Release date: May 31, 2015
In 2013, MOCRA celebrated its twentieth anniversary, a perfect time to talk with people who have been affiliated with the museum over the years: those who had a hand in MOCRA’s genesis, artists who have participated in exhibitions at MOCRA, and other participants in the broader dialogue between contemporary art and religion and spirituality. With "MOCRA Memories" we bring you these conversations and reflections.
This two-part episode features people involved with MOCRA's groundbreaking 1994 exhibition, Consecrations: The Spiritual in Art in the Time of AIDS.
Producer: David Brinker
Recording Engineer and Editor: Mike Schrand
Host: Linda Kennedy
Theme and Incidental Music: Stephen James Neale
Listening Guide:David Brinker
Listening Guide, Part 1
When Nancy Hoffman opened a gallery in SoHo in 1972, she was among the first contemporary art dealers to open a gallery in lower Manhattan, showing paintings, sculpture, drawings, photographs, video, and installations. Since then she has built a reputation as one of the most respected art dealers in America, maintaining commitment, consistency and loyalty to its artists over the years. Some of the artists have shown with the gallery since 1972, others have joined the gallery in recent years. The artists come from Australia, China, France, England and the United States and have had exhibitions in this country, Europe, Australia, Asia, as well as the first virtual "art exhibition" in space on astronaut's computer screens. One painter said, "I felt that Nancy understood and appreciated my work." In October 2008, after more than 35 years in SoHo, the gallery moved to its new home at 520 West 27th Street in Chelsea.
Cuban-American artist Juan Gonzalez (1942-93) was noted for his exquisite magic realist paintings that incorporated art historical references but evoked a state of dreamlike wonder. See samples of his work on the Nancy Hoffman Gallery website.
Juan Gonzalez, Don't Mourn, Consecrate, 1987.
MOCRA's 1994 exhibition Consecrations: The Spiritual in Art in the Time of AIDS drew its title from a Gonzalez work, Don't Mourn, Consecrate, first presented in 1987 at New York University's Grey Art Gallery, whose street front windows overlook Washington Square. The work was later featured in MOCRA at Fifteen: Good Friday (2009); and Good Friday: The Suffering Christ in Contemporary Art (2010).
Anne Minich is a Philadelphia-based artist. A gifted painter, her works have been described as "the epitome of strength, vulnerability, and mystery." She studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, where she met artist Juan Gonzalez in 1967 when they were both students. Her work has been exhibited nationally and is found in public collections including the Walker Museum of Art, Bowdoin College; Bryn Mawr College Library Collection; the Linda Lee Alter Collection, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; and the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral.
Anne Minich, Annie's Tulips, 1994. Mixed media. MOCRA collection. Photo by Jeffrey Vaughn.
Minich refers to a sculptural group by Italian Baroque artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) titled The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (or, Saint Teresa in Ecstasy). Generally considered to be one of the sculptural masterpieces of the Baroque period, it portrays a vision described in the autobiography of the sixteenth-century Spanish mystic Teresa of Ávila, a cloistered Discalced Carmelite nun. Learn more here.
Daniel Goldstein is a San Francisco-based artist originally from New York. His woodblock prints, collages and sculptures have been exhibited in leading galleries and museums throughout the world. His undergraduate studies took place at Brandeis University where he studied with Michael Mazer and Peter Grippe. He received his BA at The University of California, Santa Cruz. Graduate studies continued at San Francisco State University and St. Martin's in London where his teachers included Sir Anthony Caro and William Tucker. Permanent collections containing Goldstein's work include The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, The Oakland Museum, The Berkeley Art Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago and The Brooklyn Museum of Art, as well as MOCRA. His large public sculptures are owned by numerous American and international corporations and municipalities. His mobiles and kinetic works are on display in plazas, lobbies, train stations and town squares from California to Pennsylvania. Goldstein is also the founding president of Under One Roof and Visual Aid, two highly successful non-profits that generate funds for education, medical and support services.
The Castro district in San Francisco may be familiar to many listeners as the primary setting of the 2008 movie Milk. Learn more about the history of the Castro on Wikipedia.
June 5, 1981, marked the first published descriptions of the disease that would come to be known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS , a complex of opportunistic infections that take advantage of an immune system weakened by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. The amfAR website provides this timeline of the impact of AIDS over the ensuing 30 years, from the 159 cases reported in the U.S. in 1981, to the over 33 million estimated worldwide cases today. Another timeline is provided by AVERT. This New York Times article reports on new research showing that HIV was laying its first roots as early as the 1920s.
It may be difficult for some today to appreciate just how devastating the impact of HIV/AIDS was upon those infected in the early years. Lack of scientific knowledge about the disease and its causes led to unfounded rumors and consequent discrimination against and ostracizing of both HIV+ patients and people in high risk groups, particularly gay men. The epidemic devastated whole communities with predominantly gay residents, yet also led to grassroots activism to address the needs of the ill, to educate those at risk, to fund scientific research, and to influence government policy and public opinion. (The U.S. government response, initially distressingly tepid, has since become quite robust.)
Daniel Goldstein, Icarian XI / Leg Extension, 1993. Leather, sweat, wood, copper, felt and Plexiglas. MOCRA collection. Photo by Jeffrey Vaughn.
In various religious traditions including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity, relics are the physical remains of revered holy figures. Relics might include bones, pieces of clothing, or an object associated with a saint. A reliquary is a container, often quite elaborate, for relics. Reliquaries may be displayed in shrines, churches, or temples to which the faithful make pilgrimages in order to gain blessings. Learn more about Christian reliquaries and see examples on the Metropolitan Museum website.
Icarus is a character from Greek mythology. Icarus and his father, the master craftsman Daedalus, attempt to escape imprisonment by means of wings constructed from feathers and wax. Despite his father's warning to fly neither too low (where the sea's dampness would clog the wings) nor too high (where the sun's heat would melt the wax), Icarus flew too close to the sun. The wax in his wings melted and he plummeted into the sea. Read more about this tale of hubris.
We Were Here is a 2011 documentary by David Weissman that takes a deep and reflective look back at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco. Watch the trailer:
Daniel Goldstein also talks about the Icarian series in an episode of the radio program "Snap Judgment":
San Francisco-based curator and artist Ramekon O'Arwisters incorporates drawing, painting, collage, and assemblage in his work, which deals with race, gender and spirituality. He was a recipient of a 2002 Artadia Award and a 2014 Eureka Fellow, awarded by the Fleishhacker Foundation, San Francisco. He has exhibited at the Luggage Store, San Francisco, California, and Kato Gallery, Tokyo, Japan. He was honored with my second San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artist Grant in 2011. He is presently curator of photography and video art at the SFO Museum. His social art practice, Crochet Jam, is about bringing people together to participate in crocheting large free-form rag rugs in public. Crochet Jam is rooted in cherished memories from his North Carolina childhood.
The Shroud of Turin is a length of linen cloth kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin and believed by some to be the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth. The cloth bears the image of a man who appears to have suffered physical trauma in a manner consistent with crucifixion. Despite extensive scientific testing, however, the age and authenticity of the cloth have yet to be definitively established. Learn about the history of the Shroud of Turin in this report from National Geographic, or in a more extensive discussion on Wikipedia.
Listening Guide, Part 2
Though she came to prominence as a fashion photographer, Carolyn Jones is known internationally for her portraiture, and has employed her skills to work with people to help raise awareness for social issues that she feels strongly about. She studied at Syracuse University and photographed for publications such as Interview, Italian Vogue, Italian Bambini, Mademoiselle, Self, and Esquire. In 1994 her portraits of people living with HIV and AIDS was published as the book Living Proof: Courage in the Face of AIDS. Five of these portraits are now in the MOCRA collection. Since then, Jones has continued to photograph and interviews, as well as direct films. Her most recent publication is The American Nurse, published by Welcome Books in 2012. Also in 2012, Jones was featured as one of 50 subjects in Everyday Heroes: 50 Americans Changing the World One Nonprofit at a Time.
A film about the Living Proof project, directed by Kermit Cole, includes interviews with many of the participants, including Ross Johnson. Watch it on YouTube:
The arts community has been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, and has responded to the crisis in the most natural way it could, through the creation and presentation of art. An organization called Visual AIDS continues to play an active role in the arts community. According to the Visual AIDS website, the organization "utilizes art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists, and preserving a legacy, because AIDS is not over." Visual AIDS works for HIV prevention and AIDS awareness through visual art projects; provides assistance to artists living with HIV/AIDS; and preserves and promotes the legacy of artist who have died from AIDS. (A similar initiative is The Estate Project for Artists with AIDS.)
Visual AIDS initiated Day With(out) Art, an annual observance each year on World AIDS Day (December 1), for which galleries and museums display (or sometimes remove) works of art, or present other programs to mark the impact of HIV/AIDS on the arts community. MOCRA participates annually in the Day With(out) Art observance. MOCRA's 2006 observance featured images from Living Proof projected alongside Andy Warhol's Silver Clouds.
Carolyn Jones, Don Adler and His Mother, from Living Proof: Courage in the Face of AIDS, 1994.
Photograph. MOCRA collection. Courtesy of the artist.
Horatio Hung-Yan Law came to the United States from Hong Kong with his family when he was 16 years old. This multi-cultural background has shaped his work as a multimedia artist. Working both as a solo artist and in projects involving the community, Law uses ephemeral and unexpected materials to address issues of identity, memory, and the losses and gains of cultures in the evolving global community. He resides in Portland, Oregon, where he is on the faculty of Pacific Northwest College of Art.. Visit Law's website here.
Horatio Hung-Yan Law, Meditations on the Way of the Cross in the Time of AIDS: The Psalms for the Bridegroom's Widower, 1992. Mixed media. MOCRA collection. Photo by Jeffrey Vaughn.
Horatio Hung-Yan Law, Meditations on the Way of the Cross in the Time of AIDS: The Psalms for the Bridegroom's Widower (detail), 1992. Mixed media. MOCRA collection. Photo by Jeffrey Vaughn.
Don Grant lives in Emeryville, California and has been a practicing artist since the early 1980s, working in ceramic, mixed media and painting. Grant often incorporates a reference to the human figure in his art and he explores the interconnection among people, mortality, and the possibility that spirituality offers for transcendence from the pain of being human. He is also a musical performer and composer, and plays electric and acoustic guitar as well as keyboards.
Donald Grant, Robe and Flame, 1992. Acrylic on panel. Courtesy of the artist.
Donald Grant, Vessel, 1992. Acrylic on panel under tempered glass. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Jeffrey Vaughn.
Donald Grant, Vessel (detail), 1992. Acrylic on panel under tempered glass.
Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Jeffrey Vaughn.
Jude Woodcock , from Gloverbottom, Missouri, went to Missouri State in Springfield, graduating with a B.S. in Dance, Theater and Art with Cum Laude Honors. She became a member of Pilobolus Dance Theater in 1984 and lived her dream dancing and touring the world for ten years. From 1989 to 1994 Ms. Woodcock represented Pilobolus as the Dance Captain, during which time she managed the company operation while on the road, running auditions, rehearsals, and training of new company members. She also enjoyed representing the company's teaching philosophy through master classes and workshops throughout the world.
Upon retiring in 1994, Jude moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands to be with her longtime companion, and now husband. She still enjoys working with Pilobolus in a teaching capacity, leading workshops and teaching repertory to companies across the country.
Jude Woodcock performing Moonblind. Image courtesy of Jude Woodcock.
Dance critic Tony Angarano wrote in the September 24, 1994, edition of the Hartford Courant:
With her stunning solo ``Moonblind'' (1978), Jude Woodcock also showed how movement can portray a state of mind. Wearing a slinky gown, the platinum-haired dancer used her seemingly boneless arms and legs to create a sensuous portrait of a woman possessed. ``Moonblind'' has become a signature piece for Woodcock; and this weekend she makes her farewell appearances with Pilobolus. In the future, no other dancer should ever perform it -- so strongly and memorably has Woodcock become associated with Alison Chase's choreography.
Alison Chase is a choreographer, director, master teacher and theatrical artist, as well as a Founding Artistic Director of Pilobolus Dance Theater. Visit her website here.