William B. Harris, enthusiast, evangelist, archivist, and the most intrepid of Downtown performance journalists, died July 27 of a massive coronary. He was 49.
For more than 25 years Harris wrote about theater, performance art, dance, and visual arts, for this paper and the Soho Weekly News as well as the The New York Timesand more-specialized publications, opening readers' eyes to artists who were changing the landscapes of their fields.
"He was an encyclopedic source of information about Downtown theater," a colleague recalls. "He dragged people to see things. If you could be important to the artist, and if he felt the artist was important, he made sure you were there." The last time I saw Harris, he had the dance editor of the Times' Arts & Leisure section in tow, at Ann Carlson's remarkable Night Light tour of Chelsea, which involved hours of pounding pavement in search of historical tableaux she'd re-created in the neighborhood. He wasn't pitching the editor; she'd already published his story.
The 2000-2001 season of performances at P.S. 122 will be dedicated to Harris's memory. Mark Russell will hold a memorial for him there in October; another memorial will be scheduled at Dance Theater Workshop. Watch our dance listings for full details.