‘Myopia’ exhibit spans from Akron to Cleveland, four decades of musician’s career
— Akron native and artist Mark Mothersbaugh will receive the key to the city from Mayor Dan Horrigan on Saturday, May 28 at the Akron-Summit County Public Library.
The artist will be honored on the day “Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia” opens at the Akron Art Museum. “Myopia” is the first comprehensive exhibition of Mothersbaugh’s creative output, and defines his importance as a key figure in contemporary culture. The exhibition, spanning more than four decades of his career—from his early years as a founder of the popular band DEVO to his ongoing present-day work as a visual artist and composer—includes works on paper, sculptures, installations, music and videos.
The Akron Art Museum and MOCA Cleveland have collaborated to share the exhibition in two distinct presentations, each showcasing different aspects of Mothersbaugh’s work.
“It is a privilege to honor such a gifted Akron native in this way,” said Mayor Dan Horrigan. “Mark has shone a spotlight on the creative and innovative spirit of our city.”
The May 28 event will feature a conversation at the library at 2 p.m. between Mark Mothersbaugh and Adam Lerner, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and Curator of “Myopia.” Tickets are required to attend the talk, and are available now at AkronArtMuseum.org.
When the talk concludes at 3 p.m., the “Myopia” exhibition will be opened to the public at the Akron Art Museum with a free celebration that will include the artist, along with music from guest DJ Michael Toth, art activities for all ages, mobile demos of EarthQuaker Devices guitar pedals with artwork designed by Mothersbaugh, and additional surprises.
Beginning as an art student at Kent State University in the late 1960s, Mark Mothersbaugh’s creative output has expanded across multiple media and disciplines—from music composition to musical instrument innovation and modification, and from hand-drawn cards to large-scale sculptures. Equal parts engagement and provocation, Mothersbaugh often investigates the tension and interplay between order and freedom, repetition and play, technology and individuality, and mutation and conformity. He has scored numerous influential television shows and movies, ranging from The Rugrats and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse to most of director Wes Anderson’s feature films. Mothersbaugh’s unique visual work continues to ripple through contemporary culture, with memorable examples spanning DEVO’s expressive style to the alienated, at times comical, sensibility found in his postcards and fiberglass sculptures.
Visual and sound work will be presented at both Cleveland and Akron venues, but the individual exhibitions are organized to emphasize either sight or sound. “Myopia” in Cleveland focuses strongly on sound, sound-making objects, and artworks about correspondence and communication.
Works on view include early performance photographs and film, photographs of Mothersbaugh as his DEVO alter-ego, Booji Boy, early mail art, 27 rugs with video animations, manipulated musical instruments and excerpts of soundtracks for well-known films and TV shows. This exhibition also features newer work, including a video performance of Motherbaugh’s recently constructed six-sided keyboard.
“Myopia” in Akron focuses on Mothersbaugh’s daily visual art practice, including an installation of 30,000 postcard-sized drawings the artist has created and used for inspiration and exploration throughout his career. Examining Mothersbaugh’s interest in mutation and mirroring, this show will include installations of mirror-image photographs, and 25 ceramic sculptures he refers to as Roly-Polies, among other sculptural works.
The Akron exhibition also contains an aural dimension, including music stations, with listening equipment provided by Audio-Technica, which present recorded excerpts of soundtracks from the Wes Anderson films The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. The Akron presentation will also display a selection of original musical scores embellished with Mothersbaugh’s drawings.
During the run of the “Myopia” in Northeast Ohio, both MOCA Cleveland and Akron Art Museum will present numerous “Myopia”-related programs for all ages, designed to deepen and enhance the experience of the exhibition. Programs include lectures with author David Giffels, zine workshops and exhibitions, film screenings, music performances and art-making activities. To view a full list of offerings, visit AkronArtMuseum.org/calendar and MOCAcleveland.org/calendar.
This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.
Its presentation in Akron is generously supported by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Audio-Technica, the John P. Murphy Foundation, EarthQuaker Devices, the Department of Print Media & Photography, Kent State University and TKM. Media sponsorship is provided by Western Reserve PBS and 91.3 The Summit.
The opening celebration of “Myopia” in Akron is sponsored by EarthQuaker Devices.