New York, NY (February 2, 2012):  Esopus Space is pleased to present “Willie Alexander: Wall Works,” an exhibition of never-before-exhibited large-scale collages by the legendary rock-and-roll musician Willie Alexander. 
 
Willie Alexander taped his first object—an iconic portrait of James Dean—to his bedroom wall in Rumford, Rhode Island, when he was 13 years old. It was soon joined by images of Marilyn Monroe and innumerable nameless starlets torn from the pages of Hollywood gossip magazines left to him by babysitters. In his late teens, Alexander moved to Boston, where he briefly attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts before becoming a seminal figure in the city's burgeoning rock scene, ultimately replacing Sterling Morrison as keyboardist for The Velvet Underground in 1971. While on tour, he kept elaborate journals, using found ledger books and conjoining song lyrics with musical ideas and personal musings, over all of which he continuously taped the ephemera of daily life. 

In the 1990s, Alexander and his wife, photographer Anne Rearick, relocated from Boston to Gloucester, Massachusetts. Alexander began to incorporate clippings from local paper The Gloucester Times, combined with materials from his own life, into full-scale newspapers assembled entirely with clear packing tape. Not long after, Alexander returned to the project he had begun many years before: covering the walls and ceilings of various rooms in his house with newspaper clippings, posters from various international concert tours, cat litter packaging, and anything else that could be taped down. When a surface was finished, Alexander peeled away the wall-sized collage that had taken shape, put it away, and started again. His practice, a unique combination of performance and installation art, has continued uninterrupted to this day. "At night," Rearick notes, "“I hear the rrrrippping of Willie’s signature packing tape and wonder what’s going up next. One room is completely covered with images, from ceiling to floor, and the closets are full of walls that have been removed and rolled up to make room for more."

Alexander's wall collages will be shown for the first time at the Esopus Space exhibition. As the curator and archivist John Jacob puts it, "They are living artworks, changing from day to day as Willie interacts with the world and it sends back signals to him in the form of two-dimensional visual flotsam. But they also represent a kind of pattern-building, an obsession with layering, that parallels his long-term work in music and more recent work in video. They're the culmination of the project he started as a child, and now function as wall-scale crazy quilts from a truly amazing creative consciousness." 

"Willie Alexander: Wall Works" will also include a selection of Alexander's Gloucester Times assemblages as well as other works by the artist. An opening reception will be held on Wednesday, February 15th, from 6 to 8pm, which Alexander will attend.  

 

Willie "Loco" Alexander (born January 14, 1943, in Philadelphia) is an American singer and keyboard player based in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He played with Boston-area bands The Lost, The Bagatelle, and The Grass Menagerie in the ’60s before becoming a member of The Velvet Underground in 1971. Alexander toured England, Scotland, and the Netherlands with the band in support of its then-current album Loaded. Alexander has since enjoyed a storied musical career, both as a solo act and with the Boom Boom Band. Hailed as "this generation's Kerouac" by The Boston Globe, he was inducted into the Boston Music Awards Hall of Fame in 1987. In 1997, a selection of Alexander's journals, hand-made newspapers, and other bookworks were exhibited at the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University in the exhibition "Extended Play: Between Rock and an Art Space," curated by John Jacob, which also featured works by Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Kim Gordon, and others. 
 
Gallery Hours: Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 12 to 6pm, and always by appointment.
 
Esopus Space is an exhibition and performance venue operated by the Esopus Foundation Ltd., a nonprofit organization which also publishes Esopus magazine. Located in central Greenwich Village at 64 West Third Street, it is open to the public Mondays from 12 to 8pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12 to 6pm, and always by appointment. For more information, please visit the Esopus Space website, send inquiries to space@esopusfoundation.org, or call Tod Lippy at 212-473-0919.



Supporters of The Esopus Foundation Ltd. include the Greenwall Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), Foundation for Contemporary Art, the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation, the Strypemonde Foundation, the Puffin Foundation, the Fifth Floor Foundation, and a number of other institutional and private donors.
 
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