“Help us DIY,” reads a promo sticker for Green Lantern, Caroline Picard’s non-profit art gallery, which also happens to be her apartment. Caroline’s been doing “it,” and doing it well, for several years now. She’s a gallerist, fiction writer, comics ‘zine maker, publisher of the small-edition imprint Green Lantern Press and singer in the band Thee Iran Contras. In order to do all these things, she says, “I resigned myself to the fact that I’m not an artist”—although she is indeed an artist. Her latest paintings are portraits in a Cubist style of characters from an in-progress novel.
In Caroline’s first novel, 9/11 is used as a setting, such that a woman must make a road trip, as the airports are closed, to visit her ailing father. So, it’s not really about a terrorist attack as much as it chronicles peoples’ lives at a time when terrorist attacks are taking place. Some of the events and conversations are semi-autobiographical, and some are overheard. “Everybody tells stories,” she says, partly revealing her sources. In a way, Caroline is writing contemporary history. This may seem like a paradoxical task, but Caroline is one of the few people I know who’s comfortably situated in the present, and within her generation. She carves her own way, but isn’t fighting against something; she is both fruitfully productive and reflective.
A forthcoming book from Green Lantern Press is a reprint of an 1819 newspaper produced by sailors aboard an ice-bound boat, and is being updated with works of contemporary art and essays. The ice-captive sailors, who opted to write and publish only positive news while on board, and who created theater productions to pass the time, is a bit like an artist-run exhibition space, says Caroline. At some point it’s just something that people do, and then it gathers momentum, and then community and art are born, and it keeps you sane.
Green Lantern, which holds exhibitions, performances, film screenings and author readings, has been under fire from city hall recently for not holding the proper permits, forcing the upcoming May exhibition to be the last at this location. Caroline is seeing the closure optimistically, though, as a chance to regroup, and possibly further integrate the exhibits and the publishing company, and has her eyes set on the fall of 2010. I asked Caroline why it’s necessary, or even possible, to print books on paper in an age of rapidly changing information on the web. She admitted that she’s still working on finding how best to straddle the line between the digestible and the difficult, but favors a “slow digestion”—the healthy, nourishing kind.