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Friday, May 13, 2011

Mary Kerr's Beat Generation Documentary Screens Monday at E6 Gallery

Posted on Fri, May 13, 2011 at 5:00 PM

Mary Kerr
moved to San Francisco in the 1960s, specifically to North Beach, where she met a number of artists and poets in the Beat movement. Their aesthetic, their work, and their approach to creativity changed her outlook. Decades later the filmmaker began making a set of documentaries about this movement called "Swinging in the Shadows." Monday night at E6 Gallery she screens the first of two, Venice West and the LA Scene, a trailer for which is in the clip above.

Over the course of 15 years, Kerr self-funded most of the project but has recently begun to raise money through IndieGoGo. Her goal is $8,500. She has shot interviews and used the work of numerous Beat poets, some of whom have died.

Venice West and the LA Scene depicts what happened in the short-lived Southern California movement in the 1950s. It covers important art and culture centers including the Ferus Gallery, Syndell Studio, Gas House, and Venice West Cafe. "Most of all, it's about the individuals who made it happen -- told in the words, images, and expressions from those that lived it," Kerr states on her website.

Kerr was moved by these individuals' commitment to keeping their art out commercial culture and avoided the commodification that has diluted, mutated, and co-opted many a true vision.

"They hung out together in smoky coffeehouses and bars, digging jazz, falling in and out of love, having kicks; but still completely serious about their work," Kerr writes. "They brought poetry out of academia into the bars and hangouts. They created their own world apart from the 1950s mainstream. ... How they kept their freedom and survived has a compelling effect on later generations. It's a history that is even more relevant today, when so much of our culture has been popularized and co-opted, diminishing any meaning."

Venice West and the LA Scene screens at 7 p.m. at E6 Gallery. Kerr and the films' editor, Elaine Trotter, will be present after the screening to answer questions.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section.

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