banner

Brooklyn Street Art

…loves you more every day.

Barry McGee Mid-Career at ICA in Boston

Posted on April 10, 2013

The mid-career survey of artist Barry McGee opened last week at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston and the whole is in fact greater than the sum of its parts.

Looking at his productive timeline from the 80s as anti-establishment graffiti writer/tagger to art school student on residency to San Francisco “Mission School” originator to celebrated New York gallery star complete with large scale installations of dumpsters, vans and animatronic vandals, McGee has had quite a varied trajectory that will be difficult to summarize.

But as you simply look at the magnitude and variety of imperfect and quirky characters he presents throughout his career, it doesn’t surprise you when he ends this show with a community center. This is loner who continues to create community.

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view (photo © Jaime Rojo)

You will want to see this show in its entirety if you are to glimpse just how wide McGee reaches for inclusiveness. Whether its the camaraderie of the love of the letterform, the 130 screen totem of graffiti culture video, the bulging and clustering of framed photos and hand drawings, or the bundle of clear glass bottles with portraits of street guys painted on them, each chapter can be seen as cobbling separate elements into a more clannish arrangement.

Like a living folk scrapbook, this non-digital one gathers the disparate relationships and experiences and emotions of a life into groupings, blending them with stories remembered, forgotten, imagined, fictional, funny, violent, and vocal – a rollicking life omni-bus that rolls onto its roof, laying still on the pavement, while you walk around and peer into the windows.

A look inside his jacket, with pockets for cans. Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

During his talk before the official opening of the show Friday night, McGee gave his own take on the view of this sequentially laid out show path, telling the audience that he enters the gallery and looks down at the floor as he walks through most of the rooms, as if to say the that some of the trip is too difficult or painful to encounter.  All the more interesting when he says the last room is his favorite. This is the one modeled on the concept of a community center and all its imperfect variety; a deliberately inclusive space with three vitrines reserved for local Boston artists to curate with ephemera about their lives intersecting with street culture. In fact, this is the room that feels more alive, less museum.

If you take your time through this survey, McGee introduces you to people along the road, along the rails, in boxcars, in gas stations, behind warehouses, under bridges, in delis, in ditches. In many ways, this is a story told by the street, captured by a pair of observing eyes. Look out for humor and humanity, augmented by rage and tomfoolery while peering into these stories . While the materials are multitudinous, it’s more than just miscellany and it’s made greater by way of the gathering.

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

An animatronic tagger mechanically vandalizing the gallery. Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

This interior room contains works by Margaret Kilgallen at the Barry McGee mid-career survey at ICA, Boston. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

 

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee. Mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Barry McGee AKA Amaze and crew with a tribute to Oker behind Fenway Park in conjunction with his mid-career survey at ICA, Boston now on view until September 2. (photo © Jaime Rojo)

<<>>><><<>BSA<<>>><<<>><><BSA<<>>><><<>BSA<<>>><<<>><><BSA

Please note: All content including images and text are © BrooklynStreetArt.com, unless otherwise noted. We like sharing BSA content for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the photographer(s) and BSA, include a link to the original article URL and do not remove the photographer’s name from the .jpg file. Otherwise, please refrain from re-posting. Thanks!

<<>>><><<>BSA<<>>><<<>><><BSA<<>>><><<>BSA<<>>><<<>><><BSA