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West by Midwest
  • West by Midwest traces how artists with ties to the American Midwest helped shape art and culture on the West Coast where they found creativity, freedom, and experimentation in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The exhibition is divided into sections that map how the artists’ practice was inspired by their geographic, social, academic, and artistic relationships. Starting in the 1950s and 60s, the development of the national interstate drew people West, where artists were lured by Beat culture and the influence of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, along with the post-war boom in art schools in California. Artists with Midwest connections such as Billy Al Bengston, Vija Celmins, Judy Chicago, and Ed Ruscha, participated in the emerging gallery scene in Los Angeles. The urban landscape of LA also served as a site of improvisation, performance, and collaboration for artists involved in Studio Z, including David Hammons and Senga Nengudi. Jim Shaw and Mike Kelley started the band Destroy All Monsters while attending art school at the University of Michigan, and later moved to the West Coast as graduate students at CalArts. Kelley went on to teach another generation of artists with Midwestern affiliations, such as Sterling Ruby and Aaron Curry, who once shared studio space in East LA with friend and former Chicagoan Amanda Ross-Ho. Farther north, choreographer and dancer Anna Halprin, who was born and raised in Illinois and attended the University of Wisconsin, eventually moved to San Francisco to found her own experimental dance studio. West by Midwest is organized by Charlotte Ickes, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow. An extensive microsite accompanies the exhibition. Photo: Nathan Keay

West by Midwest
  • Location: Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Address: 220 E. Chicago Ave.
  • November 17, 2018 - January 27, 2019
  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Recurring weekly on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday