Art Punks Made Good: See Artifacts From the Destroy All Monsters Retrospective at Prism Gallery

The Destroy All Monsters Collective (Mike Kelley, Cary Loren, Jim Shaw), "Greetings from Detroit," 2000
(Courtesy the artists and PRISM)

WHAT: “Return of the Repressed: Destroy All Monsters, 1973, 1977,” curated by Mike Kelley and Dan Nadel

WHEN: Through January 7, Tuesday-Saturday 11AM-6PM


WHERE: Prism, 8746 West Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, Los Angeles

WHY THIS SHOW MATTERS: Pacific Standard Time sets its sights on the former Ann Arbor-based performance group that birthed some of the West Coast’s most prominent and prolific artists: Destroy All Monsters. Mike Kelley, Cary Loren, Niagara, and Jim Shaw formed the anti-rock-punk-goth-horror-pop performance outfit that together produced films, sculptures, and played some distant cousin of rock music from 1973 to 1977.

The early work of these artists puts in context the Mike Kelley who recently showed the neon illuminated “Exploded Fortress of Solitude” at Gagosian, and a Jim Shaw, whose refined figurative paintings are represented by Patrick Painter­–also with an exhibition that closed last June.

Together, the group worked on zines, taking cues from the Japanese Horror flicks they screened. Cary Loren’s photographs are dark and compelling, wrapped in a gritty fog of youthful cigarette smoke, torn tights and shaggy hair. Their performance subject matter consists of fake scenes of gore and debauchery, that contrast well with Kelley’s grotesque but punchy monster drawings and Shaw’s drawn nudes clad in leather.

The most refreshing and timeless portion of the show comes from its sole female member, Niagara, whose colored pencil drawings are soft, surreal, and seemingly without agenda portraits of women. The exhibition is a great mix of 70s pop cultural infused work with an edge, putting the Punk in Pacific Standard Time.

To see images from “Return of the Repressed: Destroy All Monsters, 1973, 1977,” click on the slide show.