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This project was successfully funded on October 1, 2013

OBJECTS OF DESIRE: The Life and Art of Jerry Ross Barrish.

by Janis Plotkin


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Our Project:

Our story follows Jerry Ross Barrish hero’s journey where art is his salvation. Like an alchemist, Barrish fashions sculpture out of found recycled materials to communicate a story. His journey includes prevailing over his learning disability, dyslexia, a decade long career as an independent filmmaker and over 50 years as San Francisco’s best-known bail bondsman. “Don’t Perish in Jail - Call Barrish for Bail” was his anthem for the activist from the 1960’s.  Jerry developed the strategy to bail out hundreds of protesters for civil rights, free speech, and anti-Vietnam war efforts.

The film is directed by filmmaker, William Farley.William Farley’s features, documentaries and short films have won countless awards and have been broadcast and screened in hundreds of film festivals around the world, including Sundance, New York, Mannheim, Chicago, and Sydney Film Festivals. Farley’s two dramatic feature films: Of Men and Angels and Citizen, opened at the Sundance Film Festival. Included among Farley’s 20 films are the artist biographies:  Shadow & Light: The Life and Art of Elaine Badgley Arnoux, 2007, Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself, 2007 and Darryl Henriques Is In Show Business 2006.  Other notable productions include Broke (1994 & 2004) and The Old Spaghetti Factory (2000).

The Impact:

At 30 years old, Jerry Barrish was watching the CBS program, 60 Minutes, on a Sunday night when he realized his difficulty with reading and writing might actually be a syndrome called dyslexia. Up until that point his struggle had been undiagnosed. Current research from Yale University has revealed that dyslexia can also bring gifts: creativity, out of the box thinking, and empathy. While dyslexia was a hardship in Barrish’s life, ultimately it also contributed to his success as a businessman, filmmaker and his greatest accomplishment:  that of a sculptor.

As a fourth generation San Franciscan, respected businessman, and filmmaker, at 50 years old, Jerry Barrish forged a new direction in his creative life. One day, while walking on a beach near his house, he encountered plastic trash that had washed up. He gathered up the materials and fashioned them into a plastic Christmas tree and a film camera, My Bolex.  He found a new path.  

Using storage bins of discarded plastic as his palette, Barrish gives life to this humble material with imaginative figures of birds, horses, musicians, couples, and tableaux.  A modern day alchemist, Barrish begins his process with the choice of an object, perhaps a discarded medical container or a plastic baseball bat; soon the material is transformed like magic to figures that capture a moment with irony, empathy and wit.

Drawing upon his innate talent, Barrish has spent thousands of hours refining his process. Learning new techniques for sealing and securing the figures.  Much of the art is inspired by his social observations.  He may hear the music, but it is the musician that he observes. Through the years, Barrish has distinguished himself by creating art that tells a story.

Now twenty years later, with ten thousand hours of work behind him, Barrish is receiving the attention he deserves.  His work is seen in museums, galleries and he has an extensive list of collectors.  He recently was awarded a prestigious commission for public art installation in San Francisco

What We Need:

To achieve all of our production goals by the end of the year we must raise $10,000.  We think this is an achievable goal.  Any amount of money helps us through the editing, color correcting, sound and all the polish that makes a film engaging.  We are working with USA Projects as we share the same values of supporting the artist.  With this comes an upfront 5% service fee.  This means to you that 100% of what you donate will go to our film and an additional 5% supports the work of USA Artists.  USA Projects is a non-profit, all donations are tax deductible, other sites like Kickstarter are not.  Had we used Kickstarter the investors take the 5%.

The money raised will help to pay the costs for post-production.  The editing of the film is the most expensive aspect of a documentary film.


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