by Laurence Gonzales, 1976
filing my report today
The Space Van belongs to The Ace Space Company, also called SPACECO, a subsidiary of Amazing X Productions, a Colorado Company that also owns Ace TV. Amazing X Productions is a part of the Amazing X Nation. A bit confusing, but we'll explain. The Space Van houses Ace TV's mobile (and only) video equipment. It also contains the Amazing X Archives and several thousand dollars' worth of electronic equipment that is used to put on The RoadShow a multi-media performance that has been evolving over the last five years.
Dana Atchley--Ace to some, the Colorado Spaceman to others, was living in British Columbia when he went on the road in late September 1971 and has spent no more than 10 weeks in one place since. In that time he has covered nearly a quarter of a million miles and The RoadShow is partly a record of those travels. But it is more.
Remember the 1960's? When people used to "drop out" and do "their own thing?" We all know a few who did that, most of them now long gone to lawyering or free enterprize or generally dropping back in and doing someone else's thing. But there is a vast network of artists and art companies that has been growing and maturing for the last 10 or 15 years and until Amazing X Productions came along the only thing the network lacked was the wiring to get the message out to the people who were not plugged into the network.
Inside the Amazing X Nation it is known as The Eternal Network. It was always connected by the U.S. highway system but no one was on the road. The outposts were like frontier towns before the telegraph. What little exchange went on had to be implemented in crude, uncertain ways, on horseback, by word of mouth, by the unlucky U.S. Postal system. And along came The Colorado Spaceman. The show is made up of a sequence of visits with artists and art companies around the country, using sound and four slide projectors, various props and Atchley's own songs, which he sings and plays on the guitar. The still images are so adeptly blended, superimposed and interfaced that soon after the show starts you are seeing the show in motion, in much the same way you begin to "hear" the lines spoken in a foreign film when in reality you are only reading subtitles. Although some of the material is uniquely his, Atchley's show is mostly a record of what others do.
You've probably never heard of most of the contributors: Dr. Brute, Image Bank The Fat City School of Finds Arts, T.R.UthCo...The Ant Farm is probably the best known of all of them all. You may remember "Ant Farm and T.R.UthCo's "Eternal Frame," a very realistic reenactment of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It was staged in Dealey Plaza in Dallas on the exact same motorcade route Kennedy took. And it shook the art world, not to mention the local citizenry.
Ant Farm was also responsible
for two Cadillac media events. "Media Burn" took place on July 4, 1975
as Ant Farm's bicentennial display. The same Kennedy whom they shot in
Dallas made the dedication speech. He is an artist who has the Kennedy
bit down pat, including the correct style of speech writing. Then a modified
1959 Cadillac Eldorado with an opaque plastic cockpit and a ten foot tail
fin in which was mounted a closed circuit TV camera so the drivers could
see via their internal TV monitor--this car was driven through a flaming
wall of television sets at 55 miles per hour. It wasn't the kind of image
one was likely to forget soon.
Cadillacs are three quarters
buried, nose down along a road in a field, showing the evolution of the
T.R. UthCo formed its own security firm The Avant Guard. They had uniforms made with very official looking arm patches and badges, hats and appropriate electronic devices. They then set out to guard something. They happened to be in San Francisco when President Ford arrived in September 1975 and so went out and guarded him, standing right among the secret service and local police. And then along came Sarah Jane Moore. If you look at some of the news photos from that event you can spot some Avant Guards scattered among the other guards.
If you're from the Pacific Northwest or Canada you will remember that Mr. Peanut ran for Mayor of Vancouver in 1974. Dressed in the trademarked Mr. Peanut costume, the candidate answered all enquiries by doing a 20 second tap dance. He got 4 percent of the vote. During the extensive campaign he was accompanied by Dr. Brute, a would be saxophonist with a fixation on leopard spots. He never learned to play sax so he carved one out of wood, painted it with leopard spots, plugged a kazoo into the mouthpiece and wailed away--quite proficiently--performing mostly 40s style jazz numbers. Soon, however, his obsession with leopard spots became so pathological that he painted the front of the Vancouver Museum of Art with a leopardskin design. He finally went cold turkey with his swan song, "I'm Through With Spots."
In Atchley's show you will also see graduation day at The Fat City of Finds Art--it's motto: "We don't makes art, we finds it." It's founder is Lowell Darling (aka Dudley Finds) and on the first day of the school's existence he enrolled 350 students who were promptly given the degree of Master of Finds Art and graduated, thereby saving them some $20,000 apiece. Over the years Fat City has turned out more than 50,000 Masters of Finds Art, saving students around the world more than a billion dollars in potential education expenses.
An Amazing X original was recorded for posterity at Atchley's home in Crested Butte, Colorado when the local deputy Sheriff came over to the house and arrested Atchley's TV for crimes against humanity and summarily executed it with a .357 magnum and a 12 gauge shotgun. The county judge now wants to try a television set in his courtroom on various charges. Ace TV will film the proceedings.
Meanwhile, the images come and go. The Hollywood Decca Dance was informed that according to the age of cave drawings, art was 1,000,000 years old on January 17, 1963. Accordingly, they staged art's 1,000,011th birthday party in 1974 at the Elk's Building in Hollywood. Representatives from such notable organizations as General Idea, The Western Front, The Corres-Sponge Dance School (which stages Esther Williams swim-ins at public pools, all the bathers, of course, wearing shark-fin swim caps), The John Dowd Fanny Club (into gay, kinky things) and such characters as noted art critic John Mayonaise, Noah Dakota, Jane Livingstone, Futzie Nutzle, Irene Dogmatic, Opal L. Nations, Sue Subtle, Felix Partz, Pascal, Count Fanzini, Marcel Idea, Granada Gazelle, Bambi Fawn, Notary Sojac, E.E. Claire, Dr. V.D. Dirt, and Chairman Mo. Needless to say, The Colorado Spaceman was there.
The Amazing X Nation relates to all these people and organizations the way AT&T relates to gossip. Amazing X Productions is its Bell System. There is also an Amazing X Navy, located in Florida, several Amazing X-Tensions, The Amazing An-X in Evanston, Illinois and The Amazing X Ranch toward which I am heading as I file this report. There are also Amazing X T-shirts, farmers caps, business cards, trucks, horses, chase planes and hotlines throughout the nation, all rolling or trotting or flying along--as we are this snowy weekend, spreading Amazing X consciousness. I am therefore drinking Dos Equis beer as I write--the official beer of Amazing X nation. And the dark pulsing machine that brings this all to life is the North American Real Life Medicine Show, which plays all over the continent from such posh establishments as the Arts Club of Chicago to your local high school auditorium. Sooner or later, it'll be coming your way. Until then, keep your eye out for that Amazing X in your life.