[Local events] Friday 5/16: Cinema Project / Cooley Gallery, films for Jess

David Abel passages at rdrop.com
Tue May 13 23:03:23 PDT 2008

An evening of experimental film, music, food, and conversation

Friday, May 16

Doors open 6:30 p.m.
Films begin at 7:30 p.m.

Podkrepa Hall
2116 N. Killingsworth Ave.

$6 at the door, no reservations required

Special musical guests Evolutionary Jass Band



The Back Room welcomes Cinema Project
with a communal brown bag dinner on the occasion of the exhibition
Jess: To and From the Printed Page
(see end of message for exhibition information)

This special program, organized by Cinema Project’s Jeremy Rossen and 
commissioned by the Cooley Gallery, brings together films that were 
either directly or indirectly inspired by Jess. The films are shown in 
16 mm.

In Between
Stan Brakhage [1955, 16mm, color, sound, 10 min.]
Visions of a City
Larry Jordan [1957-1978, 16mm, sepia, sound, 8 min.]
The Man Who Invented Gold
Christopher Maclaine [1957, b&w & color, sound, 14 min.]
The 40 and 1 Nights (or Jess' Didactic Nickelodeon)
Larry Jordan [1961, 16mm, color, sound, 6 min.]
Christopher Maclaine [1958,16mm, color, sound, 6 min]
Ron Rice [1962, 16mm, b&w, sound, 28 min.]
Wallace Berman [1958-1976, 16mm, color, silent, 10 min.]

The film In Between by Stan Brakhage, with music by John Cage, is a 
portrait Brakhage made of Jess, “a daydream nightmare in the surrealist 
tradition.” Bay Area legend filmmaker Larry Jordan collaborated with 
Jess on The 40 and 1 Nights (or Jess' Didactic Nickelodeon) Jess 
performs 41 (now lost) collages to (his) selected sound bits in the 
manner of a turn-of-the-century nickelodeon. Jordan collaborated with 
poet Michael McClure on Visions of the City, a portrait of both McClure 
and San Francisco in 1957. Christopher Maclaine was active in the early 
beatnik scene of North Beach in the 1940s and 1950s as one of the 
authentic characters at the very emergence of the beat movement on the 
West Coast. The Man Who Invented Gold is MacClaine’s masterpiece about a 
madman’s alchemical quest for gold, while Beat captures the existential 
angst and futility of bohemian life. Senseless by Ron Rice portrays 
ecstatic travelers going to pot over the fantasies and pleasures of a 
trip to Mexico. Aleph, by Wallace Berman, is an artist’s meditation on 
life, death, mysticism, politics, and pop culture. In an eight-minute 
loop of film, Wallace Berman uses Hebrew letters to frame a hypnotic, 
rapid-fire montage that captures the go-go energy of the 1960s and has 
been described by Stan Brakhage as “the only true envisionment of the 
sixties I know.”

Jess Collins, known simply as “Jess” (1923 -- 2004) was a highly 
influential Bay Area painter and collage artist who emerged in the 1950s 
within San Francisco’s burgeoning literary culture. A brilliant chemist 
who worked on the Manhattan Project, Jess abandoned his scientific 
career in protest of nuclear weapons and devoted his life to art, moving 
to San Francisco in the late 1940s, where he met the poet Robert Duncan. 
The two remained life partners until Duncan's death in 1988. In 1952, 
Jess, Duncan and painter Harry Jacobus, opened the King Ubu Gallery in 
San Francisco, which became a center for alternative art and culture. 
Often working on large-scale, serial projects, Jess gradually evolved 
his unique method of meticulous collage work and representational 
painting, incorporating both popular and esoteric source material in 
complex compositions. Jess collaborated extensively with filmmakers, 
poets, artists, and writers, including Robert Duncan, Larry Jordan, 
Denise Levertov, Michael McClure, Wallace Berman and Harry Jacobus.

Jess: To and From the Printed Page
at Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College
May 9th–July 20th, 2008

Jess: To and From the Printed Page, is a traveling exhibition organized 
and circulated by iCI, (Independent Curators International), New York. 
Guest curator for the exhibition is Ingrid Schaffner. The exhibition, 
tour, and catalogue are made possible, in part, by grants from The Andy 
Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the 
Arts, and the iCI Exhibition Partners. Catalog available at the Cooley 

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