Press Release

Monday, April 7, 2014
Oakland Museum of California Exhibits Film and Slides Documenting Landmark 1974 Feminist Pyrotechnics Installation
Judy Chicago: A Butterfly for Oakland Runs April 26 Through Nov 30

(Oakland, CA)—As acclaimed artist, author, feminist, educator and intellectual Judy Chicago turns 75 this year, the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) joins prominent museums across the country in presenting a nation-wide retrospective of her work. For the first time, digitized Super 8 footage and slides documenting A Butterfly for Oakland, Chicago’s 1974 site-specific installation on the shore of Lake Merritt, will be on view at OMCA in celebration of Chicago’s five-decade career. The exhibition of projected images, Judy Chicago: A Butterfly for Oakland, is curated by Associate Curator of Painting and Sculpture Christina Linden and will be on view from April 26 through November 30, 2014 in Media Space 1 located in Oakland Museum of California’s Gallery of California Art. For more information, visit museumca.org.

About Judy Chicago’s 1974 A Butterfly for Oakland, Originally Commissioned by OMCA

Known for her provocative feminist and socially conscious perspective, Judy Chicago staged a series of “atmospheres” in California between 1969 and 1974. The “atmospheres” series culminated in A Butterfly for Oakland, a pyrotechnic display on the western shore of Lake Merritt in October of 1974. A symbol of transformation, flight and freedom, Chicago created A Butterfly for Oakland using a combination of commercial fireworks and road flares. The displays were then lit by hand, resulting in a “painting” of colored smoke. The result was a 17-minute performance that enlivened the Lake Merritt environment and became a memorable and iconic event representing the feminist spirit of the decade.

The event was captured by photographers and a film crew, resulting in 178 images and Super 8 footage documenting the event. These images have now been digitized and a selection will be on public view for the first time.

The Oakland Museum of California commissioned Chicago to make A Butterfly for Oakland as part of its exhibition Public Sculpture, Urban Environment. Several of the large sculptures on and around the Museum campus were part of this exhibition, including the redwood burl sculpture The Planet by J.B. Blunk still located outside of the entrance to the Gallery of California Natural Sciences and Bruce Beasley’s cast Lucite Tragamon in OMCA’s Koi Pond.

The Oakland Museum of California joins other institutions in celebrating Judy Chicago’s milestone birthday, including the Brooklyn Art Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico, among others.

About Associate Curator of Painting and Sculpture Christina Linden

Prior to joining the staff at OMCA in December 2013, Christina Linden’s recent work as an Oakland-based independent curator, writer, and educator focused on social practice, public space, the environment, and art in the Bay Area, and was presented at local institutions including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Kadist Art Foundation, and public collections at UCSF and the Stanford Hospital & Clinics. She has also commissioned new work and curated exhibitions and events in New York, Washington, D.C., Germany, and Thailand. Published writing has appeared in ARTLIES, Art Practical, Daily Serving, Fillip, Modern Painters, Paletten, Women and Performance: a journal of feminist theory, and numerous artists' books and exhibition catalogs. She teaches graduate students at San Francisco Art Institute and holds a BA from New York University and an MA from the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.

Exhibition Programs

Public events related to Judy Chicago: A Butterfly for Oakland will take place on Friday, June 27, and Friday, September 26, each at 7 pm. The programs will take place during the popular weekly evening event Friday Nights @ OMCA featuring Off the Grid food trucks, live music, and half-off Gallery admission. Further details will be posted at museumca.org/events.