Monday, October 26, 2009

secret gardens, sea gardens

1. exorcising the everyday

Friday night AK and I met Suzie for veggie burgers and jalapeno poppers and beer at Barbara’s, the café/bar inside the Brewery. There was a time in my life when I would barely have been able to set foot in the Brewery—its turn-of-the-century industrial buildings-turned-live/work space for artists would have left me crippled with envy.

Now I’ve come to terms with the fact that my art only requires a laptop, and rooms with medium-height ceilings are easier to heat.

Now I can enjoy the Brewery properly. After dinner, AK led me through a maze of alleys and parking lots to a studio she’d seen open earlier. We were greeted by a dragon the size of a camper. He had two heads and he was made of light.

His friend the octopus was also made of light, as well as tie-dyed maroon gauze, tiny mirrors, and the door of a 1965 Oldsmobile, which he held in two of his eight immense legs.

The music playing in the studio was the noise that water would make if water became music. Also here, beneath the sea: a slightly cross-eyed, aqua-colored sea monster; several sea horses; a bicycle with the head of a horse crafted from neon piping; a smiling piece of toast wearing a beret; and a wire mermaid, surprisingly matte compared to her companions.

Something in me melted. I had been having the most ordinary day, my thoughts being along the lines of, There was a lot of soy in that veggie burger. Or are Gardenburgers mostly rice? But this studio—which we learned belonged to Sean Sobczak—was a light-and-gauze-and-wire-and-beret embodiment of the sublime. It was what heaven should look like, but slightly eerie. It was everything I ever wanted to write, but it was already here, and not made of words. It was childhood and future. It made me want to call my sister.

2. memory is controlled by the hippocampus, seahorse of the brain

Talking to Sean, who had two long tangled pigtails and said he’d ridden the horse bike around Burning Man that year, I wanted to tell him how amazing his work was, but I felt all blushy. I think I did tell him it was amazing, but that’s a word people use to describe everything from tasty desserts to mildly fun parties. So I guess I’ll just have to hope he subscribes to Google Alerts and this blog finds him.

I also wondered, in that self-defeating way I have, whether the fact that I—a person who is Not A Visual Artist—liked it meant it wasn’t that good. Like, maybe it was too pretty. Maybe it should have been more disturbing.

AK and I went back to the Brewery on Sunday for Art Walk, where I saw enough dentist’s-office abstracts and yuppie pottery to conclude that I do, in fact, have discerning tastes (and I would not be at all surprised if someone else saw the abstracts as mind-blowing and rich with meaning, because that’s how art should and does work).

It was hot that afternoon, and AK wasn’t feeling well. Forty-five minutes in, we decided to leave. She felt bad: “We didn’t even visit the octopus again.”

But I wouldn’t have wanted to. Friday night had a lonely and serendipitous quality to it. It was not An Art Event I’d Been Meaning To Get To. It was just there. After we left Sean’s studio, we stood in the dark courtyard nearby. I’m not entirely sure what was in the courtyard because, like I said, it was dark. But I think there were canopies and an overgrown fountain. I remember having the feeling I got from reading The Secret Garden as a kid. All this on a small patch of plant life in the middle of reclaimed industrial wasteland.

7 comments:

Jamie said...

Sounds inspiring.

Claire said...

Made me think of the Torpedo Factory in VA, another reclaimed as artists' studios space except that I'm still totally envious when I visit such places.

Very true about the lower ceilings being easier to heat though. ;)

Went to an art fair a couple weeks ago and likewise felt tongue-tied around artists whose work I loved. One absolutely made me wish I was the sort of person to wear cufflinks. www.victoriavarga.com Her stuff is so appealing to me, but could I say so? Uh, no. d'oh!

Cheryl said...

J: Oui!

C: Totally worth taking on a cuff link habit for. And I love her necklaces with the suns and swirly things spiking out from them.

sean said...

Hey Cheryl - Someone sent me a link to your blog. Thanks so much for all the kind words. I'm so glad you liked my work! Feel free to stop by the next time you go to Barbara's. =)

Best -
Sean

The Prince of Know Where? said...

I stumbled into Sean's gallery in the spring and almost didn't go in because he was wearing a kilt and make-up and it was dark inside-I just knew vampires would be involved. But my ex-girlfriend (obviously the braver of us two) just barged right through the curtains. I waited for a blood-curdling scream-it didn't come, so I followed suit. What greeted me as my eyes adjusted to the darkness was absolutely incredible. I stood dumbfounded.

I raved for 6 months about it Sean's art to everyone who'd listen and then I received an email notification about the fall show and dragged my 8 year daughter with me to witness the phenomenon.

Sean's work is incredible and I'll make it a point to visit every 6 months.

Cheryl said...

S: Yay for the world wide web bringin' people together! Thanks for letting us take a sneak peak of your exhibit.

PKW: I will definitely be joining you in raving and revisiting.

Michelle Panik said...

My personal, means-nothing opinion on your trip: one visit with an octopus is more than sufficient.