Make Things (Happen)

Make Things (Happen) Response Activity Sheets

Examples of completed and make-your-own activity sheets.

A few weeks ago, I received a nice surprise in the mail. Suzanne L’Heureux from Interface Gallery sent me some of the completed and make-your-own activity sheets from the Make Things (Happen) exhibition in February. One of the hardest things about that project was leaving just two days after the opening, saying “so long” to friends, and not seeing how the project would play out over the month. Going through the responses was joyful and bittersweet. Here are a selection.

Artist unknown, contribution to Make Your Own Activity Sheet station, 2015// Think Feel, Arrghh, OK, reflect

Artist unknown, contribution to Make Your Own Activity Sheet station, 2015

Participant unknown, activity sheet by Galeria Rusz.

Participant unknown, activity sheet by Galeria Rusz.

Participant unknown, response to activity sheet by Nick Lally.

Participant unknown, response to a pattern-based drawing activity sheet by Nick Lally.

Artist unknown, contribution to Make Your Own Activity Sheet station, 2015 // The I/You/Me/We Pyramid

Artist unknown, contribution to Make Your Own Activity Sheet station, 2015

Participant unknown, activity sheet by Dionis Ortiz.

Participant unknown, coloring activity sheet by Dionis Ortiz.

Participant unknown, activity sheet by Susan O'Malley (1976-2015).

Participant unknown, activity sheet by Susan O’Malley (1976-2015). This is one of five activity sheets that Susan contributed. You can learn more about Susan at morebeautifulthanyoucaneverimagine.com.

Participant unknown, activity sheet by Kevin B. Chen.

Participant unknown, complete-this-drawing activity sheet by Kevin B. Chen.

If you are one of the unidentified artists or participants and would like me credit you, get in touch.

Find all 45 activity sheets at the Make Things (Happen) web pages.

With gratitude to Suzanne, Interface Gallery, all MTH artists, and participants.

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Impressions, Make Things (Happen), The Eve Of..., Travelogue

c3:initiative Residency Day 12 Update

Some things I’ve done, thought about, and seen in the first 12 days of a 17-day residency in Portland, OR.

On Saturday, I installed two pieces from The Eve Of… in the window project space at PDX Contemporary, with a little help from JZ, DH, Caitlin, and James. It’s viewable 24/7 at the corner of NW Flanders and NW 9th.

It’s a satellite of the larger exhibition at Portland ‘Pataphysical Society (‘Pata), which opens Thursday (First Thursdays) from 6-9pm, at NW Everett and NW 6th.

The exhibition at ‘Pata will include new works—four large pieces of handmade cotton rag paper, which I made with the tutelage of Jenn Woodward at the Pulp and Deckle paper making studio thanks to support from c3:initiative. The paper is created for display in the ‘Pata windows, which will also be viewable 24/7.

Make Things (Happen) PSU Assembly brochure page. Illustrations of activities by Kari Marboe & Erik Scollon, Piero Passacantando, and Tattfoo Tan.

Make Things (Happen) PSU Assembly brochure page. Illustrations of activities by Kari Marboe & Erik Scollon, Piero Passacantando, and Tattfoo Tan.

Last Wednesday, I had a chat about Make Things (Happen) in PSU Assembly. It was sponsored by c3:initiative and located at Portland ‘Pataphysical Society. I invited Make Things (Happen) participating artists Lexa Walsh and Julie Perini to present their activity sheets and have a dialogue. Lexa asked me how I felt about shared authorship—I am interested in exploring it, and talked about the creative freedom I tried to offer artists, since I wasn’t able to offer remuneration. This spurred an audience member to ask Lexa and Julie what motivated them to participate. Lexa mentioned that this was a easy extension of an existing project, and Julie explained it’s hard to think of who would fund projects to fight white supremacy.

We also talked about if I’ve met resistance to my work about happiness, and I mentioned how much inspiration I take from Susan O’Malley‘s commitment to make art that is whole-heartedly positive. (At Harvester, I talked about how people can easily underestimate the amount of courage that making art about happiness can require.) Another person asked about where else I’d like to see this project, which reminded me of the last message I got from Susan:

I really think it would be amazing to see this project at the airport or library or DMV or city hall or some kind of public space…..

She was so smart about curation and public space. I should heed her words. These are just one more example of so many bits of wisdom she shared.

Thanks to everyone who attended, and who made it happen: Julie, Lexa, Shir, Erin, Josephine, David, Harrell, and many more.

I made paper before, once, in Nance O’Banion’s Bookmaking class as an undergrad. My memory of it pretty hazy, except for an image of the sheet collapsing as I unsuccessfully tried to “kiss” the wet paper pulp off the mold and onto the drying screen.

A few thoughts about paper making:

It’s technical, but much of it, like in printmaking, is by feel. You screw it up to know where it goes wrong, and then by experience feel when it’s right. For example, you figure out how much retention aid is enough, which you can feel in the softness of the water.

It’s physical. I made four 43×56″ sheets, each comprised of twelve sheets from a ~15×15″ mold. The water’s surface tension provides a good amount of resistance when you pull the mold. You sometimes have to lift and pour big buckets (30-40 pounds). A backache after the first day was all the reminder I needed to use my core and legs on subsequent days.

Oddly, I think having done vinyl signage helps. Though the materials couldn’t be more opposite in many ways—natural vs. plastic, historical or niche vs. ubiquitously modern—the processes share releasing a fragile sheet from one surface to another. It’s about timing and pressure.

It’s pretty magical. There’s no binder. The fibers just stick together. Because it’s very physical and intuitive, it’s a great process for finding flow. Jenn is a great teacher—very knowledgeable, patient, and no-stress. Pulp & Deckle‘s classes and private workshops are affordable. Recommended!

Time management. You might think that artists who are also art handlers will take less time to prepare for and install an exhibition. This is not necessarily true.

1. We can nerd out on details. I built a plinth for a work that usually sits on the ground, and a box for A/V that could just sit a shelf. I’m also sewing light blocks for ‘Pata’s clerestory windows and sheer window coverings to layer behind the paper.

2. It takes time. I underestimated how long it would take me to build boxes and pack my work to ship out here. Yet I work on crews where we do that for several days or weeks at a time. The scale of my work is smaller; but still, in this case, it included two large boxes the sizes of doors.

3. Because you never know when you’ll need to problem-solve. What can go wrong when you’re traveling, using local sources, unfamiliar tools, and new spaces? The patience and generosity of friends and strangers go a long way.

 

Bathing in the afterglow of the Postcards from America opening at Newspace Center for Photography; it was pretty cool to see dudely big-deals like Alec Soth and Jim Goldberg mixing it up with local subjects (a retiree, a girl named Cherish, a physical therapist who served vets, an advocate for Iraqi refugees) and PSU Social Practice students. The event was part of PSU Assembly. Susan Meiselas‘ project to raise the visibility of VOZ, a worker-led organization to empower immigrant workers is a smart, worthy way to use photography in social practice; limited edition screenprint posters are available to raise funds for printing. It’s super cute and signed by the Portland Postcards from America photogs. I was tempted. I previously thought Magnum was just a hotshot agency, but in a recent talk at Portland Art Museum, they explained that it’s a co-op run by photographers for photographers, and had to find new ways to support the work they want to do.

Yale Union/YU Contemporary‘s new exhibition by Willem Oorebeek. We were only there for a few minutes between engagements, and my largest impressions are of the space (a huge renovated industrial space not unlike Mass MOCA or DIA:Beacon, with beautiful light) and the architect-made exhibition design (2×4 framing on 12″ centers, very selectively sheathed). There were reproductions from magazines, and sheets of glass over rubber flooring with round nubs intended to read as pixels, though I thought of LEDs. There were black-on-black prints (black lithographic prints over a variety of mediums) that had optical or durational effects—you had to stand right in front of them to see them, which was engaging in how it forced an intimate relationship with the image within a massive space.

Woodwork. Borrowed tools from a suspension-tree-house maker named Devan. A 12″ compound miter saw, Skil saw, and compressor and nailer (yes!). Nice blades, smooth sailing. I forgot to pick up clamps, though, so I nailed a 1×2 as a guide wherever I needed it. It hit 92ºF and the patio umbrella was a savior.

 

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Make Things (Happen)

Making Hospitable Democracy Happen: An Interview with Lexa Walsh

On February 7, Oakland-based artist Lexa Walsh brought together twelve individuals for a home-cooked meal and recipe exchange to facilitate conversation and community. Called Meal Ticket, the public event was held in conjunction with Make Things (Happen), an exhibition I organized featuring 45 artist-created activity sheets, which is currently on view at Interface Gallery through March 1. Afterwards, I was inspired to ask Lexa more about her practice.

 

Participants at Meal Ticket with Lexa Walsh (standing) at Interface Gallery, Oakland, CA. Photo: Amanda Eicher.

Participants at Meal Ticket with Lexa Walsh (standing) at Interface Gallery, Oakland, CA. Photo: Amanda Eicher.

 

Christine Wong Yap: At the start of Meal Ticket, you mentioned a key concept of your practice. Can you describe “hospitable democracy,” and how it came about?

Lexa Walsh: A few years ago, I took a great class with Havana-born, New York-based artist Tania Bruguera for Portland State University’s (PSU) Art and Social Practice grad program. She insisted we all find key words to describe our practice that would be new word combinations in the end, like her use of  “Useful Art” (Arte Útil). I searched for something that could describe my diverse practice. In the end, I realized most of my projects try to be hospitable and make democratic spaces for participation and collaboration—for amateurs and experts, artists and laypeople—in the form of conversation, songwriting, critique, meal sharing, resource sharing, etc. Voila: Hospitable Democracy.

 

A Meal Ticket recipe card told and recorded by participants Smitty and Elizabeth. Photo: Lexa Walsh.

A Meal Ticket recipe card told and recorded by participants Smitty and Elizabeth. Photo: Lexa Walsh.

 

CWY: When I think about my experience of Meal Ticket, I realize I came away with three things: beautiful food, an uncommon exchange and dialogue with a stranger, and ephemera (a recipe book and a screen printed placemat). What is the significance of each of these elements to you?

LW: Each Meal Ticket differs depending on the context. In this case, it was pretty simple: the joy and essence of sharing a nice meal, the role of the host as curator of an experience (both sensorially with the food and experientially with the conversation), and then the recipe exchange as a conversation starter. Through the discussion of recipes—a set of instructions—we discuss our cultures, families, and belief systems. I propose we are all equals and become a community in the temporary utopia of a luncheon, and through the cookbook. Community cookbooks have a long legacy as collective memoirs of place and culture that help identify and celebrate communities. They have given voices to voiceless individuals; they published many women for the first and only times in their lives. For Meal Ticket, the cookbook is mainly for the primary audience: the diners. When I do a series of meals, all participants become part of that community.

It gets really interesting where the context is more political, with seating charts and recipes spanning social, cultural, and financial boundaries. Two examples are at Portland Art Museum—a series of 12 meals with all levels of staff sharing meals in the boardroom—and in New Smyrna Beach, FL—12 meals that had to be moved around to accommodate a racially diverse but segregated town. Meal Ticket is most effective in contexts where barriers need to be broken down.

As for the placemats: I am trying to make stuff again after a five-year hiatus from making objects!

 

Placemat by Lexa Walsh, screen printed as an Artist in Residence at Kala Art Institute. Photo: Christine Wong Yap.

Placemat by Lexa Walsh, screen printed as an Artist in Residence at Kala Art Institute. Photo: Christine Wong Yap.

 

CWY: You’re currently an Artist in Residence at Kala Art Institute in Berkeley. It was once a fairly traditional printmaking studio; now it welcomes many media and practices. What inspired you to make objects—and specifically, prints—again?

LW: I stopped making objects after an amazing 2009 studio visit with Nashville-based artist Mel Ziegler, who suggested my objects were “accessorizing” the real essence of my work. I have a background in sculpture and performance, so I had no problem challenging myself to a “year without objects.” That turned into five years, until I realized my practice consisted of emails and meetings. I wanted to get back to that feeling of making. Since I’d mostly been outsourcing printed ephemera, I thought it would be fun to get into the craft of making multiples. I’ve been having a really hard time, though! What does it mean to make an image or an object? Why bother? What are the stakes when dealing with craftsmanship? These are questions running through my head now, as I am simultaneously enjoying making objects.

 

CWY: The placemat bears something like an epigraph for the meal. It ends by affirming that “failure is always an option.” What do you hope to convey?

LW: I love failure! Failure is a place from which to move forward, to learn, to experiment, and to get sidetracked in potentially interesting ways. I have gained a lot from failing. I know a lot of artists and others who fear it, but I think we should embrace it.

 

CWY: In addition to being an artist, you work as a chef. These skills clearly help with your food-related projects. In what other ways does being a chef parallel artistic activity—say, as a facilitator of socially-related projects? Yet providing food is also related to providing a service, suggesting a different type of relationship to participants. How do you think about these parallels and relationships?

LW: It’s funny because I refused to combine food and art until my second year of graduate school. They just were separate for me. I had a great Graduate Assistantship as Program Caterer. Everyone wondered why I wouldn’t start incorporating food into my practice. The first Meal Ticket was born from that pressure.

It is so true that chef skills are useful, because as a social practitioner, I basically plan events as my practice. It’s good to have skills such as organization, time management, hospitality, etc. Service is always a part of my practice, but so is facilitating and curating.

 

CWY: You, as well as others, recommended several PSU alum for the expanded version of the project in Oakland: Ariana Jacob, Betty Marín, Hannah Jickling and Helen Reed, for example. I’m curious about what seems like a small world of social practitioners. In what ways is this emergent field establishing conventions? What do you see as the most exciting frontiers?

LW: I’m not sure there’s anything unconventional or new from this ‘emerging’ field—there’s so much tied into both art history and the practices of a variety of fields, into which we dip our hands, such as Allan Kaprow’s Happenings, Mierle Ladermen Ukeles’ Maintenance Works, Adrian Piper’s Calling Cards, Joseph Beuys, Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece, Fluxus, Group Material, Allison Knowles’ Salad, Gordon Matta-Clark’s Food, and the contemporary Erwin Wurm. There are many people I look back to for my own practice, as well as to envision the larger field.

What seems interesting is when or when not to call it art. What are the benefits? What avenues can be traversed by calling it art and vice versa? I think artists are doing great projects in fields like disability/accessibility, museum education, and activism. For example, Vancouver-based Carmen Papalia, another PSU cohort member, addresses accessibility in museums with a tour in which participants describe the work to him (he is visually impaired). Projects by Los Angeles-based collective Machine Project and Portland Art Museum’s Shine a Light program inject the once-unthinkable into museums: scholarly play, dancing, cheers, music, debates, wrestling, sleepovers, plant babysitting, orienteering, celebrating immigrant labor, and more. I think it also gets interesting when artists collaborate with people from other fields. Some of the most exciting artists are those who have worked in other fields before identifying as artists.

 

Lexa Walsh’s Make Things (Happen) contribution is an activity sheet that describes the Meal Ticket process. You can download it or pick one up at Interface Gallery through March 1.

how to participate: take an activity sheet. make things happen. make things. share your results. #mkthngshppn

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Make Things (Happen), News

Make Things (Happen) Coming to Oakland, CA!

Make Things (Happen)
Interface Gallery
Oakland, CA

Over the past few months, I’ve been expanding Make Things (Happen) for its exhibition at Interface Gallery in Oakland! Now with 45 artist-created activity sheets, the project will include interactive work stations, offsite locations (pick up a postcard in the gallery for details), and public programming led by artists!

February 6–March 1
Interface Gallery

486 49th Street (in Temescal Alley, off Telegraph), Oakland, CA

Friday, February 6
6–9pm: Opening reception (Oakland First Fridays)
7pm: Probe the twin histories of astronomy and astrology with Lauren Marie Taylor. Make a star chart, create new constellations, then officially name and dedicate your very own star.

Saturday, February 7 
1pm: Meal Ticket with Lexa Walsh brings together different individuals for a home-cooked meal and recipe exchange to facilitate conversation and community. The recipes are complied into a community cookbook, creating a unique group identity, while the meals propose a temporary utopia to encourage a hospitable democracy. RSVP at interfaceartgallery@gmail.comat capacity.

Gallery Hours: Wed–Sun, 11–4

 

map of offsite locations

Go out and find four sheets at our neighbors:
Book/Shop, 482D 49th St, Tue–Fri 12–6, Sat 10–6
Lanesplitter Pizza, 4799 Telegraph @ 48th St, daily 11am-12am
La Commune Bookstore at Omni Oakland Commons, Shattuck @ 48th St, Tue–Sun 12–6
Royal Nonesuch Gallery, 4231 Telegraph @ 43rd St, Sat–Sun 1–4

Artists: Lauren F. Adams, Oliver Braid, Maurice Carlin, Kevin B. Chen, Torreya Cummings, Helen de Main, double zero, Bean Gilsdorf, Galeria Rusz, Sarrita Hunn, Maria Hupfield, Ariana Jacob, Hannah Jickling & Helen Reed, Nick Lally, Justin Langlois, Justin Limoges, Jessica Longmore, Mail Order Brides/M.O.B., Kari Marboe & Erik Scollon, Betty Marín, Mark Anthony Martinez, Meta Local Collaborative, Melissa Miller, Roy Meuwissen, Laura Napier, Susan O’Malley, Dionis Ortiz, Kristina Paabus, Piero Passacantando, Julie Perini, Ryan Pierce, Pavel Romaniko, Risa Puno, Genevieve Quick, Mary Rothlisberger, Pallavi Sen, Elisabeth Smolarz, Tattfoo Tan, Lauren Marie Taylor, sharita towne, Emilio Vavarella, David Gregory Wallace, Lexa Walsh, Alex Wilde & Emily Chappell, Brian Zegeer, Lu Zhang

The results ran the gamut from celebratory, such as making commemorative plates of one’s own life, to darkly hilarious, such as the reproduction and delivery of an ominous note written by Stanley Kubrick to Tom Cruise. … While some of the artists’ instructables can be executed solo, Yap is a great fan of the Venn diagram: Overlapping with others is the real payoff.

—Silke Tudor “DIY Gallery,” SF Weekly (February 4, 2015).

 

#mkthngshppn

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Make Things (Happen), News

10/16-11/26: Make Things (Happen) in Social in Practice @ NYU Tisch

October 16–November 29, 2014
Social in Practice: The Art of Collaboration
NYU Tisch School of the Arts Department of Photography and Imaging galleries

Gulf + Western Gallery (1st Floor) and 8th Floor Galleries @ DPI
721 Broadway at Waverly Place
New York, NY 10003
[Google Map]

Opening Reception: Thursday, October 16, 6-8pm

Gallery hours: M–F 9–7, Sat 12–5
Free and open to the public

Make Things (Happen) is a participatory project organized by Christine Wong Yap featuring 29 artist-created activity sheets to make things or make things happen.

Activity sheets freely available in Make Things (Happen) at Social in Practice at Nathan Cummings Foundation, NYC.

Activity sheets freely available in Make Things (Happen) at Social in Practice at Nathan Cummings Foundation, NYC.

Artists: Lauren F. Adams, Oliver Braid, Maurice Carlin, Kevin B. Chen, Torreya Cummings, Helen de Main, double zero, Bean Gilsdorf, Galeria Rusz, Sarrita Hunn, Maria Hupfield, Nick Lally, Justin Langlois, Justin Limoges, Jessica Longmore, Mail Order Brides/M.O.B., Meta Local Collaborative, Roy Meuwissen, Dionis Ortiz, Kristina Paabus, Piero Passacantando, Julie Perini, Risa Puno, Genevieve Quick, Pallavi Sen, Elisabeth Smolarz, Emilio Vavarella, David Gregory Wallace, Lexa Walsh.

makethings-happen.christinewongyap.com

 

 

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Community

Congrats Art Moves Festival Artists

Galeria Rusz has announced this year’s artists to be included in the Art Moves Billboard Competition in Poland. Congrats to all the artists!

Special congrats to Justin A. Langlois, who also contributed to Make Things (Happen) (Check out his five provocations). (Full disclosure: I was on the jury for Art Moves. Note that the jurying was blind—I had no inkling who the artists were.)

P.S. Last month, I mouthed off about how the People’s Climate March Design Competition asked for free speculative work for their marketing campaign, and I linked to NO SPEC! Then I agreed to jury Art Moves. Why would I object to one and support another? Both call for print-ready images for reproduction in advertising spaces, and offer slim chances of remuneration. I tried to write a compare-and-contrast, but it’s probably rationalization: I’m just biased against advertising and for small artist-run organizations. That’s my nineties values for you. So NO SPEC! if you want, and decide what art competitions are right for you. (Not sure where to start? Try here.)

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Make Things (Happen), Sights

Get Excited: Artists Make Things (Happen)

Check out these shows featuring make things (happen) artists! 

Through 6/22
Surveillapocalypse
Five Myles, Brooklyn
(Maria HupfieldDavid Gregory Wallace)

Through 6/30
SIP 2013 Fellowship Show Part 1
Blackburn 20|20, NYC
(Dionis Ortiz)

Through June
Lexa WalshMapping the Archive
de Young Museum, San Francisco

Through 7/6
Piero PassacantandoI Paint You, You Paint Me
Ed Varie, NYC

6/21–8/17
Sondheim Finalists Exhibition
The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore
(Lauren F. Adams)

And help make things (happen) artists support great alternative art spaces!

Take Genevieve Quick’s personalized tour of OMCA for Royal Nonesuch Gallery’s fundraiser.

Help Islington Mill* purchase a bus to provide access and mobility for its numerous artists/musicians/visitors (*co-founded by Maurice Carlin).

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