JOHN CAGE: STEPS & Other Works from the Mountain Lake Workshop

JOHN CAGE: STEPS & Other Works from the Mountain Lake Workshop
April 11th – July 27th, 2019
Opening to the public on Thursday, April 11th with a 6pm lecture by Mountain Lake Workshop founder Ray Kass and Laura Kuhn, Executive Director of the John Cage Trust at Bard College. (This discussion will be followed by a 7-8:30pm reception.)

Florida SouthWestern State College continues its celebration of the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery’s 40th anniversary by presenting JOHN CAGE: STEPS & Other Works from the Mountain Lake Workshop – an exhibition of visual art by the renowned artist-composer that will feature newly-licensed performances of “STEPS: A Composition for a Painting” and the world premiere of his recently rediscovered, never previously exhibited and monumentally-scaled masterwork – “New River Rocks & Washes” (1990). The show opens to the public on Thursday, April 11th with a 6pm lecture by Mountain Lake Workshop founder Ray Kass and Laura Kuhn, Executive Director of the John Cage Trust at Bard College and runs from April 11th – July 27th, 2019.

As a composer, music theorist, author and artist revered as a pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, John Cage was a leading voice of the post-war avant-garde, “my spiritual and philosophical soul-mate” as Bob Rauschenberg often proclaimed, and one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century. Perhaps best known for his 1952 composition “4’33”, a piece instructing the performer not to play their instrument during three timed movements over four minutes and thirty-three seconds, Cage proposed the revolutionary concepts that any sound may constitute music and that there is no such thing as silence.

A close collaborator through the 1950’s and ‘60’s while working with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Bob Rauschenberg later wrote, “John Cage [and] his work in every medium is a reward to all [and] will be for centuries.” The innocence and challenging audacity of his unique attitude, according to Rauschenberg, “created a labyrinth with no exit.” Often applying chance-based operations to his compositional process in an effort to eliminate aesthetic decisions, John Cage’s forays into visual art practice – perhaps best represented by his experimentation at the Mountain Lake Workshop – employed many of the same techniques. As collaborator, friend and Mountain Lake Workshop founder Ray Kass reflects, “Cage didn’t adhere to accepted aesthetic rules and patterns for the construction of works of art; he deliberately eschewed the idea that art is created solely through personal taste manipulating elements of visual form.”

Through the very recent “rediscovery” of John Cage’s seminal 8.5 x 28 ft. “New River Rocks & Washes” (1990), Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at FSW visitors will be given the extraordinary opportunity to be the first to publicly view this monumental masterwork – which until now was unidentifiably crated and in storage for nearly three decades. As Dr. Laura Kuhn (Executive Director of the John Cage Trust at Bard College) succinctly notes, “One cannot overstate the importance of John Cage and his work, and its impact on 20th century music, art, and culture.”

This exhibition is made possible through a partnership with the Longwood Center for Visual Art at Longwood University and presents excerpts from “Rural Avant-Garde: The Mountain Lake Experience” (an exhibition funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts). We are deeply grateful to LCVA Director Rachel Ivers and Curator of Exhibitions Alex Grabiec; the staff of the Maryland Institute of College of Art/MICA; as well as to Sean Mooney, Chief Curator at the Rock Foundation, and the Adelaide de Menil & Edmund Carpenter Collection for essential loans and critical assistance with the preparation and installation of these seminal works. Our thanks also to Gene Caprioglio at C.F. Peters Co., Laura Kuhn and Ray Kass for their inspiration, participation and permissions granted.

This exhibition was generously supported by Bob Rauschenberg Gallery friend and docent Darilyn Alderman and with a grant from The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel.
For additional information please call: 239-489-9313.
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“Experimental composer and artist John Cage will be featured in an exhibition at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery” – Orlando Weekly (March 29, 2019)

“John Cage painting debuts at Fort Myers Rauschenberg Gallery on FSW campus after being rediscovered” – News Press (April 15, 2019)