“Some Kind of Mind Thing” Exhibition

Off Paradise

poster for “Some Kind of Mind Thing” Exhibition

This event has ended.

The painter feels weights, things move. The writer sees pictures, hears voices. The paint, the words, beside the point, used up in enigma. Touchstone. Dialectric.
The painter at the movies. The writer at his radio.
— Clark Coolidge, Baffling Means, o·blēk editions, 1991

Off Paradise presents Some Kind of Mind Thing, a group exhibition featuring works by Clark Coolidge, Philip Guston, Olivia DiVecchia, Natasha Tiniacos, J Grabowski,
Jason Morris, Bernadette Mayer, Colter Jacobsen and Cedar Sigo.

“Some kind of mind thing” is a phrase from the poet Clark Coolidge, quoted in Two Chairs on the Dance Floor. In a conversation with fellow poet John DeWitt, recently published in Distance No Object, 2020, Coolidge relates the remarkable wavelength he shared with the late artist Philip Guston, the unique collaboration that followed and their profound friendship during the last decade of the painter’s life.

Shortly after being introduced at a crowded party in the early 1970s, Coolidge and Guston pulled up two chairs on the dance floor and began to talk. They talked some more. In fact, they never stopped and continued to talk for the next decade.

As Coolidge recalls, ‘The first time we met, in the roaring context of a crowded Studio School New Year’s Party, he [Guston] soon said to me, “But of course words are your métier.” From there on there was no gulf between us as poet and painter.’ (Page ix, Philip Guston)
A frequent visitor to the Woodstock studio, Coolidge offered, as a poet, an immediate and unfettered response to Guston’s works. The artist reciprocated with his own unique responses to the poet’s writings, and thus began a rich dialogue for four hands, resulting in what Guston called Poem-Pictures. A decade after Guston’s passing, Coolidge gathered these collaborative drawings and poems in a collection titled Baffling Means.

In his preface to Baffling Means, published by o·blēk editions in 1991, Coolidge writes: ‘These things were made between 1972 and 1976 in a process of seeing and talking, writing and painting and reacting, drawing ever closer in the service of getting further, of taking it to the point of nothing but further work. (A title we thought of for a possible book: To Work). Further in the sense of nearly unrecognizable as one’s own.’

Some Kind of Mind Thing assembles a group of artists and poets who have been in dialogue, close collaboration and friendship for a number of years, multiple decades even, and explores the kinds of unexpected transmissions that can occur between visual and written language when poems and drawings begin to ‘read’ one another across margins and across the room.

Off Paradise is a gallery located on Walker Street founded by Natacha Polaert in the fall of 2019. The name evokes the old neighborhood of Five Points, at the center of which was a small, triangular park, full of hopes and grime, called Paradise Square. It also invokes Paradise Alley, the artists’ and poets’ colony on the then-godforsaken corner of Avenue A and East 11th Street that is referenced in Jack Kerouac’s novel The Subterraneans.

Off Paradise is a fictional place, right off Paradise, adjacent to it, but not exactly it.


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