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Rat Bastard Protective Association
October 1 2016 - January 7, 2017
Curated by Anastasia Aukeman
Featuring work by:
Wallace Berman, Robert Branaman, Joan Brown, Bruce Conner, Jean Conner, Jay DeFeo, Wally Hedrick, George Herms, Alvin Light, Michael McClure, Manuel Neri, and Carlos Villa with portraits by Jerry Burchard
The Landing is pleased to present The Rat Bastard Protective Association, a group exhibition organized by Dr. Anastasia Aukeman, author of Welcome to Painterland: Bruce Conner and the Rat Bastard Protective Association (University of California Press, 2016). Through nearly 50 works by 12 artists, the exhibition documents the activities and artistic production of the Rat Bastard Protective Association (RBPA), an inflammatory, close-knit community of artists who lived and worked together in a building they dubbed “Painterland" in the Fillmore neighborhood of mid-century San Francisco. This will be the first exhibition of the RBPA since 1958, when the group led a parade to their exhibition at the Spatsa Gallery on Filbert Street in San Francisco.
Eager to consolidate his inclusion in the artistic community in and around 2322 Fillmore Street, or “Painterland,” when he arrived in San Francisco in September 1957, Bruce Conner placed himself firmly at the center of the cohort by forming the Rat Bastard Protective Association and naming himself its president. Conner derived the name by combining the name of a San Francisco trash collection company, the Scavengers Protective Association, with a slur picked up at the gym. The artists and poets who counted themselves among the Rat Bastards—these included Wallace Berman, Robert Branaman, Joan Brown, Bruce Conner, Jean Conner, Jay DeFeo, Wally Hedrick, George Herms, Alvin Light, Michael McClure, Manuel Neri, and Carlos Villa—all exhibited a unique fusion of radicalism, provocation, and community.
The art practices of these Northern California artists in the late 1950s and early 1960s animated broader social and artistic discussions throughout the United States and carved out an important place for West Coast activities for decades to come. The show’s success in demonstrating the importance of this cohort depends on the generosity of the estates and institutions lending works to the exhibition, including: The Conner Family Trust, The Jay DeFeo Foundation, the di Rosa Collection, The estate of Wally Hedrick, the estate of Alvin Light, and the San Francisco History Center at the San Francisco Public Library.
Dr. Anastasia Aukeman is an art historian, curator (formerly of Artists Space and in the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art), and professor at Parsons School of Design in New York City.
Off-site programming during the exhibition (dates to be announced) will include a program of Beat-Era films: featuring work by Paul Beattie, Robert Branaman, and Lawrence Jordan, as well as a staged reading of Michael McClure’s controversial and Obie award-winning 1965 play, The Beard.
stamp created by Bruce Conner, ca. 1957– 58. © Conner Family Trust / Artists Rights Society