VERY FAKE, BUT REAL
GOOD / BAD ART COLLECTIVE
1117 East Freeway, I-10 at North Main
Houston, Texas 7002 Phone: 713-228-0914
VOTED BY THE HOUSTON PRESS
AS THE BEST TRAVELLING ART SHOW
IN THE BEST OF HOUSTON 1997
When Denton's Good / Bad Art Collective is good, they're very very good, and September's one-day installation was great. Not only did they bring sassy art - including a shaggy welcome mat made out of rubber bands, a sort of a couch made entirely out of bubble wrap and a sculpture designed to perch on the edge of a beer keg - they made themselves at home, building a full-sized replica of their space in Denton inside the DiverseWorks gallery. Since there was room to spare, they turned the perimeter of the gallery into a roller rink (complete with disco DJ) and borrowed enough skates to outfit everyone who walked in the door. Being off-balance had two marvelous effects: you couldn't help but touch the art, and the walls, and everything else you're not supposed to touch in a gallery, and unless you were absolutely proficient with your brakes, you had an excuse not to look at any one piece of art for very long. More often than not, as with Heather Grace's giant, grinning yearbook-style portrait of herself with a puppy licking her naked breast, a glimpse was enough to provoke a loud guffaw.
-----Houston Press, Best of Houston 1997 Issue.
GOOD / BAD ART COLLECTIVE IS:
Richie Budd David D. Dotter Rob Eager
Curtis Fairman Heather Grace Martin Iles
Elliot Johnson Tim Kaminski Susan Laswell
Jesse Meraz Will Robison Sean Slattery
Chris Swenson Erick Swenson Schell Taylor
Marshall Thompson Chris Weber
One Saturday, September 6th, DiverseWorks ArtSpace was invaded by the twenty-five member collective. Individual works by the members of the collective were displayed along with intangible happenings: video, and musical performances. This huge installation centered around the transformation of DiverseWorks main gallery into a functional roller rink and full-scale production of the Good / Bad complex in Denton, Texas. Every available area of DiverseWorks has been adapted to function as exhibition area for Good / Bad's unusual methods and concerns. This action functioned as a pressure-cooker celebration of the transient ephemeral, and dematerialized.
Interview with Artistic Director, Martin Iles
Good / Bad Art Collective
by Theresa Hyde
As you walk into this Art Space, it's dark, and it feels like walking into a nightclub party environment, where the DJ is playing rock / dance music. The strobe lights are on, the disco ball is spinning. You are greeted by roller skaters at the door (roller skating rentals
are available), and are invited to skate or walk through the exhibit. The Good / Bad Art Collective is a group of 20 to 25 young artists based in Denton, Texas. The Artistic Director is Martin Iles, a 25-year old artist from Denton who has a Painting and Drawing Degree at the University of North Texas.
THYDE: It looks great. It's awesome. I mean, I go to Art Galleries all the time, and it's so boring because you just look at the Art, and that's it. But this really wakes up all the senses, it's amazing.
MILES: It's an attempted thing, interactive with some of the things we do, especially large scale projects like this, where we go into another town, introducing ourselves in the community.
THYDE: Do you travel or tour? It's only here for Houston for one night, but you have some amazing pieces......
MILES: We really don't have the budget to travel on a regular basis, it's an extremely costly process, but we're mainly based out of Denton, Texas and we have events in Denton, that are part of this.
That's one thing that's very unique in regards to our group, in that we very much stress a one-night only concept. In other words, the Introduction is also the Epilogue or the End of the show. I mean, the Opening is the Closing. And the twelve hour of this show could be a two-hour show in our place. By doing that, we're basically stressing that the patron interacts as much as possible in what we do because it's not gonna be there the next day.
So the socialization aspect of an Art Opening takes a back seat to taking a look at the work, because the work's not gonna be there past this initial introduction.
Taking that into account, a lot of our artists, a lot of the people that are associated with our group, make Art that really does well within those parameters. It's interactive. You're gonna get a lot more interaction when there's a lot of people there and they know they can't deal with it at any other time. In other words, people come to openings a lot, and socialize, have cocktails or whatever, and then think to come back in the next couple of weeks, because it's an extended show. But that's not the case with us.
THYDE: So people look forward for you to come back?
MILES: Right. So it is an Event. Part of the event is making sure that people know to interact. Potentially, it's the last time they're gonna get to see this.
THYDE: Do you plan to come back to Houston, to Diverse Works?
MILES: This is our third installation in Houston, we had one in 1994, Glassell School of Art, it's a small installation. Then we had one this summer in July, in a place called Revolution Summer which was an Art Gallery run out of someone's home. A guy named Mark Allen, he started a little Gallery for the summer, which is a great tendency right now for artists to actually start spaces in their homes.
That's exactly what we've done, artists rent out a warehouse spot in Houston, to do various things, but we've had an exhibition in this summer space in July, and now, we're doing this large scale project here at DiverseWorks. If more people are interested, then we'll certainly come back, as long as they know our restraints, and what we ask for.
THYDE: How do people know where to look for you in the future?
MILES: Well you know, not to lay out too much like a business sense, but if a restaurant is really good, and it's out in the boondocks, out in the middle of nowhere, people are gonna travel to get there, because they know how good the restaurant is. It's the same thing with what we're trying to do, I mean, if we're all the way out in Denton, but they know we do things like this, people know it's worth travelling.
THYDE: How do you make money? Acquire financial support?
MILES: Begging, basically. We do not have non-profit status, we're all basically working. We also have a lot of local bands. The music scene in our area (in Denton), is extremely high profile in terms of the talent. University of North Texas is really well known for its music school, jazz, so they have a tremendous number of really talented musicians with small towns, and they give us Benefits.
A lot of times, these bands will perform at clubs, and the proceeds will go to us, and that happens once a month, and one of our members, Chris Weber organizes those. And we all make them very exciting events, like these, who not only would have musicians playing and everything. That's one source of income, the rest is basically, out of our pockets, and some of us have full time jobs.
THYDE: Where do you find your artists?
MILES: Word of mouth, getting to know one another. If I walk into the gallery, or saw somebody's work that's pretty neat or interesting.
THYDE: What are you looking for in an artist?
MILES: We're looking for somebody that obviously, has some hold on some contemporary issues. To not be derivative is real hard these days, so we're not looking for extreme originality, in terms of production. Extremely contemporary is what we're looking for.
THYDE: What are your comments on the plight of the Artist?
MILES: It's a struggle. For the longest time, our slogan has been "You too can be invisible". Now it's "Bookended by two dumpsters", with trash and everything (laughs). But, we've been doing it for four years, and 109 events in four years, that averages an event every two weeks. There's a lot of people out there that are willing to get some really neat stuff done, organize it, work hard.
EXCERPTS FROM GOOD / BAD ART COLLECTIVE
MEMBER SEAN SLATTERY'S ESSAY
Here's where the work of Good / Bad comes in. Most of it uses reality as a good place to start a race where the end is far away from the beginning. Other works don't need much of reality at all. Some works twist it around and present the viewer with a new reality, not one the viewer's used to. The most important thing at Good/Bad, though, regardless of the meaning or the reality, is the surface, does the product look good? If it does, we might find time to worry about what's beneath the surface, what the artist is trying to say. If not, well . . . there'll always be another even next week, folks.
Most probably, though they liked watching us fail. Some were bowled over by the idea, and didn't want to see it work. Others needed to be assured that art is in part a reflection of everyday reality, and that art doesn't always work. There were countless other reasons, I'm sure, but I venture to say we won more fans that night because we didn't succeed, because they got to see twenty individuals crazy from the heat break down; they saw a theoretical system fail, change, almost succeed, and then suddenly disastrously end.
Though, this show was planned by thinkers, by sober days and drunken nights of thinking, the final success was invented. All the thinking must be cast aside, or rather pushed to the subconscious where information can do its real wonders, so that the inventing can happen. What you see tonight was not an orderly creation, we all just need to believe that. We all must be Linus who believes Lucy when, in front of the vast, glowing night sky she tells him, "We live in what is known as an orderly universe." We can't be her, ever-conscious she has chosen to say, "what is known as", a remarkably deceptive phrase