From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Winding up, down and sideways, and the Night Market

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Winding up my next projects- the pieta painting and a photo-installation/weaving collaboration.  Winding down the “She Re-veils Hidden Color” sculpture (finishing images for the projector, sorting technical issues with the projection), and of course holiday things are taking some time, so winding down that way too.

…but I am also winding sideways as it were.  I started a project still too new to talk about.  It’s not Art-art, but it is about art, though for a very specific audience.  When it’s past the point where talking too much about it will kill it, I’ll share.

In other sideways news, I attended the first west coast Lost Horizon Night Market. I hear there have been a few in New York.  It was what I would an artistic event, while not being Art-art itself.  A collection of trucks (including semis) parked in a area of urban desolation, and word was spread about the location at the last moment.  Each truck contained a small world.

There was a functional bowling alley in one semi.  Another had a garden with candles and mellow music and turkish rug. One truck had a mini car-racing station (including a mini Goodyear blimp).  There was an upside-down ball pit (really), “an impossible mission for a confectionary device”, a 50’s diner, a 4 star restaurant (complete with snooty maître d), a living room with a 1920’s southern-style ragtime band (complete with piano, banjo, and singer who sounded like Betty Boop), there was even a model conception station (the door to which was a giant vulva with model uterus inside where you were invited to shoot gooy things at a man representing an egg).  It got odder, and there were many more little worlds.

One of my favorites was a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (coincidently done by friends of mine).  Everyone stayed in character.  They had a warped perspective front room with the table, crashed chandelier and the tiny door and you had to answer a riddle to enter (rather than the long lines at other trucks).  Once you’d crawled through, you found yourself under a very high table with high chairs.  You could pop up into a chair and you were at exactly what one would expect of a Mad Tea Party.  Broken china, random singing and spilling of tea, moving down, etc.  It created an atmosphere that instantly drew the 10+ visitors into the action despite the fact that there were only 3 cast members inside.  The pictures don’t do it any justice- it was the feeling they created that made it more than the decor on it’s own.

There was one though, that I would consider a real Art piece.  Again, by a friend (though come to think of it I think I knew at least one person at almost every truck).  It was a Dream Library.  The Librarian was in perfect character and invited visitors to write down a dream, browse dreams or get a library card and check one out.  She would then catalog it with key-words, roll it up and put it in a bottle with the check-out card in a neat little envelope attached to the bottle just like they used to have with books.  It was beautiful, and the environment itself well done.  Something I could have seen myself doing in some form.   Of course, since the Scales piece I have been more wary of free-write opportunities in art pieces.  Some people just do their best to shock or just  write blatant BS- still,  you get a lot of beauty and rawness too.  There was certainly a lot of it there.

The strange thing about the Night Market was that looking down the street from the entrance it just looked like a rather large, strange crowd and a bunch of parked trucks.  From the back by the dead-end you could see glimpses of the little worlds, but not really get a full picture until you’d been in a few.  All the trucks were parked outward- ready to leave should any authorities show up.  I wonder what they would say. There was a bar in one truck at least which could be a liquor-license problem (but I’m not sure they were actually selling alcohol, so who knows).  Aside from that, what could one say?   Loitering probably.   No one was charging admission, no harm was being done.  It just was what it was.

There were representatives of nearly every social group I am part of there- artists, super-geeks (engineers and programmers), ballroom dancers (who had their own ballroom dancing truck), the people who have built incredible art for Burning Man, many folks who do Dada work around town (if you saw all the street signs for Bush St. change to Obama St., that was them), folks from certain night clubs and events, Dickens Fair, the Maker Fair… so many different people  (though mostly 30’s to grey hair) were there.  Impressive.

This is the sort of madness that San Francisco seems to generate on a regular basis.  It’s one of the things I find so wonderful about living here.  It skates on the edge of art- performance art perhaps?  But it isn’t art in any traditional sense and I don’t think most of it is art even in a non-traditional sense… but it is art-inspiring.

What it does do is push the mind outside of the day-to-day assumptions.  It resets what is possible, doable, normal.  It reminds us that our boundaries are often artificial and we can shed them.  I know for a fact that is a effort for a number of people who organized that event (one of whom is a former art).   This is more stuff on the edge of that art revolution.  As I said,  I wouldn’t consider this Art-art (except for the Dream Library), just a lot of fun.   On the other hand, as an artist, seeing this stuff… it’s inspiring.  It shows you what you can do.  I’m tempted to do a truck myself next time, just for fun.

Written by marycoreymarch

December 17, 2010 at 12:45 am

Posted in personal

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