Melanie Coffee’s personal collection of 1980s nostalgia and teen angst is perched behind black wrought-iron gates and displayed upon X-ray light boxes and metallic blue walls. The punk-rock art fliers, Ann Summa photography and video art installations are all part of the inaugural exhibition of Coffee’s new space in Emergency Arts, Gamma Gamma Gallery (Fri-Sat 7-9 p.m., 520 E. Fremont St., Suite 109). The show, which runs through May 30, is appropriately called Gamma, Gamma Hey! 1980s Punk Rock Flyer Art and Ephemera Show.
Part sentimental journey and part tribute to the unheralded artists of the L.A. punk scene, the show presents ironic touchstones to a never-attained “live fast die young” past—and darn cool documentation of a time when punk wasn’t co-opted, commercial or compartmentalized. For Coffee, fliers served as a form of totemic communique, whose styles and symbols were readable by those in the know and hopefully offended those who weren’t. “The photocopier was to the punk movement what the Gutenberg press was to the Bible,” she says. “I was truly obsessed with collecting fliers and loved them as an art form.”
Coffee, who is the collections manager for the Liberace Museum, will be using her gallery as a living laboratory for her thesis while she obtains her master’s of museum studies from the University of Leicester in the United Kingom.