Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh opens a show at OBJEX

Aside from his alleged masturbation in a porno theatre and his reported possession of child pornography, Paul Reubens was one of the coolest men in many of our lives back in the late ’80s and early ’90s. We’d wake up early each Saturday morning in hopes of catching our favorite cartoon shows and the infamous “Pee Wee’s Playhouse.” Who would have ever thought that Pee Wee’s theme song was actually created by the lead singer of Devo, Mark Mothersbaugh (yep, those guys that made “Whip It”)?
Well…would you? Thought not. And, who would have thought that while Devo was touring, Mothersbaugh used his downtime to create wildly comical and deeply personal postcard art to send to his loved ones as a sort of “road diary,” that he eventually began to show worldwide in solo art shows during the ’80s and ’90s? Not you again? Wow, your just not doing good today, are ya? Well if you hadn’t figured it out yet (which you probably didn’t, seeing your track record with the last two problems I gave you), Mark Mothersbaugh’s latest art show, Homefront Invasion, is being exhibited right here in Miami at OBJEX Artspace.
As the twisted genius behind the ultramodern electronica band Devo and founder of Mutato Muzika (his L.A. based music company), his experiences have given him various creative outlets. As an adult on the road with a group determined to oppose all things mundane and safe in music, he has steadily created a mass of postcards, producing new ones daily, sometimes in upwards of twenty cards in a 24-hour period.
The cards shown at OBJEX are actually recreations of the originals, which Mothersbaugh hardly ever parts with. Each print at the gallery was handpicked for this very show and some even created for the event. All of them – EPSON digital prints which have then been replicated using a variety of mediums including pens, pencils, Photoshop, and other such tools to create unusual effects – sometimes lose the overall eccentricity of the pieces.
Outside, the opening reception for the exhibit last Saturday played like a scene straight out of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. OBJEX sat at the intersection of several ominous women’s handbag factories as mopeds scooted by noisily at top speeds down a desolate street. The only indication that this was reality was the absentness of Uzi wielding gangs and trash-talking hookers. Inside the gallery, the opening ran smoothly with ambiance set by Devo music droning through the air amidst a surprisingly large number of people. The space filled quickly as people moved back and forth between the beer/wine table and the rest of the exhibit.
Staying within the subtle theme of the exhibit and the pervading coverage of the war in Iraq, several of the pieces displayed a coweld shooter with head covered and face veiled only showing menacing eyes and a bindi as in “Dirty Bomb Cheers.” Others – like “Early Bird Special” depicting a baby’s arms dangling around the title of the piece as a quasi-gremlin face at the bottom (reminiscent of Don Rickles) scowled in between the words “Genetic” and “Purposelessness” – left the viewer wondering just what the hell they were looking at.
Most of the pieces are obviously just the pandering of a man who wants to give people something shockingly new to look at, not necessarily with a purpose in mind. Mark Mothersbaugh presents a type of art possibly only fully appreciated by the artist himself, but make your own decision to see a show by the man who gave you Pee Wee’s intro.
Homefront Invasion is on view through May 2 at OBJEX Artspace, 500 NW 24th St., Suite F (upstairs), Miami. Call 305-576-6551 for more info.

Chris Howard can be reached at