There is just a week left to catch the recommended BAM/PFA (Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive) photo exhibit by Bruce Conner, who sadly passed three weeks ago In San Francisco, reportedly from a liver ailment. The exhibit focuses on the one year period in the late seventies (77-78) Conner spent taking photos of both punk bands and punk fans at the infamous West Coast punk palace the Mabuhay Gardens (aka "The Fab Mab" -- the dismal failing Filipino supper club that would be saved/immortalized by punk rock) on Broadway in San Francisco.
The fifty three Bruce Conner photos on display at the BAM/PFA, which act as an excellent historic overview of the early SF punk scene, include wonderful action shots of bands and artists including Frankie Fix of Crime, the Mutants, Penelope Houston of The Avengers, and Negative Trend's Will Shatter (who later went on to form Flipper).
Multi media artist Bruce Conner, who the curators at BAM/PFA aptly describe as "a proto-punk provocateur who scavenged cultural waste to construct his assemblages," ended up doing the photo series by mere coincidence. In the late 70s, Conner was 44 years of age and an established avant-garde artist who created film mash-ups from a mixed bag of found sources and whose rich legacy dated back to the SF 1950's Beat scene. While attending Devo's first ever San Francisco show in 1977, Conner crossed paths with V. Vale, now the publisher of RE/Search magazine, who was about to launch the seminal punk zine Search & Destroy.
Vale invited Conner to contribute something to the zine, never thinking that Conner would throw himself into the project so whole-heartedly. Conner did, and ended up frequenting the Mabuhay over the next twelve months, capturing an otherwise forgotten slice of San Francisco music & cultural history. In addition to the 53 photos by Conner -- all recently acquired by the Berkeley museum -- the exhibit also includes posters, flyers and 'zines from that period in SF punk history.
The exhibit at the UC Berkeley owned museum, which ends on Sunday August 3rd, costs $12. There are discounts for students and seniors. For more information visit the BAM/PFA website.