1. IDOL THREAT opens at W3
    October 19, 2013 by Walden3

    Someone once said that the power of an expression can be judged by the fallout of that action. That ‘good’ and ‘bad’ art is not determined by aesthetics or talent or even the creator, but by how much people talk about it and influence future culture. I have no idea who said it, but the idea stuck with me as a truth, as a proof that art has power and that power can be measured.

    Friday night marked the opening of Dylan Neuwirth’s full occupation of the Dearborn and Mercer Gallery’s, with his IDOL THREAT exhibition, and by all measures one could say that it was an astonishing success. Certainly it pissed off some viewers (there was no, um, physical work on display) who did not bring or own a smart phone or tablet to view the 15 pieces (the Mercer Gallery is totally empty and you can only see the work through the screen of a mobile device), and the SAM wasn’t exactly thrilled about Dylan geotagging three pieces in their 3rd floor gallery, and just about every craftsperson in the building was flapping their arms and talking to themselves in frustration and disbelief. So it’s fair to say that not everyone loved the show. People shouted and swore and one older gentleman even went so far as to kick the empty spaces that people gathered around with their iPhones extended and probing. But even those who were bent sideways over the exhibition cemented Mr. Neuwirth’s foray into the digital arts as nothing short of landmark.

    Maybe I should back up, return to an earlier chapter in the story of IDOL THREAT.

    We met with Mr. Neuwirth in the spring of 2012 and asked him what we ask all of the artists we wish to represent at W3 – what would you create if you had support – if you could do anything – if money and time and technical expertise were not issues? What big dreams lurk? What do you want to do that would give other institutions pause? What risks are worth exploring? These are familiar questions to Dylan, questions he regularly asks himself – he has always been ambitious and rebellious and has always rooted his work in concept-rich soil. Maybe he didn’t come right out and say “fuck the object” but it was clear early on that he knew that the influence and future of art rotated around a conceptual approach to technology. There is a running joke that W3 records more conversations than the NSA. I don’t know exactly how true that is, but we do record just about every conversation we have with artists developing shows at W3. And sometimes concept comes out of heated, late night conversations about what we are doing.


    EMPIRE: Fabricated stainless steel, extruded carbon steel, chrome, 42 in. x 9 in. x 22 in. | Dylan Neuwirth © 2013


    “We are witnessing firsthand the transition from selling objects and experiences to the selling of information – the genetic matter of art. We now digest packets of raw data – the artifact is too clumsy and bulky – even the vehicle of book, of compact disc, of canvas has been abandoned, refined and distilled into a dizzying array of ones and zeros. Invisible, weightless, complete. This is the IDOL THREAT.” – Dylan Neuwirth

    I encourage you to watch this interview with Mr. Neuwirth to learn more about the exhibit.

    Back to the opening night… Besides the crazy guy karate kicking the air, and a few vocal Luddites protesting outside the building, the opening reception was packed full of positive energy and inspired conversation. Some visitors couldn’t help but reach out and try to touch the sculptures, many tried their best to pose next to them while their friends screen captured the virtual and the real side by side. Bret Easton Ellis showed up with porn actor James Deen and Paul McCarthy (Mr. McCarthy’s protege Susie Kleet opens a show at W3 in December), Scarlett Johansson and Romain Dauriac spent the better part of an hour examining ‘EMPIRE’ before retreating to the Dial with Dylan Penn and friend in tow, and even Jeffrey Dietch made the rounds multi-tasking with a new iPad in one hand and an iPhone in the other, viewing and texting like some kind of orchestra conductor (it was a performance unto itself). It was utter mayhem, but eventually the crowd populated the Dial, the roof deck, and scattered to various after-hour parties at the neighboring Four Seasons hotel.

    James Ferraro debuted material from his new full length NYC, Hell 3:00 AM to a confused but transfixed crowd. In tow, were Dean Blunt (oddly his former collaborator and partner Inga Copeland made an appearance) for a short, tense DJ set ending in black noise.

    Mr. Neuwirth and Berlin based artist Andy Wauman engaged in friendly but heated debate (conversation?) early on and like toothless pit bulls, just locked onto each other and didn’t let go. James Dean and Susie Kleet were starving and instead of navigating the crowds at the Four Seasons, the seven of us piled into an Uber cab and headed up to Lost Lake Cafe, which returns me to the opening idea about the fallout and half-life of expression. Fueled by coffee and cherry pie (there were a few discrete comings and goings but I don’t think they were drug related) the six of us talked about IDOL THREAT until 7:30 in the morning. By the time the final check was brought out, we had envisioned virtual red light districts, populated Wall-Mart parking lots with old growth forests, terrorized elementary school playgrounds with ……. invaded every museum, government building, concert hall and cemetery with animated gifs and penises the size of skyscrapers (hey James Dean and Susie Kleet were there, and Paul McCarthy and Bret Easton Ellis can be absolutely sinister!)

    The point is, beyond the seven figure sales of Dylan’s opening night, beyond the beauty and innovation and presentation of IDOL THREAT, Mr. Neuwirth put forward an idea that everyone recognized as powerful, exciting and here to stay. It has been, and will continue to be the source of many, many editorials and reviews – polarizing critics and enthusiasts, inspiring entrepreneurs and tech-savvy kids, and employing a new generation of lawyers and politicians to wrangle with this new form of trespassing, this invisible intrusion of privacy and security. For better or worse, IDOL THREAT pulled the pins out of the doors that guard our museums, our banks and our homes, and revealed this new virtual landscape, this fortified reality as a playground and exhibition space for all that cared to dream.

    To read the full text of the interview, please click here: IDOL THREAT

    – GL

  2. PDL take over the Mercer Gallery
    July 15, 2013 by Walden3

    About a year ago, Seattle artist group PDL got the idea to create installations and performances inside the elevators of skyscrapers. They scouted out the elevators in the Columbia Center (Seattle’s tallest building at 76 stories) and in true PDL style, started making art in them without management approval.

    These first guerrilla installations were discrete and quick to set up. The art trio would arrive at 6:00 am, enter elevator #35, and push top floor buttons that would give them a few minutes to set up before returning to the 5th Avenue lobby. They set up a chess board and chairs and played amongst arriving office workers and business people. They laid out a putting green and practiced their short game in full golf attire, ricocheting their balls against wingtips and high heels. Around Halloween they walked in a mannequin in clothes they found under a bridge and faced him against the wall, standing still and clutching a crowbar (that didn’t work out so well). And eventually, possibly to be expected, they found themselves in a room with Columbia Tower security and the building manager, Christopher Yersley, wanting to know, what on earth were they doing.


    PDL tried to explain that they were simply trying to add a little surprise and magic to the mundane commute of office workers. They saw elevators as social dead-space, a waiting room void of art, void of culture and eerily void of conversation. They were using the elevators as a place to create art and interaction. And to be fair, besides the mannequin with crowbar, the office workers at the tower loved these unannounced and playful departures from reality. Miraculously, what they thought was going to be a scolding turned into an offer: PDL were asked to create more, elaborate and ongoing installations. And the Columbia Tower offered to pay for a year of PDL shenanigans  (not very much, but still, it was an amazing turn of events).

    The PDL exhibition that just opened in the Mercer Gallery reflects the visual documentation of this year of elevator installations and performances – large-scale photographs, video, and three recreations of their more elaborate environments. There is the cedar sauna (with sweating towel clad artists), the flop house with t.v. blaring and a filthy tank-top wearing man answering the elevator door, the marriage chapel complete with ordained minister (Jed Dunkerley) and organist (Mike Katell) and a butcher’s meat locker. Most of the installations allowed for 5-7 visitors – often interrupting the massage parlor or the psychiatrist’s office or displaced cubical worker – and a few were so stuffed with, um… art, that workers and art patrons just stood in the lobby and starred at the giant inflatable white elephant or floor to ceiling christmas presents in disbelief and reluctant smiles. Their exhibit ‘Going Up!‘ is a playful, imaginative retrospective of this amazing year, complete with video, still images, re-creations and office worker interviews (the elevators became so popular that audiences would patiently wait just to ride them).

    Of course PDL had to create a special installation for the enormous elevator at W3 and – heck, it would just be a shame to give that one away (but I will say that Rhianna and gal pal Melissa Forde camped out for nearly an hour in there). The opening party was a mad house, the critics had mixed and very vocal opinions (Tom Hurl and Matthew Kangas purportedly were throwing f-bombs like a food fight) and more than a few people watched the sun come up from the rooftop deck. Over 5,000 people work at the Columbia Tower and I’m pretty sure they were all in attendance (PDL founding member Jason Puccinelli beamed at the opening, “hearing their stories and seeing their enthusiasm beats any art review.”)

    But the office workers aren’t the only ones drinking PDL kool-aid; the Seattle trio will be in Manhattan this fall for a three month residency at the Rockefeller Center (30 Rock), where they will undoubtedly create beauty, conversation and make a few children cry. Will the office elevator enter the permanent domain of the contemporary artist? It is hard to tell, but after seeing this show, you really can’t help but think of all the possibilities.


  3. The Artists’ Republic of Fuca: How Sea-steading is Redefining the Artist Colony
    March 16, 2013 by Walden3



    This week’s guest for the Denny School of the Arts Lecture Series is eccentric British philanthropist Sir Arthur Eyland, whose radical solution to subsidizing the arts involves a decommissioned cruise liner, a geopolitical anomaly in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and a refreshing utopian lawlessness.  Mostly known by fishermen seeking halibut, Hein Bank is a solitary shoal that affords water as shallow as 3 meters.  Its location precisely 12 miles from the shores of Vancouver Island, Whidbey Island, San Juan Island, and Dungeness Spit technically places it in a tiny parcel of international waters- a fact that has gone mostly ignored by the US and Canada…but not Mr. Eyland, a veteran sea-steader (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasteading), who has threaded a bevy of loopholes and established the world’s first floating artist colony (called “The Artists’ Republic of Fuca” …or just “Fuca”), free from tax regulations, business licenses, and other laws, due to its unique location.  And based on its proximity to Victoria, Vancouver, and Seattle, Eyland’s miniature floating nation has already gained notoriety as being a seminal destination for NW artists to make and sell work.  Lead Pencil Studios even designed and built an underwater glass-walled gallery off the bottom of the vessel, an old Carnival Cruise liner that Eyland bought when the recession hit and the Alaskan routes saw devastating fall-off in patronage.

    Local artists Robert Hardgrave, Susan Robb, Tivon Rice, Anthony Sonnenberg, and Victoria Haven, just to name a few, have spent residencies there in the last year, creating in their seaborne studios and dealing their own art to a constant flux of curious wealthy patrons from around the world, who seem to flock like moths to Fuca’s definitive light.  Eyland owns a small fleet of floatplanes to bring potential buyers flying into SeaTac or Vancouver International to the floating colony, and he hosts weekly mixers, studio tours, webcasts, and exhibition “smorgasbords” meant to get art into the hands of collectors.  Sunsets over the Olympics, salmon fishing off the deck, and the occasional Trident submarine drive-by have combined with the general decadence associated with artist colonies to create an attractive social experiment, as well.  How and why did he do it?  Exactly what did Susan Robb sink into the shallow water bounding the boats anchorage? What’s the most bizaare thing that’s ever happened on that boat?  How can you get onboard?

    Ask him yourself in this exclusive engagement at Walden 3:  Sir Arthur Eyland speaks at the steps, Denny School of Fine Art next Tuesday at 7:00 sharp.



  4. Upcoming Lecture: “The Data of Dada” – Dr. Callie Winters on Art and the Singularity
    March 8, 2013 by Walden3


    “The Cloud” by Jason Puccinelli, 2013

    It was after I went to the Annie Dorsen show at On the Boards a couple weeks ago. Easily a dozen people disliked it so much that they actually walked out of the performance, and scores of negative reviews lit up Facebook and café chatter around town. I realized how much more I looked forward to this month’s Denny School of Art Lecture Series “The Data of Dada: Art and the Singularity,” by artifical intelligence scholar and Vancouver BC artist/provacateuse Dr. Callie Winters. The OtB show that polarized so many in the community ( I loved it so much I was giddy afterwards) featured a back row panel of programmers who fed Hamlet through a series of exclusionary algorithms that reorganized the text into Stephen Hawking-esque verbalizations of non-sequitur phrases. The audience sat in their seats and watched visualizations of text on a large screen, accompanied by empty lighting cues and special effects. The entreaty was to submit our own patternings onto the randomness of an unintentional computerized chaos. Again, so many responded with a spectrum of reactions ranging from disinterest to disdain.
    These seeming “infringements” on art by technology sometimes make us uneasy, but they most certainly will be a part of the intellectual landscape behind art-making in decades to come.
    Meanwhile, over at UW, an entire program of study, DXArts, explores “the invention of new forms of digital and experimental arts.” (dxarts.washington.edu)
    Books by Michio Kaku and Ray Kurzweil speak of the coming “singularity” where human consciousness leaves our carbon matrix to merge with the physical domain of silicon. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTPAQIvJ_1M) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity)
    All of this finds us asking such questions about where and how computers can and will contribute to the making of art and the increasingly blurred lines between the muses that inhabit the creative human mind and the code that directs computerized decision-making.
    So then, we at Walden 3 ask you to bear witness as Dr. Winters entertains challenges to this tricky territory that artists defend as a uniquely human endeavor- what happens in the coming century when the very definition of “humanity” becomes a philosophical gray area? Will the audiences of tomorrow continue to walk out and pooh-pooh digital treatments of the creative process? Will robots paint? Can computers write novels?
    Of course not…right? Right? That’d be like saying that a man with artificial legs could compete as a sprinter in the Olympics. Freaky tomorrowland nonsense. Come down and add your ears, your opinions, and your biases to what promises to be a controversial evening that we implore you not to walk out on.


  5. Joan Woo + Harold Washington Open at Walden Three
    March 4, 2013 by Walden3

    Woo_OpeningMy apologies for those of you who could not get into the opening exhibitions this Friday night. We had an overwhelming turn out and the Mercer and Dearborn galleries are only so big. Both shows run through April 14th, and we hope you can return to view these two new incredible shows.

    For those of you out-of-town art enthusiasts, we do want to recap and give in some greater detail, the artists and exhibits on display at Walden Three. My much abbreviated, thumbnail sketches of their work is certainly two dimensional and lacking in the richness only your presence can afford, but I do encourage you to check out their websites www.joanwooart.com and www.haroldwashingtongoestothemoon.com to learn more about these fascinating Pacific Northwest artists.

    Joan Woo is a Portland-based artist classically trained in oil portraiture at Yale University’s School of Art and The Florence Academy of Art in Italy. She pairs her impressive classical training with a conceptual mind deeply engaged with the ideas of identity, connectively and community. Her work in the Mercer Gallery, an exhibit named My Tribe, shows her process and attempt in finding, what she calls ‘the connection between her real and imaginary worlds.’

    When I visited Joan’s Portland studio last May, it was as stark and immaculate as a newly constructed hospital room – white walls, bright clean light and a white canvas floor without so much as a footprint on it. There was one chair, one easel and a small side table. By intent, there wasn’t a window to gaze out or a magazine to thumb through – it was stark as a psychiatric ward (she was quick to explain that she didn’t always work like this and that the environment was very much part of the process she employed for the series). On the easel rested one nearly finished work, a photorealist portrait of a black man with a wide, genuine smile and short, cropped hair. When I asked who he was, things got very interesting. “I don’t know,” she said, “that is what I am going to try and discover.” Joan Woo sits in her studio and meticulously paints portraits from the deep well of her imagination. Before she starts a portrait, she intentionally avoids all visual media, flushing her mind of any influences that might crop up on television, or shopping or dining in a restaurant. To further cleanse her mind, she meditates on the floor of her studio for hours, ‘cleaning up’ as she calls it, and creating an ‘empty landscape in her mind.’ And then she paints. And her incredibly detailed portraits emerge.


    When Joan has completed a portrait, the real work begins. She creates wanted posters for these imaginary people and tacks them up throughout Portland. She posts them on her blog and tweats and tumbles the image as far and wide as she can – asking one simple question – WHO IS THIS PERSON? And eventually, these imaginary people crop up. That looks like my boyfriend! That looks like my mother! It’s weird to say, but that looks like me! From all over the world, people respond to Ms. Woo’s ‘missing posters’, and her subjects, drawn from her imagination, raise their hand and identify themselves.

    As much as she possibly can, Joan sets off to meet them. Her goal is not just to find them, but to interview them, ask very specific personal questions, examine their lives, hoping some pattern will emerge, some singular thread that will connect her to them, and them to each other. And then she meticulously photographs them, in the exact same pose, manufacturing the clothing and backgrounds to match her original painting.

    The culmination of her work shows the canvas and the photograph side by side, with video interviews and detailed notes about her subjects life and ideology. It is amazing and beautiful and not without yield – two years ago Joan Woo met one of her ‘imaginary people’ in Lofoten, Norway, a man named Bjorn Fredriksen, to whom she married last August.

    On display in the Mercer Gallery are 16 oil portraits with matching photographic re-enactments, and 4 oil portraits still searching for their real world counterparts. Maybe it is you? Maybe it is someone you know? It’s a fascinating exhibit exploring our relationship and connections to each other and we hope you can come back and view the work at a less chaotic time. It will forever change the way you view strangers.


    Walden Three would also like to give a very special thank you to our exhibition sponsors –  Bing, who’s support and sponsorship helped bring Ms. Woo’s exhibit to Seattle (now traveling to 6 other cities in 2014) and Ebay, who’s generous support brought Mr. Washington’s work to new heights (literally and figuratively). Mr. Washington is currently working on three new commissions for Ebay’s San Jose headquarters, reflecting their long term commitment and support of the arts. Stay tuned for new video and a recap of Harold’s work – we are just trying to parse the exhibitions out in digestible pieces!