In Support of The Jonas Mekas Centennial Program – Mekas 100!
“Jonas Mekas – Images are Real” November 9, 2022 to February 26, 2023 Mattatoio Museum Rome, Italy
Jonas Mekas 100! – the international program of exhibitions and events celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Lithuanian-born filmmaker’s birth – comes to Italy with “Images are Real”, an exhibition and series of events curated by the duo Francesco Urbano Ragazzi, who have accompanied Mekas on a number of art projects from Venice to New York, Seoul and Reykjavik.
Promoted by Roma Culture and the Azienda Speciale Palaexpo in partnership with the Lithuanian Cultural Institute, “Images are Real” is on display in Pavilion 9b at the Mattatoio di Roma. The exhibition takes a retrospective look at the sixty year artistic career of Jonas Mekas (born 1922 – 2019) within a beyond the history of avant-garde cinema. Presenting a broad selection of works ranging from the 1960’s to the late 2010’s, the project sets out to explore the Lithuanian filmmaker’s work as a form of resistance to human brutality, a quest of happiness through which to cope with the uncertainty of the present.
The title of the exhibition is a quote from the film “Out-takes from the Life of a Happy Man” in which the artist’s off-screen voice reflects: “Memory is gone, but the images are here, and the images are real!”. Celebrating Jonas Mekas’s centenary, therefore, does not just mean celebrating the memory of a figure who has inspired three generations of artists and filmmakers, it means also, indeed above all, keeping alive the perpetual present of a filmmaking practice that is at once both individual and political.
In 2013, Deborah Colton Gallery (DCG) and OUTPOST NYC DCG Co-Produced a limited edition of 49 still-framed photographs with Jonas Mekas. The Founder of Anthology Films in New York, the Film maker, poet, writer, and artist. Jonas Mekas captured moments that we all cherish in art history, in American history, in life… from film producers, Salvador Dali, Kennedy’s, Warhol, Yoko Ono and John Lennon, Elvis Presley, the World Trade Center… to then more personal special moments of nature, his family, being human and celebrating life, cherishing each experience to the fullest. This project was created by Deborah Colton and Jonas Mekas. The works are available through this website and DCG.
A selection of these works were debuted at the 2013 Paris Photo LA, in Los Angeles, California at the DCG Booth. The full body of works was launched at Deborah Colton Gallery (DCG) in Houston, Texas the fall of 2013, in conjunction with the Houston Cinema Arts Festival. The exhibition was titled, “Life Goes on… I Keep Singing”. Since then select works were brought to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene, Oregon for a solo exhibition, curated by Richard Herskowitz and Deborah Colton, titled “Jonas Mekas – Frozen Film Frame: Portraits of Filmmakers” This body of works has been presented by DCG and OUTPOST NYC DCG also in Miami, Dallas and New York.
Pending Projects to honor Jonas Mekas have been organized world-wide and can be viewed on www.jonasmekas100.com
In connection to Dallas Art Fair 2010 Deborah Colton Gallery and OUTPOST NYC DCG produced a limited edition of prints by Jonas Mekas. A selection of classic Frozen Film Frames feature stills from a variety of celebrated films by Jonas Mekas stretching from the 60ties on; moments from his travels, encounters, observations and friendships; they include portraits of personalities like Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Andy Warhol and John Lennon.
Pictured Series Produced by OUTPOST NYC DCG
Jonas Mekas Frozen Film Frames, 2010 Edition of 9 each All works approximately 22 x 15 inches
Mary Beth Edelson: Humor is the Best Game in Town Kathleen Wentrack, Ph.D.
New York-based artist, Mary Beth Edelson, is recognized internationally for her break-through art works in far ranging mediums and her contributions to the feminist revolution. Since the 1960s Edelson has been impacting art making and activism while challenging the entrenched cultural dogmas of the day.
On view at the MAC in Dallas from November 6th until December 11th is a select group of 24 painted drawings from 1981–97. Curated by Liutauras Psibilskis, Deborah Colton, and Liliana Bloch, this series is titled There is Never Only One Game in Town. Equally strong, the historically significant large-scale wall collages will be on view as well as the premiere of the video ” Making Eye Contact” conceptualized by Edelson with video production by Gregory Wendt.
Thematically, the exhibited body of work celebrates a variety of characters such as the femme fatale, the trickster, movie stars, and the mythological folk figures of Baubo and Sheela-na-gig. Diverse as these female types appear, they are connected through the trope of humor as Edelson states:
Humor is a mode of speech that is indirect and ambiguous and, therefore, can have multiple interpretations. It can potentially disrupt dominant meanings and the social order while protecting the joker from consequences that might occur if the same message were delivered in a serious mode. Humor sabotages critics, for unlike spoken language, laughter does not belong to a linguistic code and, therefore, has the possibility of creatively breaking that mold while taking advantage of humor’s natural attraction.
Humor is a political devise in the series There is Never Only One Game in Town. Many of the drawings use a variety of materials including silkscreen, ink, acrylic, and fabric on jute tag to form pictures based on Edelson’s desire to “re-script Hollywood” as it relates to the construction of women in their films. Edelson’s research of movies from the 1920s until the present day inspired her to be especially curious about films that place a gun in a woman’s hand—the ultimate symbol of male power—and how that representation changed over time according to women’s status and the circumstances of that time span.
She appropriated images of women played by movie stars including Marilyn Monroe, Gena Rowlands, Marlene Dietrich, Lynda Carter, Angelica Houston, Judy Garland, and Mae West whose sultry quote “there is never only one game in town” was borrowed for the title of this series. The artist then gave the characters a new identity as she describes:
My intention was to isolate these images from their original context in the film to project my own story on these subjects as self-defining agents that defy the production of Hollywood stereotyping.
Bursting with irony and humor, these drawings engage the viewer by way of the unexpected text and titles that accompany their forthright images. Several works are based on a silk-screened photograph of a sassy, young Judy Garland who asks questions that speak directly to the viewer. Other images draw on cross-cultural traditions for alternative spiritual histories as in the multi-armed Marilyn Monroe as the Hindu Goddess Kali.
Accompanying the painted drawing series are a selection of Edelson’s wall collages installed on a large scale for the first time in the United States. The wall collages developed concurrent with the artist’s well-known collage posters of the 1970s in which reproductions of historical paintings by male artists are parodied by pasting photographs of female artists’ faces over the male actors’ images. For example, Some Living American Women Artists/Last Supper (1971-72) is the first of the five collage posters in which the artist insisted on an alternative vision of society that included women in positions of power. For this first poster Edelson collected photographs of women artists and collaged their faces over those of Jesus and his disciples on a reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper (1498). All five posters in the series—recently acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York for their permanent collection —make use of appropriation in an effort to critique existing institutional structures and the history of western art. While these posters continue the social commentary of collage initiated by Dada artists almost a century ago, it is Edelson’s wall collages that make her contribution unique to the history of collage art and feminist art history.
The genesis of the wall collages, unlike the posters, was one of happenstance and playfulness, evolving from scraps leftover from the laborious pre-computer process of making the posters. These works celebrate women’s art collectives such as A.I.R. and Heresies, while others are cameos devoted to a specific artist and the women in her milieu. Each of the wall collages presents different subjects, stories, and themes while they all share a rambling unique vine or web-like structure. For example, Web Works/Heresies (1976) is built through a repetition of individual faces that creates the appearance of animation as in Good Meeting, (1976) sourced from the Death of the Patriarchy/A.I.R. Anatomy Lessons poster. At first glance Good Meeting appears to be a dragonfly but on closer inspection it is composed of a set of wings and the faces of several women. The dragonfly’s head begins with the image of Rachel bas-Cohain, then Ana Mendieta and Edelson, and concludes with ten prints of Nancy Spero’s face, diminishing in scale to form the tail. This collage provides an excellent example of how her repetitious progression creates a sense of movement influenced by the structural duplication of , in this case, Spero’s face.
Alongside, and often in conjunction with, the portrait-based wall collages, several themes reoccur in Edelson’s wall collages including Medusa, the Bird and the Snake Goddess of Egypt, Venus, Sheela-na-Gig, and Baubo. Laughing Medusa (1976) was made in a similar manner from remnants of poster pictures and other photographs of fellow A.I.R. members that the artist often took. The central face in this work is of Anne Healy with her head tilted back slightly holding a wide-mouthed laugh and framed by the smaller heads of A.I.R. members. Eight strands of wildly protruding hair—each strand repeating a separate individual’s head—moves with twists and turns like a snake, as if it were Medusa’s own hair.
The artist has frequently employed the figures of the Sheela-na-gig and Baubo in diverse mediums since the early 1970s, a moment when feminists sought out sources of power and spirituality that reflected not only an alternative to western religious structures but also spiritual histories in which women held significant positions and power. Found on the British Isles, especially in Ireland, the Sheela-na-gig is a female figure, crouching with legs splayed open exposing her genitalia. Dating back at least to the Middles Ages, these crudely shaped Sheela’s have been found near churches, bridges, and castles, and are generally regarded as folk deities imbued with powers of renewal, birth, and death according to the scholar Barbara Freitag in Sheela-Na-Gigs: Unraveling an Enigma (2004). Edelson combines the Sheela imagery with faces of women she wishes to acknowledge ultimately imbuing the figures with life-giving power as in Buffy Sheela (1976) that is composed of the heads of fellow artists Buffy Johnson, Michele Stewart, Betye Saer and Yoko Ono.
The web-like structure was expanded for the cameo series that focuses on and celebrates individual women. The format for each cameo is to collage the artists image on a reproduction of a bold self-assured nude, and it is from this central body that the web expands and unfolds to include the images of artists who may have mutually influenced each other, engaged in dialogue and thus created a circuit of people and ideas all active and supportive within this web. In the center of Cameo: Nancy (1979), a web presents the many faces of women associated with Nancy Spero with a special emphasis on her long alliance with the women of A.I.R. Gallery.
Many of the wall collages record women active in feminist art groups, but they also function as historical documents that describe the organizational and the working processes of a community in the process of implementing a revolution. The web-like shapes in the wall collages break from the confines of framing to visualize the collective and collaborative structures of these groups who are not represented in rows but are connected to each woman through the next. In Edelson’s hands, the portrait then becomes a living document in stark contrast to the western tradition of portraiture or historical painting.
MAC’s exhibition of Mary Beth Edelson’s art, presents a rich selection rarely seen together in the U.S. that delves into the artist’s deep oeuvre. Edelson remains one of the key feminist artists active and influential today, and the work in this exhibition gives testimony to its expansive relevancy.
Jonas Mekas LIFE GOES ON… I KEEP SINGING November 9 – December 28, 2013
Deborah Colton Gallery is pleased to present selected works and video installations by Jonas Mekas in an exhibition entitled “LIFE GOES ON… I KEEP SINGING,” which includes still frame photographs from several bodies of works Mekas has created through his films. The exhibition opens November 9th and continues through December 28th, 2013. The Gallery will host an Artist Reception on Sunday, November 10th at 2:00 pm, which will include a Q+A with Jonas Mekas and Deborah M. Colton.
Jonas Mekas is the Founder of Anthology Films in New York, the Film maker, poet, writer, and artist. Jonas Mekas captured moments that we all cherish in art history, in American history, in life… from filmmakers, Salvador Dali, Kennedy’s, Warhol, Yoko Ono and John Lennon, Elvis Presley, the World Trade Center… to the more personal special moments of nature, his family, being human and celebrating life, cherishing each experience to the fullest.
In addition to the video created for this exhibition, FRAGMENTS OF PARADISE that is cohesive with the main gallery room exhibition, Deborah Colton Gallery will be featuring the video WTC HAIKUS. 2010. As Mekas describes this:
“‘Looking through my finished and unfinished films, I was surprised how many glimpses of the World Trade Center I caught during my life in SoHo. I had a feeling I was Hokusai glimpsing Mount Fuji. Only that it was the World Trade Center. The World Trade Center was an inseparable part of my and my family’s life during my SoHo period from 1975-1995. This installation is my love poem to it. My method in constructing this piece was simply to pull out images of the WTC from my original footage, while including some of the surrounding scenes. The result I felt came close, albeit indirectly, to what in poetry is known as the Haiku.”
Jonas Mekas was born in 1922 in Semeniskiai, Lithuania. In 1949 he emigrated to the U.S. together with his brother, settling in New York. He has been one of the leading figures of American avant-garde filmmaking playing various roles: in 1954 he founded Film Culture magazine; in 1958 began writing his “Movie Journal” column for the Village Voice; in 1962 co-founded the Film-Makers’ Cooperative (FMC) and in 1964 the Film-makers’ Cinematheque, which eventually grew into Anthology Film Archives. His own output varies from narrative films (Guns of the Frees, 1961) to documentaries (The Brig, 1963) and to “diaries” such as Walden (1969), Lost, Lost, Lost (1975) and As I was Moving Ahead, and Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty (2001). Known as an artist, filmmaker, art critic, curator and icon of contemporary American Culture, Mekas documented the era that promoted peace through his acclaimed independent film and still frame photography, which features Yoko and John in Happy Birthday to John and Bed-In. His films have been screened extensively at festivals and museums around the world. In 2005 he represented Lithuania at the Venice Biennale, the exhibition was noted with Special Mention price for extraordinary presentation of contemporary classic art.
Through his accomplished career as a filmmaker, visual artist, writer and organizer, Jonas Mekas has received awards from New York State Council on the Arts, Rockefeller Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Golden Medal from Philadelphia College of Art, “For the devotion, passion and selfless dedication to the rediscovery of the newest art,” Guggenheim Fellowship in 1966, Creative Arts Award in 1977, Brandeis University in 1989; Mel Novikoff Award at San Francisco Film Festival, 1992; Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from Ministry of Culture, France in 1992 and 2000; Lithuanian National Award, 1995; Doctor of Fine Arts, Honoris Causa from Kansas City Art Institute in 1996; Special Tribute, New York Film Critics Circle Awards in 1996; Pier Paolo Pasolini Award, Paris in 1997; International Documentary Film Association Award, Los Angeles, 1997; Governors Award, Skohegan School of Painting and Sculpture, 1997; Artium Doctoris Honoris Causa, Universitatis Vytauti Magni, Lithuania in 1997.
In 2011 Jonas Mekas was honored at the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s award ceremony for his significant contribution to American film culture and had a solo exhibition at Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany. Last December Mekas participated in an extensive presentation at Serpentine Gallery, London and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Most recently there opened an exhibitions of his works at the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, at the Cinémathèque Royale and the Bozar Center for Fine Arts, both in Brussels, Belgium.
Jonas Mekas is a featured artist and special guest of the 2013 Houston Cinema Arts Festival, which will present his film Sleepless Night Stories as part of the festival’s “Cinema on the Verge” programming that highlights the most adventurous film and installation work by experimental media artists. Sleepless Night Stories debuted at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2011 and continues to enthrall audiences with Mekas’s recording the seemingly mundane happenings in his life.
Deborah Colton Gallery first debuted Jonas Mekas in Houston in the solo exhibition Film Framed at 2500 Summer Street in 2005. In 2007,Jonas Mekas was also included in the Group Exhibition at Deborah Colton Gallery, Chemical City. Since then Deborah Colton Gallery continues to represent Jonas Mekas, including a one-man solo exhibtion at Paris Photo Los Angeles in April of 2013, and through projects via the Gallery’s OUTPOST NYC DCG.
Deborah Colton Gallery is founded on being an innovative showcase for ongoing presentation and promotion of strong historical and visionary contemporary artists world-wide, whose diverse practices include painting, works on paper, sculpture, video, photography, performance, conceptual future media and public space installations. The Gallery aspires to provide a forum through connecting Texas, national and international artists to make positive change.
The MAC is proud to exhibit selections from Labyrinth of Desire, an exhibition of photographs that debuted at Deborah Colton Gallery, Houston in 2010 by Canadian artist Frank Rodick, curated by Katherine Ware. Labyrinth of Desire consists of a series of photographs created from 1991 to the present. Known for creating powerful, evocative, and sometimes controversial pictures, Rodick alters images into sequenced compositions that explore the complex realm of the human psyche. The juxtaposition of images mimics the imprecise and non-linear workings of our private thoughts, memories and desires. The photographs selected from the Labyrinth of Desire for exhibition at The MAC examine five bodies of work: Liquid City (1991-1999), sub rosa (1995-1997), Arena (2002-2005), Faithless Grottoes (2006-2008), and Revisitations (2009-current). Rodick says of his work, “what I’m looking for are images that feel more intimately real than our cursory experience of everyday life, images that give a voice to the worlds that live inside us and which somehow demand witness.”
Frank Rodick’s work has been exhibited widely throughout North America, Latin America, and Europe. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Kinsey Institute. Internationally, his work is in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography in Ottawa, the Musée de la Photographie à Charleroi in Belgium, the Museet for Fotokunst in Denmark, and the Museo Nacional de Bella Artes de Buenos Aires in Argentina. Frank Rodick is represented by Deborah Colton Gallery, Houston, Texas.
Katherine Ware is Curator of Photography at the New Mexico Museum of Art and has served as Curator of Photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Assistant Curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. She is the author of numerous works on photographic art and its history.
Photo Credit: Kevin Todora, McKinney Avenue Contempory
“The Miami Set” was a project by Ana Cardoso, Amy Granat and Flora Wiegmann for NADA Art Fair in Miami Beach, by invitation of Liutauras Psibilskis and co-produced by OUTPOST NYC DCG. The presentation included a sculptural fabric installation by Ana Cardoso that created environment for the project, an ongoing screening installation by Amy Granat as well as dance performances by Amy Granat and Flora Wiegmann. “The Miami Set” was a constantly changing venue, open to development through the interaction with the public. This ongoing performative presentation was displayed at a prominent place in the Lobby of the Deauville Beach Resort Hotel where NADA 2010 took place.
Amy Granat is best known for her experimental film installations featuring celluloid that has been manipulated by scratching, cutting, or chemical alteration. Her practice though, is wide-ranging and also includes video, sound, performance and photography. Granat experiments with the elements of basic photography – a method that emphasizes the intrinsic quality of film, and allows herself to “draw” with light. A physical and very unphysical action at the same time, in both her filmmaking and her photography these aspects of her work reveal a fascination with transparency and opacity, positive and negative space.
Ana Cardoso is an artist living in New York, working mostly in painting. She has recently had solo exhibitions at Carlos Carvalho Contemporary Art, Lisbon and Reflexus Contemporary Art, Oporto. Cardoso contributed work to “Besides, With, Against and Yet: Abstraction and the Ready-Made”,The Kitchen, New York and “Personal Freedom” Portugal Arte 10 EDP: International Contemporary Art Biennale, Lisbon. Forthcoming exhibitions include “Llama, Conduits, Milano and Expanded Painting” in the 2011 Prague Biennale. Her work has been reviewed in Artforum, Flash Art, ArtSlant and NY Arts Magazine amongst others. She has been a contributing writer to Artecapital and has produced several artists books. She also co-founded the international project TEST, based in Lisbon, with Joao Simoes.
Flora Wiegmann is a dancer/choreographer who is based in Los Angeles. She works in both live performance and film, often collaborating with artists such as Felicia Ballos, Amy Granat, Fritz Haeg, Drew Heitzler, Silke Otto-Knapp, Alix Lambert, and Andrea Zittel. Her projects have been presented the ICA in Philadelphia, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Kitchen, Highways Performance Space, the Banff Centre in Banff, Canada; the David Roberts Art Foundation, London; and Le 102 in Grenoble, France. She currently is in the midst of a four-month performance project at The Orange County Museum of Art as part of the California Biennial.
Liutauras Psibilskis is a New York-based independent exhibition curator. At the 51st Venice Biennale he curated a Jonas Mekas retrospective for the Lithuanian Pavilion. His recent projects include “Out of the Box” at Emily Harvey Foundation, New York, October 2010, that included work by Olivier Babin & Harold Ancart, Peter Coffin, Heather Guertin, Matt Keegan, George Maciunas and Alexandre Singh as well as “Roulette”, a multi-faceted project for Performa 09, co-produced by OUTPOST NYC DCG. It showcased performances and presentations by Michel Auder, Mai Ueda, Amy Granat, Jonas Mekas, Molly Gochman, Lola Schnabel and Ultra Violet.