The A.E. Backus Museum is proud to present its 54th Season’s Featured Exhibition: Pop Rocks – Heroes, Icons and the Mundane. The exhibition is an exploration of American Pop Art through the eyes of its pioneers, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, to later works by more recent Pop Art stars. Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the mid-1950s in Britain and in the late 1950s in the United States. Pop art’s explosion of color and design presented a challenge to the traditions of fine art by including imagery from popular culture such as advertising, news, comic books, film and mundane cultural objects. Pop art and minimalism are considered to be art movements that precede postmodern art. Some consider Pop Art as the earliest example of Post-modern Art.
Artists featured in the exhibition include:
Andy Warhol (August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987) More than twenty years after his death, Andy Warhol remains one of the most influential figures in contemporary art and culture. Warhol’s life and work inspires creative thinkers worldwide thanks to his enduring imagery, his artfully cultivated celebrity and the ongoing research of dedicated scholars. His impact as an artist is far deeper and greater than his one prescient observation that “everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.” His omnivorous curiosity resulted in an enormous body of work that spanned ever available medium and most importantly contributed to the collapse of boundaries between high and low culture.
A skilled (analog) social networker, Warhol parlayed his fame, one connection at a time, to the status of a globally recognized brand. Decades before widespread reliance on portable media devices, he documented his daily activities and interactions on his traveling audio tape recorder and beloved Minox 35 EL camera. Predating the hyper-personal outlets now provided online, Warhol captured life’s every minute detail in all its messy, ordinary glamour and broadcast it through his work to a wide and receptive audience.
Roy Fox Lichtenstein (October 27, 1923 – September 29, 1997) was an American pop artist. During the 1960s, along with Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and James Rosenquist among others, he became a leading figure in the new art movement. His work defined the basic premise of pop art through parody. Favoring the comic strip as his main inspiration, Lichtenstein produced hard-edged, precise compositions that documented while it parodied often in a tongue-in-cheek humorous manner. Both popular advertising and the comic book style heavily influenced his work. He described pop art as "not 'American' painting but actually industrial painting."
In 1961, Lichtenstein began his first pop paintings using cartoon images and techniques derived from the appearance of commercial printing. This phase would continue to 1965, and included the use of advertising imagery suggesting consumerism and homemaking.His first work to feature the large-scale use of hard-edged figures and Ben-Day dots was Look Mickey (1961, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.). This piece came from a challenge from one of his sons, who pointed to a Mickey Mouse comic book and said; "I bet you can't paint as good as that, eh, Dad?" In the same year he produced six other works with recognizable characters from gum wrappers and cartoons.
Ronnie Cutrone (born 1948) is a Pop artist best known for his large-scale paintings of America's favorite cartoon characters, such as Felix the Cat, Pink Panther and Woody Woodpecker. Cutrone's paintings are colorful, lively, and highly accessible. He was Andy Warhol's assistant at the factory from 1972 until 1980, Warhol's most productive years. During that time, as Cutrone worked with Warhol on paintings, prints, films, and concepts, he hit upon the style the critics called "Post-Pop. Cutrone’s paintings are held in the prestigious private and corporate collections as well as in the collections of numerous museums, The Whitney (New York), Museum of Modern Art (New York), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam) and Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles).
John CRASH Matos, was born in the Bronx, New York in 1961. CRASH was spray-painting New York City trains at the early age of 13, creating A fully developed image art as opposed to simply tagging trains. His graffiti art first attracted a following through his murals on subway cars and dilapidated buildings. In 1980, he began transitioning from train yards to galleries; he curated the groundbreaking "Graffiti Art Success for America" at Fashion MODA, launching the graffiti movement that has remained very active through today. CRASH’s career took off and he saw instant popularity throughout Europe and America, and eventually Asia. CRASH has been part of numerous museum and gallery shows around the world focusing on Graffiti and Street Art, and has works enhancing buildings and public spaces around the globe. Visually iconic, he has collaborated with many companies for projects including Absolut Vodka, Fender Guitars, SoBella Handbags, Levi’s, and most recently, Tumi luggage and Morphik. . CRASH is regarded as a pioneer of the Graffiti art movement.
Ceravolo was born in New York, His paintings came to popular attention when he was commissioned to create six large-scale portraits for the lobby of The Palladium Theatre, in New York City. He was commissioned to paint portraits of such notables as Elton John, Jackson Brown, Linda Ronstadt, Rod Stewart and Hugh Heffner. Ceravolos work combines realistic renderings of iconic personalities and objects juxtaposed against a background of riotous color and abstraction.
Shalene Valenzuela lives in Missoula Montana. She was born in Santa Barbara, CA, where she lived for most of her life. Her ceramic sculptures reflect upon a variety of issues with a thoughtful, yet humorous and ironic tone. She is inspired by the potential of everyday common objects, reproducing these objects primarily through slip-casting. She illustrates the surfaces with a variety of hand painted and screen-printed imagery. Her narratives explore topics ranging from fairytales, urban mythologies, consumer culture, societal expectations, etiquette, and coming-of-age issues. Stylistically, she pulls much of her imagery from somewhat vintage sources she finds. Her work explores; an idealized time in society and advertising. Such gems include instructional guides, cookbooks, old advertisements, and old family photos. Beneath the shiny veneer of these relics hides a complex and sometimes contradicting truth of what things seem to appear as upon first glance.
Through the Eye of the Camera
A Juried Photography Competition
May 8 – July 11, 2014
Open to both amateur and professional photographers, this exhibit is sure to bring fierce competition. Applications are available at the museum and on the web site at
Wild About Bingo Luncheon
Friday, June 20, 2014 / 11:30 a.m.