PMMNLS – Portland State University MFA Monday Night Lecture Series
Collaboration = Community
Home projects, build a home
House Monument – lumber structure for home. Took quotes and handwrote on each piece of lumber each one of the quotes. Arranged as lumber yard and layout of the house. Sold the lumber afterwards. Had to use 80% of the lumber and it all had to be covered up. Builders read every quote. After they had it became interested in it as art. Solicit buyers buy putting mailers in house builders mailboxes. Gordon Clark – split house four corners. Once you split the house it is no longer a house. Important that House Monument is a living working house.
Durham, NC. Spent great deal of time researching, driving around looking at things. Sidewalks – old and new. Found 150 foot section of sidewalk by library and wrote the “Revitalization Ordinance” text on the sidewalk that needed to be replaced. Became the people to hate. He thought that the local newspaper would project what the project was about, editors sensationalized it. Durham residents became angry and didn’t even want to have a dialogue. Sidewalks broken up, hauled in trucks, then parked in front of Durham arts building, then took the stones to secure a stream that was eroding. They’re intention was to make everything circular. Making art out of process of public works (re-doing sidewalk).
Places with the Past, Charleston, NC. Strictest preservation laws in the country didn’t go through urban renewal. A lot of homes weren’t able to make repairs because it couldn’t afford the repairs (replacing a copper roof). The economy is based on tourism and military. Military history, relationship to water and bay. Dutch Boy paints the historic colors of Charleston. Only can repaint colors cleared by architectural review board. Historic city vs. old city. Painted house in all 72 colors of historic Charleston in camouflage pattern designed by military based on geography of the area. Paint by number. Names of paint were left on. Went to 4 neighborhood organizations and got their approval. At the end of the 4 months the owner chose to paint it back to original color.
Washington Monument – line 1/3 of way up of lighter and darker marble. 1st section built by private individuals, completed after civil war between partnership between government and private, vein of marble had been exhausted. Line in time. Plague-Sienna-bldg. Before and after once something is monumentalized. Acknowledging something that hasn’t been looked at that way before. Swiss rail was about to clean train station. Drew line down the center and had them only clean half. Half monument half history. Integrating into process already in existence.
Axo chemical decorated plates with chemical names in restaurant.
Kate dies 1995. No one interested in Mel’s work. The best time to make work is when no one is looking at you.
Truck project. Hooters wiping out flats. People stopped coming to the flats. The character of the place was important. Reintroducing history. Historic lights. Introverted project. Lights came on and off. Flat bed symbol of commodification. Interesting pedestal.
Alamo – Referencing back to revisionist history. Who’s Alamo? Who’s history is it really? Personal read. 100 used reading lamps. (better idea to have people loan lamps from their houses rather than buying). On truck bed again.
Vienna Succession – everything feels like a museum. Project with 48 different stores. Filled cabinets from museums in town and stores, filled them with straw.
Canada – John Macdonald is Canada’s George Washington. Turned house into a monument for him. Historically in accurate, nothing owned by George Washington. Mail order authenticity. Ordered 50-60 pieces from historical mail order catalog into museum, added electric guitars. Period costume guides only would tell if they were asked. Got people to question the authenticity of the museum. Desk with post it notes.
Air projects – collecting air from Texas Enchanted rocks, released it in architecture building.
Alamo air tank. Collected air from places where war and executions had happened. Huntsville executed 150 prisoners. Palodora Canyon – where Native Americans would winter, safe from the wind. US military killed their horses, so they had to surrender or starve to death. San Jucento where they finally caught Santa Ana. Compressor, hose, and generator. Goliad, execution by fire of 400 prisoners. Hired a balloon artists to make hats. Identity. Hold your breath. The air doesn’t stay in the latex, so as you are viewing the project you are breathing in the air from all the sites.
Breathe in Breathe Out. Mel finds his voice again. Salina a great place to work. Working with community. 3 hours outside Kansas City, community educated about contemporary art—how were they educated? Collecting samples of breath to make 1 big community breath. Handwriting of incoming+outcoming mayor. 4000 balloons blown up. Everyone signed tank with his or her first name. Spent balloons hung up on the wall. At the end of the summer, event called big blowout, people could fill tires with community air. Inflated football with community air. Community grew to know him.
Buffalo Bayou Art Park – Downtown Mixer. Sterile corporate architecture. People work in buildings but never integrate. Collected breath samples. Asked to draw self-portraits on balloons. Not a lot of participation, so they went at it. Mother was most successful. Moved from building to building. Took over corporate lobbies, kind of like having quilting happening. Mixing of breath. Little pedestals on each. People laughed, some ignored it. Buildings didn’t like it after it deflated and deteriorated. Part of the point
Houses – took vote to make sure community said it was ok. Made sure they knew it was temporary. Could repaint if the homeowner felt uncomfortable.
Adamant about asking for fee. Homeowners buy paint, you do labor. Paint chart based on history of public housing. Industry defines 2 years in advance “fall colors.”
Artists should decide where the art goes when installing in public places. Artists and architects should work together. Artists shouldn’t be doing the decorative work but having a bite. How do you make a permanent public project that’s impermanent—that can evolve over time.
Jump the tracks to do real world things. Build 1 project a month. Wheel and deal to get materials. The idea that something could be temporary but you just have to document it. Believe that art can make a social impact. Using what is in front of you rather than spending time making something. Parking spaces private/public. Creative Campus. Harvard task force on the arts. Curb Center for creative enterprise and leadership. Oliver Herring – Task Parties, lighting, white background, materials, create a box, write a task, put task in and pull a task out, you do that task. Starts out as building things, then morphs to social interaction.
10.05.09 – PMMNLS Lecture
Teaches at CCA and SFAI. Exhibiting at Cooley Gallery in spring. Grew up in NYC, immersed in art scene, father was a painter. Lack of female role models in 70s. Interested in deities and animal vehicles flying in infinite space; transition in form from human to animal, plant. Art as meditation practice, Indian tantric paintings, sensitive to the most subtle shift in hue, abstraction goes back to the caves, representing pure consciousness, form and formlessness. Tantric paintings are not commodified. Giotto – scales of angels, humans, trees, mountains, church equal = intimate relationships. Myron Stout- read form with our whole bodies, the edge of the shape references what’s in it. The purpose of art is to make a space, experience special.
Grad school – painting on found objects. Later: Velvet painting. Painting on Indian paper with wonky idiosyncratic edges with sheen. Gouache on silk mounted on mulberry paper. Iconography-either the variation of form on the same meaning or the variation of meaning o the same form. Painting on 8-foot window, considering the outside world the ground of a painting. Makes her own paints, its like alchemy to her, gum Arabic. Birch plywood panels, gessoed, then oil paint. Untitles work.
Shakers – Utopian communidad movement of 19th century—celibate, radical, abolitionists, gender equality, brought intention to everything they made, not allowed to have any decoration on the walls, everything must be functional. Shaker gift drawings by women and girls, dreams and visions transcribed into drawings upon awakening, not viewed as art objects. Shaker Museum proposal to study gift drawings, make drawings, make site responsive piece. Buildings on outside intact, inside walls stained and cracked, Shaker and 80s teen graffiti; deep Shaker-style windows that bring in “borrowed light.”
Trying to make a shape come alive, give it specificity and open reading. Does not have a plan—responds—oblique relationships. Specific visual experience that lies beyond or in between words. Color is infinite. Every human being has something unique to contribute to the whole. Allows the viewer to discover meaning, but not interested in overly determining meaning for viewer. Dynamic between the object from external world resonating with images from the internal world (restrained).
Words of Wisdom
Audience – don’t assume who is going to respond to what kind of art. Being as honest as you can with your work. You can’t be something other than what you are. Formal decisions that we make carry meaning—Art and Discontent essay 13 ways of looking at a Black Bird. Repudiate every art convention unless you can come up with your own reason for it. Recognizing what not to do is important. Richard Tuttle – you’re over here, you’re vision is over here, in the gap is where you make discoveries, Ross Bleckner – what you are trying to achieve shifts as you get closer to it.