of female archetypes for the infamous Times Square Show that summer of 1980. We were assigned a small room in that old massage parlor which we filled with sculptures, many we had crafted from clothing from second hand stores. And on the walls we had written and painted words, at that now legendary art show.
We filled three sides of that small room with sculptures of female archetypes at that seminal (this word seems fitting) Times Square Show: the Bride, the Whore, the Little Girl (she was portrayed by a glued-up stiff pink little-girl-dress with jujube candies attached all over it) and a Mermaid, which my boyfriend, Tom, had helped us form by creating a chicken wire skeleton. Then we covered her ‘bones’ with paper mache to create the body of her fishy self.
There was also a Nurse, with big plastic sex-shop boobs and red paint blood splashed all over her white uniform as well as our fabulous Witch.
Jane Sherry at work on The Bride for Times Square Show
photo© Francene Keery 1980
The fourth wall, really just a strip (again pardon the pun) was underneath the windows in the little room and we wallpapered it with pornography cut outs and prayer cards of the Virgin Mary, and icons of women saints, writing misogynist slang and slogans and etymological phrases about women painted across the walls along with our ‘girls’. We also wrote “Is this Sexy?” over and over on the wall of pornography.
The white Bride’s dress took pride of place spread out with the word Whore splashed in red paint. For the witch, we had a little ceremony outside my loft on the corner of Ludlow and Stanton streets, near a metal city garbage bin where we burned a black dress, just so, and then put the fire out, so the smoldering (or once smoldering) dress with burned holes in it, became, of course, our witch. I’m sure we cast a circle, then performed some kind of litany or recitation in the street as we did the deed, probably lighting her on fire with a candle to start her barbecue, raising energy in the circle to honor our ancestors, or should I say an-sisters.
by Jane Sherry and Aline Mare, photo © Andrea Callard 1980
Again, I digress; sometime after the TSS, I was feeling unhappy with my then-boyfriend so I sent him home to his mother in Kansas, she-of-the-beautiful-gemstone-name, Garnet.
While he was gone, I played hooky from the bar where I worked, it was just too hot, and I splayed out in lethargy on my dirty mattress on the floor in our loft.
One day, the phone rang and my girlfriend said in a strange whispering voice that she wanted to come over with these two guys I had to meet. I said I didn’t feel well, had a sore throat, didn’t want to meet anyone unless it was a “hot date”. She said emphatically “No!! It’s nothing like that but you have to meet them!”
So they came over, the three of them, bearing flowers (Lily’s, her favorite) and cocaine (one of my favorites at that time). It turned out the guys were also working on some version, though not quite punked out enough for our tastes, of the retelling of the Garden of Eden myth. “There were synchronicities”, he said (later-to-be-husband-#3), when he called my friend and they spoke on the telephone.
She was subletting Liza’s apartment, who was subletting it from Diego Cortez, and he (husband #3, Keeper of My Heart) had met Diego at a punk rock band concert in Houston who told husband #3 to call him if he was ever in NYC, so he did, but Diego wasn’t there, nor was Liza so my girlfriend answered the phone and since she wasn’t Diego, he told her why he and his buddy had come to NYC, to work on rewriting the myth of the Garden of Eden and later told me that she sounded “like my sister”.
It turned out he had no sister of course. He explained that they were looking for some “girls” to go to Paris with them because they were working on a book called “Who’s Going to Paris?”.
Supposedly we or she said something like, “well, we’re also working on a version of the Garden of Eden story involving Lilith”, (but husband #3’s buddy didn’t know who she was) and she also informed them that we don’t work with “boys”.
Curtis Lang and Jane Sherry, Lower East Side NYC, 1980
photo by Aline Mare
This was the very beginning of a long, once-upon-a-time blissful, at times sordid, but mostly a love story adventure that’s lasted since 1980 when he and I first met that fateful summer. Well, soon thereafter we broke up, we each married other people, (another story perhaps for another day), we synchronously each ended those marriages and got back together after less than three years, again, through a series of synchronicities or misadventures if you will.
During that first meeting we had in my loft, I looked at that man, who would later become The Keeper of My Heart, and thought, oh my god, he’s a Texan, he’s so white, he’s dressed in Texas duds (to my lower east side ethnically Jewish artist eyes, he seemed more cowboy than cool). He didn’t have an accent, but his buddy did, and pronounced theatre as thee-aye-ter. Which I found confounding and made me cringe a bit.
photo by Aline Mare
But this guy, Curtis, my three-years-later-husband-to-be and I had so much to talk about, we literally talked for days while the other two, seemed to argue for days. You know-- about men, and women, and the patriarchy, etc-- feminism 101.
The Keeper of My Heart and I both shared a great love of mythology, of archetypal symbolism, of wanting a love that lasts, and (philosophically for me anyway) craving peace between the sexes, and a love based upon equality. No more war.
Well, I wasn’t entirely there at that time- feeling generous toward men or living that equality between the sexes. It was more aspirational than actual. I was busy acting out my anger about the nuclear family, anger about the Patriarchy, feeling empowered as a woman and wanting to empower other Women.
All the while I was making art and working as a bartender, as I said, at Tin Pan. This was after having worked as a topless dancer, where I staged a walkout among the dancers one evening after they cut our commissions, and that’s how I ended up at Maggie's Tin Pan Alley Restaurant and Bar, but again, that’s a story for another day.
When the Keeper-of-my-heart describes the ‘me’ of 1980 when we met, he says that I was “scary”, that my friends and I were “scary women” back then, and it’s true, years later I described myself as a “rabid feminist”. In fact, when working as a topless dancer, I billed myself as a “feminist topless dancer”.
But in my heart, the one thing I was always searching for was to be ‘seen’ and I don’t mean by being naked on a table dancing in front of stupefied men.
I was searching for a love inspired by a creative energy that could be put into a form I could share with others. I was searching for a True Love and partnership and a deep inspired dialogue. And well, I found it. But it wasn’t to be until many years later that I could truly go that deep in a somatic and true way.
So, back to this story of when we met, we decided we four would balance out the energy of the Garden of Eden myth, change the energy between men and women and thereby save the world. Simple.
We took a trip to the Catskill mountains, had cosmic experiences too embarrassing to mention here (that’s funny you must be thinking after all I’ve already shared, or over shared!). One of the results or coincidences of that mountain journey was that there were sudden unexpected drought breaking rains in NY.
Curtis and I went on a journey to visit my parents while my friend and her boyfriend left for Texas where we would later meet up. Again, more funny tales for another time.
Everywhere we went from NY to Florida on our trip, Curtis and I encountered drought breaking rains. We would call people and tell them how miraculous it all was, and they’d say, on the phone, “oh my goodness, it’s raining now!”. That summer, I took on the name of Raina Jane, which I carried forth for several years. To this day, there are people who only know me as Raina.
Then it all blew up. My girlfriend decided she’d been hypnotized, I wasn’t really ready for my aspirational equality with men and I was also deeply disappointed in my artist peers in the Times Square Show.
Still from Super 8 Film, Artist Unknown, New Year's Day, 1980
We had been a counter-culture group who had been gallery and curator averse with diverse perspectives. We had a preference for the more radically political work of artist curated shows including a show called The Real Estate Show, where the group broke into a vacant and chained up city owned building on Delancey Street in the lower east side of NYC, where even the famous artist Joseph Beuys came to visit the show.
So after that seminal show in Times Square, the galleries came down from their uptown exalted lairs and seduced a few of the male artists from the group, who jumped at the chance to be represented by uptown art galleries. But that too, is a story for another time.
In retrospect, I can no longer blame them but it was a good excuse to bail out of NYC and go off with my girlfriend for more adventures in collaborative work.
Before we left the city, my friend gave the ‘boys’ an address for her girlfriend, Maria, who could only be reached through a post office box in San Juan because she lived up on a mountain in El Yunque National forest. We told the ‘boys’ to contact us if they ever found any money, that then we might consider going with them to Paris.
We went to Puerto Rico, found Maria in El Yunque with a shotgun in one hand and a baby in the other running out from the gated house up in the jungle and drove off. Somehow, a month or a few weeks later, (Husband #3 Keeper of My Heart) Curtis, the investigative journalist, managed to find us. We found his letter in Maria’s post office box down in San Juan.
Curtis Lang, New York City, photo by Jane Sherry
Curtis found us again and again as we did our work in San Francisco in a communal artists loft, in New Orleans in a rented house with replacement boyfriends and back in NYC when I was in a sublet in an artist friend’s loft back in the lower east side. He continued to find me all over NY, in an uptown apartment of a friend and a squat my old landlord loaned me back in the Lower East Side.
This trick of his was constantly repeated. Until, here we are now, over 35 years later, still together. Again, more stories for another day.
Below see our show and tell of pics through the decades.
photo by Liza 2007
Curtis Communing with Houston Garden Photo by Jane Sherry 1988
Curtis and Angelica, Roxbury Rd Garden, Claverack, NY
Photo by Jane Sherry 2006
Jane in Claverack, NY Hillside Garden, Photo by Curtis Lang 2008
Curtis in Antioch, CA 2011 Photo by Jane Sherry
Jane and Curtis in Florida visiting Jane's Parents, circa 1992
Jane Under Flowering Cherry Trees, Central Park, NY 1991
photo by Curtis Lang
Curtis Lang and Animal Planet Film Crew, Claverack, NY 2008
Photo by Jane Sherry
One of our crystal suppliers actually watched this tv show on Animal Planet, on an airplane going from Brazil to France for a crystal show and told us about it when we saw her afterwards at a show! The segment was about doing Reiki on Animals, not pictured here, is Maddie, the horse
Mara rising up
out of the mist of the sea
Ishtar with her
purple lips, berry stained
Isis from a pool of wine,
Isis with her veils
Some call her whore
Some, Scarlett of the
all crimson lipped
all with their pungent
She is Maria Mary Madonna
She is the Sacred one
before the altar fruits
have rotted, before
her worship so profaned
she is the camel’s hump
the desert flower, the impossible
weed bursting through concrete.
She is the dream that drives
you searching, searching for
nectar each fragrant flower
you see; and if there are
no blooms then she
sends you smells and tastes
She is the thrusting tongue
in the lover’s mouth,
driving you on to fire, to
burn the house down, she
is the drunken dance and
dance and twirling skirts, a
mad ecstatic drunken dance
that leaves no bitterness, no
heavy head the day next,
but a sweetness in the
She is the passion
of spring that sends the
green shoots up through
the still frozen ground
Mixed Madonna, Digital Painting by Jane Sherry, 1993
If you'd like to see more of Jane's art, you can enjoy a virtual studio visit here at Satya Center and view her work in various media including digital prints, limited edition artist books, sacred talismans, and more.
Jane's work is included in many private and public collections including the Getty Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, The New York Public Library and more. Read more about the artwork Jane has created for more than 30 years in her artist statement, Creating Spiritual Art for the New Millenium and her resume.
“The ancient traditions of priestess, shaman, scribe and storyteller serve as the foundation and inspiration for my work," Jane explains. "For thousands of years, healers, keepers of the temple, clairvoyants and mystics have used mythical narratives woven of text and imagery to connect the sacred and the everyday worlds, and to collect and focus energies for healing, for visions, for fertility, and to heal the community."