Our Shared Past blends the personal and universal through the prism of family
[“It Was Supposed to be Fun.” All original images courtesy of Jefree Shalev.]
[“A Few Years Later,” photograph by Carolyn Brass, 2013.]
The phenomenon of memories can be as slippery and ephemeral as the combination of passing time and thought that lifts them into our consciousness. Does every memory that we keep carry with it some importance and resonance? Why will one recollection occupy our lives while others are overlooked, dismissed or forgotten altogether? Refined through the spectrum of our feelings and emotions, the past can bring us joy, resentment, and even mislead us completely. When combined with nostalgia, that seemingly-universal longing for what can no longer be experienced, a remembrance can even turn into a kind of memorial. Nostalgia can be likened to a funeral where time is buried, yet we still insist on revisiting the headstone, in some weird hope of deciphering these memorials of our past.
And if there is an even greater collective resemblance of memory, it is that they are generally tied into relationships; reveries which seem tethered to our connections to lovers, enemies, our own place in the greater universe, and invariably family. Continue reading →
Photographer Roy Berry chronicles the colorful characters of Fan Cons
[“Trekkie and Son”]
In 1908, a certain Mr. and Mrs. William Fell of Cincinnati, Ohio arrived at a masquerade ball dressed as (respectively) “Mr. Skygack” and “Miss Dillpickles,” two then-popular comic strip characters. Their motivations remain unknown. And whether or not the Fells wound up in the social register or mental asylum is an equal mystery. But their entrance that evening at a Midwestern skating rink decked out in colorful and otherworldly garb is considered the first documented instance of individuals dressing up as science fiction and comic book-born entities.
Fast forward three decades later to 1939. Pioneering science fiction author, editor, publisher, and visionary polymath Forrest J. Ackerman attended that year’s inaugural World Science Fiction Convention in Manhattan donning a “futuristicostume.” In a memoir piece penned by sci-fi author and fellow attendee Dave Kyle, Ackerman arrived at this ground-breaking event with his shirt imprinted with the superhero-like-symbol “4SJ” (as in Forrest J. Ackermann) while “wearing his eye-catching street costume with green cape and baggy breeches.”
Since his death in 2008 at the age of 92, Ackermann has been credited as being the undeniable spearhead in launching genres such as horror and science fiction from the underground world of pulp magazines into the stratosphere of popular culture. Among his many accomplishments, Ackermann coined the term “sci-fi,” helped propel and push the literary and creative careers of writers including Ray Bradbury, Marion Zimmer Bradley, L. Ron Hubbard, as well as über-cult hero Ed Wood, while amassing a personal collection of over 300,000 pieces of memorabilia.
Tony Rodrigues and Mark George join forces for an upcoming show
The friendship of Tony Rodrigues and Mark George was initially formed over the bond of making visual art. The two met in 1991while still in their late teens and early twenties, creating collages and assemblages that were fueled by their shared love of the DIY ethos of art-fueled entities like punk rock and Dadaism. Since then, Rodrigues and George have each enjoyed respective success by exploring their highly individual approaches. Rodrigues reappropriates found imagery of the past century and creates canvases by juxtaposing those same signifiers into a highly personal visual vocabulary that can be disturbing and playful, sometimes in the same composition. Along with spouse Wendy C. Lovejoy, Rodrigues has also created the popular line of TACT apparel that brings his eye-engaging sense of design to the world of fashion. Using greenhouse roofing material as his de facto canvas, George paints haunting, Neo-Pop art portraits in acrylics; his pieces can resemble road signs from a bygone era or surveillance snapshots that give the audience the sense of being voyeurs and witnesses to secretive, intimate exchanges. Yet despite their separate endeavors over the years, Rodrigues and George have invariably taken the time to work in cooperation and share ideas. These opportunities have been a chance for the two old friends to blow off steam, encourage one another and chart their growth from two art-enthralled teenaged punk rockers into bona fide, well-respected visual artists. Continue reading →
Ed Paschke (1939-2204) “Malibu,” 1984, oil on linen. Acquisition Trust Fund. MOCA Jacksonville Permanent Collection.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville is currently hosting the exhibit “ReFocus: Art of the 1980s” through January 6. The collection features works by eighties arts luminaries including David Salle, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman and Eric Fischl, along with works by influential predecessors such as Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, David Hockney and James Rosenquist. MOCA has been offering some decent programming to coincide with the exhibit. Some of their choices have been sublime: Barbara Colaciello’s October 11th lecture chronicling her time working at Andy Warhol’s de facto art manufacturing plant The Factory was a resounding success. While other events, such as the Nov. 8th screening of the 1983 David Bowie-driven, new wave vampire suckfest known as “The Hunger,” veered towards the sappy.
The museum’s final 80s-themed event has the possibility of being the most interesting, if not community specific, of them all. This Saturday, Dec. 15 from 1-5 p.m., MOCA presents “MyFocus: A Community Response to the Art of the ‘80s” a unique panel discussion that features 11 members of the Northeast Florida arts scene. This free event allows these artists a chance to talk about specific pieces from the exhibit while also reflecting on their own lives during the decade that witnessed everything from the arrival of AIDS and Reaganomics, to the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of crack cocaine. Continue reading →