Image: Drinking at the Hammer Museum, with Ed Ruscha behind the bar and Tom Marioni to the far right. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez for the LA Times.
"The act of drinking beer with friends is the highest form of art." San Francisco artist Tom Marioni, author of a memoir entitled Beer, Art and Philosophy, has put together a series of beer-fuelled art happenings since 1970 which have taken place variously in his own studio, museums, and neighbourhood bars. A show of his work (and five accompanying invitation-only beer salons, at one of which his friend Ed Ruscha tended bar), has just opened at the Hammer Museum in LA.
The public are invited to a performance later in the month called 'The Beer Drinking Sonata for 13 Players', in which players blow into the bottles after each sip, so that the tone -- so to speak -- gets progressively lower and lower. (Have a feeling I might have seen something similar done in a student flat in Christchurch in the 1980s.)
When asked by writer Jori Finkel if he agreed with Marioni that drinking beer was the highest form of art, Ed Ruscha commented: "I don’t know about a form of art; a form of life maybe. But you can call anything art, and that’s Tom’s thing. And I like the beer part of it."
You may like to know that Andrew Bogle curated one of the first survey exhibitions of the graphic works of Ed Ruscha for the Auckland Art Gallery in 1978. I wrote an account of the exhibition in Reading Room issue 2, 2008.
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