MOCA Cleveland Announces Joint Presentation with Akron Art Museum of DEVO Co-Founder Mark Mothersbaugh’s Work

April 3, 2016


Contact: Peter Vertes

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MOCA Cleveland Announces Joint Presentation with Akron Art Museum
of DEVO Co-Founder Mark Mothersbaugh’s Work
Running May 27 – August 28, 2016

--Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia is a missing link in the history of contemporary art and culture

CLEVELAND (April 4, 2016) – This summer, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA) presents a season with deep ties to the Northeast Ohio region. It includes Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia, the first retrospective of the work of the famed musician, visual artist, TV and film score composer, and Akron native. Also on view at MOCA is Richard Myers: Aberrations, which features four films shot around Cleveland from the 1960s through the 1980s, as well as ephemera drawn from Myers’s personal archives.

Myopia spans the beginning of Mothersbaugh’s career in the early 1970s through the present. Akron Art Museum and MOCA Cleveland are collaborating to share the exhibition in two distinct presentations, showcasing different aspects of Mothersbaugh’s practice. Myopia in Cleveland focuses mainly on experimentation, performance, and sound, while Myopia at the Akron Art Museum turns its attention more to Mothersbaugh’s visual art practice. Myopia in Cleveland kicks off with a free exhibition opening and live concert; it features Mothersbaugh performing with local musicians on his 6-sided keyboard and serving as DJ on Friday, May 27 from 7:00 – 10:00 pm.

“Mark Mothersbaugh’s work embodies so many characteristics we value at MOCA,” says Jill Snyder, Donna + Stewart Kohl Executive Director. “We celebrate his roots in our region, as well as his one-of-a-kind creative output – one that is always amusing, trailblazing, and interdisciplinary as it scrutinizes society. The impact of Mothersbaugh’s work is only now emerging in full view. His work allows for discovery of an inviting alternative universe; it is a missing chapter of contemporary culture. We expect both Cleveland and Akron to be alight with ‘Myopia mania’ this summer.”

Adds Mark Masuoka, Executive Director and CEO of the Akron Art Museum: "We are honored to present and celebrate Mark Mothersbaugh's work in his hometown. In Northeast Ohio, we know that a rich cultural ecosystem creates a higher quality of life, enhances education, drives economic growth, and helps attract and retain talented community members."


Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia
May 27 – August 28, 2016
Mueller Family Gallery and Rosalie and Morton Cohen Family Gallery
Joint presentation with the Akron Art Museum
Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

Born in Akron, OH, and co-founder of the New Wave band DEVO, Mark Mothersbaugh has been making art for more than forty years—since before the band’s inception in the early 1970s. Myopia is the first comprehensive exhibition of Mothersbaugh’s creative output, and defines his importance as a key figure in contemporary culture. It includes works on paper, sculptures, installations, music, and videos that span his early years as a founder of the popular band DEVO to his ongoing present-day work as a visual artist and composer.

This body of work presents a unique combination of cultural criticism and personal expression through drawings, films, paintings, sculpture and music. But more than that, his work provides a missing link in the history of contemporary art and culture. At once an artist, musician, and tinkerer, he offers a key to understanding the current state of art, with its hybridity, subjectivity and fluid boundaries. Mothersbaugh’s work reveals his unique artistic voice and also asserts his role in the intersecting legacies that have formed contemporary culture.

Visual and sound work will be presented at both Cleveland and Akron venues, but the individual exhibitions are organized to emphasize either sight or sound. Myopia in Cleveland focuses strongly on sound, sound-making objects, and artworks about correspondence, communication and technology. Works on view include early performance photographs and film, photographs of Mothersbaugh as his DEVO alter-ego, Booji Boy, early mail art, twenty-seven rugs with video animations, manipulated musical instruments, and excerpts of soundtracks for well-known films and TV shows like Pee-wee’s Playhouse. This exhibition also features newer work, including a video performance of Motherbaugh’s recently constructed six-sided keyboard.

Myopia in Akron focuses strongly on Mothersbaugh’s daily visual art practice, including an installation of 30,000 postcard-sized drawings the artist has created and utilized for inspiration and exploration throughout his career. Examining Mothersbaugh’s interest in mutation and mirroring, this show will include installations of mirror-image photographs, a full-sized mirrored automobile, and twenty-five ceramic sculptures he refers to as Roly- Polies, among other sculptural works. The Akron exhibition also contains an aural dimension, including music stations which present recordings and original musical scores embellished with Mothersbaugh’s drawings.

In addition to the collaboration between Akron and Cleveland, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a partner, planning programs and related projects for the exhibitions.

Experienced together, this unified body of work reveals the artist’s persistent attempt to navigate between the conflicting forces of cynicism and freedom, and irony and originality. Like his early work with DEVO, Mothersbaugh explores the complex relationship between what is synthetic and what is authentic.

Mark Mothersbaugh (1950, Akron, OH) is an artist and musician who lives and works in Los Angeles. He studied at Kent State University. Mothersbaugh is lead singer and keyboard player of the progressive New Wave/rock band DEVO, with whom he continues to perform. Since the band’s founding in the early 1970s, Mothersbaugh has written the music for more than 70 film and television projects, including Pee-wees Playhouse (1986-90), Rugrats (1991-2004), The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004), Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009), Enlightened (2011-13), House of Lies (2012-15), and The Lego Movie (2014). Mothersbaugh has also scored numerous video games, including The Sims and Boom Blox. Mothersbaugh was the recipient of BMI’s Richard Kirk Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.

Mothersbaugh is also a visual artist; he began creating ink illustrations, decals, and other designs in the late 1960s. During his downtime on early worldwide tours with DEVO, he began illustrating postcards to send to his friends, a practice he has continued every day for over 30 years. In 2004, he began his mirrored photographic series; recent works include art rugs and paintings on canvas. Past traveling solo exhibitions include Homefront Invasion! (2003), Beautiful Mutants (2004), and Postcard Diaries (2009).


Richard Meyers: Aberrations

May 27–August 28, 2016

Toby Devan Lewis Gallery

Organized by Laura Ziewitz, Curatorial Assistant

Northeast Ohio independent filmmaker Richard Myers combines dreams with personal experiences in works that explore memory and the subconscious. Nonlinear and surreal, Myers’s films are whirlwinds of texture, light, shadow, and sound. Aberrations features four locally shot films from 1961 to 1984 alongside ephemera drawn from Myers’s personal archives.

Working exclusively in 16mm film, Myers never presents straightforward narratives. The Path (1961) and First Time Here (1964), two of Myers’s earliest works, use the artist’s dreams as a starting point from which to freely jump among scenes and content, defying external logic and setting the tone for future, fast-paced montages. Deathstyles (1971), Myers’s first full-length color film, was made the same year as the Kent State University shootings. It loosely follows a young man as he drives aimlessly around a generic Midwestern landscape filled with sex, violence, and commercialism, questioning whether he is, in fact, living or dying. The deeply personal (1984) is the filmmaker’s love letter to actress Frances Gifford, the forgotten star of an eponymous 1940s film serial with whom a young Myers was infatuated.

Using friends and family as his lead actors, Myers’s films are intensely private and rooted in his native environment and experiences. For all their idiosyncrasies, these works nonetheless tap into our collective subconscious, strange visions of our hopes, fears, and dreams.

Richard Myers (1937, Massillon, OH) is based in Munroe Falls, OH. Myers received a BFA from Kent State University, OH in 1959 and a MA from the same university in 1961; he taught filmmaking there from 1964 to 1991. Myers has received two Guggenheim Fellowship Awards and grants from the American Film Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts. His films have been widely exhibited, including presentations at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; the San Francisco Cinematheque; and the Cleveland Cinematheque. He has received first prize film festival awards at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, the Kenyon Film Festival, and the Chicago International Film Festival. In 2014, Myers was awarded the Cleveland Arts Prize Lifetime Achievement Award.



Major support for Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia is provided by Lexus and the John P. Murphy Foundation.

Generous support is also provided by Medical Mutual of Ohio, and Thompson Hine LLP. The free opening night party is made possible by BakerHostetler.

All 2016 Exhibitions are funded by Leadership Circle gifts from an anonymous donor, Yuval Brisker, Doreen and Dick Cahoon, Joanne Cohen and Morris Wheeler, Margaret Cohen and Kevin Rahilly, Becky Dunn, Lauren Rich Fine and Gary Giller, Harriet Goldberg, Agnes Gund, Michelle and Richard Jeschelnig, Donna and Stewart Kohl, Toby Devan Lewis, and Scott Mueller.

All MOCA Cleveland exhibitions are presented supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, the Cleveland Foundation, the George Gund Foundation, and the continuing support of the Museum’s Board of Directors, patrons, and members.


Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia and Richard Meyers: Aberrations will be on view May 27 through August 28, 2016.

Admission for MOCA Cleveland members and children under 6 years old is free. General admission is $9.50; seniors 65+, $6; and students with valid ID, $5. MOCA Cleveland is free to all on the first Saturday of each month; MOCA Free First Saturdays are made possible by PNC.

MOCA Cleveland’s hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 11 – 6pm; Thursday, 11 – 9pm; Saturday, Sunday, 11 – 5 pm; closed Mondays.

MOCA Cleveland, founded in 1968, is a leading force in Northeast Ohio’s cultural scene and is recognized nationally and internationally for its presentation of contemporary art and ideas. For more information on MOCA and all of its programming, visit or call 216-421-8671.