Jo Andres, an artist, choreographer, and filmmaker who was married for 31 years to actor Steve Buscemi, has died. A veteran of New York’s ’80s performance scene, Andres specialized in a field she identified as film/dance/light, layering images and movies over troupes of dancers to create ethereal spaces in a number of NYC venues (and beyond). (Descriptions of Andres’ installations from this period make vivid mention of cartoonish dancing skeletons, heavy metal, and buckets of bright fluorescent yellow paint doused on performers’ bodies.) A polymathic artist, Andres also focused much of her career on cyanotypes—noting in one interview that the photographic technique complemented her interest in “the beautiful and the macabre”— and in short film, including a half-hour piece, Black Kites, that played at a number of major festivals and aired on PBS in the United States.
Andres married Buscemi in 1987; the pair would eventually have a son, Lucian. Celebrity—even the restrained form of it that Andres and Buscemi seemed to easily master together—has a tendency to obscure; much of the pair’s relationship has only been glimpsed in snippets of interviews and talk show appearances (like an interview in which Buscemi un-self-consciously named her as his favorite artist, or a Seth Meyers moment when he noted that she found memes about him far funnier than he himself could). It would feel disingenuous to try to talk around Buscemi’s fame in this space; the two were married for three apparently happy decades, and their lives unarguably shaped and impacted each other throughout.
At the same time, though, the deeper you dive into Andres’ career, the easier it is for a portrait of a vivid, passionate artist—once dubbed a “quasi-cult figure” responsible for organizing massive creative binges in the New York arts scene—to emerge. Despite any other circumstances of her life, Andres never stopped creating, or exploring the themes (bodies, death, the creepy and the weird) that fascinated her, from the first moments of her career to the last.
She was 64.