Wednesday, July 7, 2010

John Waters' Art Exhibit: RUSH

I went to see John Waters’ art exhibition today at the Rena Bransten Gallery on Geary Street in San Francisco. It's called RUSH. The exhibit closes on July 10. Try to go see it. It's worth your while.

I’ll talk about my favorite pieces in a minute. Right now I want to focus on several of his pieces which were collages of photos taken from images on TV. I really liked many of them. The show is smallish so there aren’t that many of any one style. But you do get a sense of how he's using these -- and he definitely inspired me.

You walk into the gallery and there’s a beautiful collage of TV photos of Johnny Mathis. I loved that one very much.

I was drawn to these because I have taken photos from the TV for years. And they're really difficult to do because you get all kinds of distortions. One of my earliest ones was a photo of Elsa Lancaster as the Bride of Frankenstein -- she has just waken up from death and is all twitchy. I took the photo before she sees her lover-to-be and lets out a blood-curdling scream. Lancaster is in profile with dark lipstick, slightly bulging eyes, and that wavy hair -- she looks gorgeous!

[got this from the internet ... unknown photographer]

I took a silk screening class -- oh, this must be 1981 or 1982 -- and made a silk screen of this image. If you want to see a clip of the Bride coming to life on You Tube -- it's very trippy: Click here.

Tonight I made a crude version of my simulation of what John Waters did with his TV photos. It’s a photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Ice Man in Batman and Robin. I took these photos a couple of years ago.

Originally, I created a post card with one of Arnie's faces and text next to it that is a quote from Arnie: “I think that gay marriage should be between a man and a woman.” Actual quote, by the way.

Back to Waters ... John Waters also puts words very effectively between photos in the collage. I’m not sure if the words are photos taken from TV images or not.

And, of course, his humor is a big presence in many of the pieces. Maybe I should rephrase that ... his SICK humor is a big presence. For example, he has a collage of 12 or more photos of Audrey Hepburn ... in her elegant outfits and hats -- with hickeys all over her prominent neck. And, you guessed it, the last two photos are from The Nun’s Story.

Okay, here were the other ones that I really liked:
  • TV photos, about 6 of them - each photo shows the progression of someone opening a folded piece of paper ... about photo #3 you can read what the paper says: Lezzie ... so the last three photos the word Lezzie is completely visible. So simple. But it says so much. To me anyway.
  • Close up of a dog whose eyes are blazing with fury.
  • “Undertaker” - Collage of photos of various celebrities in movies where they are lying in a casket. The word “Undertaker” is in the collage several times.
  • A photo of a painting of John Waters -- at least I think it's a painting -- John Waters at about 11 years old ... the photo includes the frame. And the same wood is used to frame this photo of the painting! (He is so nutty-funny.) But the funny part is that he must have retouched the photo because this little young Johnny Waters has a pencil-thin mustache. (Love that mustache!)
  • A parody of those SMILE Foundation ads where you see photos of a lot of kids with cleft palates -- his version is a collage of photos of celebrities (retouched) so that all of them have cleft palates.
  • A collage of bums (booties) -- most of the photos are of TV photos being projected onto bare bums. Quite good. And erotic.
See my earlier post about attending the City Arts & Lectures event: John Waters in conversation with Kevin Berger.


Charlotte said...

The exhibit sounds so cool and I'm envious of you for seeing it! Wish it would come here.....

Ms. Manitoba said...

Charlotte -- thanks for visiting ... but, hey, envious? Really? Goodness golly, girl, you live in New Orleans!!! I love your website ... gonna come on over again and tell you there too. We have a lot of likes in common. I love your photography too. And, my family is originally Acadian ... so I got lots of Cajun cousins methinks.