ArtYard is pleased to present Ecstatic Decrepitude, an exhibition featuring works by Peter Schumann, the founder of Bread and Puppet Theater.
Nearly 60 years after Schumann founded Bread and Puppet in New York City’s Lower East Side, it remains one of the oldest nonprofit, self-supporting theater companies in the US and has left an indelible stamp on the world of theater and the American cultural landscape.
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Ecstatic Decrepitude features masks, puppets, books, paper mâché relief work, and paintings that convey Schumann’s deep commitment to the creative and political work aiming to unite artists and communities in celebration and protest. It is curated by Clare Dolan, a painter, director, performer, curator, and intensive care unit nurse who has performed as a puppeteer with the Bread and Puppet Theater for decades.
The exhibition comprises the upper-level John & Lynn Kearney Gallery and lower-level River Gallery at the Frenchtown, NJ alternative contemporary arts center.
Ecstatic Decrepitude is presented on two stories. Bulky, big, oppressed, and oppressive decrepitude obviously belongs upstairs, way above ecstasy, which hides in book pages and requires diligent reading on the first floor. The faces, idols, agitators, and sufferers of the Naked Humanity Republic get entertained by Father Time who strikes the clock for them relentlessly.
Schumann’s puppet shows range from tightly composed theater pieces presented by members of the company to extensive outdoor pageants requiring the participation of many community volunteers. Guided by a philosophy of living and working within the means available, Schumann’s aesthetic is inextricable from the paper mâché, burlap, twine, and staples that make up and literally hold the puppets and shows together.
Ecstatic Decrepitude continues through July 31 at ArtYard, located at 13 Front St., Frenchtown, New Jerse, 08825. Public hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 11am to 5pm.
To learn more, visit artyard.org.