Dive Bar Architect: On the Work of D.E. May

Dive Bar Architect: On the Work of D.E. May


Including an interview with the artist Tacita Dean.

D.E. May (b. 1952) is an Oregon-based artist active since the early 1970s, whose work emerged in relation to the under-known history of modernist experiment in the Pacific Northwest. Over a forty-year career, May has worked to extend and intensify a range of avant-garde languages, inventing a particular form of abstraction created from the re-use of materials found in the urban environment.

Designed by David Knowles, the book provides a thorough introduction to May’s art--which is less well-known outside of the Pacific Northwest--including voluminous color plates of the work, many published here for the first time. Veering between the forms of the art historical monograph, a diary or travelogue, and a philosophical meditation on the fraught issue of art and labor, Baker’s experimental text follows May’s work through the striking meander of all its various forms: weathered cardboard grids, altered old postcards, tiny architectural models, drawings on the backsides of used envelopes, constructivist abstractions cobbled together from detritus. In emulation of the scribbled lists on dog-eared cardboard of jukebox music that the artist always seemed to carry on his person, the book unwinds in short sections, arranged like songs on an eccentric art historical playlist.

George Baker is an art critic, editor, and art historian based at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2011, Baker visited Oregon through a program initiated by the Ford Family Foundation, during which he first met D.E. May. This was the starting point for dialog and correspondence that culminated with the exhibition D.E. May: Half Distance, curated by Baker and presented at LAXART, November 8 to December 13, 2014.

6.5 x 4.75 inches
207 pages
Edited by Catherine Taft

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