Tina Girouard, Experimental Artist in 1970s SoHo, Dies at 73

Tina Girouard, an avant-garde artist from rural Louisiana who played a catalytic role in the 1970s SoHo art scene in New York, helping to found the experimental gallery 112 Greene Street and the artist-run restaurant Food, died on April 21 at her home in Cecilia, La. She was 73.

Amy Bonwell, a niece, said the cause was a stroke.

Arriving in New York City fresh out of college in 1969, Ms. Girouard plugged almost immediately into the performance, dance and conceptual-art circles that, fueled by their tumultuous times, were reshaping the art world.

In addition to performance, Ms. Girouard used found and inherited fabrics, wallpaper and floor coverings to create installations, work that came to be part of the renegade mid-1970s movement known as Pattern and Decoration.

And she was among the early adopters of video technology. In “Tape-Video Live,” a 1972 performance at the Leo Castelli Gallery, she and three other dancers played with the spatial and temporal jigsaw combinations of live, live-broadcast and previously recorded dance movements.

Cynthia Marie Girouard was born May 26, 1946 in DeQuincy, La., in the southwest part of the state, and grew up with five siblings on a rice and cattle farm in an unincorporated community so small that it had no name. Her mother, Yvelle Marie (Theriot) Girouard, was a special-education teacher, and her father, Whitney Lewis Girouard, was a farmer who later taught agricultural engineering.

In the winter of 1969, she and Mr. Landry drove to New York City and soon, along with the painter Mary Heilmann, moved into a near-derelict building in Chinatown at 10 Chatham Square. It soon became a bunkhouse for dozens of artists and musicians over a fevered six years.

“We could have struck a match and the whole building would have burned down — it was a dump,” said Mr. Landry, who married Ms. Girouard in 1971. “But then again, Tina and I had two entire floors for $500. Everything was very revved up. Tina just fed off of that. We all fed off of each other. We ate together and played together and some of us slept together.”

Ms. Girouard and other Chatham occupants were among the cross-pollinating members of 112 Greene Street, an improvisational art space in SoHo that the sculptor Jeffrey Lew and his wife, Rachel Wood, a dancer, opened in 1970, along with Mr. Saret and Mr. Matta-Clark.

The restaurant pioneered now-common dining innovations like seasonal ingredients, an open kitchen and an internationally eclectic menu. It served sushi before most New Yorkers knew what that was, advertised as “raw mackerel with wasabi sauce.”

Her New York years, however prolific, did not last long. Ms. Girouard returned to Louisiana in 1978 and there, with Mr. Landry, bought an old general store and moved it to the small town of Cecilia, about 15 miles northeast of Lafayette. After they divorced in 1991, Ms. Girouard worked for several years in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, making traditional sequined-and-beaded voodoo flags with Haitian artists.

In addition to her niece Ms. Bonwell, she is survived by her siblings Gloria Nell Girouard Bonwell, Barbara Cecile Girouard Martin, Norman Wade Girouard and Jacqueline Anne Girouard and a sister-in-law, Billie Johnson Girouard.

source: nytimes.com

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