Arts & Humanities

New Exhibition Heart Beats Opens to the Public

Wally Bill Hedrick, "Flower Flag," ca. 1954, Oil on Canvas, 20.5 x 16.5 in., Gift of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation, Collection of the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Utah State University.

The public is invited to the exhibition opening of Heart Beats on Thursday, Nov. 21. The event will include live jazz music, a poetry reading and refreshments.

A collaboration with the USU English department, USU Library, and the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Heart Beats looks at the intersection of Beat poetry and art. The Beat artists in this exhibition offer unique expressions of the artistic rebellion that rocked American culture during the 1950s — each one representing an individual beat within the collective “Beat heart.” 

Heart Beats is curated by sixteen students in the Utah State University English 4310 Beat Course, taught by Paul Crumbley.

Heart Beats will be on exhibition at NEHMA from Nov. 21, 2019 – Feb. 1, 2020. The opening reception is Thursday, Nov. 21, from 6:30–9 p.m. At 7 p.m. that evening, visiting Beat artist and poet Gerd Stern will speak, commenting on the exhibition and reflecting on his own experience as a Beat artist — particularly his presence at the famous Six Gallery reading, the role of little magazines, and how artists working in multiple mediums collaborated together. At 7:30, students in the class will read their poetry in the lobby of the museum. 

On October 7, 1955, Allen Ginsberg gave his first public reading of his poem “Howl” at the Six Gallery in San Francisco. Its denouncement of spiritual emptiness and blind conformity to a growing capitalist, materialist society triggered an explosion of emotional and creative expression.

While Ginsberg and other writers like Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Diane Di Prima and Anne Waldman each wrote from their own distinct emotional and intellectual perspectives, they were all part of a shared conversation promoted by the little magazines that flourished in the 1950s and 1960s and served as the metaphorical circulatory system for the Beat cultural body.

Beat poets and writers featured in the exhibition are: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Diane Di Prima, Anne Waldman. Artists featured in the exhibition from the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art collection are: Jess Collins, Llyn Foulkes, Sonia Gechtoff, Wally Hedrick, George Herms and Adelie Landis. Beat magazines on view were selected from the Kathryn Caine Wanlass Library of Art, Design & Beat Literature, University Libraries.

Additionally, students from USU Professor Donna Brown’s 4040 Advanced Apparel Studies course in the department of Family and Consumer Sciences Education will display their designs for clothing inspired by artworks from the exhibition.

Visit to stay up to date on future museum events. 

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