As an undergraduate art student at Kent State University, Mark Mothersbaugh created work in the late ’60s and into the ’70s that consisted of many different mediums, including rubber stamp designs, ink illustrations, screen printing, decals (which he posted around Kent, Ohio), and mail art. While touring with his band DEVO, it was not uncommon for Mothersbaugh to lightly “correct” or add onto the bland paintings and prints that adorned the many hundreds of otherwise unmemorable hotel rooms that he occupied for one night at a time.
In the Evil Eye Series, 15 SPUDNIK POEMS, Mothersbaugh has painted over the top of evil eye posters that he created because of his lifelong issues with eyesight and extreme myopia, as well as interest in the idea of the eye as a protector from evil.
Mothersbaugh views his pieces in this exhibition as experiments in “beatnik stream-of-consciousness” poetry, which for him is related to speaking in tongues — the surrendering of the intellect to the primordial, or science vs. faith. As an observer among us, Mothersbaugh writes down things that he overhears throughout the day … people at another table, a voice on the radio, pieces of verbal fabric that drift and weave and create the poetry of life; the flotsam and jetsam that swirl around us and fill our subconscious with scraps of what it is to be, according to Mothersbaugh, a “thinking ape.”
BEYOND THE STREETS Los Angeles, 2018. Photo by Brent Broza.