Saturday, August 29, 2009

MadArt will accost you

When it arrives on the Madison Park scene next month, MadArt is certainly not going to be anything like a typical “art walk.” No staid galleries, no specially designed and repainted spaces for these works of art. No, this will be art in the public domain. Like literally in the neighborhood hardware store. Not expected. Surprising. Shocking even.

MadArt is designed to shake things up and get people talking art down here in the Park, and there’s no doubt it’s going to have impact. Beginning with an opening event on September 12 and continuing for the next 23 days, 21 emerging Seattle-area artists will have their works displayed in the windows of 18 Madison Park merchants. Each piece of art will have been specially produced by the artist to work in the space in which it appears.

The idea of MadArt is the brainchild of Madison Park resident Alison Wyckoff Milliman, who while living with her family in Melbourne, Australia several years ago was one day confronted by art in an unlikely place: the window of a village shoe store. “It was there to be art,” she said, “not there to sell shoes. It stopped me in my tracks because it was so unexpected.” And it got her thinking both about how people normally get to see art and about how artists might benefit from having their art exposed in a different way.

“We’re used to seeing art in prescribed places,” she told me. “And if you don’t go there, you’re going to miss out.” She reflected on the great job the Australians were doing of encouraging young artists and helping them get their work seen. “I thought to myself: ‘We could do this in Madison Park!’ I literally envisioned walking down the street in Madison Park and seeing art in the shop windows.” Her epiphany, after a couple years of effort, has resulted in MadArt.

Milliman is no stranger to the art world, having graduated from the UW as an art history major, worked in the antique-appraisal business for many years, and served on the Board of the UW’s School of Art. She says she’s always been interested in artists and their process, and she was particularly concerned about how new artists might learn the “business of art,” which is just not part of an artist’s training. MadArt has been designed not only to get exposure for the artists involved but to help them think about their art in a business-like way. Artists were required to go through a bit of a drill, for example, in order to participate in MadArt.

First of all, 200 local artists or so were considered for the project. This initial list was whittled down to about 40 artists, whose studios were then visited. Many of those artists were asked to make proposals for inclusion in the project. “We gave them a challenge,” said Milliman. “Visit the sites, talk to the store owners, and propose a design for a site-specific installation piece.” With 18 merchants agreeing to participate, 21 artists were chosen to fill the spaces (some of the artists are working together on an installation).

Among the emerging artists chosen for MadArt is Tamara Codor, whose untitled painting I used above as a teaser for this story. Here she is in her studio with the actual piece she is working on for MadArt, which will be displayed in the Bank of America branch:

‘Art is supposed to activate’

Bryan Ohno, who has a long history on the Seattle Art scene, bought into Milliman’s vision and joined MadArt as its director early in the process. He defines the spirit of MadArt as having two principal objectives: “to give a new opportunity to emerging contemporary artists to show their work, and to reactivate Madison Park through art.”

Although art is most often seen in a prestige setting such as a gallery, studio, or even a restaurant, “ultimately it disseminates into our everyday lives,” he told me. “Why not have the art start there? Why not have it happen this way in Madison Park?” So, for a period of almost a month, MadArt will give us our chance to see art as part of our quotidian lives: art at the vets, art at the bank, art in the drug store, and art in the real estate office, among other venues.

MadArt presents an opportunity for new artists to help us “see the endless possibilities of visual creativity,” to quote Milliman. The effort will be a success, she says, if it brings people to Madison Park to see the art and if it gets us all talking about what we’ve seen.

Here’s another artist, Cameron Anne Mason, who is lending her talents to MadArt (her hand dyed and sewn silk vessels will be displayed at Anne Marie Lingerie):

For a complete listing of the participating artists, with links to their websites and pictures of their MadArt installations as works in progress, click here.

The fun begins September 12 with a 6:00pm opening reception at Starbuck’s (4000 E. Madison Street), followed by a walk around the various MadArt installations, beginning at Anne Marie Lingerie and ending at Spa Del Lago. As we get nearer the event I will post another story about MadArt with additional pictures.
[Tamara Codor art photos courtesy of the artist. Cameron Anne Mason photo courtesy of MadArt. Photos of the artists by Bryan Ohno.]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.