Many know Exene as a lead member and co-founder of the legendary Los Angeles punk rock band, X. While that’s a good place to begin, it hardly defines her.
Following the formal breakup of X—a band she still performs with on occasion—Exene continued her transformation into a more formidable solo artist by continuing to write musically – releasing critically acclaimed solo albums (1989’s Old Wives’ Tale and 1990’s Running Scared), within the print medium through poetry and books, in spoken word performances, and as a visual artist. She has also been a member of the groups Auntie Christ, the Original Sinners and the Knitters.
"With her eclectic, thrift store-haunting style — part silent-era movie queen, part art-school urchin — Exene Cervenka has always been one to collage disparate eras and styles.
Her voice is itself a kind of craft object: modest, simple, unadorned. You wouldn’t call it a girl’s voice, but it’s anything but gnarled with the passage of time. Rather, Cervenka’s voice has an old-soul quality, one that harkens back to a tradition of American folk — call it old-time music, around-the-house music — that sought to express deep commonplace emotions out of the softly sustained, clear articulation of compact, non-oblique lyrical sentiment." --LA Times
Her spoken word performances with Lydia Lunch in the 80's led to the publication of "Adulterers Anonymous" and another four volumes of poetry followed. In 1992, Exene collaborated with photographer Kenneth Jarecke on "Just Another War", a volume of images and verse concerning the 1991 war in Iraq (the first one, remember?).
A lifelong visual artist, Exene's drawings paintings and collages were exhibited at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in 2006 and were the subject of a monograph, Magical Meteorite Songwriting Device, published by Perceval Press.
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Photo by: ©Ali Smith: www.alismith.com