In February 2015, curator Brett Yasko asked 252 Pittsburgh artists to each make a portrait of the same person: John Riegert. What followed was a journey through studios, coffee shops, parks, museums, riverbanks, universities, cemeteries, artists’ homes, and John’s own home. It all culminated with the exhibition John Riegert where, among the portraits, John acted as docent—telling stories of each artist and their work, as well as stories of his own. The process, artist encounters, and exhibition are all documented on the John Riegert Tumblr.

My contribution to the exhibition was a “Dear John” letter, inspired by a conversation I had with John in his Millvale apartment on October 28, 2015. Before that night, we had never met. And while we had a tentative plan going in to our talk, things quickly went astray. My letter revisits the ups and downs of our conversation—partly a record of that moment we shared and partly a confessional. Included below is a high-resolution version:


Matthew Newton, Dear John, 2016. Click to enlarge.

Photograph by Tom Little.

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