Sunday, November 20, 2011


Top photograph: Niagara at the well-attended opening of the Destroy All Monsters Retrospective last night (11.19.11) at Prism Gallery (second photo and all others herein) in Hollywood which displayed the work of the initial collective of fine art colleagues which morphed into a band of the same name.

D.A.M. the art school squadron bivouacked in Detroit were Mike Kelley, Cary Loren, Jim Shaw and Niagara. D.A.M the band roped in Ron Asheton of The Stooges, Mike Davis of the MC5 and an ever-osmosing roll call until becoming so different that its name changed into Dark Carnival.

These artists/musicians were the American 1970s equivalent of The Fool, The Dutch/English 1960s artists/musicians: highly influential in graphics, fine art, style and music respectively, and the real deal in all fields. D.A.M. had numerous releases in the original punk era, and a great deal of coverage in the burgeoning fanzine scene that predated e-zines.

As a former UCLA art student also enamored of Japanese monster movies (photographed my own collection and wrote an article on the subject for Crawdaddy magazine, 1976) and punk rock (wrote the first book on same published in the U.S., Punk Rock 'n' Roll, 1977,) I was in hog heaven at this exhibit. I'll let my photos tell its story with a tidbit of context below, although the astute easily will pick out Niagara's unique stylings of pop art-ish femme fatales.

A brief aside in explanation of some of these artifacts from the early '70s--- In the last two photos, on the left the hydra-headed cobra was emblem of the Symbionese Liberation Army, cadre that kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst, while on the right with the red hair colored in, is seen the most idiosyncratic, oddball fashionista of the post Belle Epoque, Marquesa Casati.

Before those images in expositional material that accompanied the exhibit for context: Bernardine Dohrn (correct spelling) was titular figurehead of uber-radicals the Weather Underground, no doubt welcomed by the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) spoofed in the flyer; many art students delighted in making images from the then newly available to the public color xerox machines which made suitable full gradation black+white pictures as well (this is where the punk style of same originated); and so many of these paintings are 8 1/2 x11" or 8 1/2 x14" not only because that was a popular size for printed flyers and xerox images, but also because we art students tended to draw on any found paper around, comprised mainly of the standard sized ones.

Exuberant artist in front of her own all-knowing eye on the hagiographic Niagara book...

Check out more coverage of this event and wonderful further links related to its participants from Ann Arbor's own Retrokimmer who is friends with so many of these D.A.M. individuals! Go to LINK

NOTE: link directly back to if all elements such as photo layouts or videos aren't here.


Kim Baise said...

so much eye candy here!and history...much i didn't know. looks like a wonderful show and i especially love the edie sedgewick in ochre <3

Fast Film said...

Kim, it's so fun to see artists who share one's own interests, no matter what different directions we all took. I remembered that original black and white Edie Sedgwick pic as well, and so, obviously, did this artist.

What's extra fun about these artists is that they were part of what congealed into all of our punk graphics look with the xeroxes and the montages of images that struck us. Did you catch Marquesa Casati?

Fast Film said...

Lastly, of other rockers who also still do fine art, Rick Ruiner is an excellent constructionist with a sure touch, like Rauschenberg. The "coulda been a contender" in fine art brilliance is Mike Davis of MC5.

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