Friday, November 19, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Not long after moving into my first studio in Belltown, a neglected, down at the heals neighborhood just north of Seattle's Pike Place Market, I met Ann Hirschi who had 'adopted' the second floor of an old wood-frame building on the corner of Second Avenue and Bell Street.
Ann was distributing 'A View from the Denny Regrade', her "first attempt to establish a neighborhood newsletter." Having messed around with 'zines' and small publications, I quickly volunteered to assist with the production. By volume 2 number 2, I had become co-editor and I continued to be very involved in it's production over the next seven years.
With it's abundant vacant space and cheap rents, Belltown was rapidly becoming an enclave for artists, designers and other creative types, arriving from all over the country, many attracted by Seattle's public funding for the arts. The Belltown Cafe had opened on First Avenue, just north of Bell Street, and it quickly became a prime gathering place. The stage was set for budding community organizers to get to work. Before long the writing and graphic skills of many new residents were featured on the pages of the Belltown Rag. The core group included Ann Hirschi, Mark Sullo, Ben Marks, Heather Ramsay, Phil Messina, Andrew Keating, Buster Simpson, Mary Wallace, Tina Hoggatt, Helene Silverman, Ibby Acosta, Jeff Christensen, Joan Paulsen, Craig Schwartz, Randy Eriksen and Ries Niemi. By the last issue in 1984, there were over 30 contributors.
The Belltown Rag was funded entirely through the sale of advertising to Belltown merchants, and it featured stories on issues affecting the neighborhood including affordable housing, development, displacement and homelessness, as well as interviews with long time neighborhood residents and business people. Short stories, poems, photography, artwork and news from our cultural fringe were all part of the rag. Here are some of the covers (etc.):
The third issue invited people to Belltown's celebration of Earth Day 1979, a "land roll" and tree planting.
Miniature hotel room on the cover by Belltown artist, H. Ramsay.
Limited edition color xerox cover: "Mr. Developer" by Andrew Keating.
Cover photo by Mark Sullo of the cherry tree on 'r' block, decked in streamers and paper cherry decorations. Belltown's Christmas Tree was cut down on November 15th 1979 to make way for Market Place North.
The 1980 issue of the Rag, while billed as the 'last', clearly wasn't. The cover features a project by Ann Hirschi for the Bell Street Terminal Baths, and inside, "The 30 Year Sleep, or a Citizen Looks to the Future," a delightful 'Rip Van Winklesque' story glimpsing Belltown's future in the year 2010, by Phil Messina.
Friday, November 12, 2010
¿American Dream? (announcement) photo: George Stamatopoulos
In 1982, I created my first large-scale installation, ¿American Dream?, for the Cerulean Blue Gallery in Seattle. ¿American Dream? was made entirely from surgical cotton sheeting. The entrance piece, a classical pediment and columns with all details carefully sewn, bore the exhibit title printed in blood. Inside, fifty panels were dyed, screen printed, airbrushed and sewn to form a high-rise cityscape that swayed and danced in the breeze of oscillating fans to an amped up soundtrack of traffic, sirens and horns.
¿American Dream? (postcard image) photo: © Cam Gerrett
The centerpiece, an elaborately airbrushed and sewn Empire State Building, was hanging upside down. Behind this were two hanging ‘house sets’, one colorful Latin American and the other North American, it’s wall printed in money. Each had an airbrushed fabric panel TV and blared commercials. All in all, this was probably one of the noisiest textile exhibits ever.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
I had hoped to actually set the pyre ablaze after the close of the exhibit, but that proved difficult to organize, so (following the lead of the Reagan administration) I sold off the armaments in one of my studio/rummage sales.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
"Theater of War" was created in 1986 for the Northwest Passage where it was published as a center spread. A large over run was also printed and distributed as a poster that could be wheat-pasted anywhere. "Theater of War" referred to the US involvement in Latin America and specifically, under the Reagan Administration, the illegal support of the Contra war against Nicaragua, which became known as the Iran-Contra affair. While that period has faded from collective memory and the teflon has been polished, the complex web of military and industrial involvement in foreign policy continue to make this image resonate.
These silk screened posters were created for Alan Rudolph for his film "Trouble in Mind" in 1985. I just heard that "Trouble In Mind" The 25th Anniversary DVD is coming out December 14, 2010. Hard to believe that it has been 25 years.