Release Date: December 20, 2006
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- An exhibition titled "Joe Brainard, People of the
World: Relax!!" will open in the UB Art Gallery with a public reception at 5 p.m. on Jan. 25. The exhibition will highlight original drawings from Brainard's self-published journal "C Comics 2" as well as assemblages, collages and paper cut outs. Also on view will be numerous publications to which Brainard contributed writings and drawings such as "The White Dove Review," "C Journal" and "Big Sky."
Joe Brainard (1942-94) grew up in Tulsa, Okla., where he first began designing signs and posters for school clubs. In high school Brainard acted as the art director for the "White Dove Review," a magazine of contemporary art and writing founded by Ron Padgett and Dick Gallup. In late 1960 he moved to New York City, where he continued his early collaborations with poets and writers, as well as developed an engaging visual art practice. Throughout the 1960s and '70s, Brainard was part of a burgeoning literary and artistic circle that included, Frank O'Hara, James Schuyler, Larry Rivers, Jane Freilicher, Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns.
The influences of Johns, Warhol and Joseph Cornell can be seen in Brainard's early paintings and assemblages but, as Ron Padgett states on the artist's Web site, "Joe's work soon distinguished itself by its lyricism, wit, warmth and generosity, combined with his penchant for making art that was unabashedly beautiful." His collages and intricately detailed flower and grass paper cut outs pressed between layers of Plexiglas are like visual poems, while his bejeweled assemblages made out of dime-store materials and urban detritus are suggestive of religious reliquaries.
Brainard's writings fall into several categories: memoir, diaries, Pop Art, short essays and verbal-visual collaborations. Drawing from the University at Buffalo Poetry and Rare Book Collection's vast assortment of journals, magazines, broadsides and first-edition books, this exhibition will capture the freewheeling and generative excitement of New York City in the 1960s and 70s.
In conjunction with the exhibition "Joe Brainard, People of the World: Relax!!," the UB Art Galleries and the University at Buffalo Poetry and Rare Books Collection will present two special events. On Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. Ron Padgett and Kenward Elmslie will give a poetry reading in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The event, "Mixed Media," is part of the Gusto at the Gallery Series and will also feature local favorites the David Kane Quartet and a site specific performance by Nimbus Dance. A poet, Padgett grew up in Tulsa, where he met Joe Brainard at the age of six. Padgett's recent books include the memoir, "Oklahoma Tough: My Father, King of the Tulsa Bootleggers," the collection of poems, "You Never Know" and "Joe: A Memoir of Joe Brainard."
As a member of the first generation New York School of Poets, Elmslie introduced contemporary poetry to Broadway in the form of musicals. Among his many books of poetry, Elmslie has also created work for the musical stage: "Postcards on Parade," "City Junket" and an adaptation of Truman Capote's "The Grass Harp."
On Feb. 1 at 1 p.m., a Brown Bag Lunch Lecture by Steven Clay will take place in the First Floor Gallery of the UB Art Gallery. Steven Clay, publisher of Granary Books, is an editor, curator and archivist specializing in the American art and literature of the 1960s, '70s and '80s. He is the author, with Rodney Phillips, of "A Secret Location on the Lower East Side: Adventures in Writing 1960-1980."
Both events are free and open to the public.
The UB Art Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday with extended hours from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday.
The UB Art Gallery is funded by the UB College of Arts Sciences, the Visual Arts Building Fund, the Seymour H. Knox Foundation Fine Arts Fund and the Fine Arts Center Endowment. Additional funding for this exhibition is provided by Just Buffalo Literary Center, the University at Buffalo Poetry and Rare Books Collection and the Department of Visual Studies. The Steven Clay lecture is sponsored by the Mildred Lockwood Lacey Fund for Poetry.