Jackie McAllister

Yesterday I went to the memorial for Jackie McAllister: Scotsman, artist, art historian and friend. I wanted to share what I read at the chapel for anyone who knew him and couldn’t join us in the celebration/remembrance of his life. Wrote this at dawn yesterday:

When I was little, my mom, who was born in Bellshill, a little town right outside of Glasgow, which is kinda like the Gary, Indiana of Scotland, used to sing me a song that went like this:

O ye canna shove yer Granny aff a bus,O ye canna shove yer Granny aff a bus,O ye canna shove yer Granny‘Cos she’s yer Mammy’s MammyO ye canna shove yer Granny aff a bus.

Ye can shove yer ither Granny aff a bus.Ye can shove yer ither Granny aff a bus.Ye can shove yer ither Granny‘Cos she’s yer Daddy’s MammyYe can shove yer ither Granny aff a bus.

There were other versus, but you get the idea. For decades, I thought my mother made this song up.

Jump ahead more than 30 years later. Jackie had invited me to an opening at Fisher Landau so I got gussied up, hopped on the train and made my way there. Turns out, I got there on the wrong day. Jackie, who was sitting behind the desk, found this extremely amusing and instead of telling me to come back the next day, gave me a tour of the place. Somewhere in the middle of conversation, we started talking about Scotland and out of the blue, he started singing the “Ye Canne Shove Yer Granny Off a Bus” song. I was in shock. I thought my mom wrote that song. “No!” I said and he told me most Scottish people knew the song. I’d just seen Warhols I didn’t know existed but THIS was the most shocking revelation that day.

Another revelation: Jackie was nice, a good person who was willing to entertain an elf-ear-wearing burnout when he probably had a lot of work to do. And that’s something that can be said about everyone who worked at American Fine Arts where I first met him. I was working for another gallery at the time, was probably 22 and went there to pick up a Mariko Mori bio I think. I was used to being ignored or treated like a freak at most galleries but Colin de Land who ran AFA embraced my weirdness and kept inviting me back because the whole crew there embraced weirdness: the freaks, the ignored…the individuals.

When I was a teenager, I used to wish I’d been around during the ’60s, either to be part of Warhol’s Factory, a musician or even a groupie…anything cooler than the present, but at 40 I can look back and say I’m grateful to have come of age in the ’90s if only to have met someone like Jackie. Trust me: No one at the Factory had a smile like Jackie’s and I’m guessing no one there knew the ‘granny song’ or would bother to sing it to you. Jackie was genuine, funny and kind. And at the end of the day, you can do a lot in whatever field you choose, be it art, physics, sports or anything, but to be genuine, funny and kind is a great accomplishment. And I’m sure anyone who knew Jackie would agree that he was all of these things.

I wanted to end with something Scottish. I looked through my book of Robert Burns’ poems and in the end decided not to butcher the Scottish accent so instead I plagiarized myself: I know the Lord or Lady or whoever is in charge giveth and taketh away, but the takething sucks especially for the living, all of who will miss Jackie tremendously.


6 Responses to “Jackie McAllister”

  1. praisethelorne Says:

    OK. I want you to deliver the eulogy at my funeral.

  2. sreichling@gmail.com Says:

    we are friends on fb cause i liked your surrealism day. i am very sorry to hear you were fired for being subordinate. which brings me to jackie, with whom i had the great pleasure to work in 1998/9 at the swiss institute. i worked there part time as a “library curator”, transforming their boring bookshelves in an information hub for everyone to hang out. i cocurared a big group show about art & fashion crossovers bassically by myself. and i was subordinate to the director of this place. now jackie always hold my back. he was incredibly funny and dittu, at the same time extremly knowledable and a very warm harted good spirit, who always cheered up a room. now i am shoked that he is gone. what happened to him?
    can you please tell me. that is very sad news.
    it seems like everybody linked to afa is going: colin, pat, daniel reich and now jackie. very sad.
    hope you heal well. there is a healthy ny plan where you can get oxford insurance for 300 usd a months. google it…..

  3. aofnceo Says:

    i think there is a curse on afa for real.. and i have been being follow it for years . for past i have been fighting for my life after being sucker punch by some very bizarre haunting. i might even feel Collins come back for revenge. i saw Jackie last time months before he died on Christmas. he was drunk as usually and i felt he and people drink to much i refused or did not drink that night.. he said to me well se u next year. And maybe i slightly worried.. i dont recall im usulay very sensitive to pick up if someones life is going to end.. and u can almost see it in way they vibe.. i just read art news from last summer and saw a 1969 to 2012 and was shocked. maybe he faked his own death for an art piece. like i felt with Colin. but nope.. very real.. and i afa people are dropping like flies. i said whose killing all the really good people in art world.. ???

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