Jack KEROUAC & Ed RUSCHA: On the Road
June 29th – August 18th, 2018
Opening reception & public preview on Friday, June 29th, 6-7pm
With performance by legendary Kerouac collaborator David Amram (with friends Ronny Elliott and Pamela Epps) from 7-9pm
Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at FSW
Fort Myers, FL: Florida SouthWestern State College is honored to announce the opening of Jack KEROUAC & Ed RUSCHA: On the Road at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery with a public preview reception on Friday, June 29th from 6-7pm and a special performance by legendary Kerouac-collaborator David Amram from 7-9pm. Pairing renowned West Coast Pop/Conceptual painter Ed Ruscha’s illustrated edition of the classic Kerouac novel with the author’s original 1951 manuscript for the first time, this groundbreaking exhibition brings together two of 20th Century America’s most visionary and influential artists.
Single-spaced without paragraph breaks on a continuous 120-foot-long paper scroll, the late, great writer Jack Kerouac completed this first draft of “On the Road” and forever defined the restless Beat Generation with his 1928 Underwood Portable typewriter at over 100-words per minute in just twenty caffeine- and Benzedrine-fueled days. Praised by Allen Ginsberg as “a magnificent single paragraph, several blocks long, rolling, like the road itself.” “It’s about a group of crazy young people who just travel back and forth across the United States,” according to Ed Ruscha. “Sometimes they hitch-hike and sometimes they drive cars. They steal cars and just want to be on the road…”
Long-engaged with visualizing the poetry of our vernacular roadside, Ed Ruscha was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1937, but left his hometown of Oklahoma City at age 18 – rolling into Los Angeles in a customized 1950 Ford – to study painting, photography, and graphic design at the Chouinard Art Institute (now CalArts). A friend and collaborator of Bob Rauschenberg, Ruscha’s work has been widely collected and shown extensively by major museums around the world – including representing the United States in Italy at the 2005 Venice Biennale.
As is evident in this exhibition, Ruscha’s entire career has offered an artistic corollary to Kerouac’s linguistic portrait of the American landscape. Acknowledging the romantic vision of the road as epitomized by the Beats, Ruscha invented the “artist’s book” in the 1960’s with his inexpensively-printed and self-published deadpan photographic musings on the evolving urban environment of Los Angeles. His aptly-titled “Twenty-six Gasoline Stations” (1963), “Every Building on the Sunset Strip” (1966) and “Royal Road Test” (1967) – which documents the prankish destruction of a vintage typewriter as tossed at ninety miles per hour along US Highway 91 from a ‘63 Buick LeSabre – perfectly compliment the car parts, jazz instruments and sandwich stacks that Ruscha found, appropriated or photographed to illustrate his 2009 limited edition (Gagosian Gallery and Steidl published) update of Kerouac’s “On the Road.”
Our opening night performer, David Amram, is an American treasure who started his musical career in the early 1950’s playing in the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington, D.C.), as well as in the legendary jazz bands of Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie and Lionel Hampton. In 1957, he created and performed in the first ever Jazz/Poetry readings in New York City with novelist Jack Kerouac, a close friend with whom Amram collaborated artistically for over twelve years. From 1964-66, Amram was the Composer and Music Director for the Lincoln Center Theatre (until Leonard Bernstein appointed him as the first Composer in Residence at the New York Philharmonic. Regularly crisscrossing the United States and Canada, Amram has traveled the world extensively, working as a musician, conductor and multi-lingual storyteller in over thirty-five countries including Cuba, Kenya, Egypt, Pakistan, Israel, Latvia and China. The subject of the feature-length documentary film, “David Amram: The First Eighty Years,” and author of three highly acclaimed memoirs, “Vibrations” (1968, 2007), “Nine Lives of a Musical Cat” (2009), and “Offbeat: Collaborating With Kerouac” (2005). As a composer, Amram has collaborated with Elia Kazan, Eugene Ormandy, Arthur Miller and Langston Hughes, and as a musician with Thelonious Monk, Odetta, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Betty Carter, Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Tito Puente, Hunter S. Thompson and Johnny Depp.
This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of the Stanton Storer Embrace the Arts Foundation and The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel, and with essential loans from Jim S. Irsay, Ed Ruscha and Gagosian Gallery.