SVMA reopens with Ed Ruscha: Travel Log, an exhibition of books, prints and photographs by this world-renowned American artist on view through May 30, 2021. Rarely seen black and white photographs from Ruscha’s frequent trips between Los Angeles and Oklahoma in the 1960s reveal inspirations for his iconic images, which include gas stations, diners, and the streets of rural towns such as Amarillo, Texas, Gallup, New Mexico, and Winslow, Arizona. Travel Log contemplates Ruscha’s American landscapes as they appear and disappear in a sort of speeding highway zoetrope.
“We couldn’t be happier to open our doors again, especially with this exceptional exhibition of such a major artist,” said Linda Keaton, SVMA executive director. “We are grateful to the Sonoma community for supporting the Museum through the past year. SVMA will make every effort to provide a safe, COVID-responsible environment so that visitors feel as safe as possible while they are in the Museum.”
Ruscha, who first travelled in 1956 to Los Angeles from his hometown of Oklahoma City with friend Mason Williams, famed songwriter of Classical Gas and a comedy writer for the Smothers Brothers television show, became the West Coast’s answer to Pop and Conceptual Art. Writer Mark Rozzo wrote: “He is to highways, service stations, and signage what Warhol was to soup cans.” (Vanity Fair, May 30, 2018)
Travel Log also features color lithographs from his well-known “word paintings” series that mix visual formality with playful language. The exhibition also includes a rare installation of 51 framed prints that Ruscha illustrated with original, commissioned, and found photographs and juxtaposed with passages from Jack Kerouac’s seminal novel, On The Road.
Upon its reopening, SVMA will observe strict public health and safety standards requiring masks to be worn at all times, and observing reduced visitor capacity and six feet of social distancing, among other measures. (See SVMA website for more details, svma.org.)
This exhibition is supported by Lori & Steve Bush, Sheila Martin-Stone, Leslie and Mac McQuown, Elaine & Graham Smith, and Sheila Wishek.