Conversations at the Edge: Current Schedule
The Awful Backlash, 1967 (with William Allan). Image courtesy of the artist
Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St.
September 20, 6:00 p.m.
September 22, 12:30 p.m.
Renowned for their exuberance and inventive cinematic wit, Robert Nelson’s films established him as a leading member of the West Coast avant-garde and post-beat culture of the 60s and 70s. Curated by Film, Video, New Media, and Animation faculty member and filmmaker Lori Felker and Academy Film Archive archivist Mark Toscano, this two-part mini-survey pairs restored prints of best-known films with rarer works to provide a new perspective on the artist’s output and influence. Films like The Great Blondino (1967), which features an anachronistically attired man navigating inspired setups, and Hauling Toto Big (1997), a sprawling opus of dream states and transformed verité, are presented alongside Nelson’s inventive collaborations with artists and musicians, including William T. Wiley, Steve Reich, and the Grateful Dead.
1967, Robert Nelson, USA, 16mm, ca. 90 min. + discussion
Thursday, September 20, 6:00 pm
Six films from 1967, including THE GREAT BLONDINO, HOT LEATHERETTE, PENNY BRIGHT AND JIMMY WITHERSPOON, and GRATEFUL DEAD.
1967-1998, Robert Nelson, USA, 16mm, ca. 90 min. + discussion
Saturday, September 22, 12:30 pm
Five films that span Nelson's career including BLEU SHUT (1970), SPECIAL WARNING (1998), and HAULING TOTO BIG (1997).
Robert Nelson (1930–2012, San Francisco, CA) studied painting at San Francisco State University and the California School of Fine Arts, where he was introduced to a circle of Bay Area artists that converged into the California Funk Art movement of the 1960s. Nelson taught at various institutions, including the San Francisco Art Institute, Sacramento State and CalArts, before landing a teaching job at UW Milwaukee in 1979 until his retirement in the mid-1990s. He then retreated in self-imposed isolation to a remote house in the mountains of Northern California, returning to painting and photography. Nelson has influenced a number of major filmmakers, such as Peter Hutton, Fred Worden, and Curt McDowell. He was the main force in cofounding the independent distribution company Canyon Cinema in 1966, hiring his former student Edith Kramer (later the head of the Pacific Film Archive) as its first director. He died in January 2012.