Legends of the Bay Area: Lawrence Ferlinghetti
February 28 - April 5
Opening Reception: February 28, 5-7 p.m.
On February 28th, the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art presents the 2015 Legends of the Bay Area Exhibit. This year we are excited to feature Lawrence Ferlinghetti, a beloved Bay Area icon. Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s work, in both literature and art, is a drive for liberation, transformation, and union—through love, literature, political struggle, nature, humor, and art. This exhibit features Ferlinghetti’s love of painting with some supportive poetry and video. It runs from February 28 through April 5. Come meet Ferlinghetti himself at the opening reception on February 28th from 5-7pm.
By his own account, Ferlinghetti’s first foray into art began in the late 1940s almost by accident while in Paris working on his doctorate in literature at the Sorbonne. A roommate left his painting equipment behind and a little dabbling turned into an obsession. For the next three and a half years, Ferlinghetti sketched from live models and attended “open studios” in Paris. In 1950, Ferlinghetti produced what he considers his first significant painting, Deux, a Surrealist reverse image inspired by Jean Cocteau and will be on display at MarinMOCA. Shortly after, he moved to San Francisco and entered the arts scene.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti (born March 24, 1919) is acclaimed as a poet, painter, liberal activist, and co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers in San Francisco. Jonathan Curiel reports from SF Weekly, “If Ferlinghetti had to choose between poetry and painting, Ferlinghetti says he would choose painting.” Ferlinghetti goes on to say, “Painting is more like play than work.” For more than sixty years, he has continued his passion for image-making in paintings, drawings, prints, and mixed media works that have been widely exhibited, including a major survey exhibition in 2010 in Rome and Calabria.
In the 1950s, Ferlinghetti’s art was in the Abstract Expressionist mode with large-scale canvases filled with big-brush body-length gestures. He admired the artists of that time during the Beat Movement, but did not take on the same dark sentiment. Ferlinghetti the activist did contribute greatly to the socio-political reform, particularly in the area of free speech. However in more recent times he has moved away from art that is politically dominated saying that his “work is now about finding a way to escape from the present morass of disaster or whatever is descending upon us,” reports Susan and Carl Landauer in “Open Eye, Open Palette: The Art of Lawrence Ferlinghetti.” (http://www.citylights.com/resources/titles/87286100040660/ extras/ferlinghetti-essay-word-4.pdf)
In his painting Mother Russia (1999) which will also be on display, Ferlinghetti creates a looming female figure with a small bird positioned at the bottom left of the large canvas. Mother Russia is painted as an iconic figure as her face is constructed using a hammer and sickle. Birds are a symbol throughout his work and here is representative of the spirit of the woman. Ferlinghetti has always aimed for the concrete and the ineffable no matter what his subject is. Allowing his art to be intuited rather than intellectualized is essential to retain the mystery of his work.
Photo credit by Ron Jones
The 6th Annual Altered Book/Book Arts Exhibition & Fundraiser
April 18 - May 23
Opening Reception: April 18, 5-7 p.m.
Donna Seager Juror and Book Arts Talk, 4-5 p.m.
Closing Live Auction Party: May 23, 5-8 p.m.
Ron Collins Gallery:
Bookworks: San Quentin Prison Arts Project
April 18 - May 23