The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research’s Greg Cook gave a speech shortly before 7:30 p.m. explaining that he had organized the guerrilla exhibition to honor the 40th anniversary of the legendary exhibition “Flush with the Walls,” in which six Boston artists—Bob Guillemin, Kristin Johnson, Todd McKie, Martin Mull, David Raymond and Jo Sandman—snuck their art into a men’s room at the MFA for a renegade, joke exhibition on June 15, 1971. Cook noted that a report in the newspaper Boston After Dark at the time said “Flush with the Walls” ingeniously and wittily pointed out “that the men’s room seems to be the only place in the Museum of Fine Arts that an exhibit by contemporary local artists can be seen.” In the spirit of the original 1971 show, he said, and in its honor, this group of artists tonight snuck their artwork into MFA bathrooms again for the “Best of Boston 40-ennial” exhibition.
At least three gentlemen from MFA security arrived as Cook spoke to the crowd packed into the hall outside the men’s and women’s rooms off a stairway down from the MFA’s new Shapiro Family Courtyard. They generously let him say his piece, then as artists and audience moved along, MFA staff removed from the bathroom walls all the art by the participating artists—Elizabeth Alexander, Antoniadis and Stone, Resa Blatman, Laura Chasman, Caleb Cole, Greg Cook, David Curcio, Bob Guillemin aka Sidewalk Sam, Institute for Infinitely Small Things, Paul Laffoley, Chaz Maviyane-Davies, Maria Molteni, Ernest Morin, Dan Moynihan, Mary O’Malley, Kari Percival, David Raymond, Jo Sandman, Ben Sloat, Joe Wardwell, and Deb Todd Wheeler.
Which seemed like quite a successful conclusion to a marvelous evening of art.
A report by Rachel Rosenfield Lafo on the original 1971 “Flush with the Walls” exhibit in the catalogue to the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum’s 2002 exhibit “Painting in Boston: 1950-2000.”
Sarah Hwang’s essay “Flush With The Walls at the Museum of Fine Arts: 1971 Men’s Room Show Pissed Off the MFA,” which was published by Berkshire Fine Arts this May.
Photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.
Exhibiting artists Paul Laffoley (at left, in hat) and Bob Guillemin aka Sidewalk Sam (at right, with beard) join the crowd in the MFA men’s room next to art by (from left) Greg Cook, Laffoley and Guillemin.
Guests read the catalogue and check out Maria Molteni’s hand-knit basketball net, from her series “Net Works,” on the door of the MFA women’s room and Laura Chasman’s gouache painting “Ou sont les toilettes? Homage to Sargent” (on the wall at right).
Greg Cook (center) holds up tonight’s exhibition catalogue as he speaks to the crowd. Jo Sandman (in red at left) and Bob Guillemin aka Sidewalk Sam (at right with beard and seated in wheelchair) were two of the artists who participated in the original 1971 “Flush With the Walls” exhibit and also exhibited in tonight’s show.
The MFA men’s room sinks. Displayed on the shelf below the mirror are (left to right) catalogues to the exhibition, Ben Sloat’s skull cast with an MFA shop bag, and Dan Moynihan’s “Cat Dreams” comic book.