Mar 19 — Apr 24, 2021
Art is not the only material that accumulates in a gallery over decades in business. People who build their lives around the practices of making and collecting have a tendency to treasure archives, ephemera, and obsolete technologies of all species and temperaments. A Rolodex, typewriter, and sales slips in carbonless triplicate were still in use at Fleisher/Ollman in 2006. A couple of years ago the typewriter either stopped working, or we could no longer find ribbons for it, and while this was not an everyday tool at this point, if one of us wasn't around to print a provenance label, John was well pleased to type one out.
The gallery has just finished its second move in eight years, with each move spurring a new round of shedding: stacks of show announcements, old letterhead, out-of-date files, CD-Rs, floppy disks, magazines, dead computers, and the fax machine that took up a quarter of the desktop and occasionally greeted us in the morning with the promise of cheap rates on travel packages to the Bahamas. A selection of books and fair catalogs also didn't make the cut this time around.
These purges bring both a sense of relief, and one of uncertainty. Next year will be the gallery's 70th, and John's institutional memory goes back 50 years now. We can still puzzle out pieces of provenances with a trip to the file cabinet, compare the current condition of a work to an un-scanned transparency from the '80s, or refer back to an exhibition catalog for an image of a work being sold from a private collection. Two binders and three spiral bound notebooks keep forty years worth of price lists. These, and a box full of exhibition announcements rediscovered last year, have helped us piece together a good chunk of the gallery's exhibition history, but there are holes.
One could deconstruct the history of 20th century self-taught American art with a read through our library, between classic tomes and flimsy, staple-bound exhibition catalogs. As William Pym recounts: "John is into books, and he was always aghast when we, recent students of postmodernism, hadn’t seen this or that classic. He’d rustle around the library and dramatically whip out the volume in question, and that’s how we became hip to Flash of the Spirit and Magiciens de la Terre and the Westermann catalogue raisonné. John makes a strong case for having a library."
So here are a few tid-bits, for reference, inspiration, nostalgia, and posterity.
Adams and Ollman, Portland OR
Mar 19 – Apr 17, 2021
James Castle with Evgeny Antufiev, Katherine Bradford, Andrew Cranston, Vaginal Davis, Lois Dodd, Ficus Interfaith, Nick Goss, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Chris Johanson, David Korty, Isaac Tin Wei Lin, Sarah McEneaney, Ryan McLaughlin, Jeffry Mitchell, Dina No, Hilary Pecis, Conny Purtill, Emily Mae Smith, Becky Suss, Ricky Swallow and Willa Wasserman
Accompanying essay, "See it All", by William Pym
JTT, New York, NY
Mar 19 – Apr 24, 2021
James Castle, Felipe Jesus Consalvos, William Edmondson, Lee Godie, William Hawkins, Marlon Mullen, Diane Simpson, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, Bill Walton, Philadelphia Wireman, Joseph Yoakum