Curated by Margaret Tedesco
May 12 - June 23, 2018
Exhibition Text Documentation

Et al. etc. presents

Curt, Susan, Mike, Rick, Robert, Ann, George, Janie, Carla, Mark, Vincent, Stephen, Melinda, Scott, Marion, Ainslie, John, Ronnie, Kathleen, Deeling, Lela...
Selections from the Curt McDowell Estate

Curated by Margaret Tedesco
Jon Davies, The Fountain (limited edition chapbook) 

May 12 - June 23, 2018
Opening reception: Saturday, May 12, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

"Get out of my way, Mom! I'm going to San Francisco to find out who and what I am! Don't try to stop me!"

— From Buzzy (California or Bust), Zip-A-Tone comic strip panel, 1975.


The breadth and volume of director, writer, actor, artist Curt McDowell began in Lafayette, Indiana in high school. In the mid-60s he moved to San Francisco to study painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, but soon decided to transfer to the film department to mentor with the recently-relocated George Kuchar, who became lover, friend, and collaborator. McDowell became a cinematic staple on the scene from the early 1970s until his death due to AIDS complications in 1987. In 1976, The Roxie Theater in San Francisco was established becoming an art and independent film house. One of its four owners at the time, Robert Evans later became Curt’s friend and partner.

Curt was constantly drawing, always had a notebook on hand, says the late George Kuchar & his brother Mike; in between his cinematic making (over 35 films), McDowell produced a staggering number of drawings, photo collages, watercolors, posters for films, diorama style film sets, and elaborate Zip-A-Tone comics—all storyboards of sorts—the byproduct of regularly held Tuesday night art parties with The Roxie Theater family of friends. Reflecting the candor of McDowell’s sexual films, this graphic output captures the intimacy of his ever evolving and deeply rooted social circle in what would be a secondary and yet immediate practice. 

Curt also left us 40 bound impeccable diaries—detailed accounts describing his works, conversations, moods, lovers, and friends—a kind of extended self-portrait, along with numerous scrapbooks documenting his times. These materials provide a telling glimpse into the lives of artists lost to us at a point of tumult or liberation during key points of queer history. The timespan witnessed queer people mobilizing from the Gay Liberation Movement to HIV/AIDS activist communities reflecting regional subsects of queer life linked to their period of artistic production. And from this private, radical urgency, an aesthetic emerged that can be located in contemporary practitioners today. And these objects must not remain hidden in the cabinets or the drawers of those who remain…

—Margaret Tedesco, curator