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Joe Brainard, People of the World: Relax!!

Jan 25 - Mar 3 2007

UB Art Gallery

Joe Brainard, People of the World: Relax!! highlights original drawings from Brainard’s self-published journal C Comics 2 borrowed from the Mandeville Special Collections Library, UC San Diego, as well as assemblages, collages, and paper cut outs. This exhibition explores Brainard’s collaborations with poets Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Ron Padgett, Kenward Elmslie, and many more, as well as major themes and motifs in his drawings, collages, and assemblages, including Nancy cartoons and flowers.

The influences of Johns, Warhol, and Joseph Cornell can be seen in Brainard’s early paintings and assemblages but, as Padgett states on the artist’s web site, “Joe’s work soon distinguished itself by its lyricism, wit, warmth, and generosity, combined with his penchant for making art that was unabashedly beautiful.” His collages and intricately detailed flower and grass paper cut outs pressed between layers of Plexiglas are like visual poems, while his bejeweled assemblages made out of dime store materials and urban detritus are suggestive of religious reliquaries.

Brainard (1942-1994) grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he first began designing signs and posters for school clubs. In high school Brainard acted as the art director for the White Dove Review, a magazine of contemporary art and writing founded by Ron Padgett and Dick Gallup. In late 1960 he moved to New York City where he continued his early collaborations with poets and writers, as well as developed an engaging visual art practice. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, Brainard was part of a burgeoning literary and artistic circle that included, Frank O’Hara, James Schuyler, Larry Rivers, Jane Freilicher, Andy Warhol, and Jasper Johns, to name a few.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Ron Padgett and Kenward Elmslie will give a poetry reading at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery on Friday, January 26 at 8pm.

On Thursday, February 1, publisher Steven Clay will give a “Brown Bag Lunch Lecture” at the UB Art Gallery, First Floor Gallery.

Republication of Class of ’47, a collaboration with Robert Creeley, available.