“SIng, Calypso” is a song sung by a Magical Fish, about a kind Fisherman who falls in love with the Princess of Atlantis. Or, it’s a permanent public artwork for a pier being built in Ballard by Seattle Public Utilities, based on the found object Opera “Atlantis, Full of Cheer,” which I created for Seattle Storefronts and the Woolworth windows in Tacoma. Stainless steel embeds in concrete pier deck. Winter 2019.
“Christian French's Distributive Art Gallery” is my contribution to the temporary art series at the construction site of Roosevelt station, produced for STart, Sound Transit’s art program. Etched stainless steel plates made from drawings of old and discarded tools will be publicly available for people to come and make “rubbings” from, using paper and whatever crayon they have to hand. An analog interactive piece that embeds the idea of a “give-back” to the community, which is at the heart of the temporary art series itself.
In principle, the Gallery can live on in future incarnations, with new tools or even artwork by other artists curated into the mix.
Shout out to Japhy Witte at Sign Savant, who made a work of art in it’s own right for this, as you can see.
Shipping container installation for Duwamish Revealed, Seattle, WA, 2015.
Model shots, trailer video by Patrick Moynihan (Patrick, I promise I'll get you notes for the extended version. Soon.) Stills from several evenings of performance including Mark Johnson and Town Forest performing songs from "Atlantis, Full of Cheer" (special thanks to the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture). John Boylan, Phase3 and Godzilla gets the Hiro Sugimoto treatment.
A few black and white images shot with an 8x10 camera, old school. Analog, Baby.
Special Thanks to Sam Farrazaino and the Equinox Special Projects Division; Nicole Kistler and Sarah Kavedge of Duwamish Revealed; Environmental Coalition of South Seattle; Sally Del Fierro and the Port of Seattle; Lund Opsahl Engineering; Janet Galore; Patrick Moynihan; Mark Johnson; Dave Verkade; and special shout to Doug at ConGlobal Industries. None of this would have happened without the efforts and generosity of these folks, and a whole host of others. I still have thank you gifts to distribute ...
Portrait of the Artist as late for his own funeral. Special thanks to the Grocery, El Mariachi Monarcas, Jean Sherrard, Bruce Clayton Tom, Maxell and Melba.
Doctrine of the Void w/Alan Watts (club mix). 2014
Center on Contemporary Arts, "PostGlam".
Mixed media installation including found and altered found objects; theatrical lighting; audio. Trophy Dharma, Alan Watts and Donna Summers, together again.
Sometimes I go to the Goodwill a block a way and spend hours sorting through the items and amusing myself.
One game I play is finding two objects that belong together that have been scattered and place them back together (based in a childhood game I played called “Memoria” which is technically the Spanish version of “Concentration”). Another is the stacking game. It started when I would stack pieces of silver plate to create “Stupas”. Then it was stacking ceramic cups and bowls, exploration for a project called “Beauties of the Western Regions”, a play on the Ukiyo-e “Bijin-ga”. Long story.
At one point it became a game called “Jellyfish” where I would stack glassware to form organic shapes which I began to call Jellyfish. This came about in part because I was imagining objects that would play the roles of sea life in the backgrounds of my found object installations about the Fisherman and the Princess of Atlantis, a body of work called “Atlantis, Full of Cheer”.
With the Jellyfish becoming a stand-alone body of work, there’s a nod to oceans, and a nod to overproduction and waste, but there’s also just the visceral recombinant play that keeps showing up for me. At first I would leave these assemblages behind, but eventually I collected some of these forms, and photographed them at the Grocery, using my Calumet 8x10. My thought was to contact print them as Cyanotypes, but lately I have been exploring printing them as large silk banners so they can capture a bit of movement. Ongoing.
I’m sure there’s a better title, something that gets closer to the heart of what I’m trying to do, but this one stuck. inspired by the lotus platforms that were under a pair of Bodhisattva figures that flanked a Buddha in a show at the Seattle Art Museum (I think it was “Luminous” but I’ve had a hard time tracking backwards to the moment when the sculptures struck me). They also double as prototypes of game pieces for a Buddhist board game I’m designing.
Found silverplate, gravity.
“Giant Steps” was an exhibition of proposals curated by Greg Lundgren and Vital5. The conceit was a project on the moon, deliverable within some specific parameters, including a payload limit and a limited time on the lunar surface to execute you idea.
My proposal involved something simple to accomplish on the moon, but complicated to mount in a gallery context. We settled on a maquette for this particular incarnation.
Passage from my proposal text:
“If I’ve only 500 words to describe a meaningful gesture, I would start with two propositions: there are no straight lines in space, and the scar. I propose taking 60 kilograms of hi-index, type-3 virgin glass reflective beads (similar to what demarcates airport runways, or what guides you drunk, at night, along the highway) and laying them out in a straight(ish) line 1 foot wide and 609 meters long. This simple gesture accomplishes a number of things. It creates a line theoretically visible at a distance (when refracting light shining at it) using a non-native yet inert material, thereby pointing to the reflective essence of the moon’s presence in our life. It speaks both to the human longing to make a mark in the landscape, in a way that communicates intelligence to the alien observer (relative to how straight and unnatural the line is I suppose). It refers back to human history, touching on the ancient and mysterious Nazca lines as well as prosaic runways striping the modern age. It advances the discourses of minimalism and land art in a stellar way. It is possibly temporary, or maybe quasi-permanent: absent wind, the piece could exist until someone else cleans it up. Of course, solar winds and static electricity might degrade the piece over time, but who wants to live forever? And the scar. The scar is the mark that defines the presence of action’s durational impact. Human marks on the landscape are scars, either ennobled or traumatic. Since one motivation in art, especially in contemporary understanding of it, is the glorification of human ego, I think it is important to acknowledge the tension inherent in this call. As much as art can be a declaration of “I am here!” (or “ was here”), we need to remember that poetically, the Moon has often been seen as the face of Nature and what we propose to do is to use her beauty as the springboard for our own folly. If we are going to make a scar – even a temporary one – I think it should be a pretty one: shiny, like a line of glitter sparkling in unmitigated sunshine.”
First version of this Opera installed as window theater on Broadway, (Capitol Hill) Seattle WA 2012. Part of the Storefronts Seattle series.
The title is taken from a Jimi Hendrix tune, the story is a collaboration with the objects. A Fisherman spares a Fish out of compassion. The Fish returns the favor casting a breathing spell to save the Fisherman from drowning. Waking up in Atlantis, the Fisherman encounters the Princess. They fall in love and live happily until the spell wears off. An ecological tale about the reconciliation of the human and natural worlds through the magic of love and compassion, disguised as a Fish Tale. Currently at work on the libretto for the Rock Opera version with Mark Johnson.
From "Lovers", a series of "portraits" about relationship, created for exhibit at Babeland.
A month in the studio of the celebrated painter and sculptor. Felt like I was in my Uncle's garage and he was coming in at any moment. Such a powerful, good spirit infused the space. Tried a number of practices, came back to photography, here with Impossible project film. Thanks to Cory Verellen at Rare Medium for saving me when I dropped my camera.
James Washington was a real treasure, and generous to boot, leaving his house and studio for the benefit of others. I want to foreground his artist-ness but not celebrating his African American heritage seems too close to erasure, even if it is too close to marginalizing. For me, he will always be Mr. Washington.
Some pictures using early Impossible project film. Some of these images were exhibited in my show at Zeitgeist. Some of the other images from that show aren't currently jpgs. They'll have to wait.
Andy taught me everything I know.
Installation at ACT Theater, Seattle, as part of the SOIL/ACT series. 2011
Street level as well as Lobby viewing. Lobby had listening station with mix of Dub Reggae and lectures by Alan Watts.
Photos taken while crashing Monique Besten's residency at Kunst-in-Kolderveen, Kolderveen, NL. 2008
I was pigheaded and didn't bring my 6x7. These were taken with her borrowed Hasselblad, normal lens. Objects were found locally, sometimes from the thriftwinkle, sometimes borrowed from people in the surrounding town, and representing people and encounters that manifested during the residency. Kolderveen is a tiny community comprised of mostly dairy farmers, close to Meppel, NL. The residency took place in the grounds of the former cheese factory. Dutch painting was in the air. Cheese was too.
From the Opera, as performed by the objects themselves.
October 2007. Elsewhere, Greensboro, NC.
Elsewhere, a former thrift store turned artist residency was perfect for me. I took my Mamiya 67 with me, even though I'd been shooting Polaroids for the 7 years between the bottles and this. I couldn't find any good sunlight indoors, so I gathered shiny and reflective things. Pretending I was a Director, I staged an opera about a spool of thread and it's adventures and encounters. Some of the more autobiographical elements only revealed themselves to me later.
How do you embody taking public transportation as a heroic act serving the public good? Why by wearing spandex, of course. Created during my residency at Sound transit, but kept as a hidden "alter ego" until after my contract was over because everyone was afraid I'd make a mockery of things. Art in the public sphere is a fraught enterprise.
Installation shots from "SuperHeroism: the Adventures of Transitman" at Soil Gallery, 2007.
Los Angeles, 2004-7. The Day the Earth Stood Still. The alienation and impenetrability. I thought it was LA, but it turned out to me. These things take time. The journey of a lonely hubcab looking to find it's place in the world. Homage to B-movies, shot with Polaroid film. LA, NYC, Seattle, and points in between.
JACKPOT (Art is a Numbers Game) at Eyre/Moore Gallery 2001.
My Father won the Mexican National Bank Lottery in 1972. Or something. Maybe it was an insurance thing. He won a bunch of money and we moved as a family of 5 to Florida from Mexico City, where he bought into a custom carpet company. My father has never been drunk in his life, but he loves the competition in a little wager. He loves numbers, and used to total the bill at the grocery in his head, including tax, handing the checker exact change before they finished ringing things up.
Everyone wants to hit the jackpot, have a windfall that takes their anxiety away, be it for fame or fortune. Millionaire, successful artist, fill in the blank. Taking 21 sets of numbers given to me by my father from a "system" he used to pick them, I played these against a randomly generated string for each of the 7 drawings over the course of the exhibition. In addition, we passed the hat and bought over 800 tickets for the closing night. These were displayed as big symbols, and for the party, we watched the drawing streamed on video. I think we won about $50. John Paul William Calvin Ore recited Pi to the 1000th integer in a climactic moment. Magic suit of numbers fabricated by Alex Martin.
Shipping container installation created inside former ship's boiler factory as a vehicle for Mark Johnson's performance. Building off of his experiments on Cascade Container Range, we mic'd the containers and recorded a live performance of improvised musical suites Mark created by resonating cables and wood pieces attached to the belly of the beast. The piece spoke to memory, travel and the sea, narratives told by and through the boxes themselves. I have a copy of the mastered cd around here somewhere.
Sponsored in part with 4Culture funding, plus a studio residency with Doug Haire at Jack Straw Media program. James Van Lueven of Plan B did the recording. Thanks as always to Sam Farrazaino. Thanks also to Alaskan Marine, Julie Ross, Jay Lazerwitz and Dionne Haroutunian. Seats for the live performance provided by Stewart Bottling, via the IMEX, King County Solid Waste's Industrial Materials Exchange. The building smelled like root beer for weeks, but it was totally worth it.
Shipping Container installation evoking the Cascade Mountains, visible in the distance (if you squint). For HorseHead International Sculpture Exhibition, 1999. Sand Point Magnuson Park, Seattle, WA.
Early proposal images, opening day place holder and final piece, plus a few install shots. Thanks to Sam Farrazaino, Jay Lazerwitz, Jeff Miller and Scott Imhoff of Imhoff Crane and Construction.
Several Slides of Mark Johnson playing containers.
(some photos credit Dave Dittrich)
Just a couple. I collected bottles from 1995 until maybe 2000, took photos of them from 1997 to 2000. That is to say that the photos like these that I took with a Mamiya 6x7 using Fuji film I took during that period. The real dates go backward and forward but now is not the place for precision.