David Greenberger, “It Happened To Me” (2019), album/CD with original cover design by Ed Ruscha (image courtesy Grand Central Art Center)

In 1979, fresh out of art school, David Greenberger took a job as activities director at a Boston nursing home, a decision that would have a profound impact on his life and work. Inspired by the stories of the elderly inhabitants, he began publishing a zine called Duplex Planet, which featured interviews with the residents of senior centers around Massachusetts. Rather than collecting oral histories of the past, he writes that his “mission has been to offer a range of characters who are already old, so that we can get to know them as they are in the present, without celebrating or mourning who they were before.”

Over the years, the project developed and grew, spawning musical collaborations with such acts as XTC, Robyn Hitchcock, Louie Perez and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, and Los Angeles punk legend Dave Alvin. There’s also Duplex Planet Illustrated, a comic book adaptation featuring illustrations by Dan Clowes, Chris Ware, James Kochalka, and others.

For his recent residency at the Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, Goldberger spent time at local senior living apartments, community centers, and the Bowers Museum, collecting dozens of interviews with elderly Santa Anians. He pared these down into 60 separate monologues, which he recorded himself with musical accompaniment from Chattanooga-based ensemble Prime Lens. Issued as an LP and double CD with an original cover design by Ed Ruscha, “It Happened To Me” paints a diverse and moving portrait of some of Santa Ana’s oldest citizens. This Saturday, Greenberger and Prime Lens will present a live performance of selections from the album, bringing to life the words of an often overlooked segment of our communities.

When: Saturday, April 27, 6pm (doors, 5:30pm)
Where: Santa Ana High School (520 West Walnut St., Santa Ana, California)

More info at Grand Central Art Center.

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Matt Stromberg

Matt Stromberg is a freelance visual arts writer based in Los Angeles. In addition to Hyperallergic, he has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, CARLA, Apollo, ARTNews, and other publications.