Shannon Michael Cane, Who Transformed Art Book Fairs, Dies at 43

The painter Matt Connors, who became a close friend of Mr. Cane’s, described him as omnivorous in his desire to teach himself about the art and art book world.

“He was really — I don’t want to say pushy — but if he liked someone’s work he’d just go meet them and want to keep seeing them and figure out what they knew,” he said. “He’d turn fandom into friendship really quickly.”

That zealous sociability in turn led to professional relationships with many artists both well known — Mr. Connors, Wade Guyton, Sam Falls, Laura Owens — and little known, for whom he helped produce books and editions and inspired a general love of D.I.Y. publishing. “I started a press after meeting him, basically,” Mr. Connors said. “He gave me that nudge or that energy to go from a consumer to a maker.”

Mr. Cane was born on June 4, 1974, in Ferntree Gully, a small Melbourne suburb in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges, and grew up there. His older brother, Travis, said he was proud of where he was from, but “was a bit of lone wolf in his interests” — mostly music and music magazines — and was somewhat isolated as a young gay man. “We both worked as waiters once,’’ he said, “and he was actually a very good waiter and very funny. He was the one who said the things to the diners that all the rest of us were thinking.”

As a D.J. he founded a popular series of dance parties called the Witness Protection Program in Fitzroy, another Melbourne suburb, and also worked for Polyester Records, a Melbourne store, “where he probably stole most of the music he owned,” added his brother, who survives him along with his mother, Judy Cane; his father, Tony; and his sister, Briony Cane.

Besides his job as curator of fairs and editions for Printed Matter, Mr. Cane curated historical exhibitions for the store — focusing often on largely forgotten figures, like the New York mail-art artist John Dowd — and he also curated shows for the nonprofit organization Visual AIDS.

“The normal boring power structure of the art world was turned upside down at his book fairs and this we should all be grateful for,” Mr. Guyton said. “Hopefully, that spirit will continue in his absence.”

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