Museum Closed: Art & Ephemera From The Division Leap Collection Opening Night Party

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Museum Closed: Art & Ephemera From The Division Leap Collection Opening Night Party

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Friday night! (March 20th) 8PM All are welcome! Please join us for the opening of our monumental show titled "Museum Closed". This has been years/weeks in the making and it's finally here. The work is phenomenal and should be seen by everyone. There will be a live musical set from PMOMA favorite Dragging an Ox Through Water to celebrate the evening! MUSEUM CLOSED: ART EPHEMERA FROM THE DIVISION LEAP COLLECTION Run by Adam Davis and Kate Schaefer, Division Leap is a Portland-based rare book store, archive and gallery with a significant catalog of ephemera relating to 20th-century art and social movements. For this exhibit, Division Leap granted PMOMA access to their complete collection, allowing curator Libby Werbel freedom to apply her own selection process. The exhibit that emerges represents an active creative partnership between Division Leap and PMOMA. Ephemera is defined as “any transitory written or printed matter not meant to be retained or preserved.” An exhibit of this nature can appear underwhelming to the casual viewer: an array of crinkled papers and time-worn playbills. But examine them carefully and what materializes is a vast referential landscape of important 20th century art and social practice. Division Leap’s collection evidences the overlap between art and activism that defined many 20th century art collectives. The work straddles the line between documentation and art, with many pieces fascinating for their graphic design and artistic skill as much as their content. On display you will find postcards from Wallace Berman, commemorative sheet music by La Monte Young, and original art by Arthur Russell and French poet Claude Pelieu, as well as ephemera from Joe Brainard, Ray Johnson and Keith Haring. Global interdisciplinary art collective Fluxus and late-sixties San Francisco community action group Diggers are also represented. Also present are flyers for art events and happenings, poetry readings and concerts (such as a bill for a show featuring authors Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, DiPrima and theatrical drag troupe the Cockettes). These are peripheral materials that reveal the activities of artists in their own time and place, the exhibitionary spaces they carved out for themselves and for each other. Other highlights: Artist and mystic John Urho Kemp, also known as “Crystal John,” sought metaphysical meaning in numbers and formulas. Densely covering pages of scrap paper in cryptic numeric sequences, he would frequently photocopy and distribute his work in the street and on car windows in his Oakland neighborhood in order to spread his findings to a wider audience. Part of the mail art movement initiated by Ray Johnson, Anna Banana’s contribution is in the form of the “artistamp,” a stamp-sized canvas for artistic expression, meant to decoratively adorn envelopes alongside more “legitimate” postage. Black Mask was a wily 1960s anarchist bunch who decided the most insurrectionary act would be to interrupt MoMA’s regular operation, subversively setting their own hours with a “MUSEUM CLOSED” sign. On the back of the leaflet is a manifesto decrying museums as oppressive and irrelevant institutions. A photograph from the TUWAT Conference chronicles a radicalized moment in German history: the 1981 Berlin TUWAT Conference was a large-scale protest of the eviction of squatters from eight Berlin apartment complexes. Berlin has a long history of squatting, alongside stringent policies that made it difficult to rent legally without a burden of extensive documentation. “Tuwat” is German slang for “do something.” A stapled booklet of 1968 House Un-American Activities Committee hearing records serves as a reminder of the grave social and political risks confronted by artists and activists in order to make their voices heard within the last century of American history.

By: Portland Museum of Modern Art