The fifth thing Kitty Hawk did after taking over the Museum of Modern Terrible Dead Art (MoMTDA, pronounced “Mom: ta-DAA!”) was diversify. She thought a museum could be so much more than a sterile, quiet space full of NPR listeners looking at stuff; she was, in fact, open to a museum being whatever you wanted it to be, if your check cleared. Maybe no porn. At first, Kitty figured erotica should be judged on a case-by-case basis; then she heard herself in a meeting saying, “But is the anal art?” and decided that everybody needed to keep their damn clothes on, if only for the sake of her straight face.
Luckily, she had the space for it: the Museum had begun in Bobby’s garage, where–too polite to throw them away–he had piled all the paintings fans had done of the band. Running out of room, Bobby turned to Ron Rakow for help; he almost immediately scammed an old lady in East Oakland out of her art museum, and this was the growing collection’s first permanent home.
Three months later, the museum was tossed out due to never-payment of rent. This began a long period of temporary installations and rental spaces. For about a year, MoMTDA existed within 15 panel vans in the downtown San Mateo area; it wasn’t an acceptable arrangement: the vans had to keep moving to avoid tickets, so it was tough to find the museum at all and people don’t like that. People expect museums to stay where they left them. Plus, Soup was living in one of the vans.
The wilderness had been left behind, though: Kitty’s office wasn’t the passenger seat of a vehicle illegally occupied by art, and a hippie. MoMTDA had an award-winning new building in Novato, designed by Hank Gehry, Frank’s estranged and more-affordable brother. Hank also had a crippling heroin addiction. Literally crippling: a bus ran him over while he was high, so the Museum is not his best work; it could be generously called “boxy.” To be less kind, it could be called “literally the simplest shape you can make a building; just a big warehouse; absolutely the least amount of effort possible.”
Kitty loved it, and didn’t care what the architectural critics thought. She had actually banned architectural critics from the premises; they would just wander around tsking and wearing expensive eyeglasses at things; it got on her last craw. Did they want Hank’s brother’s twisted garbage, some chromed-out kidney stone sitting on a waterfront? Kitty came from the gallery world, and preferred the huge, open space she could do whatever the hell she wanted with.
It has recently become a trend with the hip and moneyed to have gatherings in non-gathering spaces: renting a hall was just so suburban; getting married on the beach was for the plebes. Recontextualizing is so hot right now, and Kitty wasted no time in offering MoMTDA for events; rich Deadheads from across the country lined up to sign up.
Bar Mitzvahs? Mazel tov.
Diwali? Do we ever!
Kitty threw everything at the white walls. There was the pop-up restaurant, but it turned out that the chef was more interested in the “pop-up” part than the “restaurant” part, and never cooked anything, just leapt at people from within trash cans and hit them with multiple spatulae. Kitty was glad Precarious Lee had taken to hanging around: he tossed the guy when Kitty asked him to, even though Precarious thought it was funny as hell.
(Kitty had wondered aloud whether she could install the Wall of Sound as an exhibit, and Precarious narrowed his eyes at her and said, “Wally insists on function.” She had no idea what he was talking about, but never brought it up again.)
Night at the Museum of Modern Terrible Dead Art was also a bust, at least the first time around. Kitty had miscalculated, and tried to sell it to kids and families like the dinosaur joints. Kids, it turns out, don’t even want to go to art museums in the first place, let alone sleep on the floor of one, but Kitty is nothing if not a quick learner; for the next Night at the MoMTDA, she hired a band and a DJ and cut side deals with several local drug dealers. This was a more profitable evening, although the cleaning bill was much greater. Also, a lot of the art got stolen, but Kitty truly did not give a shit about that.
Most of the pieces that went missing, Kitty was happy to never lay eyes on again.
“But they left this one. Jesus. Wait. Hold on. Precarious?”
“I’ve never seen this painting before.”
“Where did it come from?”
“Check the logs.”
“It’s not in there. I would remember this. It looks like something Dennis Hopper would be congratulated for painting.”
“Eye of the beholder, I suppose.”
“You like it?”
“Shit, no. Someone might, though.”
“Not the point. How did it get here?”
“Precarious, how did this painting get on this wall?”
“Precarious, is the Museum of Modern Terrible Dead Art making its own Terrible Dead Art?”
“Certainly sounds like something that would happen around here.”