The opening was on Saturday, Oct 21, and it was GOOD.
Curated by Terri c. Smith, a Bard Curitorial Program grad and someone who has done her research. I went with my friend Pat from New Haven and I had no expectations for this show – it could be great or it could be not so great. And it was very good (i.e., great) and completely engaging. Work by people I know, people I don’t know but admire, and people I once knew: Peggy Ahwesh, Max Almy, Ericka Beckman, Gretchen Bender, Dara Birnbaum, Cecelia Condit, Cecilia Dougherty, Ulysses Jenkins, Nam June Paik, Ann Magnuson, Piplotti Rist, and Michael Smith. Newcomers Am Schmidt and Willie Stewart as well.
Pat and I stayed ’til closing time. She took my picture – you can get a glimpse of how each artist’s work is installed – clean and neat, plenty of room to watch, and Paik’s work was set up with a comfy padded bench for viewing.
The show is up through the year, closing on Jan. 14, with a curator walk-through and reception on Dec. 9 from 3-5 PM.
Tubular Times is a group exhibition that features significant video art made from 1981-1993. The show also includes thematically related satellite installations with newer works by contemporary artists Am Schmidt and Willie Stewart. The historic component will be on view in the main gallery and black box room and will feature approximately twelve artists, including Peggy Ahwesh, Max Almy, Ericka Beckman, Gretchen Bender, Dara Birnbaum, Cecelia Condit, Cecilia Dougherty, Ulysses Jenkins, Nam June Paik, Ann Magnuson, Pipilotti Rist, and Michael Smith.
Terri C. Smith is showing my little-known 1986 video, SICK, a visual monologue about being disabled and closeted about my disability. But it’s not all doom and gloom – it’s an experimental piece created at the San Francisco Art Insitute, in Studio 9, which was equipped with a gigantic Grass Valley Switcher and Downstream Keyer. All our effects and colors were created in the live mix. Very analog, and lots ‘n lots of fun!
The exhibition is inspired by Vestron video, which was a production company and VHS distributor located in Stamford, Connecticut in the eighties and early nineties. Sharing qualities with Vestron’s catalog of B-horror, music video, and campy humor, many of the works in Tubular Times layer comedy, horror, and music to address 1980s political themes in the U.S., including the AIDS crisis, a growing wealth gap, and Reagan-era backlash to the civil liberties of the 1960s and 1970s. The show’s title references: cathode-ray tube (CRT) televisions used in the 1980s; that decade’s saying “totally tubular”; and phonetically suggests the word turbulent.
1981 was the first year of MTV and the first year of the AIDS epidemic, setting much of the tone for a decade. It’s not surprising, then, that the video art of the 1980s exhibited a unique mix of urgency, desperation, camp, and techno celebration. In the video art of that era, gender identity, a sense of life-and-death urgency, theatricality, satire, and experimental digital techniques coalesced. During this time, we see irreverent divergences from the conceptual video art of the 1970s which, while often addressing sociopolitical themes, was rarely directly influenced by television and movies. With cable television growing in the mid-1970s and being in sixty-percent of American houses by 1992 and with VHS bringing movies into the home, the topographies of entertainment shifted dramatically during this time. Video editing also became more sophisticated, allowing artists to appropriate imagery from pop culture.
Vestron’s catalog was a mix of comedy, satirical spoofs, and thriller/horror genres. The company also was involved in music videos and released Making of Michael Jackson’sThriller. Vestron is best known for the film Dirty Dancing, but other movies they released include: quirky comedies like Earth Girls are Easy and The Princess Bride; horror movies such as Slaughter High and Horror Hill; and comedy-horror films such as Sundown: the Vampire Retreat and Lair of the White Worm. For some of the artists in Tubular Times, horror—a genre inextricably linked to VHS—becomes an allegory for the othering of the LGBTQ+ community as well as the systemic failure and loss of life during the AIDS crisis, which was further exacerbated by Reagan-era policies that centered cisgender, heteronormative, white, capitalist ideals. The resulting ethos of these videos is to varying degrees harrowing and hysterically funny.
It is fitting to locate Totally Tubular—an exhibition inspired by this piece of Connecticut film history—at Real Art Ways, a contemporary art space that has a long, rich history of supporting independent cinema through its film programming.
The work of artist Cecilia Dougherty explores the nature of queer women’s relationships to one another, society, and the everyday, as well as a feminist analysis of lesbian sexuality, psychologies, and intimacies inside a culture that is, at best, indifferent and at worst, hostile. She often uses methodologies borrowed from documentary and biography to map contemporary realities over pop-historical icons, creating art that deals with nostalgia, popular culture, and the state of society. Looking to Dougherty’s lasting legacy, we are pleased to present the lecture “Make Believe, It’s Just like the Truth Clings to It”: In Conversation with the Work of Cecilia Dougherty given by Amanda Mendelsohn, Graduate Distribution Assistant at the Video Data Bank, and School of the Art Institute of Chicago M.A. candidate in Modern and Contemporary Art History.
Exploring the earlier video works of Dougherty, this talk will address issues of identity, queerness, and experimentation. The four titles discussed, The Drama of the Gifted Child, My Failure to Assimilate, The dream and the waking, and Gone, range from 1992 to 2001, illuminating a specific time period of Dougherty’s work. Based on their VDBTV essay in part drawn from their interview with Dougherty, Mendelsohn explores their relationship to Dougherty’s experimental practice and catalog, as well as how the pieces fit into the broader picture of analysis. The lecture will be followed by an interview between Mendelsohn and Dougherty, then followed by an audience Q&A session.
“Make Believe, It’s Just like the Truth Clings to It”:
In Conversation with the Work of Cecilia DoughertyMonday, February 27, 2023, 7:00pm (EST)
The work of Cecilia Dougherty explores the nature of queer women’s relationships to one another, society, and the everyday as well as providing a feminist analysis of lesbian sexuality, psychologies, and intimacies inside a culture that is, at best, indifferent and at worst, hostile. She often uses methodologies borrowed from documentary and biography to map contemporary realities over pop-historical icons, creating art that deals with nostalgia, popular culture, and the social realm.
Looking to Dougherty’s lasting legacy, we are pleased to present the lecture “Make Believe, It’s Just Like the Truth Clings to It: In Conversation with the Work of Cecilia Dougherty.” The event is a conversation between Cecilia Doughery and Amanda Mendelsohn of the Video Data Bank at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Cecilia Dougherty got her start as a video artist in an unconventional way, fitting for her experimental body of work. As an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley, Dougherty was a painter. However, in her last semester of college, she took a video production class, changing the course of her education and career permanently. Dougherty fell in love with video art, and was inspired to singularly pursue the medium. Using the one video she made for that class,
Dougherty applied to the Performance and Video MFA program at the San Francisco Institute of Art in the late ‘80s, and the rest was history. Prior to this, she had very little knowledge about the history of video art, let alone the process of making it. Additionally, during this time period Dougherty was grappling with her identity as a lesbian in a heteronormative society, working to “find an adequate expression of it as a place to exist inside the social realm sexually, politically, and personally.”
She was simultaneously breaking ground in new territory as an artist, and that territory for lesbian expression was in no way near established for video art. Combining this aspect of her life with her practice, Dougherty created the following works included in this program: TheDrama of the Gifted Child (1992), My Failure to Assimilate (1995), The dream and the waking (1997), and Gone (2001).
Curated by Steve Seid program online January 12–Febuary 7, 2023
Includes work by Cecilia Dougherty, Azian Nurudin, Leslie Singer, Marshall Weber, Dale Hoyt, Paula Levine, Emjay Wilson, Andy Heustis, and Ivar Smedstad.
SCREENING: Your World Dies Screaming (1981) by Dale Hoyt; Garbage Head (1981) by Marshall Weber; The Madonna Series, Parts 1–5 (1987) by Leslie Singer; Fuck You, Purdue (1987) by Cecilia Dougherty; Jungle Gym (1981) by Andrew Huestis; Mirror, Mirror (1987) by Paula Levine; High Fidelity (1986) by Ivar Smedstad; Funk Is Its Own Reward (1981) by Marshall Weber; Malaysian Series, Parts 1–6 (1987) by Azian Nurudin; My Pal Foot (excerpt) (1981) by Andrew Huestis; Donkey-Skin (1988) by Emjay Wilson.
Remember Dale Hoyt! Support video art and artists!
CHAOS THEORY by Steve Seid
How would you describe a gathering group of unruly artists? A fortuitous anarchism, or just trouble on the way? And if such a faction existed in one particular moment and in one particular place, the SFAI, providing unruly succor for its constituent parts, what would you call that moment? A discordant convergence?
Just such a thing occurred at the San Francisco Art Institute in the early-and-mid eighties when a gaggle of singular young artists converged on the recently formed Performance/Video Department and all (heaven and) hell broke loose. A moment, such as it was.
With every upheaval, whether aesthetic or political, there are ringleaders, and among them at the P/V Dept. was a bratty pact—Dale Hoyt, along with his pals Marshall Weber (who would go on to found Artists’ Television Access) and Andrew Huestis—and Cecilia Dougherty, leading an insurgent group of women artists that included Leslie Singer, Azian Nurudin, Didi Dunphy, Jill Garellick and others. The creative energy welling from this convergence was enough to overheat nearby North Beach. If you add to that mix a core faculty of Howard Fried, Paul Kos, Sharon Grace, Doug Hall, Kathy Acker and Tony Labat, you had fissionable artistic material.
Walter & McBean Galleries, Diego Rivera Gallery, San Francisco Art Institute. Margaret Tedesco & Leila Weefur, Curators
The San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2021 with A Spirit of Disruption, an exhibition that reflects on the school’s profound and sustained influence on contemporary art and highlights the contributions of generations of diverse artists and individuals often overlooked in the historical narrative of SFAI. A Spirit of Disruption includes the work of more than thirty alumni and faculty from the 1960s to the present; a dynamic media installation drawn from SFAI’s vast archive; and a section dedicated to artist model Florence “Flo” Wysinger Allen, the subject of countless paintings, sculptures, and drawings made at the school from 1933-1997.
A Spirit of Disruption also includes a dynamic media installation drawn from SFAI’s Anne Bremer Library archive featuring artists Rigo 89, Karen Finley, Cliff Hengst, Doug Hall, Debora Iyall, Jun Jalbuena, Jennifer Locke, Paula Levine, Cecilia Dougherty; and George Kuchar in collaboration with Tim Sullivan, among many others.