At the Dark End of the Bar – Joe Frank



Dec 19, 2019 – Jan 24, 2020
Opens:   Thursday, December 19 6-9pm
First Friday event:  Friday, Jan 3rd, 2020 6-9pm

Two men faithfully recreate O.J. Simpson’s slow speed chase on a Los Angeles freeway. A former lover leaves a perpetual string of desperate phone messages. A throng of people enthusiastically line up to throw themselves off a bridge. A private investigator works obsessively on a case to reveal his own adultery. These set pieces are typical of the sprawling stories that the late, Joe Frank sent across the radio air waves of KCRW, in Los Angeles, from 1986 until 2002. Joe’s oeuvre took initial form a decade earlier at WBAI in New York, with NPR Playhouse. Briefly, he was c0-anchor of NPR’s All Things Considered, which he would end with a short and notoriously bizarre, monologue. Over the course of his career, Joe amassed over 230 hours of radio plays and spoken word pieces. The world that Joe conjured is easy to enter, and difficult to exit. The deeper you go, the more hilarious it becomes and the more painfully it reflects the real world of today.

This exhibition focuses on the series, Somewhere Out There, which is represented in its entirety, and played in the order that each episode aired, between 1995 and 1997. In all, there are forty episodes that each run an average of 60 minutes. The listening environment, where Joe’s voice emanates from what is perceived to be a pitch black void, is inspired by Joe’s humor and his nihilistic sensibilities. Its reductive form allows the listener to focus solely on Joe’s voice, and the hypnotic music that drones underneath his narratives. The stories blend fiction with documentary, and Joe slides deftly between elements of stark reality and their surreal counterparts; so much so that one never quite knows what is true and what is fantasy.

Titles of Somewhere Out There, in chronological order:
Associated film screenings:
The Possessed, aka La Donna Del Lago (1965)  Friday, Jan 10, 7pm
Lost Highway (1997)  Friday, Jan 17, 7pm