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The Weekly Blague



One of the more whimsical creations of my friend Sonja Wagner, an artist who died March 3, 2023, at age 85, was her Ruby Leggs series, drawn over a 40-year span. I describe Ruby in The Village Voice as "a pair of bright crimson lips mounted on a long pair of legs in high heels, gallivanting about New York" and elsewhere. (She might also be described as the personification of vagina dentata.) Sonja had always wanted to publish her Ruby series as a book, but the project never came to pass.


After Sonja's death, two of her friends, Wendy Deutelbaum and Dee Morris, with help from Alexander Kalman, assembled what they call A Box for Sonja. The box contains 30 of her Ruby Leggs drawings along with preliminary studies for each one, and my piece, "The Life of Sonja," that ran in the Voice. They made only 16 boxes and gave them to Sonja's friends. It was an honor to see my story included.


Danger or Desire, the cover image from A Box for Sonja, shows Ruby walking at night in Central Park. The other image, Later That Night, is Ruby and her cat on July 13, 1977, the day of the New York City blackout, which occurred soon after Sonja had moved into the Midtown loft that she would transform into a Xanadu-like hub of social activity.


A Box for Sonja is a beautiful tribute to an artist who was underappreciated in her time. Perhaps more boxes will be made available—because Ruby Leggs is one of many Sonja creations that deserve to reach a wider audience.


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