I first became aware of Simone Gad running into her at art openings where she was often accompanied by Sheree Rose. I heard that Simone was a former child actor and outsider artist, but didn’t know her all that well. That all changed one day when Sean Meredith suggested we partner for an exhibition at Track 16.
I saw pages of her journals in which she painted animal portraits on top of vintage pinups. Her collages were obsessive and soulful. I was immediately hooked. But we needed a third artist.
I suggested Debra Broz who was working on mutant ceramic bunnies. The exhibition was called Stuck Together. It wasn’t so much that we were stuck with each other… rather Simone, Debra, and I bonded over time. We shared playful handcrafted responses to mass-produced objects and images charged with autobiographical fragments. Every piece had a story. When I asked Simone about one of her paintings, she told me about eating dim sum after a break up in the 70’s.
I admired her way of taking life’s rough moments and making beauty out of them. And she never stopped producing work, even when she was in and out of the hospital. In one of her last pieces, she combined photos from her colonoscopies with her pin ups. I could go on and on about Simone, but I’d rather you hear about her in her own words…
Early Life + Career
My family and I came from Belgium in 1951. They were Hollocaust survivors. My whole family were in the concentration camps and forced labor and in the ghettos and we settled in Boyle Heights and my mother got me into showbiz instantly when I was four years old.
So I became a Meglin Kiddie and grew up in Hollywood. Meglin Kiddie was a studio where Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney went to study acting, singing, piano, dance where I went, but I sucked at acrobatics and everything except for tap dancing and I loved acting and I was a so-so singer.
I’m starting off with this because I grew up in Hollywood and I quit acting many times, because I had a lot of difficulty as an ingenue and childhood teenage actress in that there was – there were molestations and really dark pedophilia stuff that I had to fight then.
I got involved in the art world as a young adult. I couldn’t afford to go to art school, but Wallace Berman and Al Hansen were my first mentors and and Al Hansen got me involved in the Fluxus movement in 1972 So.. I’ve been a fiber artist, a fabric artist and my father was a custom European tailor. The whole family were tailors and he was the first person who taught me how to draw. I learned how to draw a camel and a house when I was a little girl.
Video: Cesar Delgadillo, Photos: Simone Gad, Track 16, Sean Meredith, Marsian De Lellis, Debra Broz, Alex Griffin