Anything is ‘Possible’ at the Berkeley Art Museum

Rug
Artist Fritz Haeg's “Domestic Integrities” is popular with kids. Folks contribute fabric to the making of this immense rug. Photo by Dave Weinstein

Imagine an exhibit at an art museum that deals with some of the thorniest, at times least likable avant-garde art ever produced – yet at the same time encourages kids to get down and dirty with art and craft.

That’s what you’ll find at ‘The Possible,’ an at-times absorbing and at-times exasperating event that runs through May 25. It seems particularly popular with kids. The message seems to be – creativity is all about.

The 'experimental exhibit' was curated by David Wilson and involves a slew of artists who take over the various interlocking levels in the Mario Ciampi-designed building, a classic of modern architecture.

You’ll find a fabric shop where you can work with artists to dye and fabricate. On a recent visit, large vats of deeply colored dyes were bubbling on the concrete verandah that wraps around the museum’s rear. There’s a ceramics shop, a 'kids club' for all sorts of artistic activities, and a 'participatory sound and video' space that has been inactive on two recent visits.

It might pay to check the schedule of events. For example, the wild folk singer Michael Hurley (known for his song 'The Werewolf') is taking part.

Then there is the intellectual part of the exhibit, a rather dry display of classic ephemera by artists who believed art wasn’t something to hang on a wall. Art, rather, was what happened in the brain – and perhaps in the hands of postmen.

We see examples of mid-century conceptual and mail art, magazines like Wallace Berman’s Semina, that was sent only to friends; dancer Anna Halprin’s graphic 'score' for a 'landscape event'; works by Dean Stockwell, Tom Marioni, more.

Wondering what this art is all about? Pull up a chair at a grand wooden table and peruse The Possible’s library, books on the Bauhaus and mail art and the Fluxus movement. Or how about Making Wet: the Magazine of Gourmet Bathing?

Records
At The Possible it's possible to kick back with some sounds. Photo by Dave Weinstein

And in case you haven’t noticed, vinyl of the sort that spins at 33 rpm is becoming increasingly a part of the museum-goer’s world.

Not long ago San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum had a listening room. The Oakland Museum is currently hosting an exhibit called ‘Vinyl,’ and right here in ‘The Possible’ you can spin disks from Mississippi Records – including 'Negro Spirituals and Folksongs from Rural Georgia.'

There are CD players also, complete with headphones, through which the complete output of New Albion Records can be absorbed, in peace, while the kids are kept busy. 'Deep Listening,' by accordionist Pauline Oliveros and trombone player Stuart Dempster proved surprisingly mellow.

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