Saturday, April 29, 2006

Living in Art

I just made coffee and began absent-mindedly to pour it into a wine glass, so you can tell right there about how much sense this post is going to make.

Last night Margie and I went to the coolest place, a tiny storefront on 5th Street rented by some friends of hers as an art space, sandwiched between a nightclub and a print shop. The space is maybe 20x30, with about a 15' stamped tin ceiling. They've built platforms and steps and levels, with several tiny cubbyholes they present to us as "rooms" belonging to the different participants. None of the cubbies are even large enough for a twin mattress, but they've put down padding and blankets, have one working TV and an Atari 2600, and are indeed living there. The print shop is the landlord and very graciously allows them to use the bathroom facilities.

And that deserves a whole entry of its own. The restroom is in the actual shop, which, in a huge space in an old downtown building, with brick walls, wooden floors, gigantic industrial presses, and unscreened windows open to let the air circulate, looked downright Dickensian. There were tubs and tubs and tubs of paint for silk-screening, all thick and glossy, the consistency of chocolate pudding. The floor and walls are splattered, supplies and carbon-copy work orders strewn about, and colorful drawings on the whitewashed bricks closer to the workstations. I wonder what the people who work there are like?

Getting the grand tour of the guys' art space reminded me a lot of those really elaborate wooden playscapes with all the different levels, passageways and turrets, like that one in Cole Park in Corpus - the kind where you have pretty much even odds you'll never see your kid again. Pretty much anywhere you are in these guys' space you have to duck slightly. They're in the process of covering the walls with paintings - some hung, some directly painted on the bricks and wooden beams - and they have their musical equipment set up on the top level, which from outside through the window looks like an elevated stage. But you can't hear them outside, at least not on Friday night. They're drowned out by the music from the club next door, throbbing through the solid brick wall loudly enough that we had to raise our voices slightly to be heard.

I don't know what they eat. There's nothing resembling a kitchen, and man cannot live by dining out alone, especially downtown. Still, I thought it was amazing; and it was a really weird feeling hanging out in the "living room" by the window, watching clubgoers streaming by, most of them oblivious to our presence, a few turning curiously to glance at us, lounging around on wooden scaffolding with beers in our hands.

It's good to be right in the thick of something but also completely removed from it, therefore protected from it. It's detachment as a way of life: watching everyone work and play and live and love all around me, occasionally spinning me briefly into the dance before moving on to the next step, but for the most part I'm a spectator in the middle of the stage.

Oh please. How "profound." Well, I guess that's art for you.


Post a Comment

<< Home