West of Center

West of Center: art and the counterculture experiment in america, 1965-1977


NOVEMBER 10, 2011–FEBRUARY 19, 2012

In the heady and hallucinogenic days of the 1960s and ’70s, a diverse range of artists and creative individuals based in the American West—from the Pacific coast to the Rocky Mountains and the Southwest—broke the barriers between art and lifestyle and embraced the new, hybrid sensibilities of the countercultural movement. The exhibition West of Center illuminates the unique works of these individuals through videos, photographs, drawings, ephemera and other original and re-created objects and environments.

The countercultural movement has typically been associated with psychedelic art, but West of Center presents psychedelia as only one dimension of the larger, artistically oriented, socially based phenomenon. The wider integration of art practices, political action and collaborative life activities is foundational for so much contemporary art and culture.

Co-curators Elissa Auther and Adam Lerner bring together a range of projects by groups and individuals such as the Drop City commune in southern Colorado, light show producers Single Wing Turquoise Bird, San Francisco's extravagant theatre groups the Cockettes and the Angels of Light, modern dancer Anna Halprin, former Black Panther Emory Douglas, the Ant Farm collective, and the Womyns Lands of southern Oregon.

The exhibition will also feature a re-creation of the legendary Ultimate Painting (1966), a spinning canvas made for Drop City’s Theatre Dome which was lost after its exhibition in Experiments in Art and Technology at the Brooklyn Museum in 1969.

West of Center will travel to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum at the University of Oregon, Eugene and the Mills College Art Museum.

This exhibition is sponsored in part by MCA Denver’s Director’s Vision Society members and we would like to recognize Mike & Amber Fries, Mary Caulkins & Karl Kister, and Scott Miller & Tim Gill for their leadership funding. These activities are supported, in part, with funds provided by the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), the Colorado Creative Industries, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Further support is provided by our 2011 Gala Sponsors: David Caulkins and Bart Spaulding. MCA Denver would like to thank the citizens of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District for their support.


Exhibition Bonus Tracks
containing expanded texts, images, videos and more from West of Center can be found at

image: Richard Kallweit. The Ultimate Painting, 1966. Photographic documentation of a collaborative work between Clark Richert, Richard Kallweit, JoAnn Bernofsky, Gene Bernofsky and Charles DiJulio.


Due to unforseen repairs (from our recent pipe break) the musuem will be closed through October 7. We apologize for any inconvenience.


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