Despite a glut of group exhibitions at institutions for the past few months the most radical yet
well executed show by a local artist has been Jesse
Hayward's installation, The Kitchen Counter Collective at Linfield
in McMinnville. It ends May 1st so this is your last chance.
What's more the show even expands upon his highly successful
exhibition in last year's TBA festival (where viewers could rearrange blocks that were also paintings), making this latest outing one of the strongest genre bending
exhibitions of painting, sculpture and social interaction I've seen anywhere in
recent years. Hayward began his art practice learning directly from Sol LeWitt
and Karl Benjamin
, so it's been a long road of experimental shows, which now seems
Considering this we should revisit the genres being blended:
Painting has traditionally been a creature of expressed choice, put on display
for the viewer showcasing the painter's decisions in; color, application method, support surface
as well as the selection of subject
even if the subject is painting itself
(as in Jackson Pollock). In traditional painting the artist celebrates the primacy
of their decisions and there is a lot of emphasis put on authorship of
Whereas, sculpture has always been in the business of form and the ways it
negates options of the viewer to explore by taking up available space as form.
As an act of scarcifying the resource of space it's inherently more confrontational.
Thus, it is presenting paths of relation or direction by removing some options. Sculpture is a compression of choice (aka a decision), whereas painting
by being a more provisional and schematic art form is frequently a catalogue
of choices, or "moves" if you want a softer term.
Generally speaking then there is something passive and generous about painting
and confrontational and active about sculpture. Since the dynamic duo of Donald
Judd and Dan Flavin we've been saddled with the realization that both genres
can in fact be reconciled pretty effectively. For me Katherina
Grosse is the top of my list of current practitioners
is in there too. All of em, including Hayward are fond of rainbow
If the two venerated disciplines were parts of a restaurant the paintings could
be thought of as the menu and sculpture as the table
let's leave the question
of the actual art/food as something more difficult to pin down (as exemplified
by Hayward's exhibition).
Overall, Jesse Hayward's work has inhabited and explored the space between
wall/floor and viewer/artist for the past few years and it's telling that his
version of the painting/sculpture restaurant is in fact being called a "kitchen
counter." It's a question of agency and formality and by setting up such
simple rules, "Be Safe, Make Art," Hayward allows the viewers to endlessly
reconfigure the show. The net result is he's turned the art experience into
a provisional delegation of composition back upon the viewer
and if they didn't
get something out of the experience then the burden also falls somewhat on the
viewer. That has always been the case but in this case it's a cleaner inversion, whereby Hayward
has become the true spectator. He's even collecting security camera footage.
Also, by delegating his agency of composition to others Hayward has knocked down the
"wall" a lot of institutions have been seeking to blur, the art/viewer divide.
It's sly because his paintings themselves (as raw material) have gotten a lot
taking on a kind of Pierre
(a comic book version of modern painting) meets LeWitt informality.
Though visually satisfying the painting on the frames and boxes are there to
psychologically encourage arbitrary decisions by viewers to re-site the work
(the complete opposite of Judd and Flavin).
What is scary is how well it works, since the exhibition is full of completely
satisfying aesthetic moments. Maybe everyone is an artist as long as there is
an artist like Hayward who is willing to create work in support of the notion?
Hayward is ultimately a bit more extreme but heavily indebted to Sol LeWitt
(whom as child was lucky enough to work on a wall drawing for).
What is more his show differs and considerably improves upon his TBA outing
last fall since this time out the work exists in an institutional white box
and not a classroom, which worked but riffed a lot on the romper-room motif.
It was maybe too obvious a metaphor?
Instead at Linfield the ideas feel like a more powerful institutional critique,
where every painting is equal as is every visitor to the space. Incredibly democratic
it allows for a manifold spatial experience reminding each viewer that they
were in essence seeing (and creating) a different show in a nice demonstration
This infinite interaction ultimately leads to all sorts of apocryphal stories
like the two art students who worked together on one corner only to discover
a springtime romance. Talk about manifold experience!
The show also differs from the TBA exhibition with the addition of a series
of painted reconfigurable and often cantilevered stretcher bars and frames.
It's metaphor for seeing and looking at the show of course as well as an institutional
lens. Their presence balances the solid forms while making the whole affair
more porous, while recursively evoking the whole painting/sculpture dialog again.
An exhibition of infinite interaction, Hayward's The Kitchen Counter Collective
may be one of the most effective college gallery art shows imaginable programmatically.