Beautifully Harsh: Remembering Orlando artist Tony Garan | Art Stories + Interviews | Orlando

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Photo by Jim Leatherman

Tony Garon

I may not be the best person to write about artist Tony Garan; we weren’t particularly close. But Tony was one of Orlando’s friendliest freaks – a true entertainer, underground agitator, and gentle soul. And even though I hadn’t seen him for some time before his recent deathwe always seemed to be on the same page when we connected.

The first song I wrote for Orlando Weekly was an introduction to the musicians who represented the DIY-underground spirit of Orlando circa 1996. Of course, Tony was included via his ongoing experimental electronic project, Actual Wounds. I remember he invited me to his house to do an impromptu interview for the story. As we sat in his bedroom studio, we bonded over our shared love of synths, samplers, and industrial music.

Over the years, I’ve mostly stayed in touch with Tony through his social media updates. Whether showing his artwork around town, re-releasing Actual Wounds albums, or posting about his passion for skateboarding, he always seemed like a flurry of activity.

We finally reconnected in 2018 when I started recording my own music again; Tony sent me a “care package” including some of his most recent music and postcards – along with handwritten notes and flyers.

Life has always hindered getting to know Tony better. Yet I continued to deeply admire his determination to spread his art to the world no matter what – even when the effort expended exponentially outweighed any (rational) return on investment.

I still have the Actual Wounds tape that Tony originally gave me all those years ago, complete with handwritten notes and artwork. In the Weekly article, I noted that Tony’s music was “beautifully harsh, and at times, just plain beautiful”. And from what I’ve heard from others, that could easily describe Tony too.

He will certainly be missed.

Kimberly B. Nguyen