1st Annual Midwestern Really Bad Art Show

A collaborative performance and curated exhibition by Lorelei d’Andriole and Lex Leto and hosted by Public Space One in Iowa City, IA. 

MAKE BAD ART, Lex Leto & Lorelei d’Andriole, Manifesto/Drawing, 2023

the call

Born out of love for dabbling and giggling, the Midwestern Bad Art show is a gallery show and performance curated by Lorelei d’Andriole and Lex Letourneau. Influenced by Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries ART IS A LIE THAT JUST WON’T DIE,  No Wave, Bread and Puppet, and the Museum of Bad Art. Lorelei, Lex, and collaborators will challenge the very existence of “bad art,” while celebrating the joy of dabbling in creation. The show will highlight midwestern artists in a way we’ve never seen them, as they’ll be asked to create intentionally bad art in a familiar medium, or create a work in a medium they have no technical facility in.

The works will be housed in the main floor of the PS1 Close House for the duration of the show, closing with performance and reception. This event will be as funny as it is ridiculous, as bad as it is genius, and fun for everyone involved while showcasing local artists and reminding everyone that we are all artists.

“Bad” as low facility: “To be in a band, at least according to the rules of rock in the 1970s, one must know how to play an instrument. But rather than waste time solving that problem, No Wavers ignored it. The point was simply to make music, not to learn how first.” - Lydia Lunch

“Bad” as boring or uninteresting: “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.” - John Cage


The following eighteen artists across Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Oklahoma were selected to show work:
Abby Garraty, Anna Kain, Bleakz Blanket Fort, C. Francis Wossom, Charlotte d’Andriole, Clairssia Martin, Eli Bolender, Elsa, Estevan Cornejo, Eva Roethler, HIJIN(X), Kate Doolittle, Levi Moos, Mack Ellis, Mason Esposiot, Matt Magill, Nathan Wegner, Peter Brozene, Zayne Chrysanthemum 

What I noticed as a curator immediately was who resonated with the word, “bad.” This show was made up almost entirely by teenagers, disabled, and trans people. These marginalized artists saw bad not as a moral prescription but as the opportunity to make something beautiful. In the book, “Little Blue Encyclopedia: (for Vivian)” by Hazel Jane Plante, there is a line that defines the trans experience as “turning pain into beauty.” While our motivation was to create a pocket in this world where people could make art and display serious art without care for facility or entertainment, what we unknowingly did was create a space where other Midwestern trans people could find a space of belonging. Nearly every artist in the show had never applied to show work in a gallery before. While we hope that this show sparks conversations on the value of arts institutions, we did this because it was fun. My high school art teacher, Karen Stafford, had one rule in her classroom: “Do art, no problem.” Go make some art and have some fun. Also, I put my mom in the show. Go, mom.

the performance

My contribution to the show is a graphic performance score created entirely in Microsoft PowerPoint, a purely evil and ugly art medium. This performance was done for a live audience at the reception for the show as a score for Accordion and Voice performed by Lex and I.

Click here to watch video documentation of the orginal performance at Public Space One in Iowa City, IA by John Engelbrecht.  

Additional performances were done in March at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum in East Lansing, MI and at the Soundbox 7 Festival hosted by Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR. 

Lorelei d’Andriole