36 Solar Lights – reflections on nature and civic society: Essential Workers, 2020. View of artist at MacMillan Wharf with Pilgrim Monument (background) lit red for essential workers. Photo: Mike Syers

Speaking My Business: A Conversation with Jay Critchley

Multidisciplinary artist/activist Jay Critchley, who is based in Provincetown, Massachusetts, uses humor and satire to touch on serious ecological, cultural, and political themes. He is the creator of the annual Provincetown Swim for Life & Paddler Flotilla, a fundraiser for AIDS, women’s health, and the community, and Provincetown Community Compact, though his activism also extends beyond the local, traversing the globe from Argentina and Colombia to England, Holland, Germany, and Japan. Over the course of a prolific career, Critchley has written plays, made films and videos, and done performances and collaborative projects—all in addition to creating physical sculptures and installations, many of them out of sand. But perhaps he is best known as the founder and CEO of Old Glory Condoms, TACKI, and a host of other subversive entities that redirect corporate power into a force for good, a strategy explained in his TEDx talk, “Portrait of the Artist as a Corporation.”

Elaine A. King: In 1975, you moved with your former wife to Provincetown. By 1977, you had realized that you were a gay man and an artist. What contributed to this life-changing awareness?
Jay Critchley: When I moved to Provincetown, I didn’t realize I was gay or even an artist. I was attracted to the landscape and general environment . . .

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