Walker Art Center

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Jim Shaw with Darsie Alexander



Jim Shaw, who gained international attention for his work in the 1980s and 1990s, is also notable for his influence on a younger generation of artists. He had a suburban childhood in Michigan, attended the university at Ann Arbor in the early ’70s (where he cofounded the eminent pre-punk band Destroy All Monsters with artist Mike Kelley*), and later studied at the California Institute for the Arts. Shaw’s work is currently featured in The Spectacular of Vernacular, an exhibition that examines the role of vernacular forms in art that incorporates—and often revels in—craft, folklore, and roadside kitsch.

Drawing on a fascination with the idiosyncrasies of American pop culture, Shaw puts a distinct psychological and fantastical spin on his response to the stuff that clutters everyday life. His multidimensional practice includes The Thrift Store Paintings (1974–2008), a vast collection of works by untrained artists that he assembled; and a recent series of paintings ostensibly made by devotees of Oism, a pseudo-cult he invented. Selections from these projects are included in the new Walker exhibition.

Join Shaw and chief curator Darsie Alexander a lively discussion about kitsch and art, thrift stores, music, and the Midwest.