January 25–April 23, 2023 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY ART MUSEUM & PACIFIC FILM ARCHIVE
It was an amazing event. We are very happy that we made the trip to Berkeley for this.
Keith Wilson and Vincent Fecteau curated the exhibition. The opening featured the Curators’ Talk. It was hard to see how these two guys who had never even met Frank would be able to capture the depth and vastness that is Frank and his work. They were going to be speaking to an audience that included many people who knew, love and worked with Frank.
Their presentation brought tears to our eyes. Their talk was a duet … a tag team … getting deeper and more real with each turn. By the end you could see Frank there speaking through them as they channeled him.
Looking at the photos it looks like a night at Burnt Ramen between acts with the mix of art outlaws mingling and hanging out together in the magic that Frank always brought. It was so warming to be with everyone, enjoying …
BAMPFA presents the paintings of Frank Moore — a performance artist, poet and so much more
Opening Jan. 25, exhibition focuses on the lesser-known body of work by the Berkeley countercultural activist who was also a playwright and filmmaker. Sponsored by Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Jan. 19, 2023, 8:38 a.m.
Frank Moore’s portrait of musician Patti Smith was recently acquired by BAMPFA. Credit: BAMPFA
If you spent any time at Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus during the 1970s, you may have encountered a young man in a wheelchair with a mischievous smile and a long pointing stick strapped to his head of unruly brown hair. If you approached this man, you might have seen a colorful sign on his lap with a simple invitation: “Talk to Me.”
This was Frank Moore, one of the most distinctive and distinguished artists to emerge from Berkeley’s counterculture scene during the 1970s and ’80s. A Berkeley original, Moore (1946–2013) was known by his many friends and admirers as a prodigious poet, painter, playwright, performance artist, musician, filmmaker, shaman, presidential candidate, and public access television impresario. He was all of these things and more, all while living with a disability that limited his speech and motion but left his creative spirit unbound.
Today, Moore’s legacy lives on in his voluminous archives of art, film and written work, held at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. This year, Bay Area audiences will have a fresh opportunity to discover a portion of that material starting Jan. 25, when the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive unveils Frank Moore / MATRIX 280: Theater of Human Melting — the first museum exhibition dedicated to this extraordinary artist. Unlike previous exhibitions of Moore’s work, Theater of Human Melting focuses specifically on his paintings, a comparatively under-recognized aspect of his creative practice that is overdue for rediscovery.
Frank Moore as visiting artist at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1991. Credit: Linda Mac
Born and raised in San Bernardino, Moore spent his early adulthood at the Brotherhood of the Spirit commune in western Massachusetts and among radical communities in New Mexico, where he wrote articles for progressive publications under the pen name Unicorn. After relocating to the Bay Area to attend the San Francisco Art Institute, Moore became widely known for provocative performance art presentations that incorporated nudity and eroticism as well as shamanic practices and time-based elements.
In 1978, Moore converted a vacant storefront on Bancroft Avenue into The Theater of Human Melting, a workshop where he developed performances, wrote screenplays, and mentored fellow artists. Constantly experimenting with new forms of expression, he brought his creative vision to public access television in the early 2000s, producing a weekly arts program that later transitioned into a web series. Like many Berkeleyans of his generation, Moore was also active in radical politics throughout his life — most notably as a write-in candidate for President in 2008, when he ran on a platform of “radical love.”
The latest installment in the museum’s MATRIX program for contemporary art, the exhibition of paintings at BAMPFA offers a rare glimpse at Frank Moore’s prolific output as a painter, which is less widely known than his performance art but no less central to his practice.
Working with a paintbrush strapped to his forehead, Moore used oil paint to render evocative still lifes, landscapes, and portraits, ranging from anonymous nudes to pop culture icons like Batman, Darth Vader, and Frankenstein. Twenty-nine of these remarkable works will be presented at BAMPFA, including two works that were recently acquired for the museum’s permanent collection — one of which is a portrait of musician Patti Smith, Moore’s close friend and collaborator.
Silversurfer by Frank Moore. Credit: BAMPFA
“We’re delighted to present the first museum exhibition of Frank Moore right here at his hometown museum, which will reintroduce our audiences to an artist whose singular vision was shaped by this vibrant creative community,” said BAMPFA’s Executive Director Julie Rodrigues Widholm.
“Given Berkeley’s proud history as the birthplace of the disability rights movement, it’s especially meaningful for us to revisit the work of a Berkeley artist who was unbound by his physical limitations, and whose spirit of artistic innovation and inclusivity continues to inspire.”
Theater of Melting is guest-curated by Vincent Fecteau and Keith Wilson, both working artists with deep connections to the Bay Area, who will present a curator’s talk at the museum on Jan. 25 at 5:30 p.m.
To provide additional context on Moore’s life and work, the curators have chosen to feature the experimental video Let Me Be Frank, playing on a loop in the gallery. Although Moore is credited as the director, the segment was produced posthumously by his family as the opening sequence for a video series based on his autobiography, “Art of a Shaman.” Let Me Be Frank serves as a boisterously joyful introduction to Moore’s creative vision, driven by his passionate belief in the ability of human beings to connect.
Of related interest, selected papers from the Frank Moore Archive will be on display in the exhibit cases on the 3rd floor at The Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, Feb. 1–April 21.
Here is the original article from the Berkeleyside
oh, the cool living within the shade of the big oak! The girl swinging On a high branch Looks down And sees my bright Pink and yellow petals, Jumps down to smell me And lies beside me To listen to the music Of the oak leaves Playing with the summer breeze.
All my life I have been sheltered By my friend the oak, Being protected from Hard rain, Gusts of cold wind, And hot sun, So that my gentle beauty Can grow strong & bright Within the circle Of vibrating shade… Refreshing shadows of living together, Rooted together Within just being together. Ah, my friend, The oak tree!
“Koala Bear”, oil on canvas, 22” x 30”, 1975 by Frank Moore
For Barbara Smith’s 70th Birthday by Frank Moore Friday, June 29, 2001
It is too late For THEM to defeat us. We have made it to the gravy years! We have lived rich lives, Within a deep web of Tribal community relationships, Deep into shamanistic rituals Playing, Surrendering To the magic Without limits Sitting on the mat In the universal room of hidden imagination, Feeding Every body who comes in A magical feast of contact connecting flesh rituals, Growing, working the garden together Walking together Within small circles of evolution, Of risks, Dangers, Trust, Deep pleasures! Yes, my fellow playmate, They have failed To take the riches of living Away from us. Sure… They raped us Tortured us Pretended we were just feeble-minded silly foam But we have transformed All that into our web Of change Damn! Ain’t that what life, Art, Magic Is all about anyway?
And now it’s too late for them!
They can kill us, Put us in prison, Take everything/everybody from us, Erase us from memory, But we would still have our life, Our changes, Our melting Into the universal tribal body Their only hope Is us taking our lives back By doubting, By stopping playing, Touching, Enjoying But fat chance! We are having too much fun!
Ah yes, My dear, We are in the GRAVY YEARS! And the gravy Is rich, Hot, And spicy… Just right To be poured Over winter squash!
“Jackie”, oil on canvas, 32” x 40”, 1977 by Frank Moore
A family friendly poetry reading? Really? Do you mean like READERS’ DIGEST? MMMM… I suppose some poets would go along with it… The kind in READERS’ DIGEST The kind who don’t see Don’t mind The command For “self” censorship Tucked neatly in the warmly caramel apple Phrase Of FAMILY FRIENDLY There ain’t no “self” censorship You are censoring art, Words, Intensity, Truths, The Audience Down into nice mellow Fascism
I suppose some are willing to accept this…. The kind who don’t question Questions like Which family? It definitely ain’t my family Not any of the expanding rings Of my family In fact It is down right hostile To my human tribal family Which teaches our kids How to use words To communicate with all kinds of people In all kinds of contexts Openly Deeply Freely Exploring all life With a passionate honesty, Sitting together In the yummy smelling kitchen Of Life Sitting together Around the tribal fires Generations sitting together Passing the talking stick around Telling their stories Revealing their desires and fears, Wisdom and folly Exploring myths… Listening and telling Into the center of respect and acceptance… All the family listening All tell In their own ways… Silly little sister Wise grandma Hot angry brother Mother finding new words Dad listening to family voices… All beyond taboos In this sacred ritual of telling.
I don’t really know what to make of this Hostile FAMILY FRIENDLY… Ok, I do. This is making poetry, All art, Into a hallmark lapdog Of the brainwashing “socialization” Of little lily and billy Reinforcing SCHOOL/CHURCH/CORPORATE shallow Dogma, Using us poets To be the shallow virus dogma carriers, Thinking FAMILY FRIENDLY can ever be Anything but enforced shallow reality On everyone
Sure, When I read at schools I play by THE RULES Not because of the kids
But to get into the brainwashing camps To slip the kids A subversive potion of Words/ideas/images
But shoot me If I ever read at a FAMILY/KIDS FRIENDLY POETRY READING… No… Shoot the fascist’s parents!
Think fast! A loving couple lovingly f…
In your head, What did you hear for F?
Did I just cross the line?
“Innocent”, oil on canvas, 36” x 36”, 1981 by Frank Moore“Trixie”, oil on canvas, 36” x 36”, 1979 by Frank Moore“Superman”, oil on canvas, 35” x 68”, 1976
i get worried if my words and images fit through veins clogged with fatty taboos of polite appropriate of comfortability.
i get worried…is the art that small that it fits through that pinhole of a hole…so small that nudes on the walls, words on telephone poles, any shift in the social power structure threatens the very reality fabric.
i’m too proud to admit the art poetry is that small. so my art becomes a roto-rooting balloon covered in razors tipped in draino acid, pushing pressuring uncomfortable unsocial grinding against the grain until the killer fatty clots of taboos burst out the other end and go down the drain like trouble.
i don’t really go after the hitlers, the mccarthys, the helms, or their brown shirts.
they are just limp-dicked power-junkies with swiss-cheese egos, each hole filled with inferiority. they are just moons with no power light of themselves, just reflecting fear.
no, i go after the nice people who never asked where the trains were going, boxcars filled with people. didn’t have to. only suspected, only heard rumors…after all, the general is a friend. never said, excuse me, i am a jew too, arab too, a jap too, a gay too, i’ve negro blood running in my body, aids too. i’m a commie who took home movies of our nude kids. so better put me on that train too. better put us all on that train. there ain’t no train big enough!
i go after the nice people who keep going to work after seeing their friends missing, after hearing rumors of blacklist and blackball. must write something about that subject to THE TIMES. he used to be such a pleasant fellow…but now he is a whining paranoid…not a sort to have to tea. he is like a wet messy fart. not in my backyard!
yes, i go after nice people. but my time in the belljar is about over. so i’ll leave you with this. what is happening in your backyard is what really matters. so be sure to weed!
“Seated Nude”, oil on canvas, 36” x 36”, 1981 by Frank Moore
Here is a collection of Frank’s early oil paintings. We only know the dates they were painted for a couple of them. (Frank said he started painting in high school.) Frank painted with a brush attached to a hard hat.
Untitled (Frank’s First Painting), watercolor on paper, 14” x 11’, 1960sUntitled, watercolor on paper, 14” x 11”, 1960sUntitled, oil on cardboard, 14″ x 10.25″, 1960s“Still Life”, oil on cardboard, 14″ x 10.25″, 1960sUntitled, oil on cardboard, 14″ x 10.5″, 1960sUntitled, oil on cardboard, 14″ x 10.5″, 1960sUntitled, oil on cardboard, 9″ x 11.5″, 1960sUntitled, oil on paper, 8.75″ x 11.5″, 1960s“Seascape”, oil on cardboard, 10″ x 13.5″, 1965.Untitled, oil on cardboard, 8.5″ x 13″, 1965Untitled, oil on canvas board, 10″ x 8″, 196os“Abstract Body Parts”, oil on canvas board, 9″ x 12″, 1970sUntitled, oil on canvas board, 12″ x 16″, 1960sUntitled, oil on canvas board, 16″ x 12″, 1960s“Ball”, oil on canvas, 12″ x 14″, 1960s“Abstract Face”, oil on canvas board, 12″ x 16″, 1970s“The First Rebel”, oil on canvas board, 12″ x 15″, 1966
After 9/11/01 and the move to war, Frank looked at his oil painting, HELL TO WAR, hanging on our wall, that he had painted in high school in the 1960s, and decided to do a digital version so we could put it up in our yard!
HELL TO WAR, by Frank Moore, oil on cardboard, 1960s
He ended up doing four digital paintings over the course of six days:
HELL TO WAR – September 17, 2001
HELL TO ALL TERRORISM – September 19, 2001
WAR IS TERRORISM – September 20, 2001
PEACE FLAG – September 22, 2001
Our front yard at Curtis Street, Berkeley, CaliforniaGilman Street protest, 2003