AIO Easthampton, MA
X Marks the Spot
Brooklyn, NY, DUMBO ARTS FESTIVAL – September 23rd – 25th
Three Happy Valley Artists dig (literally!) Brooklyn’s DUMBO Arts Festival.
The DUMBO Arts Festival in Brooklyn is a feast for the senses that attracts 200,000 visitors over 3 days with the participation of over 500 artists from a variety of disciplines, 100 studios, 50 galleries and stages and 100 programming partners. This year, three artists from The Happy Valley (Sally Curcio, Amy Johnquest, Anne LaPrade Seuthe) have been invited to participate with their collaborative project X Marks The Spot.
X Marks the Spot is an in-ground exhibition of work by Western Massachusetts artists Sally Curcio, Amy Johnquest, and Anne LaPrade Seuthe. The title suggests the X that was traditionally marked on maps leading to buried treasures. In X Marks the Spot – the earth itself serves both as excavation site as well as ad hoc gallery.
The process and format of X Marks The Spot alludes to the excavation of archeological sites wherein artifacts of past cultures are removed from the ground for examination and to facilitate understanding of history. In X Marks the Spot this archeological process is reversed: Extant cultural materials are manipulated by the artists, formatted within glass jars, lit by led lights, and then embedded in the ground upside down with their bottoms serving as windows for viewing. The individual art objects are then open to scrutiny by the very culture from which they were culled; thereby focusing and shedding light on the present, as opposed to the past.
X Marks the Spot is comprised of 10 discrete works by each artist: Curcio’s miniature environments are in line with her practice of re-contextualizing content that is censored or marginalized. Her work revives the form of cultural critique found in the Dadaist tradition. Amy Johnquest’s sculptural objects expand on her practice of sideshow inspired imagery. Using pop cultural references with text and imagery, she creates advertisements that do not sell anything and enjoys playing with the double entendres and curiosities in the language of signage. LaPrade Seuthe’s work continues her practice of conflating cartographic images with painterly two-dimensional surfaces that address issues of distance, location and relationship.
The work of Curcio, Johnquest and LaPrade Seuthe underscores their idiosyncratic practices yet share the common elements of playfulness, shifts in scale, and manipulation of cultural mythologies. The Festival will take place on Friday, September 23rd, Saturday, September 24th and Sunday, September 25th.The official Festival hours are Friday 6pm to 9pm, Saturday 12pm to 8pm, Sunday 12pm to 6pm and 6pm to midnight all three nights for all outdoor projections. Entrance to The Festival is free and the public is welcome.
A Prize Everytime
EYE to EYE
Public Art/Collaborative Projects
By Sally Curcio and Anne LaPrade Seuthe, AIO, Easthampton, MA
Emily Dickinson, 1830 - 1886
A Drop fell on the Apple Tree -
Another - on the Roof -
A Half a Dozen kissed the Eaves -
And made the Gables laugh -
A few went out to help the Brook
That went to help the Sea -
Myself Conjectured were they Pearls -
What Necklaces could be -
The Dust replaced, in Hoisted Roads -
The Birds jocoser sung -
The Sunshine threw his Hat away -
The Bushes - spangles flung -
The Breezes brought dejected Lutes -
And bathed them in the Glee -
The Orient showed a single Flag,
And signed the fête away -
It’s almost as if Emily Dickinson has visited the Park Hill orchard! In poem (794) she pays homage to the power of nature -- specifically rain falling on an apple
tree. SUPER Natural follows suit.
SUPER Natural’s “rain” is comprised of a variety of hundreds of shapes and sizes of crystals--a natural material that mimics the raindrop in its transparency and in its ability to refract light. Dickinson refers to the drops of rain as jewels and we’ve taken it one step further.
In full bloom with apples, the tree is covered in hanging crystals that shimmer in the light and that appear like raindrops in suspension. The birdsong that exists in the
Park Hill Orchard further recall Emily’s poem and will complete the magical impact of SUPER Natural. In creating this public installation, SUPER Natural, we aim to pay homage to the power of nature in all its timelessness.
PRIZE EVERY TIME!
Where Art is Money and Money is Art at World’s First Scratch Ticket to Paradise
Northampton, MA. -- A Prize Every Time by Sally Curcio, Amy Johnquest, and Anne LaPrade Seuthe, is a collaborative project that addresses chance, luck, wealth, well-being and our emotional relationship with money. In this exhibition lines are blurred as high art meets low art...raw cynicism meets blind optimism...and high rollers meet low ballers.
A Prize Every Time references carnival and lottery games of chance. From the boutique city of Northampton (aka Paradise City) where the exhibition takes place - to the defunct factory towns on its outskirts, community members have invested big time (financially/emotionally) in a collaborative piece called “Scratch Ticket to Paradise.” The installation is comprised of unscratched lottery tickets featured in the gallery window facing Main Street, USA. “Shares” (sold by the artists to the community) entitle shareholders” to a portion of the winnings - if any. “Scratch Ticket to Paradise” is the artists’ microcosmic version of a Wall Street stock option. In the realm of pork bellies, bears and bulls, investors in the NYSE put their hopes in rising stock shares. In contrast, “Scratch Ticket to Paradise” investors pin their hopes to the luck -o- the scratch. In the last days of the exhibition, the artists will scratch the tickets and the winners and loserswill be reinstalled in the window. This second phase of the installation will be titled “Transparency”.
When you move beyond the scratch ticket window into the gallery the artwork gains currency through a mixture of subtle humor and clever use of materials. The dazzle of the lottery window is balanced with works that remind us of the gloomier side of the economy. For example, the artists joined forces to display a collection of piggy banks that stand sentry on a shelf as you enter the gallery - at the ready to accept visitors’ “disposable income” into their porcine slots. The artists will donate the proceeds to a variety of local charities that include a food bank and a gambling addiction help-line.
On the surface this exhibition suggests a carnival, and on a deeper level it addresses the anxiety that is a consequence of the state of our local, national and global economies. Mark Twain said, “ LACK of money is the root of all evil.” And that may well be true. In the neighboring city of Springfield, MGM Resorts International, is pursuing a state gaming license for a proposed $800 million resort casino complex. A recent vote showed the city almost equally divided on this issue. Those in favor are banking on employment opportunities and new revenue sources; those against fear an influx of dead-end jobs, increased crime, and corruption.
In their exhibition statement the artists write: “We trust advisors to invest wisely for us in the stock market, yet we know the stock market is a gamble. Like any game, there are rules to play by - no insider trading and don’t be a Bernard Madoff. Gambling and games infiltrate our culture at many levels. Attitudes about wealth vary wildly, but are often based on how that wealth is acquired. The stock market, until very recently, had the air of legitimacy, while the lottery is widely viewed as seedy and the earnings from it are consequently viewed through a darker lens. State lottery funds, despite their questionable origins, do benefit local communities. Northampton alone received close to four million dollars that helped to fund the local arts council - bringing us full circle. ***
Another collaborative piece in the exhibition involves a wall of 36 painted panels – that reveal a message. There are also paintings that reference stock market and lottery imagery and kinetic wheels of fortune. Some works such as Johnquest’s Birth Wheel are interactive. Viewers will spin a wheel to see who they’ll get to be via nationality - income - religion - politics - lifestyle. We see how random our chances are. Spin the wheel and you may be born a Somali living in a simple shack with no plumbing or electricity in the middle of a genocidal war, spin again and you’re a white child born to a Texas oil family, spin again and you’re born to a Chinese factory worker making I-pad screens, spin again and your parents are middle class hipsters in Northampton and so on....
A Prize Every Time’s carnival atmosphere hovers between a compelling tension and an exuberant fun-fest similar to what one might experience at a county fair where the innocence in the cotton candy, rides and games live side by side with the dark underbelly
of transience and con-artistry. A Prize Every Time! speaks to the reality of the American Dream: high-hopes dashed by harsh reality ... but don’t despair in A Prize Every Time! everyone’s a winner!
This program is supported in part by a grant from the Northampton Arts Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.