SCOOTER L aFORGE
with love, admiration, and respect these works could not have happened without izhar patkin â€”SL
Published on occasion of the exhibition. February 14â€“March 13, 2018. Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project. Howl! A/P/E Volume 1, No. 29
Darren jones Sur Rodney (Sur) Dan Cameron BILL ARNING Carlo McCormick
Vesuvius, Will You Be My Girlfriend?, 2019 Acrylic on canvas 120 x 150 inches
A Firmament of Souls:
Scooter LaForge Among the Infernal and the Divine Scooter LaForge is an artist guided by metaphysical intuition and distanced from the superficial schematics of art world political fashion. He trusts his empiric authenticity—emotivity, observational perceptiveness, optimism—in constructing environments at once fantastical, of mythic, occult grandeur, yet relatable to common societal concerns of family, grief, union, or nature. LaForge’s whimsical, macabre, and at times ominous fairytale vignettes, enlivened with magical elements, are redolent of innocent, youthful adventure and joyous exploration. His work compels the viewer to step into his painterly realms and accompany him on his kaleidoscopic wanderings. His characters vary from the muscular sexuality of rugged, young men to the fiendish potency of Mr. Dark—the hellish carnival leader in Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes—and from jigging celebrants to bewildering subterranean denizens in the vein of Hieronymus Bosch. These qualities endow LaForge—an iconic downtown figure—with the enigmatic allure of an urban Pied Piper, a beautiful vaudevillian to his artistic cavalcades. The artist’s exhibitions are often a cascading riot of multimedia ghouls, heroes, and villains, leering at and luring the viewer in a fluid, vibrant rainbow of objects and imagery. This exhibition, Homo Eruptus, however, is comparatively selective. Only five large-scale canvases are presented (all acrylic on canvas, 2018) centered on themes of love, eroticism, relationships, and death, and set against the backdrop of the artist’s experiences in sex clubs, leather bars, and nightclubs. Notes from LaForge’s recent European travels through Italy and Greece further infuse the work, providing visual elements from sun-bleached landscapes to Pompeiian sculpture. A mural he created for the Tel Aviv LGBT Community Center, as a tribute to four young gay men who were murdered, bequeaths heart and sorrow to these new paintings. In Vesuvius, Will You Be My Girlfriend? a grotesque composition of blood and fire features the upturned, disembodied head of a man whose gored spouting neck is aligned with the erupting cone of the titular volcano behind it. Above, a thick bituminous cloud lowers over the violence below. It is a motif repeated in all of the paintings, a maudlin reference to the pall of AIDS. Over the brilliant red landscape of Federico, Will You Be My Girlfriend? the cloud has metamorphosed into a raven-like creature. Approaching the viewer, two gloried knights, fêted by colored birds, ride as one on a white steed. Their other horse remains riderless in an intimate statement of both the protagonists’ communion and the absence of so many of their companions. Will You Be My Girlfriend? combines playfulness and serpentine temptation. Two cartoonish figures—anthropomorphized rabbits, one pink, one blue—pose in coy flirtation. Between them, an ancient Greek amphora depicting gay sex suggests the logical conclusion to the rabbits’ dalliance. But this is promise with the threat of consequence. Here, the cloud takes on the form of a ghoul brandishing a long black staff decorated with heraldic ensign. The specter swoops to the left of the picture as it bears down on a tall pink figure, wreathed in crimson orbs, who is perhaps reaching for his own sword, held for him by a loyal familiar. The sense of abundance and fruitfulness of the latter figure is suggestive of life, generosity, and sustenance of the body or perhaps mind. The darkening entity conveys a magisterial presence yet seems livid with wicked intentions. Priapus, Will You Be My Girlfriend? is a scene of indulgent self-pleasure, wherein a singular, naked figure—before a parchment-colored backdrop reminiscent of worn frescoes—fellates himself. His tumescent appendage is framed by ruddy flesh and oversized hands, while a cat rests against his knee, observing. The ever-present cloud supports a string of light bulbs
that stretch backward into the distance. They don’t convey domesticity, but rather have the bare, dull glow of backrooms or bathhouses. The viewer then is implicated as voyeur to the figure who is alone in a place made for furtive connections among a heaving, sweating mass of bodies. There is no one left to service him. There could be resolution, or absolution, occurring in the surreal James, Will You Be My Girlfriend? The scene is carved between a heavenly trinity making—or perhaps receiving— offerings of souls and representatives from a deep red netherworld, eyeing their rivals suspiciously. In a moment of mirth, a large bear urinates upon a nonplussed rabbit against the flaming ground, a recurring motif in LaForge’s oeuvre. These marvelous tableaux are populated with embodiments of our contradictions, appetites, and tragedies, viewed through the prism of the artist’s own experiences in the crucibles of our histories and traumas. Yet his painterly finesse and assembly of enchanted characters remind us that even as we wrestle with afflictions of the corporeal or consciousness, and our brokenness at collective losses, our affinity, compassion, and spiritual bonds can sustain us even when storms descend.
Federico, Will You Be My Girlfriend?, 2019 Acrylic on canvas 132 x 168 inches
Sur Rodney (Sur)
Sur’s Studio Visit with Scooter L aForge “He’s like Picasso; he’s very prolific,” I’ve heard proclaimed. Hearing that reminded me of a story I was told and mentioned to Scooter during my studio visit. There are two kinds of artists: the Picassos who stand up and flush without ever bothering to observe what’s going down the toilet— they’re always looking forward—and the conceptual artists who will turn around to examine their stool before flushing. I’m immediately struck by the fearlessness and joy one feels standing in the presence of these paintings. Scooter LaForge enjoys painting and spends a lot of time doing it, his skill evident in the wall-sized canvases presented here. The grand proportions could never have been accomplished so successfully without a well-trained hand at drawing. Paint on any surface under his playful guidance offers us the joy he’s found in creating. This is something I’ve experienced whenever I’ve been in the presence of one of his creations. Knowing what I know has me ponder him reviving his feelings, inspiration, and pleasure watching cartoons. The joy, danger, adventure, fun, and horror in how they play out. Something that’s never left him. Scooter uses all of it. How a painter manages the material of paint is after all what makes the picture a painting. Scooter says “let paint be paint,” and gets on with it. A brave statement to make, to fearlessly go there another matter. That’s where the when and how to make choices begins to happen—achieved with inspired confidence, loving the paint and shape of the figures that appear in his landscapes. Look at them! They’re extraordinary in what they can tell. Undaunted, his inspired adventure with the medium and its application, and knowing what to do with and how to use it: superb. Subject matter dances. Everywhere. There’s a lot to say in the stories the canvases have to tell and what they inspire. Hearing Scooter admitting to being punished as an underaged youth for watching The Exorcist, a film with an R rating, has me thinking his parent may have done him a favor. Encouraging his guilty exploration of the dark side, cartoons come into play and allow for unexpected possibilities as to where he can take them. No matter what we see in them, there’s enough in what they present to encourage our exploration. His expressive storytelling has one’s imagination running wild…not only his, but ours. The confidence and joy these paintings present—truly remarkable. “What’s happening with the head area?” I thought looking at one canvas. “Is it missing a head” I heard myself asking aloud. Moving closer to examine the markings, to see what was floating in the area where I thought the head should be, I discovered the head was bent and performing autofellatio. Surprised by the tree trunk of a phallus as proportioned on the canvas had me thinking, “Has anyone ever painted an erection of that proportion and scale on a canvas ever? Imagined, not in reproduction?” The landscape the figure is seated in, along with surrounding activity, has Scooter thinking of AIDS. Aware of the ongoing stigma and need for more conversations around the epidemic, still, Scooter’s recognition of that in this work is honorable. Scooter has a story to tell. He’s using paint to create imaginary figurations. Every picture has a story, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have a sneak peek as he is building this important exhibition. I say that without reservation. My short viewing had me applauding his efforts and accomplishment and what he’s set himself up to achieve. He’s already made it happen over and over and over again.
James Will You Be My Girlfriend?, 2019 Acrylic on canvas 120 x 192 inches
Earthly Pleasures In the mid-1980s, when the slow-rolling catastrophe of HIV/AIDS broadsided the social landscape of gay America, there was little if anything people could do to save themselves. The years of painfully dragged-out uncertainty—between the earliest known cases and scientifically confirmed knowledge of transmission—were a death before the fact for so many who had dark inklings of what might be causing the agonizing decimation of their friends and lovers, and eventually themselves. The rise of safe sex practices, the emergence of highly toxic early treatments such as AZT, and the final roll-out of the ‘cocktail’ drug regimen in 1996 were, taken together, responsible for saving countless lives, but what is often overlooked in hindsight is the more than 15 years of uncertainty and fear that millions lived through, until research and treatment reached the point where deaths from HIV/AIDS began to noticeably decline. According to the artist Scooter LaForge, one valuable historical precedent we might do well to consider when thinking about AIDS and recent history is the ancient city of Pompeii. Not far from present-day Naples, its fame comes from having been completely obliterated by the unexpected eruption of nearby Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D., burying more than 2,000 inhabitants in ash and talc: preserving many of them in an ideal state to be uncovered and examined by archaeologists many centuries into the future. Even more gripping than the human remains of Pompeii are the impressive number of murals throughout the city, many of them explicitly sexual in nature, which offer perhaps the most visceral insights into the daily lives of the city’s inhabitants. The sex is so unabashed in Pompeii that it’s almost impossible to gaze at the fantasies and imaginative couplings and not think of a time in living history when societal mores surrounding sex, procreation, and personal liberation changed drastically. In a short period of time, ordinary citizens were empowered to indulge in casual sexual behavior that would have been unthinkable to their parents and grandparents. In the large-scale canvases LaForge has produced especially for this exhibition, the ghosts of both Pompeii and AIDS loom large—the latter in the visible shape of dark clouds that gather near the top of each scene. But we don’t see them at first, because the main protagonists of LaForge’s series are so busy frolicking and gamboling in their world of fantasy that we are captivated by their antics. The gathering storm fronts come into view almost as an afterthought. Pompeii comes to mind through the paintings’ room-like scale and scuffed surfaces, which suggest the sort of murals and frescoes that might have adorned the home of a long-ago wealthy merchant, who liked sex and reveled in the expression of his own erotic imaginings for the enjoyment of anyone who crossed his threshold. In spite of their generally cartoon-like or fairy-tale trappings, LaForge’s characters seem pretty sexually liberated, if not downright kinky. In James, Will You Be My Girlfriend? an invisible man, dressed in a bear suit and wearing Doc Martens boots, pees fetish-style onto the floor in front of a rabbit and a cat-faced maiden—who turns away from the scene right on cue to be accosted by two women and a girl, all dressed in white, with the adults brandishing demonic insects from a James Ensor engraving. The Symbolist insect-creatures return in Vesuvius, Will You Be My Girlfriend? but this time they are trekking up the side of the active volcano, whose eruption doubles as blood gushing skywards from the upside-down decapitated head—the Baselitz reference seems deliberate—of a recently handsome young man, which has been positioned within the picture plane so that it appears gigantic, occupying about half of the area filled by the actual volcano, his still wide-open sightless eyes gazing into the unknowable. Meanwhile, a plump robin at the brink of the AIDS cloud seems to be hovering in midair to avoid scorching its claws. The epic tone and ubiquity of birds carry over into Federico, Will You Be My Girlfriend? which revisits two male characters on horseback from Fellini’s film Satyricon. They’re dressed identically in flowing tunics, with the brown-haired rider in front confidently holding the reins
as his blond passenger, arms wrapped around the horseman’s waist, seems a bit clueless about what happens next. Meanwhile, the horse is distracted by a crimson and pink filly off to the side, and a trio of primary-color lovebirds swirl in front. More ominously, the black cloud here takes the partial form of a crow, wings outstretched so that at one point it merges completely with the overhanging curtain of death. The stage is set for something to happen, but it’s not clear what that might be. In Priapus, Will You Be My Girlfriend? we move a step closer toward the pornographic directness of Pompeii: a naked, well-endowed young man sits on his oversized hands and pulls his torso downward sufficiently to perform fellatio on himself. We don’t see enough of his facial expression to tell if it’s actually pleasurable or just a contortionist’s stunt, but the evident concentration on his face suggests that he’s unaware of the black and white cat that seems ready to leap on his exposed leg, or the black cat emerging from the black AIDS cloud overhead. An added detail—the string of bare bulbs overhead receding into the shadows—suggests that the location is someplace underground, perhaps somewhat illicit, a reflection of the collective uneasiness with which we regard individuals engaging their capacity for self-pleasure to the greatest possible extent. When Scooter LaForge moved to San Francisco in 1992, it was probably the most challenging moment to bear witness to the human and social devastation wrought by AIDS. A young, inexperienced gay man from Las Cruces, New Mexico, LaForge’s initial firsthand exposure to the culture built by gay liberation—in both the sexual and political meanings of the term— was at precisely the moment when it all seemed to be crumbling to dust. Seeing older friends and neighbors, plus a handful from his own generation, undergo rapid transformations from healthy to sick to dead was, for him, an object lesson in the enduring connection between sex and death in the deepest, most primordial reaches of our collective psyche. For the sake of his own spiritual well-being, the joyful nuttiness and sweaty fantasies implied by a healthy robust sex life had to be temporarily repressed in favor of something more introspective and less celebratory. And yet that existential bridge linking sex and death was actually constructed many centuries ago, with its most durable blueprint in the writings of Aristotle, who was firm in his belief that leisure was far more important in our daily lives than work, and that the pursuit of happiness is something that each person has an individual responsibility to develop in the form of an ongoing daily activity. Aristotle also laid down the hypothesis that if one is not continually cognizant of one’s eventual death, the risk becomes greater of being left unaware of life’s certain opportunities (especially when it comes to pleasure). In more recent history, sex and death shared the distinct honor of being subjects that one never brought up in polite company, although beginning with Freud and Darwin, one way of looking at the 20th century was as a drawn-out staging of the return of the repressed. More recently, evolutionary biologists have looked at the drive to create offspring and the reality of one’s impending demise as being nothing less than opposite sides of the same coin. However one feels personally about juggling these two concepts together in one’s mind, we do know that someday we too will exist as little more than shapes flitting across the interiors of long-forgotten caves, and if we can be reasonably certain of anything that people looking back at us from the distant future will want to know, it won’t be about how we died so much as whether or not our sex lives were enjoyable.
Priapus, Will You Be My Girlfriend?, 2019 Acrylic on canvas 114 x 120 inches
Scooter, My Brother When I was a child, my older sister was in acting school and appeared to my unsophisticated child’s eyes to be surrounded by mythic beings: strange, exotic, magical, and fascinating. I knew I was not of the same species as them, but they seemed to like my visiting them. They allowed me to stay in their company and hear their chatter, and that pleased me. Then, after a family trip to Italy where my sister and her friend Randy joined us, I learned a name for these gods: they were called homosexuals. My mother was deeply concerned that my sister was naive and in love with Randy not knowing what he was, and that she would be heartbroken when realizing he could never return her affections. In my prepubescent squeaky voice, I piped up that she did indeed know and not to worry, although the term “homosexual” was new to me. I had heard them discuss sex, and now my precocious reading came in handy. But my parents dismissed me, saying I could not understand this adult topic and continued to fret needlessly. But I then realized I might be of that species after all and was unsure how my transformation could possibly be accomplished without magic potions. Would I follow in Randy’s shadow and become a sexual dreamboat of sinewy surfer muscle or be more like her friend Victor, a gender fluid screamer. Neither seemed attainable. Fast forward a couple years into my teens, and remember that in the 70s in New York City being under 18 was no barrier to entry into even the seediest dens of inequity. I entered bars like The Anvil and Paradise Garage, and the leather men and hustlers terrified me in my desire to become them and possibly love them. I read Hubert Selby Jr., John Rechy, and William Burroughs novels, listened to Lou Reed and Lewis Furey albums, and studied Jean Cocteau, Tom of Finland, and Andy Warhol for visual clues. I hoped if I studied hard I could join their ranks. Now, 40 years later, I still hope to belong in their midst, even though that world is largely gone. It has been replaced by a heteronormative nightmare where a distrust of the liberation value of sexual expression has been replaced by the creation of the “Good Gay,” married, adopting kids, and earning well. If I were a child today I would ask, “Why bother?” Queer theory without sex is, in my queer dinosaur aesthetic, meaningless. Scooter LaForge and I are roughly the same age, and despite growing up in different parts of the country, could have been brothers in terms of shared experiences and cultural touchstones. When we visit in his studio the talk swings freely between art and sex, politics, and what it means to be a survivor when so many of our lovers and friends were lost to AIDS and overdoses. He has focused on those aspects of the visual culture of queerdom that create sex-positive spaces. When entering bars of that period eager to learn from our elders (and our generation was the last for a long time to benefit from our elder’s wisdom) it appeared that every gay man was a classics scholar, teaching us the grand Greek tradition of intergenerational intercourse in all meanings of the word, but especially in the exchange of culture: the replications of homoerotic reproductions of a muscular Farnese Hercules or the epicene charms of the Barbarini Faun mixed in our visual vocabulary with the Tom of Finland. Gay bars provided a visual library to contextualize our desires, ‘cause every young faggot thinks they have discovered something new until introduced to the rich transcultural, transhistorical history. Scooter LaForge’s new large-scale paintings evoke ruins and Pompeii in clear, intended reference—and since I often fear that as a survivor about to turn 60, many of the young friends I derive energy from knowing see me as a ruin too—I feel at home within his paintings. LaForge’s imagination and command of creating worlds with makes the room-filling installation akin to entering his mind and joining him, reliving his queer sexual education. Young men today with Truvada making sexual exploration safe, and with Grindr and Scruff making connecting easy, may never know the terrifying thrill of entering a gay bar and feeling undereducated for the experience ahead. That is probably a very good thing, but I am so happy LaForge has rendered that experience revisitable in perpetuity.
Will You Be My Girlfriend?, 2019 Acrylic on canvas 114 x 192 inches
The City Below I have no house, only a shadow. But whenever you are in need of a shadow, my shadow is yours. —Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano Ashes to ashes, funk to funky, we all live under a volcano, in the shadows of a doubt. What is certain is only that we will each of us someday die; the only remaining mortal question is if it will be with a bang or a whimper. In an ambitious cycle of new paintings Scooter LaForge allows us the pleasure and peril of contemplating life in the shadows of extinction, reimagining the frescoes of Pompeii through the bacchanal of another abruptly interrupted era: that of New York’s pre-AIDS gay nightlife. Between these lost cities, each buried by its own cataclysm, LaForge is at his raconteur best, spinning tales of life and love before these vital desires met their grim destinies. An ode to old glories so lyric and epic, lusty and exotic they rise up like metahistorical apparitions in the steamy depths of some ancient baths, ribald and rapturous. It’s all a wonderful theater of the imagination, where the past comes alive in the now, and pleasures parade as tableaux vivants. Interred in an excruciating instant during the 1st century under meters of ash and pumice from an erupting Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii is the perfect snapshot of frozen time, an instant relic where the quotidian and idiosyncratic become classic and iconic. Uncovered in the 18th century after a historical slumber during which it had been all but forgotten, the city has become antiquities as coined for the modern era, a rare taste of vulgarity usually eradicated by time, left in situ with all its graffiti and racy murals as a testament to the vox populi ignored by classicists. Its greatest hold on our imagination however is its untimely damnation, not merely a lone surviving temple or tomb, but life itself entombed. LaForge’s Pompeian evocation of another ruined city, the downtrodden and lawless New York of yore, joins in this way a long tradition of pictorial ruins—what 18th-century Germans aptly called Ruinenlust as a way to describe the melancholic pathology by which we are attracted to this very thing that scares us, the fallen civilization as a memento mori for fate that inevitably awaits all human endeavors—from Piranesi’s engravings to Hubert Robert’s paintings, from Hawthorne’s Marble Fawn to the recent photography around Detroit that has acquired the apt sobriquet of Ruins Porn. In a kind of postmodern marvel of time in a blender remix pastiche, Scooter doesn’t simply deliver the engulfed and exhumed subterranean splendor of Pompeii but the great homosexual underground clubs that raged through the city of his youth, the demise of the former conjoined in some anonymous sexual tryst with the latter. Born of post-Stonewall liberation, fueled on amyl nitrate, clad in leather, and lubed for pleasure, the lost landmarks of gay’s golden age—The Anvil, The Mineshaft, The Ramrod, The Cockring, The Toilet, The Glory Hole, and Crisco Disco—operated as open secrets serving a subculture for years with relative impunity, at a time when straight culture was simply too scared and clueless to fathom the erotic, transactional nature of sex clubs. That vanished topography of clubs, trucks, piers, brambles, and baths where sex, fetish, and identity were forged anew constitutes its own mythology of demiworlds in ruins, blighted in retrospect by an almost medieval plague and yet shining with the glamorous patina of a paradisiacal innocence and freedom perhaps forever lost. Executed to a scale and with a painterly bravura that recalls the narrative tropes of the muralist tradition, Scooter LaForge’s Pompeian elegy is a tragicomedy of visceral intensity and poetic contemplation, a romantic farce of Eros and Thanatos flirting and fornicating in a doomed affair of desire and desperation. It’s about lust and its delusions of love, the recusals of caring too much and the refusals of not caring enough. Amidst the rich referentiality of these paintings, winks to histories personal and collective at once allusory and illusory, there are the horsed figures taken from Fellini’s Satyricon, based off the fragmented
proto-novel of the same name that was written by Petronius and featured Pompeii not long before its centuries-long absence from our cultural memory. An outrageous story and hilarious satire to begin with, made all the more compelling in its mystery for the fact that much of it has been lost, Petronius’ classic is filled with homosexual longing and heterosexual impotence, a throaty vulgarity that is transgressive still and the first-known literary reference to cannibalism among its many taboos. Fellini’s version, a more direct influence on LaForge here, is just as ribald and decadent (as Pompeii has now forever come to connote for us), but even more surreal and disjointed as the director used the numerous narrative lapses constituted by the missing texts to insert his own speculative storytelling fantasies. This gap, in Petronius and Fellini alike as well as between their works, is endemic to our contemporary realization of Pompeii itself, particularly between all we know through the graphic and lowly details that the passage of time normally elides and the exotic world it represents in our imagination. LaForge’s monumental quintet is a recollection wrapped in fantasy, a place where memory and myth meet, the kind of stories we tell ourselves sitting around a fire that’s been burning since its human discovery. This is history as an aesthetic form, a kind of collective fable told by unreliable narrators, the glories and glory holes remembered by survivors, the beauty and suffering of all that has passed, fleeting and glimmering like reflections in the eyes of those who bear witness. A consummate visual raconteur here, Scooter would hardly let truth get in the way of a good story, but when it comes to desire and loss the details hardly matter. In each of these paintings dark clouds loom overhead, the grim earthy voice of Vesuvius perhaps, but so too the kind of ancient omen that remains unmistakable today—the sign that as all wonderful stories must, ours too will come to an end.
HOWL! COMMUNITY Arturo Vega Foundation Lalo Quiñones Jane Friedman Donovan Welsh BG Hacker BOARD OF ADVISORS Dan Cameron Curt Hoppe Carlo McCormick Marc H. Miller Maynard Monrow Lisa Brownlee James Rubio Debora Tripodi Howl! Board of Directors Bob Perl, President Bob Holman, Vice President BG Hacker, Treasurer Nathaniel Siegel, Secretary Brian (Hattie Hathaway) Butterick Riki Colon Jane Friedman Chi Chi Valenti Marguerite Van Cook, President Emeritus
Founder and Executive Director: Jane Friedman
Scooter LaForge Homo Eruptus Published on the occasion of the exhibition February 14–March 13, 2019 Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project © 2019 Howl Arts, Inc. Howl! Archive Publishing Editions (Howl! A/P/E) Volume 1, No. 29 ISBN: 978-0-9995847-9-8 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Howl! A/P/E. © 2019 Darren Jones © 2019 Sur Rodney (Sur) © 2019 Dan Cameron © 2019 Bill Arning © 2019 Carlo McCormick Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project 6 East 1st St. NY, NY 10003 www.HowlArts.org 917 475 1294 Editor: Ted Riederer Copy Editor: Jorge Clar Design: Jeff Streeper
Gallery Director: Ted Riederer Director of Education: Katherine Cheairs Program Coordinator: Sam O’Hana Collection Manager: Corinne Gatesmith Production Team: Ramsey Chahine, Josh Nierodzinski Marketing and Public Relations: Susan Martin Documentarian: Yoon Gallery design: Space ODT/ Teddy Kofman Creative Consultant: Some Serious Business Gallery Photographer: Jason Wyche
The Arturo Vega Project: Jane Friedman
Howl! Happening takes its name from the unpredictable, free-form happenings of the 60s and 70s, where active participation of the audience blurred the boundary between the art and the viewer. More to be experienced than described, Howl! Happening will curate exhibitions and stage live events that combine elements of art, poetry, music, dance, vaudeville, and theater——a cultural stew that defies easy definition. For more than a decade, Howl! Festival has been an annual community event——a free summer happening in and around Tompkins Square Park, dedicated to celebrating the past and future of contemporary culture in the East Village and the Lower East Side. The history and contemporary culture of the East Village are still being written. The mix of rock and roll, social justice, art and performance, community activism, gay rights and culture, immigrants, fashion, and nightlife are even more relevant now. While gentrification continues apace and money is king, Howl! Happening declares itself a spontaneous autonomous zone: a place where people simultaneously experience and become the work of art. As Alan Kaprow, the “father” of the happening, said: “The line between art and life should be kept as fluid and indistinct as possible.” INSIDE FRONT COVER
Woman with Two Male Figures, 2019. Acrylic on clay pot. H: 14, C: 25
Black Cat, 2019. Acrylic on clay pot. H: 8.5, C: 22
Published on the occasion of the exhibition. February 14–March 13, 2019 Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project