After Pop Life is an exhibition and event series inspired by the late musical genius and cultural force of Prince, whose untimely passing earlier this year marked a moment of tremendous loss, but also appreciation of his gifts to culture. With works by more than thirty contemporary artists, the exhibition honors the pervasiveness of Prince’s legacy and how his prodigious musical output and indelible personal style seem more alive than ever. The project will activate two galleries in the Minnesota Street Project complex with artworks that are at once thoughtful, playful, and of course, sexy.
Organized by critic and curator Glen Helfand, the exhibition pays tribute to Prince as a multitalented figure who not only wrote, recorded and performed his music, but also made films, fostered and supported other artists, designed clothes, and was a generous, humble philanthropist, particularly in the Bay Area. Less a memorial than a tribute to how many lives Prince touched, how many dance floors he activated, and how his work provided the soundtrack to meaningful moments in so many lives, the show probes how certain pop stars seep deeply into our consciousness—we each own him in our own way. Those who revere Prince, in a sense, appropriate an aspect of The Artist. The exhibition celebrates and considers his actions and ideas of an astoundingly generous performer, who was also presciently, steadfastly in control of the ownership of his music and visual style.
“Of course the music is the starting point,” says Helfand. “The passion flt for Prince, not to mention his highly defined visual aesthetic—and all that purple—make him such a compelling, inspiring figure. His presence brings up so many issues, big topics like sexuality, race, and belief, but his work also offers such unfettered pleasure Prince brings so many people together. I was so struck to find out just the incredible range of artists who were so deeply affected by his passing.”
More than thirty artists will exhibit drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, installation and a karaoke project that riff on all things Prince. The art will express deep familiarity of specific songs, album covers, mediated moments, pure adoration and the less tangible aspects of the Prince aura. The gallery complex’s media room will be transformed into a karaoke lounge within which visitors can croon their favorite Prince hits to existing and artist-made videos during gallery hours.
Participating artists include: Sadie Barnette, Paulina Bercynski, Libby Black, Rebeca Bollinger, Bonanza, Luke Butler, Maria Guzman Capron, Sofia Cordova, Veronica de Jesus, Didi Dunphy, Marco Garcia, James Gobel, Daniel Green, Rachel Harrison, Cliff Hengst, Scott Hewicker, David Huffman, Geoff Kaplan and Yisha Dai: General
Working Group, Kevin Killian, Laura Hyunjhee Kim, Jason Lazarus, Rodney McMillian, Kori Newkirk, Adam Novak, Jennie Ottinger, Erika Ranee, Rex Ray, Yukari Sakura, William Scott, Tamra Seal, Jenny Sharaf, Wayne Smith, Sarah Thibault, Lava Thomas, Gina Tuzzi, Anne Walsh, Jenifer Wofford, Marilyn Wong and others.
The exhibition is a follow-up to a legendary 1993 exhibition titled Pop Life, also organized by Helfand, which was staged at San Francisco’s New Langton Arts on the eve of Prince’s San Francisco concerts of that year. The outpouring of interest and emotion that came after Prince’s death in April was an inspiration to revisit and update the project. After Pop Life includes artists from the original exhibition including Rex Ray, Cliff Hengst, Scott Hewicker, and Wayne Smith. A 32-page exhibition publication, designed by General Working Group, will be produced for the show and will feature original digital collage and essays by Helfand.
After Pop Life will also highlight Prince’s quiet philanthropy. Prince helped to launch the Oakland-based #YesWeCode initiative dedicated to transforming the talent pipeline to increase opportunity in the tech sector.
For more information on #YesWeCode and Prince’s support, visit here.
Saturday, September 17th, 5pm-8pm
Reception and literary evening featuring a stage reading of noted San Francisco writer Kevin Killian’s Poet’s Theater play, Life After Prince, written in 1993 and updated this year, which wittily follows a string of female Prince protégés to the unemployment office. Reception to follow from 6-8 p.m.
Kevin Killian’s “Life After Prince” (1993/2016)