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Unpainting the Town:
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Rena Small



Ferus Gallery

Though it closed in 1966, the Ferus Gallery is still very much alive. This legendary artspace is the subject of a new project by Michael Wilson, who asks for additional material if it's out there. Contact him at michaelwilson (at) wildblue.net

This article mentions the obscenity bust that befell Wallace Berman at the gallery, in the course of his first and only one-person show. The screwed-up part is, the art in question was not created by him but by the nototious Cameron, who influenced quite a few artists in her day.

Cameron in Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome

MICHAEL WILSON tells it like it was

Many of the Ferus Gallery hipsters grew up in the Venice area and then quite a few simply migrated to the lifestyle there. The artists I knew all hung out and did graffitti art there in the 50s, The gallery was an outlet to that way of life, and Venice played into the total theme. Some of them surfed there, but the majority were players in the GasHouse, Venice West Expresso. They played jazz, hung out, were the artist bohemians. Also, poets had book covers done by some of the Ferus artists, being friends.

Bob Alexander, who was known as Baza, was the installer/ artist at Ferus, and started the Temple of Man in Venice. John Reed was my best friend until he went with the others to the Temple of Man elevated heights...He and Bob Alexander were like brothers.

Wallace Berman inscribed his now famous 'Art is the God of Love' first at Venice West. Charles Brittin the photographer of the Ferus scene still lives in Venice (now 80). He originally lived at 'Speedway' along with Bob Alexander, John Reed, John Altoon, Ed Kienholtz, Billy Al Bengston. 15 Avenue 54, Venice was one address I remember. John Altoon and Tony Lanreau were on the cover of The Holy Barbarians. Perkoff, Scibella and Rios were all good friends with these guys as well. I guess you could say they were well integrated in the scene then.





A book called The Ferus Gallery: A Place to Begin, edited by Kristine McKenna, is described here.

...in the scrappy days of the 1950s, a bunch of bohemians, living in Venice, started showing their work in storefront galleries, competing with one another, making each other push harder ... and that is a forgotten, and yet very major, chapter in American art history.
from a review by Sheila O'Malley of The Cool School

Here is a link to the very kind man Charles Brittin in Venice. He was taking pictures to preserve the history of Venice...and of course the Ferus Gallery.
..................Michael Wilson

And of course there's always Wikipedia.

© 2004 - 2012 Pat Hartman
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