A pair of phenomenal shows exploring the link between rock music and art is open at the always innovative Gallery Lombardi. While both shows have the rock/art link as a common theme, and while both feature receptions with amazing live bands, each show explores a different angle on the relationship between visual and aural creation.
"The Rawkshow," curated by Nathan James, focuses on art by female rock musicians, many of them familiar names in the music world. Pieces by Nina Hagen, Exene Cervenka, Maggie Estep, Carolyn Rue (Hole), the Mediæval Bæbes, and Melora Creager (Rasputina), among many notable others, will grace Lombardi's walls through April 5. The show's reception on March 13 will showcase live, mostly punk-rock bands like the Dirty Sweets, Catscratch, and others.
With 24 artists and at least seven bands involved in this show, this is no small project. But its inception was simple. "One day I was laying in bed watching Jenny Jones," James says, "and looking at this painting above my bed done by Jill Emery, the old bass player of Hole. I was thinking how cool it is that I could own artwork that a favorite musician created -- I'm not rich or anything, you know? So I decided to do the show."
How did he get such a badass group of women to go along with the idea? "I just contacted them and asked if they wanted to do it," says James. "I knew some of them from the years I'd done drag," -- James, aka "Coochie Tuscadero," won Best Drag Show in the 1996 Chronicle Readers Poll -- "and the others I contacted through the Internet." As if curating the event weren't enough, James also created 3,000 decks of limited-edition artist trading cards for the show, using images of each artwork and bios from the artists. He'll be giving some of these away at the reception.
"The Musikshow," curated by former New Yorker Erin Leon and Lombardi's Rachel Koper, puts the focus on visual artists who do music, as well. For Leon, the show sprang from an interest in the influence of music on visual creation. "It started when I began to curate a show in Brooklyn that was based on a specific visual aesthetic," she says. "When I began talking to the artists about their favorite bands, I found that many of their favorites were the same. I started thinking, 'This music has got to have a profound effect on their work.'" Leon wanted to hold the show around the time of SXSW, so Koper decided to run "The Musikshow" and "The Rawkshow" together.
The March 8 reception for "The Musikshow" also featured bands, but as the exhibition is the flip side of "The Rawkshow" -- artists who also make music instead of musicians who also make art -- many of the performers were admitted amateurs. Musikshow artist Kimberly Sexton, of NYC, says of her band Brick Victim, "We don't necessarily see the band as 'art,' but we are creating performance personas using visual imagery and costume combined with a self-conscious knowledge that we're amateurs. In this respect our motives are totally different from a band that forms in order to create great music. It's the performative aspect that we're interested in."
Even Leon, an artist herself, has been toying with a keyboard and bass lately. Was she going to play at the aftershow? "Fuck no," she says. "You will not see me performing. My playing is extremely ... experimental."
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