In the mid-1960s, affordable, single-use paper clothing enjoyed a burst of widespread popularity when it was introduced to an American market eager for commodities. This Disposable Paper Dress was produced by the North Carolina factory of Mars of Asheville on the occasion of the 1968 presidential election. The surname of Richard Nixon is emblazoned across the garment in red uppercase letters along with alternating blue stars, transforming its wearer into a walking endorsement of the Republican candidate whose tenure as president would encompass the first man on the moon, the withdrawal of US forces from Vietnam, and eventual impeachment and resignation.
Photographed in the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Living in NYC Fucking Rocks! And if you’re looking for cool things to do in the City right now, why not let yourself experience the mind-blowing career retrospective of Mark Mothersbaugh: Lead singer of New Wave / Performance Art legends, DEVO, Composer, Artist and De-Evolutionary Genius. The exhibit is called Myopia, and you can see it at the Grey Gallery at NYU. Let’s a take look at all of the fun surprises that Myopia has in store for you!
Self Portrait with First Pair of Glasses (2015)
In case you were unable to deduce by the exhibit’s title, the art of Mypoia has its roots in Mothersbaugh’s severe visual disability that he has suffered with since birth. The artist’s personal statement greets each visitor at the front of the exhibit, as follows.
“I grew up in Akron, Ohio and I had severe myopia that went undiagnosed until the second grade. My teacher would say things to me like, “Read what is says on the board,” and I’d ask, “What’s a board?” or I’d make a joke because I couldn’t see anything. My teacher disciplined me almost every day.
When my sight issues were finally diagnosed, I was in the car with my dad coming back from getting my first pair of glasses. We came over a hill, and I saw smoke coming out of chimneys. I saw the tops of trees. Before then, I had only known the bottom part – the part that I ran into. I saw the sun for the first time and I just went, “Holy crap!”
I showed up at school with glasses, and I started drawing pictures. My teacher said, “Hey, you draw better than me.’ It was the first time a teacher hadn’t either spanked me or put me in a corner. I knew then that I wanted to be an artist.”
Quite simply, Myopia is all about the truly unique world vision of Mark Motherbaugh. As the song says, it’s a beautiful world.
Farewell Arches to Luxembourg City (2014)
Kicking off the exhibit is a room-size, whimsical installation called Farewell Arches to Luxembourg City, which is a series of large scale, double-rumped sculptures inspired by My Little Pony toy figurines. The sculptures are part of Mothersbaugh’s Beautiful Mutants series (more about this to come), in which he uses mirrored imagery to critique distinctions between order and mutation. Here, the animal forms’ unnatural symmetry and smooth surfaces reveal their synthetic nature, which is underscored by the artificial grass and bright yellow backdrop.
4 DEAD IN O-H-I-O, Stamped Ink with Hand Drawn Additions (1977)
The exhibit then continues on to explore Mark’s formative days as an art student at Kent State University in Ohio.
Vitrine Display of Mark Mothersbaugh’s College Art
One of Mothersbaugh’s Art Student Journals
One thing you will come to understand later in the exhibit is that Mothersbaugh loves to journal!
Art Pamphlet Which Inspired the Title of the Song “Jocko Homo”
Circuit Bent Calculator (2014)
Mothersbaugh often manipulated exiting instruments as well as creating devices to generate novel sounds. He used this Calculator / instrument in several live performances with DEVO. An amazing audio installation of his unique created sounds can be found in the Orchestrions Room, which further explores the composers relationship to technology.
Orchestrions Room Installation View
Mothersbaugh has long been fascinated with machines, using them as a materiel to be manipulated in creating something new and personal. Working against technology’s tendency to generate predicable results, he alters mass-produced machines and assembles unexpected parts to form new, idiosyncratic hybrids. These unconventional, mutant machines embody his belief that originality arises from imperfection. As with his own myopia, he continually embraces flaws as a countermeasure to society’s tendency toward uniformity
Mothersbaugh’s music-making machines, or Orchestrions, feature discarded organ pipes and bird calls that he has been collecting for years. He first assembles the materials, the adapts his compositions to the quirks of the machine. The Orchestrions are a way to demonstrate his belief that flaws are the key to originality. According to the artist, “the limiting factor gives it something unique. It helps you to not fall into the cliche of twelve keys in a row. You’ve got five black ones and seven white ones that repeat all the way up the keyboard. But if you change something in that pattern, if you break one of those keys off the keyboard so that when you go for an F-sharp and it’s not there, it can force you to rethink how to say what you’re trying to say.”
The Orchestrions play a different composition, an example of which you can hear in the above video, every fifteen minutes or so. Very fun!
Rugs During Wartime and Peacetime (2004 – 2007)
On the walls of the Orchestrions room, you will see a series of floor rugs created by Motherbaugh beginning in 1994. The rug series started after the artist designed an entryway mat for his studio, based on one of his postcard-sized drawings. The versatility and functionality of his rugs demonstrates his interest in nontraditional art forms — especial those associated with consumer culture.
Always exploring new means of production, Motherbaugh has transferred his rug images into animations, which add elements of drama, spectacle and technology.
Gallery Installation View
If you are mostly interested in Mark’s work with DEVO, Myopia has no shortage of photos, videos, listening stations, props, ephemera and memorabilia on the band from its inception to present.
In its original configuration as a quintet, DEVO included two sets of brothers, Mark and his younger sibling Bob Mothersbaugh, Gerald Casale and his younger brother Bob, who died in 2014, and Alan Myers, who passed away in 2013. RIP!
Collection of DEVO Press Photos
DEVO as The Beatles Press Photo
DEVO’s first home video release, The Truth About De-Evolution (1976) plays on an endless loop in the gallery. It includes the music videos for “Jocko Homo” and the band’s classic cover of “Secret Agent Man.”
Jock Homo B/W Mongoloid 45 Release Sleeve with Song Lyrics
Stage and Video Props Left to Right: Booji Boy Mask, New Traditionalists Hairpiece, Energy Dome
Still from DEVO Honda Commercial, 1982 – 84
Don’t forget to head downstairs to the basement where you will discover the wonder oftwo of Mothersbaugh’s fascinating series of visual artworks: Mirror Images and Beautiful Mutants!
DEVO in front of a Hostess Truck
Mothersbaugh first began to use mirror images in his journals of the early 1970s, and he continues to use symmetrical forms in his most recent work.
In 1990, he began work on his most prominent mirror-image pieces, the Beautiful Mutants series of photographs, where he transformed historical and traditional figures into mutants. His interest in mirrors is concurrent with his longtime interest in eyes, which was triggered early on by his own severe myopia.
In a show that is so over-the-top mind blowing, the Beautiful Mutants gallery was my favorite part of the exhibit, and totally unexpected. Be sure to look for the hidden signage leading you downstairs, otherwise you will miss it, and that would be a huge bummer for you! Let’s check out more of these crazy creatures!
Last but not least, be sure to spend some time in the room which holds Mark’s collection of over 30,000 postcard-sized drawings from his visual diaries.
The artist draws on at least one postcard-sized piece of paper every day, a practice that he started decades ago, when DEVO was first out on tour in the 1970s. These small artworks inspire many of his larger projects across different media.
These post cards are all individually filed in protective plastic sheets inside binders for your perusal.These works have never been seen in an exhibition until now.
Mark Mothersbaugh Mypoia Will Be On Exhibit Through July 15, 2017, at the Grey Art Gallery, New York University, Located at 100 Washington Square East, (between Waverly Place and Washington Place, Facing Washington Square Park) NYC 10003. Suggested Admission is $5.00. For Hours and Other Information Visit This Link!
L to R: Dee Dee, Tommy, Joey, and Johnny. Portraits of the Original Ramones by Shepard Fairey (All Photos By Gail)
Hey, do you love The Ramones? I sure do; so much so, that I even made the trek, by subway train and foot, all the way out to Flushing Meadows, Corona Park (a long, long ass way) to visit the Queens Museum, where there is a newly-opened exhibit that is all about Forest Hills, Queens favorite sons, the legendary Ramones. Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk, as you can imagine by the title, is pretty sweet.
This is Just The Crowd Waiting to Get In to the Exhibit
On the exhibit’s opening day (April 10th) I journeyed out to Queens with an aggregate group of enthusiastic Ramones Fans, and when we arrived at the museum there was one line to buy tickets to get into the museum, and then another line just to get into the galleries that are showcasing the Ramones exhibit. Holy Mother of god, do I hate waiting on line(s). Fortunately, I know the right people, and one of those people is my friend Anne, who is good pals with Vera Ramone King (Dee Dee Ramone’s first wife, who is a lovely lady) and so we were able to get some Hot VIP Action and skip at least 90 minutes in “The Line Ride,” as I will call it. Mad props to Anne and Vera!
Here I am with Vera, and musician/songwriter Jana Peri!
Art By Yoshitomo Nara That was Commissioned For This Exhibit
In this expansive exhibit, the four original Ramones — Joey, Johnny, Tommy and Dee Dee — are most widely represented, along with Tommy’s replacement, drummer Marky Ramone (who had the longest tenure with the band outside of the original four founders), and to a lesser extent members who came along later in the band’s career, CJ and Richie, who show up in a few places. Not unexpectedly, the exhibit’s opening day was a complete madhouse and total party scene. You will learn so much about The Ramones as a group, and about each of them as people, when you visit this exhibit, but I’m going to skip all of that, because I know that everyone really only wants to see the photos. Enjoy!
One of the first things you will see when you enter the first of four galleries is this fun, specially commissioned cartoon map by Punk Magazine co-founder John Holmstrom, tracing the band’s path from Forest Hills to the downtown nightclub CBGB.
Covers of All of the Ramones Albums
The first gallery is dedicated to the band’s songs and records, as well as memorabilia, swag, props, photos and magazines documenting the very first articles ever written on the band. The exhibit also celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the release of the first Ramones album!
Installation View of First Gallery
Johnny Ramone’s Red T Shirt from the Cover of End of the Century
This handsome likeness of Lord Darth Vader is proudly displayed alongside a Tie Fighter and the back end of a Tauntaun in this photo that I snapped at the Museum of the Moving Image on a recent visit. Note that Vader is not merely an action figure in this case, but an official doll, suitable for cavorting with Barbie should she grow bored with Ken and wish to make a move to the Dark Side.
Summer is in full swing and everybody is looking for stuff to do with their time off. Today, I want tell you about a place you can go where you will have so much fun your head will explode. If you get excited by learning about the history of New York City, and love to have fun adventures that don’t cost very much, the City Reliquary Museum is a place you simply must visit! Located just two stops off the L train, and a short walk, into Brooklyn from Manhattan (for easy reference, it’s located directly across the street from the Knitting Factory), a visit to this local gem of sweet nostalgia is one of the best bargains in existence. Naomi and I had the chance to visit last month on a day that was somewhat overcast and drizzly, and we had all kinds of crazy fun.
Best of all, admission is just Five Dollars! What a bargain! The City Reliquary Museum not only collects relics and ephemera from NYC life in the five boroughs, but they also feature special exhibits that put a keen focus on the minutia that makes New York one of the greatest places to visit, and live, on earth. Here are some of the things we saw and enjoyed during our visit!
Once you enter the Museum from the front room, which is home to an adorable little gift shop that you’re going to want to spend some time browsing before you head out, you’ll have two more rooms to explore that are just packed with cool stuff.
Pictured: Johnny Ramone’s Personally-Owned and Stage-Used 1965 Mosrite Ventures V1 Guitar
Johnny Ramone’s Mosrite Guitar will be featured at a live auction event by Boston, MA based RR Auction this month. The personally-owned and used red 1965 Mosrite Ventures V1 guitar is signed on the body in black felt tip, “Best always, Johnny Ramone, 5/22/90.”
The six-string guitar features several modifications Ramone made to make the guitar fit his sound and style, the most significant being the replacement of the tremolo system with a stop bar tailpiece and installation of a DiMarzio FS-1 bridge pickup, as well as a tortoiseshell pickguard. Included in the sale, is the original hardshell case.
This is a rare instrument in its own right, and the only red guitar or Ventures Model 1 that Ramone owned; it was in his possession for at least seven years, from circa 1982–83 until he sold it in 1990; the first photographic evidence of Ramone playing the guitar comes from a show at the Eagle’s Hippodrome in Seattle on May 5, 1983. Johnny most often used this guitar for TV appearances and it can be seen up-close during a 1988 performance on MTV.
In 1990, Ramone sold this guitar to friend and former Ramones band driver Gene Frawley, signing and dating it on the occasion. A subsequent owner later personally confirmed the ownership details with Ramone, who acknowledged that he owned and used the guitar throughout the 1980s before selling it to Frawley.
“This is one of just nine Mosrite guitars owned by Ramone known to exist — an exceedingly rare and historically important piece of music history,” says Bobby Livingston, Exec VP at RR Auction.
Johnny Ramone was a founding member of the seminal punk band that broke onto the New York music scene in 1974. Johnny was known for his fast, high-energy guitar playing. His style almost exclusively consisted of rapid down strokes and bar chord shapes. This unique playing style and buzz saw-like sound of Johnny’s guitar parts was highly influential on many early punk rock guitarists and keeps him listed on numerous top lists of the greatest guitar players. Johnny Ramone died in his Los Angeles home on September 15, 2004 at the age of 55 after a five-year battle with prostate cancer.
The Johnny Ramone guitar will be part of a special live auction event, featuring nearly 150 items, that will take place on January 22nd, 2015 at RR Auction’s Boston Gallery, but Online Bidding begins January 15th, More details can be found online at RR Auction Dot Com.