Mason Williams American
Max Yavno American
Printer The Benline Process Color Company, Deland and Pacific Display, Los Angeles

On View Gallery

“DO NOT OPEN IN THE WIND” warns an inscription on Mason Williams’s BUS. The advice was hard-won: when Williams first attempted to assemble the enormous work—a life-sized screenprint of a Greyhound coach, realized on sixteen pieces of billboard paper—he laid it out on a Los Angeles tennis court, where a bluster sent the sheets flying. He had better luck on a sound stage, eventually securing the components with 120 feet of Scotch Tape. The deadpan portrait of the Greyhound was commissioned from street photographer Max Yavno, then enlarged and editioned by a commercial printer in Florida. With the help of friends, Williams assembled the prints and took them on the road. BUS toured the country, making stops at MoMA and Radio City Music Hall. It appeared in the pages of LIFE, and served as set-piece on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (where Williams was employed as a writer). Bluntly descriptive and contextually absurd, project reflects the influence of Williams’s friend, collaborator, and fellow Oklahoman, Ed Ruscha. Barreling into Ruscha’s lexicon of late-sixties sprawl, BUS finds a spot amid strip malls and gas stations in the lively lot of California conceptualism. After completing the project and giving many of the prints away, Williams claimed to find them periodically on Hollywood sidewalks, crumpled up like urban tumbleweeds.

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