CHESTNUT HILL, MASS.-
The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College will present two innovative and historically significant exclusive exhibitions this fall, which respectively explore important periods of change: American Alternative Comics, 19802000: Raw, Weirdo, and Beyond looks at a transitional time for artistic comics in America; the retrospective Arnie Jarmak: Photographing Chelsea in Transition, 197789 focuses on demographic and social changes in Chelsea, the city north of Boston, witnessed and documented by the accomplished photographer. The exhibitions will be on display from September 6 through December 4, 2022.
American Alternative Comics, 19802000: Raw, Weirdo, and Beyond; Daley Family Gallery
This groundbreaking exhibition explores the unique qualities of comics and the place of the medium in relation to art. Today, comics enjoy wide critical and academic acceptance, organizers note, but this respectability is only a few decades old. Literature classes now teach works such as Maus and Fun Home. The New York Times reviews comics and publishes comics features. Scholars work both to chronicle comics long history and to describe the mediums grammar and methods.
American Alternative Comics, 19802000: Raw, Weirdo, and Beyond examines the 1980s and 1990s, a transitional time for artistic comics, when cartoonists sought to enlarge the mediums potential for artistry and self-expression. The influential magazine Raw promoted comics as ambitious, experimental art worthy of galleries and bookstores. The anthology Weirdo celebrated comics as an outsider form through self-disclosive and often self-critical narratives. A new marketplace and a new generation of publishers and alternative newspapers produced work for a growing readership.
Alternative comics are recognized as a progenitor of todays graphic novels widely studied in literature courses throughout the academy, said Inaugural Robert L. and Judith T. Winston Director of the McMullen Museum of Art Nancy Netzer, a BC professor of art history. Featuring 40 creators, American Alternative Comics, 19802000 and its accompanying catalogue shift the focus to the significance of the comics artistic innovations, which have until now received less attention. The McMullen is grateful to the many lenders who have made this landmark exhibition possible.
The exhibition features original art, printed comics, and more. It showcases more than 120 works by 40 artists, including Peter Bagge, Lynda Barry, Mark Beyer, Robert Crumb, Julie Doucet, Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez, Keith Knight, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Françoise Mouly, Gary Panter, Art Spiegelman, and Chris Ware, among others.
Organized by the McMullen Museum, the exhibition is curated by John McCoy, a McMullen Museum assistant director, and Andrei Molotiu, art history senior lecturer at Indiana University Bloomington.
This exhibition looks at a transitional period in the history of comics-as-art, said McCoy. The underground comics of the sixties and seventies had pushed boundaries of what was permissible, but their oppositional, transgressive stance had become a dead end. In the eighties and nineties, cartoonists experimented with form, content, and marketing. By 2000, comics had gained a new respectability, especially under the labels of graphic novels and sequential art.
The exhibition is accompanied by a scholarly catalogue edited by the exhibition curators. Essayists from art historical, literary, and other fields focus on the role of influential editors and publishers as well as the strategies artists employed to encourage readers to take the art form seriously. Subjects include the aesthetics of Raw and Weirdo, the punk-influenced work of Gary Panter, and the genre-breaking work of the Hernandez Brothers. The catalogue also includes recent annotated interviews with American cartoonist Peter Bagge and Raw publisher Françoise Mouly.
Exhibition loans were made by artists, private collectors, and The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. Major support is provided by the Patrons of the McMullen Museum and Leslie and Peter Ciampi.
Arnie Jarmak: Photographing Chelsea in Transition, 197789; Monan Gallery
Photographing Chelsea in Transition, 197789 showcases the significance of the corpus of work by photographer Arnie Jarmak (b. 1949, Marblehead, Mass.), and the contribution it makes to understanding how and why local neighborhoods change. The exhibition presents more than 80 photographs from an archive of some 20,000 he produced as chief photographer for the citys daily newspaper, the Chelsea Record, while living there in the late 1970s through the 1980s.
The McMullen Museum is pleased to present this retrospective of Arnie Jarmaks photographs, taken over 12 years (197789), chronicling the culture of the city of Chelsea for its local newspaper, Netzer said. Jarmaks oral history recorded for this project and displays from his archives and of his cameras enhance the exhibitions historical significance. The exhibition also celebrates the ongoing work of Boston College faculty and students on the digital history project, Global Boston, documenting the areas immigrant communities since 1870.
Among the last film photographers before the digital age, Jarmak used a Deardorff 8 × 10 inch field camera and a Nikon F 35 mm camera (both displayed in the exhibition) to document Chelseas notoriously corrupt politicians, the fires that raged through its aging housing stock and the celebrated firefighters who fought them, long-established businesses of European immigrants (many of them Jewish from Eastern Europe), and the arrivals of immigrants from Central America who enriched the city. Jarmak chronicles these changes in sharply observed portraits of residents, lively vignettes of the citys youth, and illustrations of community celebrationsa testament to the central role a local paper played in the life of a vibrant and complex city, according to organizers.
The opportunity to photograph Chelsea was truly a gift given to me, said Jarmak. I am thankful to the people of this city who supported and embraced my work every day at the Chelsea Record.
According to exhibition co-curator Ash Anderson, a Boston College art history faculty member, Jarmak slyly draws on the intertwined histories of documentary and fine art photography and his intimate knowledge of Chelsea to create dynamic, insightful compositions that bring to life a chaotic period in the citys history.
Recordings of interviews with Jarmak, by co-curator Diana Larsen, a McMullen Museum assistant director, accompany the exhibition. The curators also edited an e-catalogue that includes a biography of Jarmak by Larsen, an essay by Anderson situating Jarmaks work within the history of twentieth-century photography, including an examination of artistic and literary influences, and a study of Chelseas immigrant evolution and demographic transformations by BC Professor of History Marilynn S. Johnson, Global Boston director.
Jarmaks photographs tell a real American story, said Larsen. Although they represent life several decades ago, they provide a window into what is occurring in Chelsea todaythe residents of a small, ever-changing immigrant city striving to succeed.
The artists friend and collaborator, Joshua Resnek, added: Jarmak has the passion of a young man and the support of a city with a big heart and soul.
Organized by the McMullen Museum, Arnie Jarmak: Photographing Chelsea in Transition, 197789 received major support from Boston College and the Patrons of the McMullen Museum.