Announcing the second of two new major interconnected FLASH FUDD art pieces debuting in separate LA group shows this month. I know I said three before, but the third show got garbled.*
Flash Fudd: Black Box (2018) is a prototype for a non-linear collage graphic narrative publication, presented in wall-mounted configuration as a work in progress, compiling approximately 80 of the book's 128 33 X 7 inch pages, each composed of acrylic, mixed media and collage on paper -- the trimmings from Daniel Hawkins'Desert Lighthouse investment certificate etching, with a prototype "binding" in the form of a handcrafted wooden case by Erik Knutzen and finished with aerosol rubber paint. FF:BB is included in Defining Detritusan exhibition curated by China Adams, who asked collage artists to create ultra-regional work using paper detritus they find in their homes, studios, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods where they live.
Opening night reception Saturday Sept 8 from 6-9pm. Show runs through October 6 at Arena 1 Gallery, 3026 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90405 310-397-7456
Gallery hours: Wed-Sat 12-6pm
Participating artists: Sandy de Lissovoy, Renée Fox, Jane Handel, Jacci Den Hartog, Doug Harvey, Seonna Hong, Jason Ellenburg Jones, Bernard Leibov (Boxo), John Luckett, Lilah Lutes, Nuttaphol Ma, Constance Mallinson, Marisa Mandler, David McDonald, Angela Stage, Don Suggs, Young Y. Summers, Jake Townsend, Ozzy Trujillo, Joan Weinzettle, Ewa Wojciak, Joan Wulf, HK Zamani, and Alexis Zoto
*The first piece is a sculptural assemblage with soundtrack called Dark Fudd Oracle, included in Dialectic of Being & Becoming: Realization of Fullness at Highways Performance Space @ 18th St. Arts Center, 1651 18th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404 through October 21, 2018 Keep an eye peeled, I may find an alternate venue for the third piece, Fudd Full Circle.
is included in Dialectic of Being & Becoming: Realization of Fullness
Curated by Khang Bao Nguyen
Highways Performance Space @ 18th St. Arts Center, 1651 18th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404
OPENING RECEPTION: August 18, Saturday, 5:30 - 8:00 pm
PERFORMANCE by MANNLICHER CARCANO 6:00 - 6:30 This exhibition and performance event investigate two perspectives on the realization of fullness: 1) maintaining a temporal self in order to Become consummate in the future, and 2) deconstructing the perceived self so as to realize the fullness of Being in the primordial now.
I've recently got my slide scanner up and running (for a forthcoming Moldy Slide project) and have been doing some rough & ready archiving of my own and others' olde documentation.Here's Jeffrey Vallance's little-known 1988 series of gold frames around cut-away rectangles of wall, exposing the backrooms and interstitial spaces of the old LACE gallery this one's called "Elevator Shaft" and according to JV you could actually see the elevator moving up and down through the frame! I think I have a couple more of these in the mounds, so I'll add them if I come across them...
I figured since that documentary's all the rage (and my Post Office has sold out of his stamp TWICE) this was a good time to revive this Skipping Formalities column from 1998
So when I did a google search to see if I'd put it on my website yet, I found out it's been cited in two grown-up books about Mr. Rogers in the last couple of years. Cool! Can I have tenure now?
"As I was becoming a connoisseur of the subtleties of the goings-on in this filigreed anarchist utopia, I began paying more attention to the bracketing segments of each episode; the parts where Mr. Rogers actually appears, setting up the thematic pins for the puppets to knock down, then clearing them away afterwards. I noticed the non-linearity of his thoughts- “A dream of being with your mom on the beach can give you a warm feeling inside BUT a dream of a monster is just a thought in your head, and not real” A reassuringly logical sounding sentence, but with a strange subtext: you can choose your reality from what you can imagine. I found myself wishing I had been exposed to this kind of programming in my infancy: ‘You are special. There’s only one person in the world exactly like you. People can love you just the way you are.’ It surely beats the tape loops most of us inherit..."
from "Zen and the Art of Make-Believe: A Date with Mister Rogers" Art issues. 52
"I first heard about Temporary Services when—under the aegis of the Outpost for Contemporary Art—they occupied a vacant lot at the corner of Sunset and Alvarado in 2005, building a proto-selfie-museum from shopping carts, perfectly good headboards and other curbside scavengings; holding potlucks, DJ sets, urban foraging workshops, film-screenings, and giveaways of their zines. At that point their publishing output must have been around 60-something titles, and their most recent items left a big impression: Framing the Artists—an extensive, incisive and deadpan compendium of depictions of artists and art in movies and TV; Public Phenomena: Informal Modifications of Shared Spaces—the second in an ongoing series compiling documentation of homemade basketball hoops, parking space savers, roadside memorials and other vernacular art and engineering projects; and a poster iteration of what is possibly still their most famous anthropological study, Prisoners’ Inventions, a simultaneous celebration of human ingenuity and indictment of the prison-industrial complex. (All of these are out of print but available as free PDF downloads at temporaryservices.org).
Pre-show reception: Come have drinks and enjoy artworks from 7:00 - 8:00pm! Performances begin at 8:00pm! As part of our Bob Baker Marionette Theater 'Schoolhouse Rocks' Program, we are excited to announce that F will be performing their first live set of 2018 as "F for Un" at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in Echo Park Los Angeles on Saturday June 9th at 7 PM. The night will open with a performance by Bob Baker's Marionettes followed by F’s improvisational noise performance. This all ages event will feature marionettes, colorful projections, and special surprises. Also at the theater will be a one-night-only exhibition and reception featuring artworks by the members of F. If you've never been to the Bob Baker’s Marionette Theater to see the amazing things they do, this is an incredible chance to see this historical Los Angeles landmark! F is a Los Angeles art-rock supergroup whose motto is "Simplicity Through Noise" and who have developed a practice rooted in improvisational ensemble playing using electric guitars (played with rubber mallets and other extended as well as traditional techniques), percussion, and vintage synthesizers, in various combinations. F are Marnie Weber, Doug Harvey, Daniel Hawkins, and Kane Lafia.
**************************************************************** MARNIE WEBER’s multidisciplinary practice encompasses performance, film, video, sculpture, collage, music and costuming. Weber’s early years were grounded in performance art, before moving into filmmaking and later large-scale installations, all the while continuing a practice of collage, creating limited edition records as an art form, and performing and recording music. www.marnieweber.com DOUG HARVEY is an artist, writer and critic, independent curator, experimental musician, and educator who lives and works in Los Angeles. His activities may be monitored online at www.dougharvey.blogspot.com and www.dougharvey.la. DANIEL HAWKINS is a Los Angeles based multi-media artist and experimental musician. Most recently he has built a full-size functioning lighthouse in the Mojave Desert. For more information visit www.danielhawkins.info and www.desertlighthouse.org KANE LAFIA is a musician, multidisciplinary artist, mobile venue operator, and an occasional organizer of happenings based in Los Angeles. He is taking a break from internet presence right now. ***************************************************************
Since 1963, the Bob Baker Marionette Theater has been part of the Angelino Community; since then, imagination and fantasy continue to thrive in Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmark #958. With over 200 performances a year, utilizing over 2000 handcrafted puppets, the organization caters to birthday parties, school groups, weddings, and community functions of all sorts. Today, their mission is to provide unique theatrical experiences; to educate, celebrate and rejuvenate puppetry and the allied arts.
**************************************************************** Pre-show reception: Come have drinks and enjoy artworks from 7:00 - 8:00pm! Performances begin at 8:00pm! See you there, with puppets and paintbrushes in our hearts!
See you there, with puppets and paintbrushes in our hearts!
The Photographic Arts Council Los Angeles presents
"Doug Harvey - Return of the Moldy Slides"
Tuesday May 15, 8 PM - 10 PM
Los Angeles Valley College, Art 103
5800 Fulton Ave, Valley Glen, Los Angeles 91401
After a five-year hiatus, Doug Harvey returns to his archive of found moldy slides to curate his first new presentation since Rhizomatic Transmissions, which screened at The Museum of Jurassic Technology, Hammer Museum, UCLA, Echo Park Film Center, and various other Los Angeles and West Coast venues.
Compiled from a collection of several thousand 35 mm photographic transparencies found in the detritus excavated from a local hoarder's house during an apparent intervention, the slides had been subjected to flooding and grown various types and degrees of fungal layers, altering the pictorial content of the emulsion -- sometimes slightly, sometimes transforming the image into a total abstraction.
Harvey describes the resulting (washed and stabilized) artifacts as " a stochastically linked collaboration between the original vacation photographer, crazy hoarder dude, the mold, and me – plus the found and improvised soundtrack elements, and finally the audience.”
Los Angeles critic Shana Nys Dambrot describes the found moldy slides as "flat-out gorgeous... and just as fascinating on a conceptual/semantic level, introducing issues of authorship, truth, transcendence, intention, control, chaos, narrative, meaning, and analog physicality into a larger conversation about photography in the digital era."
Return of the Moldy Slides will consist of a new selection of the actual original slides using vintage Kodak carousel projectors, and will be accompanied by a live performance of improvised music by The Friendliness Happening.
There were a pair of them, with a gimpy solo Canada Goose! We had never seen one before, so I looked them up - the wikipedia article (and several other online sources) say they've been seen in Florida, but are not known to breeed in the US, but anecdotal reports show goslings in Orange County!
Tweakers tried to break in and steal the Desert Lighthouse's precious inner workings, so I joined Daniel Hawkins as muscle/documentarian. I can't say what exactly went down, but decapitation in work, man! Thankfully the desert is full of holes.
With what I assume to be unintentionally ironic timing, given the presence of the College Art Association's annual conference in L.A. at this very moment (and the "BLACK MATTERS at West" exhibit currently on view in the FA gallery), West LA College has decided that it's time to perform a "viability study" on its once-stellar Fine Art program -- which could result in the elimination of studio art classes for the school's student population -- which consists primarily of economically disadvantaged African-Americans and Latinos.
The remaining FA faculty have been invited to present data on the viability of art education in general, specific to the creative economy of Southern California, and specific to community colleges and their clientele. Any links to relevant research would be greatly appreciated. Comments below, or dghrvy at gmail.
An Advanced Painting reference material assignment from MA Peers' UCLA class completed by Jimmy Chertkow, then subjected to several years of dampness and mold. Notice how Time no longer applies. UPDATE: The actual assignment was to curate a show based on your work.
Just want to make note of this before I forget - so last Monday, during the first class of my Intro Art History Survey class, I was explaining how Art History is mostly made up, and often within a generation or two the speculative interpretations of respected experts become ridiculous embarrassments, and I gave the first example that came to mind -- Athanasius Kircher's wildly inaccurate attempt at translating Egyptian hieroglyphs.
All well and good, moving right along, but when I attempted to get online during the break to access my roster and give out some secret codes for students who wanted to add the class, West's server was having one of its too-regular cognitive collapses, and refused to let me surf. So I was looking for options, and my wifi detector gave me the following options: wlacstudent; wlacfaculty, wlac_us (the art computer lab, which saved my ass); and... athanasiuskircher.
I was a little spooked by this, a little paranoid, a little everything, and I actually asked the class towards the end - "Um... do any of you have a device named Athanasius Kircher?" They all laughed, but no one fessed up. I remain mystified. The end.
I am tickled that the 2 pieces of ephemera that show up (so far) are the invite to the Supernatural show in which I was flattered to be included, and Lee Lynch's punk map for "Perform Chinatown: CHAOS RAINS" (aka REIGNS), above.
So this is the missing link in the OX sequence -- Outsider XMAS 3: HIPMAS Vol 1, consisting of artists whose outsider status is earned not from developmental differences, a weakness for novelty, or alienated immersion in specialized branches of Christianity that embrace ventriloquism, but from just being too effin' cool.
Weirdly, this was the hardest volume to curate. Ten years in the making, and only 3 songs from the original lineup made the final cut. That percentage may increase with the second volume -- necessitated by the fact that I just couldn't whittle down the repertoire very easily. I let Can's Little Star of Bethlehem and Cale's Child's Christmas in Wales go because I couldn't tell what the hell they were going on about, or if it had anything to do with the birth of our Redeemer.
But there's so much quality material from junkies, perverts, communists, tax collectors, and intellectuals that it needs to be capped at two before it takes on a life of its own. But whatevs. Just dig it. Tracklist in comments.
It's been a couple of years since I shared these Outsider Xmas mixes, but they're still available! It's 3 CD-length anthologies of Holiday-themed outsider music (songpoems, celebrities, novelty, developmentally different, amateur, etc). No promises, but if I get a few minutes, the long anticipated Vol. 3 (Hipmas) may be forthcoming...
"You may order your pastels from Alaska,
Imported, as the Igloo, in review"
- Evelyn Christmas (songpoem, Vol 2 track 4)
Just ran across Michael Holingshead's autobiography online, and located this great account of trying to mount a musical about trepanation in the prison chapel after he was busted...
"One of the highlights of my stay at Leyhill was the production of a physio-psychedelic musical called Paradise Lost — The True Story, which had been sent to me by Joey Mellen, friend and former associate from Pont Street, who had decided that the best way to stay permanently 'high' was by trepanning a hole in his head the size of the old sixpenny piece. The play was a strange mixture of Milton and Mellen, with lyrics in praise of trepanation or 'getting the hole'. I reproduce one of the songs below, called 'The Great Brain Robbery':
THE GREAT BRAIN ROBBERY
By Joe Mellen
Up stood the ape—down came the drag—
The beginning of the blues—
Can't talk your way out of it adult
Daddy there's a drag on you.
Oh adult the mistakes you make
You ignorant little man
Adult oh the liberties you take
You mistaken little man.
Between your meals you make your deals
And send your sons to war
Talk all you want but don't you know
We've heard it all before.
Adult will you never see
All you want is to agree—
The lies you tell to save your face
Constitute your grave disgrace.
You're losing and you think you're gaining
It's just your ego needs maintaining
Adult d'you know what is true ?
The drag is bearing down on you.
What you're trying to regain
Is blood belonging to your brain
Will you know before you're dead
That paradise is in your head ?
You was robbed—so you made belief—
It's gravity—we've caught the thief
All you prayers won't save your soul
Adult you need a hole.
Another song, called 'Brainbloodvolume', has been set to music by Julie Felix in her furthest-out number yet.
It was lost and now it's found again
Don't drive it underground again
They call it love and heaven above
Some take it for the hell of it
It's you it's me it's good
It's what the poets have written for
Painters have painted for
Priests have prayed for
Prisons have filled for
Soldiers have killed for
It's what the pipes have been smoked for
Witches have been cloaked for
Headstands have been done for
The whole thing was begun for
It's what the world was made for
The price must be paid for—
It was necessary to approach the Governor to obtain permission to stage it in the prison theatre, perhaps even before an invited audience of students from Bath and Bristol universities. I decided to plug the Milton section at the expense of the rest, feeling that the Governor would be more sympathetic to it than the modern additions.
The Governor was most attentive during my outline of the play, and wrote a memo to the Prison Chaplain that he should consider staging it one Sunday in the Church.
Accordingly, I met with the Chaplain, a nice, easygoing man with a strong sense of Christian vocation, who had been at Leyhill for four years and had a good understanding of prisoner psychology. I introduced the matter by suggesting that there is a mystery in the story of Paradise Lost that lies at the heart of all our lives. And this is older than that of Oedipus. In the play there are overtones of the great four stories of the world's various religions, and specifically of the Hebrew-Christian tradition. Guilt and Sin are pretty powerful themes of the Christian Church, and any attempt to understand their place in the world and their relevance to contemporary man was, I assured him, a matter of concern to today's criminal. One begins by depicting man as some kind of "hairless talking ape" who is unable to benefit from the possibilities of his own existence, who then has a revelation, in this instance, through piercing a small hole through his skull to increase the volume of blood to the brain.
The Chaplain looked puzzled. 'But what has Paradise Lost got to do with making holes in your head ?' he asked.
'Well, the theory is that by increasing the amount of blood to the brain the surface of the capillaries—millions of them—increases, which in turn release glucose from the blood into the brain cells. This is the physiological secret of "getting high". So the "hairless talking ape" who does not know that his "fall" (loss of brainbloodvolume) has a purely physiological cause. Thus he lives out his simple life or death without ever realising his golden future, truly the parable of fallen man.'
'It sounds all rather godless to me.'
'Well, the modern writer uses myths and metaphors in order to get his message across. And in the case of this play, he has found modern counterparts to the story of the Fall in poetry, science, and music to express an awareness that we all have, however obscurely, that there are vast capacities in man which he continually fails to realise. The message of the play is simple. If things are not right inside yourself, then change them. The evolutionary leap in being from monkey to man produced a new kind of animal, a creative animal, an animal with imagination, who could devise ways to regain the lost paradise of lost brainbloodvolume.'
'But why trepanation ?' the Chaplain persisted.
'Because trepanation offers a solution on a manageable scale.'
'A solution to what ?'
'A solution to the problem of staying "high".'
'But what has staying "high" got to do with putting on a musical play in my Church?'
'The Governor and I thought that because of the religious themes you might… '
'But I find the whole thing utterly "godless", and I could never allow such a production to be shown. And now that you have explained it to me, I doubt whether I could allow it to be performed in the theatre. Prisoners are very suggestible you know, and we could not risk wholesale trepanations. It is just what the Daily Express are looking for. I really think, Hollingshead, that you ought to concentrate instead on more practical plans for your own future than try to launch a social movement based on people putting holes in their heads. Have you ever considered the profession of the church ?'
'I'm sorry you don't like the play. I thought you would. What we are seeing today is merely the visible aspect of a universal neurosis, and the Fall myths, in whatever language, illustrate humanity's unconscious awareness of human suffering, which is the failure of humanity which Paradise Lost symbolises. God is simply a creative power which is part of human life in the Garden. A voice within man tells him that he can and should regain the lost brainblood of childhood—should exercise some degree of control over his own consciousness, in other words, which is the message of the new developing religions in the West. The problem facing the established Church is that if man lived up to his full creative capacities, there would be no religion.'
We decided to go ahead anyway, and started rehearsals. Hugh Landsdowne, a poet and magician, who had been imprisoned for growing half an acre of marijuana at his farm in Essex, linked in the I Ching; and together we made a huge stroboscopic mandala with an electric motor we pinched from one of the machines in the tailor's shop. The play was never performed in either the church or the theatre, due to the misunderstanding as to what the play was actually about; but it was seen by most of the inmates at some point in its actual unfolding; and helped keep our minds off more dangerous matters."
F's only gig of 2017 was a great success, and the debut of percussionist Kane Lafia went without a hitch. We played a 35 minute improvised set ranging from a wall-o-noise to delicate ambient soundscapes, while a specially-crafted artisanal psychedelic lightshow was projected over us, and a live video stream of the performance went out online and was rear projected onto the Odd Ark Gallery's frosted window, allowing the considerable crowd that couldn't squeeze into the actual space to follow along. The cassette didn't quite sell out, so text Machete if you're jonesing! Here is a gallery of images from the event, with video to follow, hopefully...
Here are a couple of shots of the neighborhood we're supposed to move to in 3 weeks, after 20 years in the Wilson house on Benton Way -- just inside the evacuation zone of the Creek Fire, one of four major conflagrations currently devastating LA. It's a horse community just south of the 210 freeway, called Shadow Hills, and it recently escaped from the La Tuna Fire from the other side.
This is from the Sepulveda Fire to the south - the biggest -- the Thomas Fire -- is wiping out Ventura and Ojai - here's a shot from a video from some one's morning commute on the 405.
And returning to the Creek Fire, I'm not sure this FB friend was paying attention to the details of the algorithm-generated map that accompanied his good news...
(Just found the Exploratorium posted the pdf catalog (including my essay) for Tim's 2015 installation online...)
"What the heck is a bosun’s whistle? OK, something’s coming back—a deep childhood memory of strongly desiring and eventually obtaining a Cap’n Crunch plastic two-note whistle from the bottom of a cereal box. I was an experimental musician even then, and explored the humble instrument’s potentials extensively around the family home for several weeks, before it mysteriously vanished. I was inconsolable. But I got over it and moved on to the family turntable, which is a whole other story.
When Tim Hawkinson decided to use a bosun’s whistle as the model for his ambitious kinetic sound-sculptural installation at the Exploratorium, he was tapping into a curious nexus of pop cultural and historical reference—an auditory trope that most of us would recognize, but whose original meaning and function are probably lost in the fog of technological obsolescence.
Familiar through countless mass-media depictions of nautical life (and, as I recently noticed, extraterrestrial escapades in the form of the Starship Enterprise’s electronic PA system on the original Star Trek series), the harsh, teakettle tones of the non-diaphragm type whistle have a loose semiotic charge—navy-something—but very few parsable details.
In fact, although it is now limited to ceremonial use—an idiosyncratic vestigial indicator of a “traditional” identity which has been completely subsumed by a homogenized global military culture centered on computers—the bosun’s pipe (aka whistle, call, or pippity-dippity) represents a functional language devoid of words; resembling whistlelanguages found in indigenous cultures around the world and probably inspired and based on some ancient maritime culture—the Greeks supposedly used pipes to time the oar-strokes of their galley slaves.
While a traditional whistled language such as Silbo Gomero—used by inhabitants of the Canary Islands to communicate across their jagged terrain—bears a direct, if convoluted relationship to the regular spoken language of its host region, the same cannot be said with any certainty about the language of the bosun’s call. Instead, seamen have, over the course of time, reverse engineered the whistles with phoneme substitutes of their own devising, nonsense phrases or ironic vernacular translations, such as “The officers’ wives eat pudding and pies, the sailors’ wives eat skilly” for the officers’ call to mess (dinner).
There’s something about this inversion and simulation of an organic communication system—and the improvisational, collaged translation that unfolds from it—that seems very reminiscent of Tim Hawkinson’s creative process. On an immediate level, the bosun’s whistle dovetails with a number of recurring themes in Hawkinson’s oeuvre..."
F will be performing as "F for Fortissimo" at ODD ARK Los Angeles 7101 North Figueroa Unit E, in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, 90042 on Saturday, December 9th from 4 - 6 PM, with psychedelic lightshow.
Admission is FREE!
This performance celebrates the release of their limited edition cassette F for FF on Redacted Records. Each cassette is numbered, hand stamped and sealed with red wax, and the edition is strictly limited to 52 copies. Also available at the event will be a few remaining 12” LPs of their debut album Faüxmish, as well as screen-printed t-shirts.
F is a Los Angeles art-rock supergroup whose motto is "Simplicity Through Noise" and who have developed a practice rooted in improvisational ensemble playing using electric guitars (played with rubber mallets and other extended as well as traditional techniques) and vintage synthesizers, in various combinations of three. F are Daniel Hawkins, Marnie Weber, and Doug Harvey, and this event marks the debut of new member Kane Lafia on percussions.
My piece about Jim Shaw & Mike Kelley's formative years in Michigan is up now on Artsy...
“Michigan Stories” explores the formative Midwestern years before the duo migrated west. Kelley’s working-class Catholic upbringing in the Detroit suburb of Westland provided fodder for much of his later work, including the posthumously realized Mobile Homestead, a replica of his childhood home, now permanently installed as a public cultural center in downtown Detroit. Shaw grew up with three older sisters in the more northerly Dow Chemical factory town of Midland.
After the social disintegration following the 1967 Detroit riots, Michigan’s underground culture experienced a foreshadowing of the gritty and desperate urban energy that would soon emerge as punk, complete with a voracious appetite for lower-class vernacular visual culture. But it wasn’t enough: “Leaving Michigan was something you just did,” recalls Shaw. “Why would you stay? There were no jobs, there was no art world.”
Prior to that momentous journey, though, Shaw and Kelley—along with filmmaker Cary Loren and singer/artist Lynn Rovner (a.k.a. Niagara)— formed the proto-punk experimental noise band Destroy All Monsters (DAM), which recorded hours of effects-laden bleats, squawks, and tape loops and published a series of art-damaged zines. At the same time, the DAM collective—most of whom were attending art school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor—were producing comparatively traditional paintings, drawings, collages, and sculptures.
“Mike disowned a lot of his early work,” Shaw remembers. “But I’m sure some will come out of the woodwork, because he left a lot of it in the back yard. We just left shit in our Ann Arbor house when we moved to Los Angeles. All these oil paintings and ceramics. Mike only took works on paper. Literally, the back yard was knee deep in stuff.”
Marriott International, Inc has an opening for a Funcionario de prevención de pérdidas in their Los Angeles location. We thought you might be interested in this opportunity. To explore this further you'll find more details and the application instructions on the job details page below.
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"Three hundred years ago, on June 24, 1717, four autonomous lodges of the philosophical/political underground that had inexplicably sprung up within the structure of the medieval architectural stone masons guilds met at the Goose and Gridiron Alehouse in the churchyard of London’s St. Paul's Cathedral, merged into what was to become the Grand Lodge of England, effectively launching the movement of modern Freemasonry. Antics ensued.
While even a cursory history of the Freemason phenomenon and its impact on the culture and politics of modern western civilization is beyond the scope of this essay, it’s important to cover at least some of the high points in order to convey exactly why the installation of Jim Shaw’s The Wig Museum in the repurposed Wilshire Boulevard Scottish Rite Cathedral constitutes one of the most appropriate and fruitful site-specific art installations of all time.
Since the 1970s, Shaw has been producing work that simultaneously explores the structure of various belief systems and the forms in which they manifest themselves, with a particular emphasis on the legion of vernacular twentieth-century media fallout—fliers, booklets, posters, album covers, knick-knacks, videos, and so on—which insinuate their ideological memes into the collective libidinal appetite. In this exhibition alone, he cites Abstract Expressionist collage cartoonist Ad Reinhardt, technology entrepreneur Steve Jobs, nineteenth-century French painters Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Théodore Gericault, Eugène Delacroix, visionary English book artist William Blake, political cartoonist Thomas Nash, modernist prankster Marcel Duchamp, Dutch proto-surrealist Hieronymus Bosch, beliked actress Sally Fields, Superman comic artist Wayne Boring, animator Walter Lantz, and science fiction author H. G. Wells. Among others.
One of the most radical aspects of Shaw’s work is that he treats the belief systems and symbolic forms—the ideology and iconography—of capital-A Art with the same political and aesthetic equanimity and skepticism as he would, say, Scientology or the International Monetary Fund, although his scrutiny has most often been drawn to the elaborate cosmologies of fringe religious movements and secret societies like the Masons. Everybody knows that the intrigues of The Art World have more in common with Masonic convolutions than it likes to admit—constantly negotiating accusations of paranoia, defensiveness, and elitism, for example. Plus No Chicks Allowed!
Shaw’s oeuvre can be understood as a ferocious parody that vivisects the conventions of Western civilization’s moral and intellectual traditions in a language that mimics the convoluted and deliberately incoherent institutional mystification by which our imaginations are continually conquered and colonized. But these same strategies of semiotic hypersaturation can be seen in any number of esoteric spiritual and philosophical traditions whose stated purpose is to dislodge the initiate from their habitual understanding of the nature of reality in favor of a direct, unmediated experience—a denial-of-service attack on The Matrix.
The Wilshire Scottish Rite Masonic Temple was built in 1961 by Millard Sheets —as patriarchal figure in the history of Los Angeles art as can be imagined. Sheets, a regionalist figurative painter, headed the art department at Scripps College as well as Otis Art Institute, oversaw the Los Angeles County Fair’s then-prestigious annual art exhibit, and was in charge of which artists were hired to do murals for the Works Project Administration during the Depression. After the war, he entered the public sphere even more emphatically, setting up an architectural design firm that created idiosyncratic, modernist figurative mosaics for buildings from Washington D.C. to Honolulu, as well as the forty-two Home Savings and Loan Association Buildings for which he’s best remembered.
Oddly, Sheets was never a Mason, and when Judge Ellsworth Meyer approached him with the commission he asked for an explanation for undertaking such an extravagant project. As Sheets later recalled, they “had some very good thoughts about the new relationship of Masonry to society and why they felt this was an important time to build the temple and why they wanted to truly represent the spirit of Masonry.”
Whatever those “very good thoughts” were, they didn’t quite pan out, as membership in the Lodge—as in fraternal organizations nationwide—rapidly declined over the next several decades. By the early 1990s, the Wilshire temple was being rented out for commercial interests (in violation of its zoning parameters) and, amidst local complaints about parking difficulties and darker allegations, the 110,000-square-foot edifice was shuttered and cordoned off, becoming a notorious real-estate white elephant until the Marcianos came to its rescue..."
Read the rest of Puzzling Evidence: Jim Shaw VS The Illuminati in "Jim Shaw THE WIG MUSEUM" Marciano Art Foundation Project Series Issue no. 1, ISBN 978-0-9992215-0-1