Monday, October 20, 2008

the confluence of NIGHTTOWN


Like a Setting Sun (South G. Street, Tacoma WA)
(Gretchen Bennett, image via howard house)

Gretchen Bennett is one of the hardest working artists around! Every time I turn around, she's in a show or in NYC or doing a residency or curating a show. I love it because I just can't get enough of her art (or her).
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Through the end of October, she's in a residency at the Association of Icelandic Visual Artists (SIM) Residency, Reykjavik, Iceland. From the website, "7 artists stay at the same time. Each artist has his/her own private bedroom with single or double beds." It's right by the ocean facing a glacier. Here is a quick conversation we had via a couple of emails.
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It sounds great! What made you choose Iceland?
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GB: I wanted to spend time here, in order to experience the landscape and to find out what else I would find here. I feel oddly at home here and the landscape I've focused on, so far is a disco ball, hanging in a kling and bang gallery installation called "Drum Solo". It's like a moonscape, and just yesterday I heard the disco ball in general described as the pulsing heart of Iceland by my friend Magret.

kling & bang via gretchen bennett
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I love the visual of Iceland's heart being a disco ball!
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Have you been able to do any transcontinental sticker migration? If I fly to Reykjavik, could I see a tan junkyard dog on the back of a street sign? I hope so!

GB: ...Yes, I have been leaving my stickers up around downtown Reykjavick.
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Are these like the ones on your website?*
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GB: Yes, they are the editioned stickers that are on my website. I've been leaving them on what look like electrical boxes on each block or so. They are pretty stealthy and I'm hoping they stay up, thought Reykjavik is so clean.
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electrical box in iceland via gretchen bennett*
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GB: But there is some very nice street art in Reykjavik, a mountain and volcano and waterfall on the sides of buildings and made of sequins, so they move in waves. Some wheat-pasted and painted work that is really great.

Theresa Himmer's Volcano (at Kling & Bang Gallery)
photo added 10/25/2008. (via g. bennett)

icelandic street drawing by gretchen bennett

GB: Also, I've made some drawings of things like street art and signage and sent them back for a Free Sheep Foundation window installation, which I'm doing with Joshua Lindenmayer. Joshua and I have both made drawings that can be made into sticker editions, spreading the fringe landscape of our choice around. Joshua has created a framework for this -- presenting our combined drawings in a kind of landscape backdrop for the window. *

Free Sheep Foundation window display, NIGHTTOWN
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The piece is called NIGHTTOWN. For my part, I'm mailing Icelandic drawings back to Seattle to be installed in the window as soon as the Iceland Post delivers them.
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Sounds like a great project! Anything else?

Right now the Icelanders could use some cheering up, so please send positive vibes.
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It's raining pretty hard today. But that could change.
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Thanks. *
xoxoxo
Gretchen *

XO!!!
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Gretchen suggested I should chat with Joshua too. Here are some questions I sent to him and his mom, Kathy. I sent them to his mom because in addition to being a great artist, he's also ten years old!
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Hi Joshua: Did Gretchen just call you out of the blue to collaborate?
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JL: kind of. i asked before if she would like to do a collaboration and she thought this would be the perfect time to do it.
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collaborative piece (dutch's icelandic street drawing with gameover's drawing on top)
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Kathy adds: gretchen and joshua kept running into each other socially, and every time, they would get into deep conversation about obscure street artists who no one else around was familiar with. this just sort of evolved out of a long series of conversations at parties over many, many months.) *

Have you ever done collaborations before this show?
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JL: i have known her before this show but have never collaborated with her.
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You've been both curator and artist. Which one is more fun for you?
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i think they are both particularly fun. i have been having a very fun time collaborating with gretchen and i also think it was very fun working with artists. at the mcleod residence they did a collaborative wall and on the other wall there were lots of paintings and i liked learning about the different contexts of drawing and painting. i think that making art is my favorite but it's important to do curating also, not just making art but working with it.
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kathy adds: yes, he just said, "particularly" and "contexts". he cracks me up. anyway, i feel it should be said that it was joshua's vision that the artists he selected for the mcleod show paint one wall collaboratively, and he put a lot of time and effort into determining the right mix of artists who would be popular but also new and interesting to people, whose work would fit well in the unique space provided, who would sell work but not be too commercial or easy, and most important who would take this opportunity where they had a lot of freedom and would be really respectful of the space. he totally "got it" without having to be told what to do.)
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When does "NIGHTTOWN" end? As the month progresses, you and Dutch will continue to add pieces?
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kathy: the show ends after 3 months, or dec 31, depending on the fate of the space as determined by the developer.
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JL: yes, she is sending drawings from iceland, mainly from photos she has taken, and i am adding my diamonds and other graphics both as stickers and as drawings to wall. and i also have been creating landscapes connecting everything together in the window. when gretchen gets back i will let her take over for awhile! and we will make more stickers.
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I love the way your diamond drawings react to Gretchen's familiar fawn.
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JL: thank you, that means a lot to me. i had a really fun time collaborating with gretchen's fawn to make a new image.
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gameover's additions to gretchen's fawn.

For folks that don't know you, do you think they'd be surprised to find out you're ten?
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JL: very!
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Thanks so much for answering my questions! Good luck and I'll be keeping an eye out for you. Your stuff is great.*

JL: thanks, keep it up!**

Joshua Lindenmayer
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Gretchen shows at Howard House in Seattle. She was shortlisted for The Stranger Genius Award (Visual Art) this year. In an article about the nomination, Jen Graves said, "Gretchen Bennett is perhaps Seattle's greatest artist's artist, a modest grande dame who brings and holds people together—and who is always working."
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Joshua just curated a show called Birds, Buffalos and Baldmans at McLeod Residence.*
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Game Over by Joshua Lindenmayer

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