The independent cinema of M. J. Paggie takes center stage in The House of Sparkling Glasses, an exhibition of sixteen short films from the late 1960s to the early 1970s that are intimately linked both to the history of Madison and to MMoCA. In 1970, the museum’s then director Cham Hendon hired Paggie to start a new film program, which evolved into a robust series of instructional filmmaking courses using the Super 8mm format, in addition to avant-garde screenings of landmark developments in underground film.
The works included in The House of Sparkling Glasses were either created by Paggie in conjunction with the Film Study Program at the museum, or produced independently as an expression of his interest in cinematic experimentation. In both instances, Paggie’s films embody the spirit of independent filmmaking—a creative approach that employs film as “a medium of and for the individual, as explorer and as artist.” Produced and based in Madison, these films also capture the city’s inhabitants and cultural happenings during an era defined by political radicalism and artistic experimentation. Paying homage to this bygone era, the exhibition title references Madison’s former 602 Club, a tavern known to attract the loyal patronage of intellectuals, lefties, artists, and other creatives.
Generous funding for Imprint Gallery programs has been provided by Willy Haeberli in memory of Gabriele Haberland.