For this installation, we embraced a new demographic in our audience, and they embraced us back. Typically, our work lands in galleries or universities where our audience is going to see art, and expects to see something like what we do. This time we were commissioned by the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation to make work for an audience of fair-going Midwesterners with no idea of what to expect.
The end result was that we proved to ourselves and everyone that what we do has value to the type of people who make up our hometowns. Even before we had finished, folks were posing for pictures in front of the work, and with us. We got questions and answers from so many people who had probably never been to an art gallery or heard of any of our all-star cast of artists – and some who had.
It was like going back to visit grandma, and being told that she actually doesn’t disapprove of us – all that stuff we did in our twenties is going to not be brought up anymore. We tapped into an audience that we all sort of knew we had, but we’d been ignoring, because they didn’t have ties to ArtForum. In the end, it was a reminder that they are just as, if not more important, and their engagement with us and the work meant a lot.
Aside from all that, we got drunk a few times and put on shows with a ratty old sloth-like/homeless biker puppet in a pay-by-the-week hotel by the freeway. He said things, and made us say things that someone fitting that description might say, and we all ended up having to re-evaluate certain aspects of our character as a result. His name is Danis. I think he said Dennis, but the guys gave him that name to make fun of his raspy lisp.
It was good to be back in Iowa.
This was our second show with ROCKSBOX in Portland. It was a little like coming home for the group, and we all spent some time hugging denmother Pat Rock and apologizing for what we did last time. Some of those things included bad smells and painting on his dogs.
When that was done we took a field trip to the Clark County fair in Washington for bull-riding night and one up the Columbia river gorge for some paddle-boarding in high wind. Neither of these things influenced the final work much.
This show produced some of the most refined work from the group. I think this was largely due to a deliberate limiting of our materials to drawing, painting and chainsaw carving (with circus lights). It was also due in some part to the maturation of our brains and a deeper history with one another and our ongoing dialogue.
One haunting product of this show is unavailable on this site - a slow motion video of Gordon belly-dancing in a cut-off Harley Davidson shirt, which you can find a link for on our facebook page.
This show was a residency in Las Vegas at The Cosmopolitan hotel through Art Production Fund in New York. 15 of us showed up for the first week of installation. We were influenced by a field trip to the Valley of Fire State Park and the wealth of imagery in the city itself. We carved two cedar totems for this, and made a “rock” wall out of cardboard which was intended as a repository for “petroglyphs” made by us and visitors to the show.
Aside from trying to capture the overall visual character of the city, we also adopted a circus theme. It was through this that we acquired the head of a clown as an iconic staple for the group.
With this residency we stumbled upon a surprising amount of generosity from The Cosmopolitan hotel, Art Production Fund and Re-purpose America who were the source for most of our materials. We also had a strong line-up of members for this show, and some of them did acid for the first time and spent a long night searching for rooms inside of other rooms.
This was our first show by invitation of ROCKSBOX in Portland. Pat Rock had been a friend of some of the members for a while, and he’d been keeping tabs on our work. The space and the spirit of the gallery turned out to be a natural fit for Paintallica, and the beginning of an ongoing relationship.
Our two field trips preceding this show were surfing and Casa Diablo – a popular strip club on the outskirts of Portland. The strip club had a large influence on the subject matter of the work and conversation for the remainder of the week. Our chainsawing skills were getting good enough here to carve out a sculpture of Stephen Hawking, and for an opening night performance where we carved Osama Bin Laden’s head on the top of a giant turd. The first space in ROCKSBOX housed a range of sculptures, some of which were rigged to motors for movement such as the Seahorse Ai Wei Wei fucking a walnut. The middle gallery featured lots of drawing and painting on the wall, and the last gallery was home to our first blacklight room.
This was the first show that included our own tattoo artist Boomer Boomhower, whose work also doubled as a performance, particularly when he tattooed several of our members asses.
This show was part of Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s annual Time Based Arts festival. PICA was very generous with us, and gave us a space in downtown Portland that was roughly 10 thousand square feet. We took that as an invitation to fill it.
We took a lot of inspiration from the Native American artifacts at the Portland Art Museum, and drank a lot of alcohol for three all nighters in a row. We built two structures intended to be opposing sides of an improvised war performance that meant we made intimidating sculptures, danced, wrestled, sang, yelled and threw things at each other, drew and painted on one another and handed out free beer at dawn. The resulting work was an artifact of our performance, and displayed the process in its raw and primitive appearance.
This was a seminal show for us in many ways, but most importantly, it introduced some members who have been instrumental in our group since. This was the first show for Gordon Barnes, Shelby Davis, David Dunlap, Jay Schmidt, Posie Currin and Rebecca Steele.
Walnut Farms, Iowa City, IA. 2010
This was another educational event set up by our own David Dunlap. We enjoyed staying on his property and setting up a room in his garage/studio for our event that eventually became the Klunthouse. We also had a very influential field trip set up by Dave, at one of the University’s art galleries, in which we had historian introduce us to a handful of artifacts from African rituals. From this experience we got the mascot for our show – a boli, which is an animal like sculpture made by African tribes to keep away witches. In addition, we did a panel lecture with graduate students in the painting program at the University of Iowa.
Before the panel lecture/discussion, Jay gave us all ski masks that he’d gotten in Mexico from the Zapatista rebels. We wore these for our discussion, and I think it went very well. Later, hundreds of students showed up for the performance/installation at Dave’s place, and I don’t think we were prepared for the amount of people. Dave’s daughter Nelle and her friends put on a cabaret performance on the back porch, and then somebody started a fire with the huge amounts of deadfall and brush on Dave’s property. There was an amazing amount of energy and rowdiness. In the end, there was a huge bonfire, lots of loud music, chainsawing and some amazing and huge paintings and sculptures. The police came by to ask us to stop chainsawing around midnight, and to turn the music down. They left quickly. Late that night, we made a boli by the light of the several story tall fire.
I don’t think the students were prepared for us, nor us for them, but in the end it was a great time, and some amazing work and new ideas came out of it.
This show was at a space we had no prior history with, and they were generous enough to take a risk on housing us for a one night/two day performance installation. It was set up through friends of ours at Peres Projects, and one of their friends who worked at the gallery. Christian Strike had no idea what to expect from us, and he and the directors were very open to our ragtag arrival and our expectation to be working all night with lots of beer in the gallery and chainsawing in the street and sidewalk right out in front.
The show was an invitation to do a performance, so we stepped it up a bit, and got a chainsaw and a nice sized Douglas Fir log to carry down to L.A. Everybody worked on the log for a few days in the driveway of my cabin in Washougal before we loaded it up and enjoyed a long two day drive and two nights of camping on the way down to L.A. We had a great time together, and built some colorful and ambitious sculptures in a long all-nighter. In many ways, this show was like our show in a 10, 000 square foot space with TBA, condensed into a 500 square foot space in one night. There was lots of dancing, singing, wrestling and spirited/messy collaborating.
This show was the first time that I realized that we may need some kind of cohesive directing, and I took some time to put together a small pep-talk in advance of our show. I think, I had a beer can and a plastic cup full of wine thrown at me while I talked to the group, and somebody kept knocking over my chair. Things have gotten better.
Luther College, Decorah, IA. 2010
This was the first time that we were invited to do an event that involved students at a small private Lutheran college in Northern Iowa. We were invited by professor Ben Moore,who showed us a great time around the beautiful little town of Decorah, and introduced us to a batch of students that proved to all have a deep Paintallica spirit.
We started by having all the participants draw something carefully for an hour, then trade drawings and do their best to mess up each other’s work. We had three standing structures to work with, and a wall to paint on, and the students tore into the job. We kept cracking the whip to make sure that they were being rowdy enough in their subject matter. We tapped into some serious energy and long fits of laughter for about twelve hours that resulted in some work that showed exactly that.