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Erin Currier

Anthony as the Buddha

Acrylic and mixed media on panel, 72"h x 60"w, Item No. 21407,

Anthony Hassett April 17, 1958— February 17, 2017

Writer, Artist, Poet, Screenwriter, Art Critic, Visionary, Martial Artist, Anthony Hassett was born in Venice Beach, CA, into an extended Irish Catholic family of boxers & people engaged in the film industry. Shuffled between his mother, orphanages grandparents, foster care as an infant; he finally settled with his father, stepmother, & half brother in Hollywood. There, he was steeped in the cinamatic world: his grandfather directed Beverly Hillbillies, for example; his step-grandfather was the black-listed director Edward Dymtryk; many of his childhood friends— like the Jackson family, the VanPattens, the Brandos,— went on to be pop stars & movie stars. However Anthony eventually rebelled against a world that he oft-times found to be disingenuous, vacuous, & materialistic— one rife with a dark underbelly of alcoholism, violence, exploitation, & betrayal. Books, & his circle of surfer friends provided solace.. He regularly championed the underdog & fought injustice, &, as a result, was kicked out of four highschools & was in & out of youth detention. Home life & school life became equally oppressive, violent, & intolerable— especially to a young mind like Anthony’s that was deeply sensitive, creative, & inquisitive; so he left fled home & Hollywood at barely 15 & never looked back. 

Anthony hitchhiked, backpacked, took odd jobs, jumped trains, & stowed away in boats throughout the US, Mexico, North Africa, & Europe— all the while writing poetry & prose. He felt right-at-home with all things Eastern, Countercultural, & Anarchic; soon discovering a kinship within the early Punk Scene & the Beats. He made friends with, & became disciples of, his heroes William S Burroughs & Allen Ginsberg at the Naropa Institute Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics; & practiced Buddhism with is founder Trogyam Champa. It was here he became a hardcore environmental activist as well: engaging in all manner of monkey-wrenching, protest, & direct action. He was jailed multiple times, did time at a lockdown state penitentiary.. At one point the whistleblower Dan Ellsberg was his jailmate! 

Anthony was a true nomadic poet— & lived each day on his terms- exactly how he wanted to live it: studying permaculture with the Australian Bill Mollison; practicing Shing-Yi with Sifu Kenny Gong in NYC; hanging out with Fred Hughes in Paris; Ray Bradbury in LA.. He wrote screenplays, had cameos in films & commercials, was deported when Reagan bombed Libya & detained in Gibraltar; was quarantined in Germany when Chernobyl melted down.. Through it all, he never ceased reading, writing, drawing, inquiring deeply into the nature of all phenomena & existence. He experimented & experienced Everything toward this end: including every drug, every hallucinogen, & grappled with heroin addiction for some years.. 

By the time I met Anthony, I was 21 & he was in his thirties with a successful decorative painting & antiquing business in Santa Fe, NM. We bonded over our shared love of Art & Poetry, &, one day he made me laugh harder than I’d ever laughed— & I knew I was in love. His infectious humor was a gift to all who encountered him: his remarkable ability to make people laugh in any language with his physical humor. I also knew that his life was exactly the life I wanted to live, & that I wanted to live it with him. We went on to travel to 60 countries— living for long stretches in Buenos Aires & Berlin & Kathmandu & Italy & Thailand & elsewhere; always eventually returning to New Mexico. Together we flew into Egypt during the revolution; studied Bagua in China; Spanish in South & Central America; were initiated into Tibetan Buddhist practices by Tibetan Masters; worked with a Shaman in Indonesia; did Ayahuasca ceremony; were caught in a typhoon in Vietnam; (& had more adventures & met more extraordinary people than can be recounted here!). 

Anthony exhibited his art with me in Buenos Aires, Berlin, Karlsruhe, Santa Monica, Taos, & Santa Fe. He published several books, “Gazette” & “Last Words” through CSF Publishing, wrote Art Criticism for THE Magazine for over a decade, as well as other publications; & was honored with solo retrospectives at Parks Gallery; Phil Space in Santa Fe; & the Harwood Museum. 

But for anyone who knew Anthony Hassett even peripherally, would know that his greatest accomplishments took place In The Moment: fleeting & ephemeral moments of his generous & tremendous gifts of kindness, compassion, humor, & vast wisdom. He had boundless compassion and the cruelty and injustices of the world infuriated him and hurt him viscerally.  He always felt that the world could and should be magical: with art, poetry, and music; & this is how he lived his life— waking up every day & remarking: “It’s a New Day Erin— It’s a beautiful day & it’s all we have.. So how shall we live it?”

In Anthony as the Buddha, I honored him by utilizing the sacred geometry of Tibetan Thanghka painting. Four mall dogs whom he loved: Frankie, Foca, Noche, & Ali, sit at his feet. The piece contains numerous references to his life: Bowie whom he knew personally & loved; El Tony comics we found in Buenos Aires; a postcard from one of his art shows; trash from the places he loved most: Italy, Argentina, Thailand, Bali..