"Shooting Script" by John Waters

I was excited to see the solo exhibition at Rena Bransten Gallery of work by John Waters (on show through July 10). I’ve seen a lot of Waters’s creations online and in print (and, like most, am much more familiar with his movies than his artwork), but this was my first experience of them in person. I liked them, some surprising much.

Most of Waters’s artwork has some connection to film; he often alters movie stills, making them much more darkly humorous than the original. Those are fun. But even better are the works that show the poetic mundaneness of filmmaking, the everyday stuff that’s really great to look at and provides us outsiders an insider peek into that mysteriously magical world of movies (apparently, it’s not as glamorous as you might imagine). Though I love the “Pecker” images, a series of photos taken on the set of Waters’s 1998 movie by that name (note that while many of the pieces on show in this exhibition have been previously shown in galleries in New York and L.A., this series makes its debut here), the piece that I revisited several times and return to in my memory often now is the one featured here, Shooting Script.

So simply, it gives us sense of how much goes into moviemaking; all the pages that had occupied those pads used up. Our imagination fills with all of the notes, directions, revisions, re-revisions that may have been on those sheets. Those nine pieces of blank cardboard (arranged so neatly; this is an organized process), fringed on top by all those little shredded scraps of paper—one with a small bit of writing still left—resonate with the all the activity dictated on what are likely now crumpled yellow balls in the trash. The whole process relayed in a grid of the remnants of dime-store notepads.

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