Not only are the Amoeba employees masters of arcane musical knowledge, but a number of them are gifted visual artists and musicians too. After a long day of helping customers locate rare Do-wop 45’s, determining the going rate of an early 80’s Axe album, and stock-checking the Watchmen soundtrack, many Amoebites rush home to paint, film, draw, compose, sculpt, and, of course, go to band practice.
For the last couple of years, Amoeba Music has thrown annual art shows to exhibit and celebrate the creative works of its multi-talented staff members from all three Amoeba locations. For the Third Annual Amoeba Art Show, which took place on Friday, March 6, 2009, Amoeba transcended the “art show” format and went straight for an outright “happening” with the Andy Warhol-inspired Factory Party. Collaborating with the East Bay Express, OFFSpace, and contributing sponsor the de Young Museum, Amoeba turned the 44,000 square foot Hero Arts warehouse space in Emeryville, California into a teeming hotspot of live art, film, musical performances, and theatrical art forms.
On the evening of Friday, March 6th, after weeks of preparation, the doors were thrown wide to over 4,000 attendees, revealing a labyrinthine network of rooms packed with Amoebite art, beautiful revelers, and a staggering number of Andy Warhol and Factory “Superstar” look-alikes. The East Bay Express devoted one massively large room to recreating Warhol’s Factory, complete with silver-foiled walls and reproductions of the now-iconic red couch and mirrored disco ball table (built by East Bay Express Sales & Marketing Director Terry Furry). Screen printing demonstrations were held by Jesse Hazelip and Tim Belonax, and the room featured an homage to Warhol’s Brillo Boxes built by Jason MacDougall and screened by Philip X. Diaz.
The “Factory” room became the unofficial headquarters of the event, as the infamous red couch attracted all of the “Superstar” doubles and their adoring fans. Some of the doubles spotted were Edie Sedgwick, Bob Dylan, Bridget Berlin, and many, many Andys. It only goes to show that where there are stars, cameras will follow (or is it vise versa?), and so there were live screen tests (à la Andy’s) filmed by Peter Max Lawrence, which will be screened at the de Young Museum on April 24th and May 15th and will also appear on the East Bay Express website.
The “Factory” also boasted performances by Amoeba’s two Velvet Underground cover bands, Nihilist Outlook & Grace (representing Amoeba San Francisco) and the Exploding Plastic Amoeba (representing Amoeba Berkeley). The Nihilist Outlook & Grace performed first and delivered a vocal performance from Nero Nava (Barbarasteele and Nero Nava & The Invitation To Love) that was convincing both in tone and mood. Other stand out performances came from John Garcia on guitar and Josh Pollock (channeling Mo Tucker) on the drums.
Exploding Plastic Amoeba featured Marc Weinstein on drums, a “Sterling” performance from Jefferson Parker (The Dilettantes), and a special appearance by Clare (Kent Randolph’s daughter) on viola.
A maze of nine other rooms in varying sizes led Factory Party visitors through a wonderland of paintings, sculptures, installations, projections, and sound experiments created by Amoeba employees and a few friends of Amoeba. Some of the more notable friends of Amoeba include David Lynch, Mark Mothersbaugh, and Gary Panter, all of whom had works on display at the party. Those works are now up for silent auction! Check them out HERE. Bids will be accepted through Monday, March 23rd.
By David Lynch
By Mark Mothersbaugh
The collection of Amoebite work on display confirms that the staff is indeed a formidably gifted group. The variety of formats, textures, emotions, and influences speaks to the breadth of diversity represented within the three Amoeba stores. Amongst the standouts were three untitled works by San Francisco’s Grace Cooper (of The Nihilist Outlook & Grace), which delves into representations of femininity with a collection of layered paper, illustration, and watercolor. By simply juxtaposing styles and rough edges of paper, Cooper is able to convey ambiguities of meanings and emotions. Also from San Francisco, but in a more traditionally-painted vein, was Trixie Grace’s “Alice and the Caterpillar” – a fun, yet thought-provoking look at a child’s story we’ve all been suspicious of at one point or another.
Berkeley’s Zak Wilson contributed a colorful acrylic assault entitled “Weird Fuck’n Dream,” that has the Warhol and Lichtenstein’s spirit of pop art down without nearing the derivative. Wilson’s art is fun to look at and reminds viewers of the pleasures of comic books, primary colors, and naked chicks with guns.
Berkeley’s Billy Sprague took over an entire room for his mural and sound installation. As visitors explored Sprague’s colorful and intestinal paintings that crept along the walls and corners, looped pre-recorded sound experimentations leaked from the vents and blended with the mood.
Kindle Pszowski of San Francisco offered a multi-medium work titled “Travels,” which consists of painted wood, glass, plastic, and other found objects from the San Pablo flea market. Through its minimalist design and text, strong emotions of drift and desolation are achieved, yet the ingenuity of the piece keeps it afloat in one’s mind.
Filmmakers Jon Bastian and Brett Stillo, friends of both the San Francisco and Berkeley locations, projected their film A Sleeping Dog in homage to Warhol’s Sleep. Essentially an endless loop of a man in a hot dog costume projected upon two screens, the installation allowed viewers to sit and watch the film while sitting on a couch next to the film’s actor Nate Tynan.
Another notable installation was build by San Francisco’s own Naomi Salazar. “Inner Me” was a closet-sized hall of mirrors inhabited by one lone mannequin. At just the right angle, the mannequin multiplied into infinity. The groovyness of this installation was magnified by its proximity to the black light room, which contained glowing carpets and plush bean bags, perfect for sacking out on after several long hours of viewing great works of art.
Another attraction of the Amoeba Art Show was the graffiti room, which was made possible by the generous donations of Montana Cans. The immense walls were covered by the intense tagging of graffiti virtuosos MEUT, KEB, WAND, Mike Giant, PiONE, BUTER, CUBA, DZYER, and RIEL.
And what would the night have been without the continuous 60’s dance beats provided by Russell Quan and Ken Kabala, the Factory ambiance of DJ Deathboy, and the pop confections of DJ Inti?! Why, that would be like a night without a girl named Tarin dressed in a banana costume!
After dancing the night away in the “Factory” and perusing the endless array of installations, projections, and displays, visitors were encouraged to check out another gargantuan room off of the “Factory,” which was filled with snacks and tasty samples donated from Cafe E-22, Bancroft Hotel, Alameda Natural Grocery, Chaat Cafe, Ethiopia Cafe, The Terrace Room, Spice Monkey, Havana Restaurant, and La Borinquena. All proceeds from the tasting were donated to Pro Arts.
By Kindle Pszowski
By Shawn WIlliams
Visitors were also encouraged to donate cans of Campbell’s soup upon entry to the party for donation to the Alameda County Food Bank. Amoeba and the East Bay Express are proud to announce that over three barrels of soup were collected! Art really can feed more than the soul!
Visit our Gallery Hours:
11:00 am - 2:00 pm, every day from now until Sunday, March 15th.
1343 Powell St.