For this exhibit, entitled "Enviro Conjunction," I juxtaposed two environments; one of a "fine" artist's studio, and the other a painted representation of a trainyard, or what can be considered the grafitti "artist's" studio. I did this in order to set up a chain of associations between the two, from acts of vandalism to acts of creativity. This was all set up within a gallery context to add that added level of association where neither of these acts normally take place in that environment, the gallery being the showcase for the finished creative work by the artist. There were a few exceptions to this, such as back in the eighties when the Fun Gallery hosted the first graffiti show where local graffiti artists, including Basquiat and Scharf, bombed the walls of the gallery. Vandalism in the gallery was hardly ever condoned.
What I did, after I set up the two environments, was to leave all the necessary tools out for people to utilize in either acts of creation or acts of destruction. I left spray paint by the trains, all my paints and various media in my studio, as well as finished canvases, raw canvases, and lots of paper. The only information the audience got was what they were able to decipher from association, and the canvas hung on the wall that read: Invite to Incite Creative Destruction Enviro Conjunction Then I tried to remove myself from the gallery as much as possible to see where it would take itself on its own. I merely set the stage, left some props, and invited a bunch of actors to come and finish the play.
The test was to see if people can overcome the "do not touch" taboos of the gallery, and then see how far it will go. I knew that the trains would have to get hit eventually, they were begging to get painted on. Then I also expected that at least the bare canvases would get painted on. I wanted to get people involved in the creative act, while at the same time diminishing my status as an elite artist by allowing people to overwrite my work. I hope to break down the boundaries that those white walls create, and to relinquish the artist's position (at least mine) to that of a public servant rather than part of an elite, segregated society that is largely focused on the commodity of art. Here, art is an activity, and not something that can be bought or sold. It is all-inclusive and secularized, and my role is simply as instigator to give people this opportunity.
The show opened up on Tuesday, April 23rd. That day, nothing was touched. I was only getting comments on how good it looked. In fact, the painting of the trains created an incredible illusion of space that I hadn't counted on. They were merely meant to be the stage props, but I suppose when you're surrounded by four walls with trains painted in linear perspective, a 96' perimeter and 14' high ceilings, it ends up being somewhat disorientating. That was just an added bonus, but got me thinking whether or not that was a factor in why nobody touched it. This prompted me to keep the doors unlocked until midnight unattended, and the radio spinning my favorite cds, as an added temptation. When I came in early Wednesday, somebody had made a mark...
It was a start, and only a hint at what was to come. I came in a couple hours afterwards, and this is what it looked like...
Still, it was only Wednesday afternoon, and the gallery would be open until Friday evening. Read my thoughts from my journal as to the successes/ failures of this show.