L.A. scenester icon Taquila Mockingbird made a heartfelt promise three decades ago to keep “keep punk alive,” and she's been doing it pretty much everyday of her life since. It fuels her very existence. But this weekend, the writer/singer/artist takes it all to a bigger, more focused and fittingly in your face way new level, as creator of the brand new Punk Rock Museum, which opens today.
Taking over the main gallery area and some of the adjacent rooms at the popular art hub KGB Studios in Downtown, the permanent exhibit will be a place to relive the raucous music and rebellious spirit that fueled Los Angeles' (and the world's) hardcore music scene, concentrated mostly in the seminal late 70's and early 80's, and featuring an array of audacious art celebrating pivotal punk rock figures and bands of the era.
It was on Dec. 3, 1980 outside of the legendary Starwood club where Mockingbird made the fateful promise to Los Angeles' most tragic punk rock hero that inspired the museum.
“Darby Crash made me make that promise,” she told us at an exclusive sneak peak viewing of the show earlier this week. “It was the Germs' reunion show and we were outside. He hugged me and said completely seriously, 'Tequila will you keep punk alive,? and I said, 'Yes Darby I WILL keep punk alive!”
Crash — the subject of several music books and who was played by Shane West in the 2007 film, What We Do Is Secret — committed suicide by drug overdose four days later.
The Germs are represented in fliers along with seminal punk bands from Los Angeles such as The Circle Jerks, Black Flag, TSOL, and Bad Religion. These will fill an entire wall near the back of the gallery. Infamous punk zine Flipside will showcase its old issues chronicling the scene on the opposite wall. The revered work of Ed Colver (aka “The Eye of L.A. Punk”)covers another wall and there's some never before seen images by a photographer by the name of Tomasonic.
The vibrant works depicting voracious performances at clubs including the Starwood and The Masque were still being hung when we visited. We really loved the huge pieces in the first, hot pink swathed room — a mixture of photography, paint and collage by Brian Tucker, whom Mockingbird says she did an art show with back in the 80's. Some of the works feature nudity, and as a result, the art show had to come down almost as soon as it went up at that time. These pieces feature Fear lead singer Lee Ving and several street urchin punk rat types in L.A., and have been in storage for decades. They were unearthed just for the museum, as were many of the rare photos and fliers on display.
Mockingbird says that when filled to the brim, the museum will house over 10,000 pieces of punk memorablia from all the around the world and that there will be events (including live music, vendors, and more) held at the gallery every month. Vendors today include Artpunk Magazine, Marjanes, Posers, Hollywood Book and Poster and
Goldenvoice. Live performances today include The Gears, Mary Housecoat Project, Landfill, Mary Jean, & Hari Kari and there will be an outdoor marketplace featuring wares and collectables. They are also planning T-shirt printing, tattoos, massage, live art and some brand new works inspired by the old school punk style and aesthetics in the Ghetto Gloss gallery area.
Artifacts of note that we spied during set-up: a photo of Henry Rollins (without tats!), a rare shot of Mentors leader El Duce's in his famous face hood, stuff featuring and/or from the collections of Fishbone, Janet Cunningham, Nina Hagen, John Lydon, Paul Picasso and many more. Other pieces still being hung when we were there: AHHD's “Punk Bunnies” and Punk Rock Cartoons by David Worth out of the U.K.
See the Punk Rock Museum's Facebook page for up-to-date information on the grand opening and future events, plus how you too can help keep punk alive via the museum's Kickstarter page. Much of the art will be for sale and the museum will be open daily after the opening.
Punk Rock Museum, 1646 Spring St., Downtown. Opening begins at 3 p.m. today. www.punkmuseums.com
Follow @LAWeeklyArts on Twitter.