Upon receiving the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, Bob Dylan’s lyrics were forever cemented in the American literary canon. Wisconsin-based visual artist Skye pays homage to some of Dylan’s greatest lyrical achievements in her large-scale installation titled “Shakespeare’s in the Alley: A Tribute to Bob Dylan.” The text-based art installation features some of Dylan’s most loved songs reproduced on large banners that will hang from the ceiling of Helmerich Hall inside Gilcrease Museum. The effect is a forest of Dylan lyrics that can be experienced in a variety of ways.
Featured as part of a four-day-long Dylan conference from May 30 to June 2, 2019, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the installation will greet visitors as they enter the large windowed entrance hall. The work consists of more than 49 fabric song-panels, each representing a different lyric from Bob Dylan’s long and ongoing career. They are 57 inches wide and vary in length from 8 to 26 feet and were hand-stenciled by the artist, letter by letter, using fabric markers.
Skye rediscovered Dylan in a serious way after seeing the Martin Scorsese-directed film No Direction Home in 2008. She decided to revisit Dylan’s work, and an interest grew into a passion that needed an outlet. Because of her background as a sculptor and visual artist and her experience with large stenciling projects, the work took the form that it did.
Begun in 2011, “Shakespeare’s in the Alley” was a stage set for a local Bob Dylan tribute concert, Buckets of Rain. There were 15 panels. Skye knew the work was not complete and wanted the project to encompass Dylan’s extensive, life-long output of work. In early 2016, Skye received permission to travel the installation from her small corner of the globe to a greater audience. This was around the same time news that THE BOB DYLAN ARCHIVE® collection was going to Tulsa hit the airwaves. From that moment, she has wanted to bring the installation to Tulsa.
During the next four years, the installation grew to 44 panels, showing in its’ entirety at the Woodwalk Historic Barn/Gallery in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin, in the fall of 2015. In early 2016, she received permission to travel the work. Since that time, it has been installed at MOWA ( Museum of Wisconsin Art ), West Bend, Wisconsin, Jan. 24 – March 8, 2017; Peninsula School of Art, Guenzel Gallery, Fish Creek, Wisconsin, Feb. 9 – March 17, 2018; and Duluth Depot Great Hall, Duluth, Minnesota, as part of the eighth annual Duluth Dylan Fest, May 21-28, 2018.
“The work is an ongoing adventure and continues to slowly grow,” said Skye. “And what a great honor to be bringing it to Tulsa, the keeper of the THE BOB DYLAN ARCHIVE® collection and future home of the Bob Dylan Center. Tulsa has a great vision, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”
Attendees at the World of Bob Dylan International Conference will be able to enjoy the exhibit, along with an insider’s peek at some of the treasures in THE BOB DYLAN ARCHIVE® collection, which is also located in Tulsa.
For information or to register for the World of Bob Dylan Conference, visit the conference website.