Wednesday, September 9, 2009

From Whence The Rainbow Came / Ambach & Rice

Photo/manipulations by Eric Fisher

This Saturday, Jeffry Mitchell, Joseph Park, Dan Webb and Claude Zervas turn our attention towards From Whence the Rainbow Came. Four artists, all doing very different things, come together under the roof of Ambach & Rice to explore both new and persistent ideas.

Hi fellas. I love this idea! How did the show happen? 

Jeffry Mitchell: i think the idea came up more than a year ago. maybe two years ago. do you all remember details?

Joe Park: one day while we were all sitting around finishing dinner at claude's, i pulled out dessert which was nina's left over rainbow decorated bday cake from costco. in our discussions, jeff i believe, made the off handed comment 'y'know, from whence the rainbow came' or something like that...

"so, you want to keep the show title 'from whence the rainbow came', even though it's retarded". - charlie kitchings in conversation with joe park (over whether we should change the title from 'from whence the rainbow came, which translates to 'from from where the rainbow came', to 'whence the rainbow came' which would have been more proper)

Dan Webb: The idea has been floating around for awhile actually. We feel like it's important that artists themselves to take an active role to defining what's cool about art here, which means creating shows, starting blogs or 'zines or whatever, and this show is the beginning step in doing that for us. Expect more artist curated shows probably from at least a few of us, and more art related writing from me."

Claude Zervas: At a bar of course. We had been talking about showing together for a while and somehow Charlie (Kitchings) became interested about the idea, but I can't remember who mentioned it to him in the first place (I think it might have been Joe). Part of the original idea was that we could feel relatively free of any concerns about editorial influences from the local art establishment.

Untitled by Joseph Park, 24" x 30"

You're all making individual pieces for the show - is there a thread that ties them all together? Are there any elements of collaboration?

Dan: There is a very conscious effort to allow the work to be whatever the work would be, regardless of it's inclusion in this show. The reason for that is that even though our work has glaring differences, having it in a room together will make people realize some of the ways that it's similar, and in fact informed, by the others. There is no surprise there. We have known each other over many years and in many contexts, and it's natural that there would be some overlap in the way that we think about things. What those things are specifically is a much longer answer, and leads into other areas, so I will hold off on answering that part directly. I think it's just important for us to show that the way we operate as artists is greatly shaped by our peers, who we happen to be great pals with, and the way to show that in the most direct way is simply to show what we do and lump it together in a room. 

Skin by Dan Webb, 74" x 32" x 21"

Joe: the corny thing - now that we've reached our pot of gold, it actually feels like a return to the origins of why we started making art in the first place.  which is why it feels so good right now.

for myself, crystallized growth leads to prismatic effects, in which you see rainbows (you'll probably notice it more in the paintings to come).

when i think of suits of armor, i think excalibur, fairies, and unicorns.  kids cloaked by a blanket, fostering imaginative play.

i see gay. i see our (dan claude, joe's) relationship to the gay - indebtedness, camaraderie.

keeping the show title, making that decision and not questioning it, is definitely in the 'spirit' of this show. the rainbow is an amazing device through which to see this work, even though i haven't seen the other half of it yet, i can already tell that it works.

Jeffrythere is no thematic thread tying the pieces together. each work is discrete. but the fact of the show is about artistic friendships, and how crucial they are to the art and the life of the artist. i also think the fact that this is  a self-curated show speaks to a shift of power to the artists.

Claude: Well, our work for the show is thematically discrete, but somehow there is a conversation going on between the artwork that is influenced by our friendship and the freedom and looseness we felt while making this work.

Untitled by Joseph Park, 16"x20"

Can you tell me about your work in the show?

Joe: half of the paintings are found paintings and half of them are started from scratch, but all of them share this idea of a viral growth that starts to overtake the image.

these 'growths' are time based (sort of). as one strand of paint strokes work their way across the image, another strand may over take it the next session. depending on how long these strands are allowed to develop and how many there are is in a way, measurable. all the works were developed simultaneously kind of like petrie dishes set out to grow something etc...

talking to matt offenbacher, who recommended j g ballard's 'crystal world', an inspiration to numerous artists, from robert smithson on.  more recently the subject of a video by ann lislegaard where modernist architecture collides with this crystalline growth.  i realized that i had been working with concepts similar to those expressed in the book.  

cubism, reflection, refraction, futurism, lenticular lenses, digitization, became infection, alteration, viral crystalline growth.

finally i realized that it was the way that i was painting which held all the metaphorical possibilities, that a stroke of paint could demonstrate these ideas without illustrating them."

Dan: My own work in the show consists of pieces that are draped or covered or obfuscated in some way, hiding from view what the actual subject of the piece is. Of course, the draping and obfuscating is either carved, or rendered in leather, making it impossible to remove the covering and see what’s going on underneath. The reason for this was simply to highlight the idea that if there is a meaning to any work of art, it is a thing that must be inferred by the participation of the viewer. We are given the exteriors of objects to look at, and must glean with sensitivity and intelligence the interiors that they allude to. As Oscar Wilde said, “It’s only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.

This work takes as its starting point how the surface of things is merely a lens to the interiors they shield, and tries to draw the viewers inward.

Claude: I was really excited to realize some ideas that had been in the back of my mind for several years but were very different from what I normally show publicly and that may not be all that compelling to the usual market. One in particular is based on a fire pit that I excavated from a makeshift campsite along a back country Forest Service road. The original fire pit was such a classic example of the genre, usually created and used by hunters. These fire pits are gradually improved (or wrecked and rebuilt) over the years and become the nexus for both the sublime, in the form of very intense male bonding and drug/alcohol induced emotions, and ultimate vulgarity usually involving bodily functions and/or guns. There are often shotgun shells, bullet casings, beer cans, tin cans, various bullet ridden items, and other detritus in the pit and laying around in the immediate vicinity.

I rebuilt the fire pit in the gallery as a model of a black hole which is part of an allegorical series of work dealing with a lunatic cosmology and creation myth.

There is also some wood involved...

This project was really fun but also very stressful since I decided to try some fabrication techniques of which I had no experience whatsoever, such as fiberglassing and wood carving. 

Hopefully it will all work.

Jeffry: My piece is an extemporaneous sculpture, comprising a variety of impulses that have visited me, uninvited, my entire life as an artist. I don't know why, but i must honor them, make them manifest. the only certain fact is that all of it will be white or close to white.

Study for White Weeds by Jeffry Mitchell

What has the experience been like for you?

Joe: it's been great, but i'm ready to start a solo project...

Dan: The experience has been great. We are so busy now that it's been an excuse to hang out with each other a little bit more often, which has been a lot of fun.

Claude: This has been a joy and an honor to be in a show with these friends whom I love and respect. It's also been really energizing and I want to do this more often for sure, especially to involve other artist friends that were not part of this show.

Jeff: the experience has given me a warm confidence. self acceptance leads to acceptance of others. acceptance of others allows community collaboration, and in that space entirely new experiences are possible. these artist friends, and this show take me to this place of new experience. It's wonderful.

Fortress by Dan Webb, 44" x 28" x 29,
carved from a single piece of cedar

Opening night reception (including a special event) is this Saturday from 7-9pm. The show is up through October 18. Lots of other great stuff coming up at Ambach & Rice, too!

5107 Ballard Ave. N.W.Seattle, WA 98107

Opening pictures:

Jeff, Claude, Dan, Joe

The artists performing Canción Mixteca.

Updated 9/11 to include Claude's responses.

6 comments: said...

fortress is probably the best piece of work that i have seen this year~best wishes from helsinki!

Anonymous said...

fabulous. I love this show, I love these works, and especially the sum of its parts. this is the the coolest stuff I've seen here. Congratulations from Lina

Anonymous said...

wow, that was a bullshit parade. Someday I'd like to sit around a fire with Claude and form a very intense male bond involving drug/alcohol induced emotions, and ultimate vulgarity with bodily functions and/or guns. Not!

Anonymous said...

...anyway, as always the usual suspects are making great work. but i hope to see more groups organizing "growing like weeds of sweet neglect" as mr. pittman once said. now i gotta re-read that jg ballard story

Judith Kindler said...

Went in to see the show today and was knocked out. I loved Dan Webb's "Fortress". It is so extraordinary. But my hats off to the owner/curators for their brilliance in pulling some of Seattle's best together. Really impressed. A welcome relief from the usual fiefdom (sp?) focus of Seattle galleries to a gallery that has a more National (yes International) vision of art and as the Rubell's put it so aptly,"is not afraid". Congrat's on a great show.

Lucas Spivey said...

"self acceptance leads to acceptance of others. acceptance of others allows community collaboration, and in that space entirely new experiences are possible."

I really agree with Jeffrey here, although I'm torn by the gallery drama going on. It's nice to hear (read) interviews that give more insight than just a show artist statement.

Oh and what up with the press release to the show? "Together in the same room, the works act as active juxtapositions of parallel and opposite artistic approaches" - it seemed like four solo exhibitions to me.