art on discarded bedsheets
(Bread & Puppet Theater’s
founder and artistic director)
Opening Reception July 15th 6pm-8pm
(Patio terrace across from Midway Artist Studio Entrance)
contain quantities of secret life,
sweet dreams and nightmares of
anonymous sleepers’ lives in
relation to their history and planet.”
(Peter Schumann, 2021)
(Fort Point, Boston, MA 02210) During this covid-era “pause”, the Vermont-based Bread & Puppet Theater was gifted a large pile of king-sized bedsheets, discarded by a hotel. Renowned visual and performing artist Peter Schumann, the political puppet theater’s founder and artistic director, immediately seized upon this as an opportunity. Not only to paint a scene per day, on a dumped clean slate canvas. But also to take this on as a daily exercise, of freely slapping paint around while grappling with all the issues that have made the world a sh*tty mess.
Like hanging out to dry in a mighty stiff wind, Schumann’s “Bedsheet Mitigations” series, a portion of which will be on display in Fort Point’s Midway Gallery, never really sits still for any viewer. His iconic visual approach, no matter if they are part of a performance or let to lay flat, are hardly ever created by Schumann for relaxed observation only.
The selections from Schumann’s “Bedsheet Mitigations” series, specifically chosen for this exhibit at Midway, were first revealed at Bread & Puppet’s “Insurrection – Lamentation — Resurrection Service” performances, held up in VT during their socially distant contact-traced 2020-2021 season. Combined with these “mitigation” images will be several other bedsheet pieces on display at Midway, gleaned from Schumann’s new “Crucifixion” series, which he started generating in earnest this past February-March.
Never one to mince words, Schumann’s mission statement, specifically addressing this exhibit in Fort Point, acknowledges the precarious position that the neighborhood’s dwindling artists’ community faces, in spite of the ironic fact that this particular Boston neighborhood, now dwarfed by pristine condition high-rise glass and steel, had once been declared “historic” in 2009 by the then mayor.
Peter Schumann’s Artist Mission Statement (May 2021):
1) “I am not a professional painter because professional painters either make or hope to make their living from painting. I am a cheap artist which means: if I sell I also want to ridicule the for-sale system of art.”;
2) “Bad bedsheet research. Dumpster-retrieved bedsheets contain quantities of secret life, sweet dreams and nightmares of anonymous sleepers’ lives in relation to their history and planet.”;
3) “Dirty painful reality doesn’t allow these paintings to be abstract and enjoy abstinence from that dirt and pain. This is sloganeering art, propaganda against the lousy capitalist system that feeds and tortures us.”
Basic listings info:
Peter Schumann’s “Bedsheet Mitigations” : paintings on discarded bedsheets, created by the founder of Bread & Puppet Theater. Exhibit runs July 1 through August 31. Gallery hours: open daily, 8:00 am-8:00 pm. Free and open to all, with a selection of Bread & Puppet’s celebrated “cheap art” posters available for sale on-site. Co-hosted by Midway Gallery and ARTSPEECH. Midway Gallery, 15 Channel Center St., Boston, MA 02210. Contact information: email@example.com, 857-250-1356; information and updates available at midwaygallery.org and artspeech.org.
Further background information:
Peter Schumann and the Bread & Puppet Theater:
Peter Schumann was born in 1934 in Silesia. He was a sculptor and dancer in Germany before moving to the United States in 1961. The Bread & Puppet Theater, a politically active puppet theater, was founded by Schumann in New York City in 1963. Bread & Puppet’s name is derived from the theater’s practice of sharing its sourdough rye with the audience, and from its central principle that art is as basic as bread. Bread & Puppet moved to Vermont in 1970, eventually settling in the Northeast Kingdom town of Glover in 1974, where the company, under Schumann’s artistic leadership, continues to perform outdoor circuses and pageants all summer long. Many of these shows then tour throughout the U.S. and beyond after their summer season. breadandpuppet.org
Midway Gallery (“Bedsheet Mitigations” co-host):
The Midway Gallery is located on the first floor of the Midway Artist Studios, an 89 unit building comprised of live-work artist studios, located in the Fort Point section of Boston. Established in 2005 as Boston’s largest affordable live-work artist building, Midway continues to be a place for artists to live and work affordably, in spite of the real estate boom, which has swept through Fort Point, displacing hundreds of working artists. In 2014, the resident artists organized to purchase the building, making it a permanent rental and artist controlled building, run by a board of directors, elected in part by the artist residents themselves. Midway Artist Studios is the only remaining artist rental building in Fort Point. The Midway Gallery’s current co-chair and co-curator is visual and performance artist Milan Kohout, the Midway’s first resident artist, who continues to live and work in the building. midwaygallery.org
ARTSPEECH (“Bedsheet Mitigations” co-host):
ARTSPEECH, an artists’ collective dedicated to promoting freedom of artistic speech, was formed in June 2020 specifically in response to the strong differences of opinion surrounding the rights of freedom of expression within the art world. The founding and current members of ARTSPEECH can be found at artspeech.org/members/. The backstory that prompted its founding can be found at artspeech.org/press-release/.