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Exhibition Celebrates 60 Years Of Bruce Conner's Print Works

Courtesy Magnolia Editions, Oakland, CA. © 2014 Conner Family Trust, San Francisco / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Ulrich Museum’s fall exhibition Bruce Conner: Somebody Else’s Prints is a retrospective that celebrates 60 years of Bruce Conner’s print works. Conner grew up in Wichita and attended University of Wichita. He settled in San Francisco by 1957, and soon became a key visual artist of the Beat generation.

Conner was an experimental, poetic and subversive artist who made video art as early as 1958. In this exhibit, his subversion of printmaking traditions – like signing his work with a thumbprint - along with obsessive mark-making--characterize his early years.

Prints, such as #100, are full of organic markings so tight that, from a distance, they look like a finger print. His negotiation of razor-thin white space creates hidden mandalas with such intense concentrated energy, they become magnetic.

Credit Courtesy Magnolia Editions, Oakland, CA. ©2014 Conner Family Trust, San Francisco/Artist Right Society (ARS), New York
Bruce Conner, Triptych, 2003/1961. Archival pigmented inkjet on paper, 41 x 27 1/2 in.

Later works, like the iconic Bombhead, embrace Photoshop for seamless assemblages that remain interlaced with ideas and experimentations of his early career.

Most remarkably, Curator Jodi Throckmorton found slides from his days as a psychedelic lighting designer with the North American Ibis Alchemical Light Company. This is the first time these slides have been displayed since they lit up the stages for bands like the Grateful Dead.

These rare gems can be seen in an object case and digital copies are projected on the gallery floor.

With these slides, Throckmorton contributes to art history by expanding Conner’s body of work. Bruce Conner: Somebody Else’s Prints is one of the most significant exhibitions I’ve seen in Wichita.