Jeanette Montgomery Barron, the Atlanta-born daughter of Coke royalty, walked into some strange places when she was photographing Manhattan’s artists and scenesters in the 1980s. Perhaps the strangest was her assignment to shoot a portrait of writer William Burroughs, who 30 years earlier had drunkenly shot and killed his wife while playing William Tell at a party in Mexico City. “He was staying in the loft of a friend on Broadway above a bookstore,” said Barron, 56. “Somebody opened the door — it wasn’t Burroughs — and I looked to the side and there was a huge table full of shotguns. This kind of creeped me out.” It turned out that Burroughs had a valid and non-lethal reason for his weaponry. When he wasn’t writing, he liked to create “Shotgun Art” by aiming his shells at spray paint cans perched in front of canvases. The resulting spray produced a kind of Jackson Pollack-inspired action painting, but with slightly less control. Barron wishes she had known about that back then.


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