DAVID BIANCULLI

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My TriBeCa Apexart Gallery Exhibition Has EVERYTHING: Rod Serling's Typewriter, Fred Rogers' Sweater, The Table from 'Charlie Rose'...
November 5, 2014  | By David Bianculli  | 2 comments
 

 

Well, not EVERYTHING. Not even a Charlie Rose table. But my Apexart exhibit on TV history does have a lot of things Stefon from Saturday Night Live might love, including the finale act-break note cards from Breaking Bad...

Here’s the deal. One of the main reasons I’ve been so frantic of late, and why the daily Bianculli’s Best Bets have been so late of late (thanks so much, though, for you readers who came to my defense), is because I’ve been preparing for a major art exhibition in TriBeCa, all tied to my view of TV history, and my own history with TV.

As I type this, the opening is – gasp – five hours away. And the finishing touches are still being added, along with a few of the starting touches. But the show must go on, so it will. And as it all comes together, I realize just how autobiographical, and personal, it all is. And, for me, how much fun.

This is where I should, and will, thank the folks at Apexart for inviting me to curate an exhibition about TV history, for urging me to make it personal, and for not cancelling the show like a bad sitcom once my ideas and suggestions began to run wild. Steven Rand, Julia Knight, Ryan Soper, Lorissa Rinehart and Heather Felty, I can’t thank you enough – but for quite a while, I’ll keep trying.

The explanation of the exhibit, posted on the Apexart website, explains most of it, so I don’t have to repeat myself here. But in the last weeks, as a surprise to potential gallery visitors as well as myself, suddenly the exhibit is awash with really neat items either commissioned by artists or lent by TV people or their loved ones.

So you heard it here first. We have Rod Serling’s typwriter. Sneakers and a sweater worn by Fred Rogers. The St. Elsewhere snow globe. Singing hand puppets from Craig Ferguson. A precinct sign from NYPD Blue. Tons of stuff from Mason Williams of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

And even original scripts by Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams.

And did I mention the writers’-room note-card breakdown of the final episode of Breaking Bad, sent by Vince Gilligan himself? Or craftsman Richard Rothbard’s beautiful rendition of my dad’s first TV set, done as a wooden puzzle which, when opened, reveals a hidden treasure that any true Kovacs fan would adore: a wooden caricature of Rancid the Devil Horse!

You can also see a life-size blowup picture of Rancid, along with a TV showing the eight-minute 1961 Ernie Kovacs Show sketch in which Rancid is featured. All in all, there are hours and hours of selected video snippets shown in the exhibit, spread among nine TV screens, including a TV WALL showing various topics as they developed throughout TV history. You can plug in individual headphones to hear one TV set at a time, or just soak in TV evolution in a wider gulp.

No time to explain more now – or to thank, properly, Eric Gould for his amazing Beatles mosaic from The Ed Sullivan Show, or Melinda Copper’s giddily playful painting depicting the Smothers Brothers as musical meerkats, or so much else. I have more museum plaques to write, and specially written “DB Guides” to collate and staple.

The bottom line, though, is that this exhibit made me realize that because I pursued my love of TV as a professional working TV critic, the medium has loved me back, rewarding me with lasting friendships, life-changing moments, and a lifetime doing something I really, really enjoy and appreciate.

I work too hard, and too long. But most of the time, whether I’m writing, teaching or viewing – or, now, curating – it’s fun, too. I’ve done what mythologist Joseph Campbell advised when Bill Moyers interviewed him on PBS.

I’ve followed my bliss.

And by the way, that Campbell interview is one of more than 75 TV clips on view at Apexart, 291 Church Street, New York, NY 10013, from Nov. 5 to Dec. 20.

If you’re in the city, check it out. I may even be there, sleeping in a corner…

 
 
 
 
 
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2 Comments
 
 
Len Feiner
Was at the Opening last evening. It was GREAT! If you are a fan of T.V., you must not miss this exhibit. I will return again just to listen to the wonderful T.V. Clips of my youth. Great job, David!
Nov 6, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
Eileen
I will definitely be coming by; this sounds so exciting. I come from a family where Ernie Kovacs was God; need I say more? All best wishes on your exhibit, David. You continue to educate, entertain and motivate us, and I'm sure your students all agree. I don't know where you find the time, but I'm certainly glad you do. And, by the way, November 5th was TVWW's Anniversary, so Happy Anniversary and many, many more.
Nov 6, 2014   |  Reply
 
 
 
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