KUSF In Exile 09.10.11 2-4 PM Roll Call DJ Margaret Tedesco

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Roll Call: Bay Area Arts and Culture

A sad week in San Francisco and beyond, we lost our dear friend and mentor, artist GEORGE KUCHAR. For George...

THE ALPS: EASY ACTION. Fold-out pyramid sleeve designed by Tauba Auerbach.

Dj Margaret is joined with poet/author, and curator KEVIN KILLIAN and curator and opera singer LEE PLESTED about their work on a new exhibition Fran Herndon: A survey of the Early Work from the 1950s and 1960s, at Altman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco, through October 29th.

KEVIN KILLIAN has written two novels, Shy (1989) and Arctic Summer (1997), a book of memoirs, Bedrooms Have Windows (1990), and three books of stories, Little Men (1996), I Cry Like a Baby (2001), and Impossible Princess (2009). He has also written two books of poetry, Argento Series (2001), and Action Kylie (2008). With Lew Ellingham, Killian has written often on the life and work of the American poet Jack Spicer [1925-65] and with Peter Gizzi has edited My Vocabulary Did This To Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer (2008) for Wesleyan University Press. For the San Francisco Poets Theater Killian has written thirty plays, including Stone Marmalade (1996, with Leslie Scalapino), The American Objectivists (2001), with Brian Kim Stefans), and Often (also 2001, with Barbara Guest). New projects include Screen Tests, an edition of Killian’s film writing, a new novel Spreadeagle, a show of painter Fran Herndon’s 60s work at the San Francisco gallery Altman Siegel, and a book of Killian’s intimate photographs, Tagged, to appear in spring 2012.


LEE PLESTED is a Canadian curator based in Vancouver and San Fransisco, where he received an MA from the California College of Arts in Curatorial Practice. Plested has a deep interest in the histories of modern and anti-modern art while maintaining an active relationship to artists of the present; specifically through The Apartment, an apartment gallery he runs with his husband Erik Von Muller in their Vancouver flat. Recent curated exhibitions include Material Witness: Mario Garcia Torres/ Konrad Wendt for the Morris and Helen Belkin Gallery at the University of British Columbia, and American Gothic: Regionalist Portraiture from the Collection at the Richard L. Nelson Gallery, UC Davis. Plested has also curated various solo and group in San Francisco since moving here in 2003 including B Wurtz at 871 Fine Arts and Land of the Free for Jack Hanley Gallery.


In FRAN HERNDON, curators Lee Plested and Kevin Killian have worked with the artist to assemble a survey of the early work from the 1950s and 1960s when, as a young artist new to San Francisco’s bohemia, she began experimenting in a variety of media. The exhibition focuses on works created side by side with the California poet Jack Spicer (1925-1965), the man who urged Herndon to enroll in art school as a way to make magic. The lithographs she created for his 1960 masterwork The Heads of the Town Up to the Aether bring to life shared themes of alienation, discovery, ruin, apocalypse and mercy. In her “sports collage” project of 1962, she scissored general circulation magazines like Sports Illustrated and Life, applying watercolor, gouache, and assemblage techniques to create an unparalleled window into Cold War USA via its mass produced patriotic portrayals of organized sport and other large public events of the day, including the death of Marilyn Monroe.

Born in 1929 in Oklahoma, Herndon left the USA in the early 1950s, seeing her homeland as “no place for a brown face.” (She is of Native American heritage.) In France she met and married the California teacher and writer Jim Herndon, and came to California to find herself in a welcoming host of painters and poets, chief among them Robin Blaser, Jack Spicer, Jess and Robert Duncan. In 1959, while maintaining a wide and varied art practice, she became the art editor of the poetry/art magazine J, often credited as the first journal of the “mimeo revolution” and the harbinger of hundreds of successors in the 60s and 70s. Herndon showed at the experimental “poets’ galleries” of the period (the Peacock Gallery, Buzz). In the 1970s, as contemporaries like Jess, Bruce Conner, Jay DeFeo began finding fame, Herndon put aside art for personal reasons, and when she returned to painting she did so in a deliberately low key, unheralded way. But in that period a coterie of admirers from many disciplines has grown vocal, and through a sprinkling of small but important exhibitions, interest in her work has reached a new height.

James Herndon: From the memoir "Everything As Expected"
Jack Spicer and the art of Fran Herndon

Images: Fran Herndon
The Gospel According to Joe, 1962
Collage on masonite
19 3/8 x 17 5/8 inches

Untitled (King Rabbit), 1962
10 x 8 inches

White Angel, 1962
Collage on masonite
25 x 25 inches

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