SMS Listening Party
As you may know, when I’m not busy writing this blog or working on one of my various creative projects, I’m at my day job, running the Antique Print Department at Davidson Galleries. (Or is it the other way around..?) I love the gallery and my co-workers, but it can be stressful, especially when I’m taking the fifth phone call in an hour from some guy in Renton who thinks the poster of the Mona Lisa he found in his uncle’s bomb shelter is going to be his ticket to an early retirement. That said, working at the gallery has its perks. One is that I often get to curate interesting exhibitions.
For instance, last fall I put together a catalog and exhibition in honor of the 40th anniversary of the SMS Portfolio. Released in 1968, the SMS portfolio represented a collaboration between some of the most important artists of the 20th century. Centered around a loft on Manhattan’s Upper West Side rented and maintained by the American Surrealist William Copley, SMS (a coy abbreviation for “Shit Must Stop”) was an open-ended collective that epitomized the community ethos of the late 1960s. Frequented by artists, curators, performers and composers both accomplished and aspiring, Copley’s loft became renowned for its utopian morale and hospitable working conditions.
The six volumes of the SMS portfolio were the crowning achievement of Copley’s experiment, embodying the spirit of the collective and serving as time capsules of an extraordinary moment in American art. Bypassing the institutions of museums and galleries, the portfolios were mailed directly to their subscribers, opening a direct line of communication between artist and audience. Each portfolio included meticulously editioned works by a roster of artists both world-famous and obscure–as well as some tongue-in-cheek contributions by art dealers and critics–each of whom received $100 for their contribution regardless of reputation or medium. Among the many artists represented are Marcel Duchamp, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Christo, Richard Hamilton, Claes Oldenberg, John Cage, and Yoko Ono.
Six of the works in the SMS portfolios are sound pieces. These include phonograph records by Marcel Duchamp, Bernar Venet, and Diane Wakowski, as well as tape pieces by Terry Riley, La Monte Young and Bruce Nauman. I will be presenting the works on Friday, February 20 at Dissonant Plane, the new experimental music store founded by Eric Lanzillotta (formerly of Anomalous Records). Event details follow:
Friday, February 20, 7 p.m. SHARP. (Event to last approximately three hours.)
5459 Leary Avenue NW
Seattle, WA 98107-4011
More information about the upcoming event may be found on the Davidson Galleries website.