A Conversation with Mike Kuchar on SFMOMA’s Open Space

 

I first met Mike Kuchar in 2011 when I visited the apartment he had shared with his late twin brother George. It was a studio visit with my friendsMargaret Tedesco and Patrick Jackson. The space was filled with paintings, books, and photographs — memorabilia from decades of filmmaking. Statuary was everywhere: lawn ornaments, Greek nudes, and a remarkablybuff Yeti. We watched some of Mike’s early films, and were thrilled to see a stash of his old drawings dating back to the ’80s.

Since then, Mike’s work has had an incredible resurgence. His films have always been at the forefront of critical reception, but his drawings have also recently received major attention. Originally appearing in magazines like Gay Heart Throbs, they were first shown in a gallery setting at Tedesco’s 2nd floor projects in 2008. The drawings have subsequently appeared at Frieze, Kimmerich Galerie in Berlin, the ICA and Tate in London, Francois Ghebaly in Los Angeles, and elsewhere.

When Gordon Faylor asked me to host a conversation with Mike for Open Space, I welcomed the opportunity. Mike and I share some similar interests in vintage comics, cavemen, and science fiction, among others, and I wanted to ask him about his connections to other underground filmmakers,
underground comics, and his working process. We decided to meet at my studio, which, like Mike’s apartment, is also full of “things”: sculptures, books, figurines, detritus.

Mike Kuchar is a true San Francisco treasure. His uncompromising output spans more than sixty years, and reminds us of the often forgotten value of individual vision and non-conformity. The few meetings I have had with Mike always leave me feeling completely inspired, and this time was no exception. Below are excerpts from that wide ranging two-hour conversation, between Mike, Gordon, and myself, which took place in my studio on May 18th, 2016.

—Matt Borruso