Day One: Lasting Impressions   05.21.10

We are proud to present the fine writing and documentation of Brush High School students Chealsia Smedley and Shayna Mell. As part of their senior project, the students chose to shadow SPACES staff over the course of a few weeks. We are very grateful to have them on our team, even if it is for a short time. We are all so happy to have them work right by our sides as we push through exhibition openings and events. They continuously provide valuable insights into the process along the way.

I walked up to the tiny door, without research and without knowing. The only information that I previously obtained was that SPACES was an art gallery and that I was helping with an opening- that would commence in two days. I know that being unprepared is usually a disadvantage, but in this case I wouldn't have it any other way. When I walked through the entrance I was awestruck by this space of endless possibilities awaiting me.

The first thing that caught my eye was the bulging green wall decorated with a scarcity of scattered flowers. While at first it appeared merely an interesting wall, it revealed a room containing a multitude of boxes which would later make up a tunnel. Everyone was in a line to enter a room, with an imitation 'doggy door' to gain access. The room looked like something taken directly from a horror film. The trap door and dripping water went hand in hand to create a foreboding room. It was difficult to imagine that this separate entity would become an inviting final step at the end of a tunnel adventure Friday night.

This interactive art piece and the mission of SPACES were both inspiring, and original. The idea of taking something that is already creative and original and challenging it can be described as beyond cool. The fact that the staff at SPACES kept a movement alive and challenged art itself made them artists in that way. They encouraged me to be an artist among them by giving me the freedom to think and carve my own ideas. When my first day concluded, I realized that I would be coming back tomorrow, and I couldn't wait!

Written by: Chealsia Smedley
Photos by: Shayna Mellnn

View from Ben Kinsley's
View from Ben Kinsley's "Art Auction" stand

Author: Christopher Lynn, Executive Director
Category: General

Day Two: The space   05.21.10

High School Seniors Chealsia Smedley and Shayna Mell rethink space ...

A space is usually filled or occupied. A space is used for gatherings of people and storage of things. But today I learned about SPACES and how they break the bounds of a space.

When coming back to SPACES there's an overwhelming feeling of new and fresh energy. It's amazing how much things have changed, from the black vinyl letters being put on the wall, the torn down lights, and the fully separating black curtain in the back. A room that was completely empty yesterday is now filled with little paper notes and lines of black tape marking off areas. The funny thing is that we don't know if these are requests for the things written or if they are part of the display. Any avenue can be explored.

Seeing these changes and looking at booklets from other displays gives me a clue that this isn't going to be a traditional art show. The jelly splashed walls and usage of popcorn bowls from prior shows mixed with the interactive tunnel of this show means that anything can happen by tomorrow night.

By: Chealsia Smedley and Shayna Mellnn

Author: Christopher Lynn, Executive Director
Category: General

Day Three: The Event   05.21.10

Brush High School students Chealsia Smedley and Shayna Mell report on the opening night environment ...

This is the day we've all been working towards; the opening. During the day, SPACES is bustling with constant activity. There was an excess of things to prepare, but in due time, with a touch of magic, everything was ready to go.

A line forms outside of Josh Parker's installation: "Sometimes an entrance is actually an exit."

The event: 7:00 p.m. Things were at a good pace. The food was nearly gone, there was a long line outside of the tunnel, and Kristin Bly's room of viewer portraits was being created right before our eyes. One viewer, on his way to Bly's room expressed," I feel like it's all potential," which it certainly was.

At 7:30 p.m. Arzu Ozkal came waltzing in, fully equipped with hooks and ropes. She included the audience, in a pulling performance leading her into her empty space. "SPACES has been doing a lot of creative things. It's not passive, I love it," said involved audience member, Elaine Hcilinen.

Every artist was pushed far beyond their comfort areas. I'm entrusting people with myself, and I'm hoping that they don't take advantage of me," said artist Ben Kinsley who auctioned himself off. Ben, who usually directs people to surprise others, now had to allow himself to be surprised and directed.

Arzu Ozkal and her color commentator Eleanor Lebeau prepare to enter SPACES for their live performance.

Even though I knew art and creativity would be utilized and challenged; it was still surprising to actually witness it myself. Witness the artist's showing of their challenges, and witness the public's reaction to that challenge. The experience was cultivating, inspiring, and something that I would never take back.

By: Chealsia Smedley and Shayna Mell

Artist Kristin Bly poses for participants during the opening.
Artist Kristin Bly poses for participants during the opening.

Author: Christopher Lynn, Executive Director
Category: General

Detour: Color Commentator Eleanor LeBeau on Artist Arzu Ozkal #8   05.17.10



6:55 p.m.

(Arzu and I rehearsed with Meeko Israel, the bongo player, on Thursday night for about 90 minutes, but I didn't have time to tell you about that.) Arzu and I head to SPACES' warm, stuffy artist-in-residence quarters. Arzu begins transforming herself into The Actress while I circumnavigate a room, megaphone in hand, reciting my lines, exhausted but pulsating with nervous energy. Arzu emerges from the bathroom in full make-up, wearing lacy pink tights and the A-line white dress she used for her exhibition postcard. With one hand on her stomach, she confides that she's now getting 'really nervous', although I tell her she appears calm and happy. She dives into a huge bag, pulls out the white grommet-belt and puts it on. "I look like Robin Hood", she says, softly laughing. "A very retro, Diana Rigg-Avengers kinda Robin Hood," I say.

7:17 p.m.

Arzu she throws me a coiled rope. I unfurl it and attach myself to her belt with a carabiner. Are we ready to climb mountains? As we test the rope's resistance. igdem Slankard, the videographer, arrives. Arzu calls her Chi (spelling?). She retrieves another spool of rope and hands it to Chi, who, concerned about megaphone's volume, is doing a sound check. Chi and Arzu decide where to attach Chi's rope to the grommet-belt. I'm not exactly sure what happened next.

7:30 p.m.

Arzu leads Chi and I down the stairs and outside, onto the sidewalk in front of SPACES. The megaphone goes up in the air. Chi disappears. People are staring at us. We walk into the gallery, pushing our way through clusters of chatting people. I watch Arzu. I try to make eye contact with the audience. Baffled and slightly irritated faces stare back me. Arzu hands out the ropes. Some spectators refuse but thirteen accept the invitation to become participants. They have become binary terrorists. Chris Lynn is standing next to me. Then he's gone. Meeko's bongo-playing fades in and out. I hear the buzz of conversations. I'm getting tangled in the rope and worry about tripping. I'm worried about speaking too loud and not loud enough.

Next thing I know, Arzu is struggling to pull fifteen people, most of whom have no idea where she intends to go, into her exhibition space. She is slipping, slipping, slipping, slipping, falling on the wooden floor. She tries to get up once, twice, then falls on her knee. I try to help her up, then immediately I wonder if she wants me to do that. Later she will email to say that she has a bruise on her knee, and I will write back that I'm sorry and I hope it doesn't hurt too much.

Now she's in the corner of a gallery, facing the audience, her hands splayed on the walls. I stick the megaphone in her face and shout The Propositions. This""shouting in Arzu's (I mean the Actress's) face at close range while she's in a submissive position"" is difficult. I'm nauseous. Arzu breaks free and rushes to the opposite side of the gallery. Now she stands facing the wall, her back to the audience, in yet another submissive position. I say my final words and put down the megaphone. Arzu begins unhooking the participants' ropes. I want her to hurry and release mine. When she does, I leave the space and walk out of the gallery, as we'd rehearsed.

Outside SPACES I take a deep breath. No one is around. I can still hear Meeko's bongo playing. It goes on longer than we'd rehearsed. It keeps going. I knew it. I knew the ending we'd rehearsed was not the real ending. Liberated from the writer-critic's gaze""from having to explain how the line produced the dot (in Bourriard's formulation)""Arzu was free to create. But what was she doing? I fought the impulse to find out. Returning to the gallery was not the right thing to do.

By and by a woman steps out of the gallery. I can't help myself. I ask her what Arzu is doing. "She's just sitting on floor, staring into space. No one knows if the performance is over." I ask the woman if Arzu is facing the audience. "Yes," she says.

I smile and thank the woman for her information. I'm glad I asked. And glad that I didn't return to watch Arzu.

11:04 p.m.

Arzu emails:

Gosh! I have a big bruise on my knee I hope we get together soon. We should keep in touch; it was awesome collaborating with you.

I tell Arzu that it was awesome collaborating with her, too.
Love at First Sitenn
Anonymous, Arzu Ozkal and Eleanor LeBeaunn
The Scene is outside. Time is unspecified. The Commentator announces the Dramatis Personae.

The Commentator:
The Playwright
The Drummer
The Actress
The Audience
The Gallery
The Color Commentator
The Choreographer
The Rope

The Actress enters the gallery. She holds Ropes embedded with carabiners.

The Commentator:
This is the Actress.
She is a dot.
She holds the Line.
She stands on the Plane.
We are bound, by space, by constraints.
She gives me no further instructions.

The Actress binds the Audience to her. The Commentator watches in silence. When she is ready, the Actress signals Commentator to start speaking again.

The Commentator:
How does she work?
Does she make notes?
Does it happen all in her head?
We agree to email every morning and every night.

The Actress draws the line on a field
Connects the dots that pull at one another
In the scene she draws an audience, the space frames the Play
Dot extends to line, line becomes arc, arcs become figures.
More line, please! More line! I need more line! More line!

The Actress approaches her exhibition space.

The Commentator:
There are lots of oppositions to play with.

The Actress enters the exhibition space.

The Commentator:
She is in love.
We agree to email every morning and every night.

I am a commentator.
So everything I tell you and everything I do not is a decision
based on an infinite set of constraints and variables.
She is a binary terrorist
My terror is almost unmanageable.
Objectivity is a myth.
We agree to email every morning and every night.

The Actress dances around the exhibition space, pulling the Audience. She backs into a corner, facing the Audience, and the Commentator shouts at her.

The Commentator:

The Actresss walks to a wall. When her back is to the audience, the Commentator speaks.

The Commentator:
"Every failure is a masterpiece," she quotes. "I wonder if this might be the only masterpiece I ever make."

The Actress disengages the Commentator's Rope. The Commentator exits the exhibition space and the gallery.

Author: Christopher Lynn, Executive Director
Category: General

Detour: Color Commentator Michael Gill on Artist T.R. Ericsson #3   05.14.10


His first days after the assignment were attended by the same kind of anxiety that for him attends any exhibit, whether it be a tiny part in a group show, or a big solo show. The first task was to figure out his attitude toward the obstacle: whether meaning would be derived from simply spending the time with his wife and daughter, and whether that could be reconciled with his urge to make something or to be considerate of the viewer.

Charged simply with living a meaningful life, he says the irony became that I really did end up spending the last few days intensely and aggressively chewing on a problem. I certainly went all over the place the past few days, he said.

This involved reading, especially re-visiting books held dear, their pages marked by dog eared corners.

Through that process he settled on the idea of presenting a text that would impart meaning. The idea is not dissimilar to some of Ericssons past works, including a piece called Thanksgiving"a black granite slab, etched with the word-for-word transcription of a letter his mother had written him in 1993, describing a family thanksgiving dinner held in his absence, after he had moved to New York. Thanksgiving was exhibited at the Cleveland Sculpture Center in 2008.

I wanted it to fit with the other work I am doing, Ericsson said. The question of branding and having a recognizable identity is really important in our culture.

In choosing to represent his week of living a meaningful life via an object, hes able to both offer meaning, and satisfy his urge to give viewers something to look at. He raises a follow-up set of questions: Can an artist be satisfied with the meaning inherent in his life without making art? Or is the manufactured object the manifestation of that meaning?

Author: Christopher Lynn, Executive Director
Category: General

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