This work will be included in a forthcoming volume of Edward Ruscha: Catalogue Raisonné of the Works on Paper.
In 1984, I was an assistant curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and was put in charge of organizing the first major retrospective of Edward Ruscha. The exhibition, which would travel to the Whitney, the Vancouver Art Gallery, The San Antonio Museum of Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, was to be accompanied by a catalogue and limited edition print published by Hudson Hills Press. Anne Livet was the guest curator and Dave Hickey and Peter Plagens were to each write an essay on Ed's work for the catalogue.
This exhibition marked a milestone for both Ed and me: it was the first retrospective that I was organizing for the museum; it was Ed's first retrospective. So it mattered a lot to each of us that it would properly reflect the artist's history, and we each had differences in how that should happen.
I remember one day, after a series of phone calls discussing (arguing?) over the publisher's requirements, I offered my office up to Ed, so that he could take my place and negotiate directly. He politely declined!
Finally, I was installing the works. Unbeknownst to Ed, I had decided to line the gallery with palm trees and ordered a neon sign with the exhibition title, "The Works of Edward Ruscha" to be hung at the gallery entrance, gleaming in bright yellow.
Two days before the exhibit was to open, Ed flew up to San Francisco. I was definitely nervous, after our previous disagreements, how he might respond to my design. We took the elevator together up to the 4th floor galleries. I saw him glance into the gallery, where the palm trees were evident, reminiscent of Santa Monica Boulevard. Ed looked up at the neon sign. There was silence. So I asked him, "What do you think, Ed?" I held my breath. He slowly turned towards me, and the edges of his mouth slightly turned up and he responded something like...."Well I guess everyone would like to have their name up in lights once in their life."
I breathed a sigh of relief and proceeded to escort Ed through the exhibition.
Several months later, I received a package from Ed. Inside was a handwritten note with these words:
And the "Scream" drawing.
Louise Katzman Kurabi