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Distance Don’t Matter

Swoon, Ben Wolf, Greg Henderson, Conrad Carlson, Monica Canilao and Ryan Doyle

Oct 15, 2009 – Dec 18, 2009
In the Main Space

We’ve invited New York based Swoon and her collaborators Ben Wolf, Greg Henderson, Conrad CarlsonMonica Canilao and Ryan Doyle to construct an installation of found materials, wheatpasted prints, paintings and more.

Check out some photos Tod Seelie has taken while he was visiting.

Swoon first took her art to the street while studying classical and renaissance-style painting at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. She was compelled to work outside after suffering what she calls “the quiet, boring preciousness” of the gallery world. “I couldn’t make art for the sole purpose of exhibiting in these comatoriums. Galleries and institutions aren’t the whole picture; they are a small part of a bigger picture.”

Swoon’s bigger picture involves the transformation of abandoned buildings, rundown warehouses, and broken walls into new urban landscapes. These wheat-pasted worlds are populated by Swoon’s intricately carved paper portraits, wood block prints and cardboard cutouts, reflections of their flesh and blood counterparts that fill the streets in her New York city home-base. “I’m going out and looking at what people are actually doing as they are hanging out on the street. So all of it is actual street scenes. To take pictures and make drawings, to look and see what people are doing when they are hanging out on the street. To make a portrait of the city.”

Her projects encapsulate an ever-changing and interactive city life not only in their focus on the everyday– fruit vendors, bicyclists, and street pedestrians are key players in her carvings, while found objects serve as a resource for her installations and sculpture–, but also in the temporary nature of each piece. Working on everything from newspapers to tracing paper, the impermanence of her materials is what allows the work to interact and collaborate with its environment. Cuttings rot and decay, altering the landscape while they themselves change and evolve. “I like it that this stuff decays. I try to create something that has a kind of a life cycle. It goes up, and has this whole blossoming and decay…We’re taught in school to be so precious and meticulous and archival and to make every little decision last. I want to make things that are valueless, because they can’t belong to any one person, and in that way they can belong to everyone. I like the idea of things that aren’t going to stick around and that are like an event more than an object.”

Swoon’s work attempts to forge a two-way street between the effect that the urban environment has on its citizens and citizens’ role in affecting change in their environments. H er work, whether on a gallery wall or an alley wall, emphasizes the importance of opening a dialogue between the art and it’s environment, the artist and the community, the community and the art. “Working publicly and in public spaces will always be relevant. It’s the politics of everyday use of spaces,” she explains. “and every day city life, and street life.”

In her efforts to “create a public discourse about what happens in a city,” Swoon has executed projects ranging from billboard alterations and poster campaigns, to street parties and sculptural installations. Her exhibitions and workshops in the United States and Europe have included collaborations with the art collectives TOYSHOP, Glowlab, Black Label, Change Agent, the Madagascar Institute and the Barnstormers. Her work was included in P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center’s Greater New York 2005, and appeared in Deitch Projects’ special design district space Art Basel Miami 2005 and at MOMA and the Brooklyn Museum in 2006. Recent work has involved multiple community-based projects, as well as the collective projects The Miss Rockaway Armada, Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea and Swimming Cities of Serenissima.

Here are some links to sites / news about Swoon:
Deitch Projects
Swimming Cities of the Switchback Sea
June 7 2009 article in New York Magazine
Swimming Cities of Serenissima

She gave a talk about her work at SPACE on Saturday, October 17.

This project and Swoon’s talk on Saturday, October 17 are supported by The Maine Arts Commission as part of their Public Art Lecture Series.


Monica Canilao’s interest in the ideas of home, community, and the passage of time are sewn delicately together in her large paper and fabric structures, installations and sculptures. She uses found objects, paper, printing, and fiber to juxtapose the profundity of simply having a home with the ephemeral nature of spaces, community, and life itself. The beautiful privilege of a home, while fortified by a supportive community, is often examined near the hum of the electrical wires or the headlights of bulldozers making way for ‘development’. But Monica keeps things simple: she understands that even the most fleeting moments can be the most poignant ones, and so she is fearless in her use of disintegrating materials such as paper, fiber, love, and hope.

Conrad Carlson makes a myriad of things static and kinetic, ride-able and crash-able, legal and illegal, mostly out of your garbage. Dropped out of college to persue a creative life, landed in Brooklyn 10 years ago, Also known as Dj Dirty Finger, ass motivator general. 

With his grandmothers’ influences, education from Perpich Center for the Arts and Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and apprenticeships with Robochrist, and Brooklyn’s Madagascar Institute, Ryan C. Doyle‘s aim is to engage his audience and push the limits of personal “safety.” If art’s true nature is to change the emotions of the viewer, he offers an exciting relationship for the audience to be terrified, exhausted and hopefully empowered; after courageously volunteering to “ride” his works. Mediums include ultra-light propellers, jet engines, electronics, hydraulics, dudes, markers, fake breasts, babies, blood, the occasional chicken and destroyed cars. Currently based in Brooklyn’s Bed Stuy neighborhood, Doyle is a member of Black Label Bicycle Club, has been featured on Junk Yard Wars, Monster Nation, and FUSE’s Rock and Roll Acid Test, a documentary B.I.K.E., and has shown his work around North America, Australia and Europe. Ride Yer Bike.

Are you a Maine artist looking to fund a project? Apply to our American Rescue Plan Project grant program today. Deadline: June 26th at 11:59 PM.