Gratuitous Gifting news article: Planck Studios Chicago Prints and Photos

Gratuitous Gifting

I Got Gifted: The Guerrilla Art of L.E. Don

Posted Aug 16, 2008

How cool is this - following the reception at the South Loop Neighbors Photo Show, James R. Hugunin (professor of art history/theory/criticism at SAIC, managing editor of U-turn Art E-Zine & one of the 3 judges) gave me an envelope from L.E. Don - an artist, philanthropist and all around enemy of capitalism. In the envelope was $100 and a brief explanation. L.E. Don's calls his project Gratuitous Giving. It's part performance art and part humanitarianism. His goal is to teach others that there are alternatives to capitalism by sharing in the experience of a gift economy.

L.E. Don's Seal: a person opening an envelope with paper money sticking out of it


The guerrilla nature of Don's work is interesting to me. He's a graffiti artist, spreading emotional highs on people vs. paint on walls. His online gallery is filled with the seemingly random effects from such a wide scoping project. There are recipients in San Francisco, Chicago and China among other places.

Available at Don's website: a suitable-for-framing celebrity photo of the man himself


To it's effect, there is something entirely unique about each surprise gifting. It's fun to open presents and add to that the spectacle of strangers excitedly awaiting your reaction and photographing you - instant stardom. I was luckier than most in fact, every 50 giftings Don sends out $100 (vs. the normal $20) and calls it getting 'The Big One'.

So, that's me at the bottom of the page, getting 'The Big One', right under the gangster and the drugs.

Wooo hooo! Thanks L.E. and thanks Jim!