If you’re a frequent attendee of Wexner Center events, you’ve likely met Mark Spurgeon as our manager of ticketing in patron services. After 14 years at the center, this spring Mark begins his tenure as our membership manager. We asked him to share his memories of and perspective on the Wex in honor of the occasion.
Please share—what’s your earliest memory of the Wex?
My earliest memory of the Wexner Center is tied to my discovery of outsider art. Already enamored of works by Elijah Pierce, Smoky Brown, and Howard Finster, I was awestruck by the scope of Leslie Payne’s vision, particularly the handmade airplane featured here in the 1991 exhibition Visions of Flight. Constructed entirely of found materials, his large-scale work filled one of our galleries and fueled my interest in self-taught artists.
What’s your fondest Wex memory?
The conversation between director Jim Jarmusch and film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum (part of our of 2001 retrospective of Jarmusch’s work) reflected the best qualities of the Wex—eclectic, irreverent, and challenging! The director, who cut a singular figure with his distinctive pompadour, was especially charismatic as he entertained questions on film, rock and roll, life in Ohio, and William Blake while musingly dragging on cigarettes in the Film/Video Theater.
Was there an exhibition, performance, lecture, or film that changed your mind about an artist or artwork after seeing it here?
Richard Hell’s appearance at the Wex in 2013 was a revelation. I had just finished reading his autobiography I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp and assumed that Hell would use his appearance to burnish his reputation as a provocateur. However, he demonstrated remarkable candor as he offered perspective on his creative life, which stood in marked contrast to the often-brash portrayal of him by others.
Which artwork that we’ve shown (in any medium) would you bring back for an encore round?
The Free Basin skateboard bowl featured in the Mood River exhibition (2002), created by the architecture collective Simparch, was equal parts happening and art installation. The energy brought to the Wex by the skaters was tangible and often lasted late into the evening. It felt subversive and cool!
If you were involved in theater, what would be your ideal job?
I would be a musician in the orchestra pit; I enjoy collaboration and creation as part of the collective voice.
In what format would your life be filmed—HD? 70mm?
Is it too cheeky to say that I would like my life to be drawn? If it must be animated, then I’ll assemble the drawings into a flip-book!
What is one thing the Wexner Center has taught you over the years?
You will be rewarded by slowing down to pay particular attention to the details. If you allow your expectations to override your experience, you are unlikely to glean the full potential of the moment. This was never more evident than in Cynthia Hopkins’s autobiographical performance work Accidental Nostalgia (2006). It offered such a rich experience of storytelling, music, and staging, all of which imaginatively steered clear of the usual theatrical clichés.
Why become a Wexner Center member?
With a small investment, you gain priority and discounted access to some of the most stimulating programs and people in the city. You’ll savor a discount on local and seasonal fare in the Heirloom Café. Browse the region’s best collection of books, and discover an always-fresh mix of merchandise in the Wexner Center Store, always at special member prices. Integrate your social and creative selves at an institution that believes in blurring the boundaries!
Send Mark a hello or your questions about Wex membership at firstname.lastname@example.org.