Mixed Me­dia Rbt. Wil­liams: Slang Aes­thet­ics!

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In the late 1960s, af­ter the suc­cess of the self-pub­lished coun­ter­cul­ture series Zap Comix, car­toon­ist Robert Crumb be­gan to pub­lish work by other artists. Among those is Robert Wil­liams, born in Al­bu­querque in 1943, whose an­ti­hero Coochy Cooty made one of his ear­li­est ap­pear­ances on the pages of Zap. The first solo ex­hi­bi­tion of Wil­liams’ draw­ings and paint­ings in New Mex­ico, Robt. Wil­liams: Slang Aes­thet­ics! opens on Fri­day, Sept. 23, at the Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts (1050 Old Pe­cos Trail, 505-982-1338). The show in­cludes works that date back to Wil­liams’ days at Zap.

Al­though his work does not re­sem­ble Joseph Henry Sharp’s, it was Sharp’s 1914 paint­ing The Stoic, in the col­lec­tion of the New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art, that in­spired Wil­liams to be­come an artist. Wil­liams grew up with a love of car cul­ture, in­clud­ing hot rods, which led to his build­ing his own cus­tom jobs and join­ing the Rick­shaws car club in Al­bu­querque in the 1950s. He was a trou­bled youth, in­volved in gangs, and was ex­pelled from school in the 11th grade. He moved to Los An­ge­les and at­tended classes at the Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute of the Arts, where his work was dis­missed as “lowbrow,” a term he would come to pro­mote and em­brace. In the mid-’60s, he worked for cus­tom car builder and Rat Fink cre­ator Ed “Big Daddy” Roth as Roth’s art di­rec­tor. A painter as well as a car­toon­ist, Wil­liams is also co-founder of Jux­tapoz Art & Cul­ture

Mag­a­zine, a long-run­ning pub­li­ca­tion started in 1994 to pro­mote and cel­e­brate un­der­ground and al­ter­na­tive art. To­day, Jux­tapoz has one of the largest cir­cu­la­tions of any art jour­nal in the U.S. Most of the more than 60 works on dis­play in Robt. Wil­liams: Slang

Aes­thet­ics! were made be­tween 1995 and the present. The ex­hibit was guestcu­rated by Meg Lin­ton, for­mer di­rec­tor of gal­leries and ex­hi­bi­tions for the Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis Col­lege of Art and De­sign in Los An­ge­les, and the show trav­els to In­di­ana’s Fort Wayne Mu­seum of Art in 2017. Wil­liams and Lin­ton give a gallery talk at CCA on Sat­ur­day, Sept. 24, at 2 p.m. CCA also screens the 2010 doc­u­men­tary Robert Wil­liams: Mr. Bitchin’ on Sun­day, Sept. 25, at 1 p.m., fol­lowed by a Q&A with Wil­liams and co-di­rec­tor Nan­cye Fer­gu­son. The open­ing co­in­cides with New Imag­ists

in the South­west, an ex­hibit of works by 13 artists who work in PopSur­re­al­ist, street, and lowbrow art forms. The re­cep­tion for both shows is at 6 p.m. on Fri­day, Sept. 23. — Michael Abatemarco

Robert Wil­liams: Wran­gling the Fir­ma­ment (de­tail), 2008, oil on can­vas

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