LEWISTON — Museum L-A will open its new exhibit “Rock Around the Clock: L-A’s Music Making Machine, 1950s-1970s” from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18. The exhibit reveals a snapshot of Lewiston-Auburn history embedded with images and memorabilia, including economic, political and cultural changes that were the background for our local music life such as the decline of manufacturing, the local garage band movement and the civil rights struggle in our nation.
The exhibit will be like a visual salad: the walls will be covered in clothing, posters, magazines and artifacts. Curator for the exhibit, Kevin Callahan said, “The desired effect of this show design would be to give a sense of the energy and the upheaval of rapid changes with a sort of visual chaos resembling a teenagers bedroom walls.”
Rachel Desgrosseilliers, executive director, stated, “One of the exciting pieces to the new exhibit was the discovery that — as the mills fell, the music rose. It seemed a perfect fit to reconnect the mission of the museum directly to the happenings of the younger generation with their music and talent.”
“As the mills fell, the music rose” is reflected in a striking vignette by a resident artist at the Maine College of Art. In her exhibit, Lane Taplin, a textile and community based artist and educator, is participating with her “Woven Stories of the Spirit of Millwork from the Past, Present, and Future.”
After scavenging through storage areas of the Museum, Taplin hand wove and silkscreened three pairs of millworker’s overalls, known as “Pantalon avec Bavette,” inspired by stories told by Bates millworkers’ children and grandchildren.
Dale Chapman, chair of the Bates College Music Program, identified local music influences through three major movements: The Civil Rights Movement showing the modern civil rights movement unfolding in the wake of the Second World War, in the context of an extended period of American prosperity and optimism; The Suburbs and Postwar American Culture where the mortgage subsidy provisions of the G.I. Bill worked in tandem with the dramatic growth of the suburbs during this period; and, 1950s Rock n’ Roll and Postwar American Culture where Chapman’s contribution to the exhibit continues by recognizing the contrast that with the Tin Pan Alley lyrics, which tended to be focused on romantic love, rock-and-roll songs were shocking in their frank allusions to sexuality.
Embedded in this exhibit of music images and memorabilia will be a timeline of events presented in a cacophony of memories. “Through this exhibit, we hope the public will want to share their personal experiences and thoughts to help capture more crucial historical facts of our community during those fast-moving and stimulating times,” said Desgrosseilliers. A writing wall will be provided to record one’s recollections of the era.
The exhibit will run through spring 2015. Museum L-A is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon-4 p.m. or by appointment and is in the Bates Mill Complex at 35 Canal Street. For more information, visit www.museumla.org or call 207-333-3881.