Rat Bastard Protective Association Curated by Dr. Anastasia Aukeman Wallace Berman, Bob Branaman, Joan Brown, Jerry Burchard, Bruce Conner, Jean Conner, Jay DeFeo, George Herms, Wally Hedrick and Michael McClure 27 April 2017 â€“ 3 June 2017
Susan Inglett Gallery, NYC
Susan Inglett Gallery is pleased to present Rat Bastard Protective Association, a group exhibition organized by Dr. Anastasia Aukeman, author of Welcome to Painterland: Bruce Conner and the Rat Bastard Protective Association (University of California Press, 2016). Through gallery ephemera and more than 40 works by 10 artists, the exhibition documents the activities and artistic production of the Rat Bastard Protective Association (RBPA), an inflammatory, close-knit community of artists and poets who lived and worked together in a building they dubbed “Painterland" in the Fillmore neighborhood of mid-century San Francisco. The idiosyncratic group included Wallace Berman, Bob Branaman, Joan Brown, Bruce Conner, Jean Conner, Jay DeFeo, George Herms, Wally Hedrick, and Michael McClure, among other, less constant members. Eager to consolidate his inclusion in the artistic community in and around 2322 Fillmore Street, or “Painterland,” when he arrived in San Francisco in September 1957, Bruce Conner placed himself firmly at the center of the cohort by forming the Rat Bastard Protective Association and naming himself its president. Conner derived the name by combining the name of a San Francisco trash collection company, the Scavengers Protective Association, with a slur picked up at the gym. The art practices of these Northern California artists in the late 1950s and early 1960s animated broader social and artistic discussions throughout the United States and carved out an important place for West Coast activities for decades to come. The Rat Bastard Protective Association exhibition at Susan Inglett Gallery will be the second since 1958, when the group led a parade to the opening of their exhibition at the Spatsa Gallery on Filbert Street in San Francisco. (The first, also curated by Aukeman, was mounted at the Landing in Los Angeles in Fall 2016.) We are grateful for the cooperation of the estates and institutions lending works to the exhibition, including The Conner Family Trust, The Jay DeFeo Foundation, the Estate of Wally Hedrick, and the Stockwell Collection. Dr. Anastasia Aukeman is an art historian, curator, and professor at Parsons School of Design in New York City.
Robert Branaman 6 Nudes + Psychedelic Head, c. 1964 Oil on board 30 x 24 in.
Jay DeFeo Untitled (Berkeley), 1953 Tempera and acrylic on paper 28 1/4 x 22 in. Sheet 36 x 30 in. Frame
Jay DeFeo Untitled (Florence), 1952 Tempera on paper 22 x 28 1/8 in. Sheet 30 x 36 in. Frame
Joan Brown Things in Vat, 1959 Oil on canvas 72 x 72 in.
Installation View, 2017 Susan Inglett Gallery, NYC.
Jerry Burchard Joan Brown Dancing to the Studio 13 Jass Band c. 1958-1960/2008 Archival digital print 16 x 15 3/4 in.
Jerry Burchard The Studio 13 Jass Band c. 1958-1960/2008 Archival digital print 16 x 15 3/4 in.
Jerry Burchard Bruce Conner c. 1958-1960/2008 Archival digital print 16 x 15 3/4 in.
Jerry Burchard Jay DeFeo in Hat with Parasol at 2322 Fillmore St c. 1958-1960/2008 Archival digital print 16 x 15 3/4 in.
Jerry Burchard Carlos Villa c. 1958-1960/2008 Archival digital print 16 x 15 3/4 in.
Jerry Burchard Jay DeFeo with â€œThe Jewelâ€? and Ladder c. 1958-1960/2008 Archival digital print 16 x 15 3/4 in.
Jerry Burchard Wally Hedrick, with “His Master’s Voice” c. 1958-1960/2008 Archival digital print 16 x 15 3/4 in.
Jerry Burchard Self Portrait c. 1958-1960/2008 Archival digital print 16 x 15 3/4 in.
Bruce Conner THE EGG, 1959 Mixed media assemblage, including fabric, buttons, plastic doll, convex glass with brass frame 24 1/2 x 16 1/2 x 2 in.
Bruce Conner FLOATING HEAD, 1958-59 Mixed media and epoxy on board 17 x 17 in. 26 x 26 x 4 3/4 in. Frame
Bruce Conner UNTITLED (DO NOT REMOVE), 1960 Plastic pouch, ribbon with tape, embossed paper, postage stamps [verso and recto], feathers, shells and mylar 22 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 1/2 in. Portfolio with robbon 26 1/2 x 14 1/2 x 2 in. Frame
Bruce Conner MARY, MOTHER OF GOD, 1960 Charcoal on paper 32 1/2 x 26 in. Sheet 36 x 37 in. Frame
George Herms Untitled, 1962 Assemblage 11 x 9 1/2 x 11 1/2 in.
George Herms Lockbox, c. 1959 Assemblage 9 1/2 x 5 1/2 x 2 in.
Jean Conner (ARE YOU A SPRINGMAID), 1960 Paper collage 10 1/8 x 8 in. Sheet 16 x 13 1/2 in. Frame
Jean Conner (ARE YOU A SPRINGMAID), 1960 Paper collage 11 7/8 x 9 3/4 in. Sheet 16 x 13 1/2 in. Frame
Jean Conner Two Way Collage, 1960 Paper collage 21 x 14 in. Sheet 24 x 16 in. Frame
Installation View, 2017 Susan Inglett Gallery, NYC.
Wallace Berman Collaged mailer, 1962 Collage on cardstock 5 x 2 in. Sheet 13 x 9 1/2 in. Frame Wallace Berman Collaged mailer, c. 1960 Collage on cardboard 3 x 8 in. Sheet 9 1/2 x 14 in. Frame Wallace Berman Postcard, 1958 Postcard 3 x 5 in.
Wallace Berman Collaged mailer, 1966 Collage on paper 8 x 13 in. Sheet 10 1/2 x 16 1/2 in. Frame
Wallace Berman Collaged mailer, c. 1960 Collage on paper 4 x 6 in. Sheet 6 x 8 in. Frame
Dean Stockwell Portrait of Wallace and Shirley Berman, c. 1957-1960 Cropped contact sheet print 3 1/2 x 4 1/2 in.
Dean Stockwell Portrait of Wallace Berman, c. 1957-1960 Print 3 1/2 x 4 in.
Dean Stockwell Altered photo from Semina 8, c. 1963 Print 5 x 3 in. Wallace Berman Altered photo from Semina 8, c. 1962 Torn Print 4 x 3 in. Wallace Berman Portrait of Shirley Berman, c. 1957-1960 Cropped contact sheet 2 x 1 1/2 in.
Wallace Berman Altered photo and poem from Semina 7, c. 1961 Print 8 1/2 x 4 in. Wallace Berman Collaged mailer, c. 1960 Collage on cardstock 6 x 3 in. Sheet 10 1/2 x 7 3/4 in. Frame
Wallace Berman George Herms Exhibition Poster, 1961 Offset lithograph 19 x 14 in.
Wally Hedrick Love Feel, 1957 Oil on canvas 59 in. diameter
George Herms The Scribe, c. 1957 Mixed media on canvas, stretched over window screen 44 1/2 x 36 1/2 in.
George Herms Untitled, 1959 Assemblage 24 x 11 x 5 1/2 in.
Installation View, 2017 Susan Inglett Gallery, NYC.
Wally Hedrick Hurry Up Itâ€™s Time, 1960 Oil on canvas 118 x 25 in.
WALLACE BERMAN (1926–1976) was born in Staten Island, New York, and moved to Los Angeles as a child. He married Shirley Morand in December 1952 and they moved to 10426 Crater Lane in the Beverly Glen neighborhood of LA. Their home quickly became a meeting place for their friends, including actors Dennis Hopper, Russell Tamblyn, and Dean Stockwell; photographer Charles Brittin; artists John Altoon, Llyn Foulkes, and George Herms; and the poet David Meltzer. Walter Hopps, director of the Ferus Gallery, gave Berman his first (and, as it happened, ill-fated and last) one-person exhibition at his gallery in June 1957. The exhibition was closed and Berman was charged with obscenity by the L.A.P.D. Disheartened, Berman moved his family to San Francisco and then to Larkspur, where he established the makeshift Semina Gallery and continued his handcrafted journal Semina (released intermittently between 1955 and 1964), which included poems and artworks by Berman’s contemporaries from both San Francisco and Los Angeles. Berman’s work has been shown in solo exhibitions at the Camden Arts Centre, London; in Semina Culture: Wallace Berman and His Circle at The Grey Art Gallery at NYU in New York and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley; Wallace Berman – Art Is Love Is God – une introduction – 1957 – 1976, Mamco – musee d’art moderne et contemporain, Geneva; and also in exhibitions at the Otis Institute, Los Angeles; Fort Worth Art Museum, TX; Berkeley Art Museum, CA; Seattle Art Museum, WA; and Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC, amongst others. Berman’s work can be found in the collections of the Los Angeles Museum of Art; The Jewish Museum of NYC; Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA.
BOB BRANAMAN (1933) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Branaman, together with artist Bruce Conner, publisher Dave Haselwood, and poet Michael McClure, was one of the “Wichita Beats”: artists who moved from Wichita, Kansas to San Francisco in the late 1950’s and helped to define the Beat era. In fact, so many Beat artists and writers came from Wichita that poet Allen Ginsberg famously visited the town in February 1966 and wrote one of his most powerful works, “Wichita Vortex Sutra,” as a result. Branaman engaged in artistic collaborations with Ginsberg and with William S. Burroughs in the 1960’s. Branaman’s early exhibitions were at San Francisco’s legendary artist-run Batman Art Gallery on Fillmore Street in San Francisco. His hallucinogenic artworks with their richly saturated colors and dream-like compositions prefigure the San Francisco psychedelic poster art style and psychedelic tendencies of the 1960’s in general. Bruce Conner was an admirer of Branaman and described him as “possessing a whirlwind of creativity, the most extreme Bohemian.” Most recently, Branaman was an Artforum magazine “Critics’ Pick” for his solo exhibition at Karma International, Los Angeles (Feb. 1 – March 11, 2017). 1Jack
Foley, “O Her Blackness Sparkles!” The Life and Times of the Batman Art Gallery San Francisco 1960– 1965 (San Francisco: 3300 Press, 1996), p. 25.
JOAN BROWN (1938 – 1990) was born and raised in San Francisco. Brown experienced early successes in her career. In January 1957, at age 18, she had her first show at the celebrated Six Gallery. In 1960, at age 22, Brown was included in the Whitney Museum’s Young America exhibition, followed by a gallery exhibition at the reputable Staempfli Gallery in New York. She moved into 2322 Fillmore Street in 1958 with her first husband, the painter Bill Brown. She received her BFA in 1959 and her MFA in 1960 from California School of Fine Arts (now SFAI), where she discovered the intuitive, spontaneous style she eventually became known for, as she recorded aspects of her personal life on large canvases using thick, rich oil paints applied rapidly with a wide house-painting brush and palette knives. (Eventually, Brown developed a reputation for being covered from head to toe in paint because of her habit of working with great exuberance.) By 1961, New York based Artnews magazine had reviewed several of Brown’s shows; Look, Cosmopolitan, and other popular magazines had run flattering profiles of her and her work; and major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, had purchased her works for their collections. In 1999, the Oakland Museum of California and the Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley organized The Art of Joan Brown, the artist’s first retrospective. In 2011 the San Jose Museum of Art presented Joan Brown: This Kind of Bird Flies Backwards. Brown’s work can be found in the collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, MA; Denver Art Museum, CO; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA; Museum of Modern Art, NYC; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC.
GERALD “JERRY” BURCHARD (1931– 2012) was born in Rochester, New York. He worked at Kodak from 1950-52, then enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as a Photographer’s Mate (serving in photographic squadrons stationed aboard aircraft carriers and battleships) in the U.S. Navy from 1952 to 1956. When he was discharged, Burchard moved to San Francisco and enrolled at California School of Fine Arts to study under Dorothea Lange in the fine art photography program, one of the first of its kind in the United States. In 1958, he was asked by CSFA instructor and artist Fred Martin to photograph the artists living and working at 2322 Fillmore Street, for inclusion in a show Martin was organizing. From 1958 to 1960, Burchard took more than a hundred intimate photos of the artists in their studios and at play. By the time the assignment had ended, Burchard had made key portraits of Joan Brown, Bruce Conner, Jay DeFeo, Art Grant, Wally Hedrick, Manuel Neri, and Carlos Villa, among many others. His photographs constitute the most complete visual record of this transitional moment.
BRUCE CONNER (1933–2008) was born in Wichita, Kansas and moved to San Francisco with Jean Sandstedt Conner in September 1957. Both artists were eager to become part of the community at 2322 Fillmore, having already heard about the building and its occupants from Michael McClure, Dave Haselwood, and other childhood friends who had moved to San Francisco before them. Despite being new to the scene, Conner announced just months after arriving that he was starting a collective of sorts and calling it the Rat Bastard Protective Association, that the artists and poets living there were all members, and they owed him $3 a month in dues. Assemblage was a common denominator in the group during these early years, when their works often addressed consumerism, the drug culture, and political unrest. Conner’s stretched, webbed, and torn stockings achieve a remarkable balance between accident and control, comparable to that maintained by Jackson Pollock with his pouring technique. Conner’s use of women’s stockings and collage rather than paint, however, emphatically brings the viewer’s attention back to the subject. In 1960, Conner was given the inaugural show at the Batman Gallery. That same year he helped Museum of Modern Art curator William Seitz develop the seminal Art of Assemblage exhibition, which opened at MoMA in 1961, by taking him to San Francisco artists’ studios. (Conner, Herms, Jess, and Ed Keinholz were all chosen for the exhibition from the West Coast; Joseph Cornell, Jasper Johns, Louise Nevelson, and Robert Rauschenberg were selected from New York). In 2000, the Walker Art Center organized the first major survey of Conner’s work, 2000 BC: The Bruce Conner Story Part II (October 9, 1999-Jan. 2, 2000). In 2016, the Museum of Modern Art, NYC mounted the first retrospective of his work, BRUCE CONNER: IT’S ALL TRUE (July 3-Oct. 2, 2016), which traveled to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA (October 29, 2016-January 22, 2017) and then to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain (February 22-May 22, 2017).
JEAN SANDSTEDT CONNER (1933) was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. She earned her BFA at University of Nebraska, Lincoln and her MFA from University of Colorado, Boulder. In September 1957, Jean and Bruce Conner married and moved to San Francisco, where they joined the artistic community that was forming in and around 2322 Fillmore Street. Â Conner has worked in collage for over fifty years, composing worlds from images gleaned from glossy travel and beauty magazines, together with quintessentially American news and culture magazines such as Look, Time, and Life. Referencing both current events and popular culture, her works frequently include juxtapositions that are at once serious and tongue-in-cheek. Connerâ€™s work can be found in the collections of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, CA and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA.
JAY DeFEO (1929-1989) was born in Hanover, New Hampshire, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her BA in 1950 and her MA in 1951 from the University of California, Berkeley. DeFeo and artist Wally Hedrick were married on August 26, 1954 and they lived and worked together at 2322 Fillmore Street from 1955-1965. In 1959, both artists were included in the historic Sixteen Americans exhibition organized by Dorothy Miller at the Museum of Modern Art. An artistic eagerness to test the limits of materials and form was characteristic of DeFeo’s practice, and nowhere more so than in her epic work The Rose, 1958-1960. DeFeo famously worked for seven years on the nearly eleven-foot-tall, seven-and-ahalf-foot-wide, eleven-inch-deep oil painting (with not only mica but also small objects mixed in with the paint). It defined her and her legacy. DeFeo’s work has been exhibited extensively, including Jay DeFeo: A Retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, traveling to the Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC; Jay DeFeo: Works on Paper, University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley, traveling to The Menil Collection, Houston, TX, Laguna Beach Art Museum, CA, Fresno Art Museum, CA and Krannert Art Museum, Champaign, IL, amongst other exhibitions. Her work can be found in the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Berkeley Art Museum, CA; The British Museum; Denver Art Museum, CO; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, CA; The Museum of Modern Art, NYC; The Menil Collection, Houston, TX; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC.
GEORGE HERMS (1935) was born in Woodland, California and made his first assemblage, a “door-sized collage, that was a valentine,” while a student at the University of California, Berkeley in 1956. The following year he created his first full assemblage environment, the now legendary Secret Exhibition, in Hermosa Beach. In 1961 Herms has a one-person show at the Batman Gallery in San Francisco; Wallace Berman’s portrait of Herms posing with the assemblage Hugo the Aquarian, 1961 was used for the exhibition announcement. That same year, Herms was included in The Art of Assemblage at the Museum of Modern Art. The show featured 141 artists from the United States and abroad, including Bruce Conner, George Herms, Jess, and Ed Kienholz from the West Coast; Joseph Cornell, Jasper Johns, Louise Nevelson, and Robert Rauschenberg from New York; and Georges Braque, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Pablo Picasso, and Kurt Schwitters from Europe. Herms’ long career includes exhibitions at the Louisiana Museum of Art, Denmark, the Whitney Museum of Art, NYC, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His work was the subject at MOCA/LA, “George Herms: Xenophilia (Love of the Unknown)” which featured Herms’ alongside the work of a younger generation of assemblagists including Rita Ackerman, Dan Colen, Nate Lowman, and Aaron Young, curated by Neville Wakefield. Solo exhibitions include “Chaos’ Job...Restrain Order” at the galleries of California State, Fullerton; “Two Schools of Cool,” Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach; and “Greetings from L.A.: Artists and Publics 1945-1980,” The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA. His work can be found in the collections of the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; the Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, CA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; The Menil Collection, Houston, TX; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, amongst others.
WALLY HEDRICK (1928 – 2003) was born in Pasadena, CA, was one of the first U.S. soldiers sent to Korea in 1950 (to 1953), and helped start the legendary Six Gallery in San Francisco in 1954. He married artist Jay DeFeo on August 26, 1954 and they lived and worked together at 2322 Fillmore Street from 1955-1965. In 1959, both artists were included in the historic Sixteen Americans exhibition organized by Dorothy Miller at the Museum of Modern Art. Both DeFeo and Hedrick routinely challenged social and artistic conventions and both artists frequently turned down opportunities to exhibit. Hedrick made largescale, defiant, oftentimes political artworks his entire career; art historian Thomas Crow has written admiringly of Hedrick’s role in raising the political temperature of the art scene on the West Coast, by making protest art as early as 1953. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including Air de Paris, France; Hauser & Wirth, London; Hauser & Wirth, Zurich; The Box, Los Angeles; Marianne Boesky Gallery, NYC; Oakland Museum of California, CA; Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Dallas Museum of Art, TX and the Museum of Modern Art, NYC. His work can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, NYC; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; San Jose Museum of Art, CA; Berkeley Art Museum, CA and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco de Young Museum, CA, amongst others.
MICHAEL McCLURE (1932) was born in Marysville, Kansas, attended intermediate school, high school, and Wichita University with Bruce Conner, and moved to San Francisco in 1953. An active poet, essayist, and playwright, he lives and works in Berkeley Hills, CA. McClure was one of the organizers of the historic evening that Allen Ginsberg performed his legendary Howl at the Six Gallery in San Francisco, on October 7, 1955. McClure also read his poetry that night and the event heralded the spirit and practices of Bay Area galleries and artists for the subsequent decade. His first book of poems, Passage, was published in 1956; his fifteenth and most recent, Mephistos and Other Poems, was released in Fall 2016. McClure has been featured in several films, including Scorsese’s The Last Waltz. McClure and Rip Torn played outlaw motorcyclists in Norman Mailer’s film Beyond the Law. His controversial plays, including The Beard and Josephine: The Mouse Singer, were among the major theatre events of the 60’s and 70’s. His friendships, collaborations, and activities with Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, Janis Joplin, Isamu Noguchi, and Terry Riley are documented in McClure’s collection of essays and interviews, Lighting the Corners: On Art, Nature, and the Visionary (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1993).
RAT BASTARD PROTECTIVE ASSOCIATION Publication © 2017 Susan Inglett Gallery NYC All Rights Reserved Text: Anastasia Aukeman Design: Aryn Foland ©2017 Conner Family Trust, San Francisco/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Courtesy of Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. © 2017 The Jay DeFeo Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Courtesy of Mitchell-Innes & Nash.
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Published on May 13, 2017