Art on the move, no, really on the move


By Tessa Solomon

Warning: This is not your grandma’s art show.

Unless granny is into chain-saw carving, raunchy caricatures, and pyrotechnics.

As part of the Witching Hour festival to celebrate atypical art, the members of the art collective Paintallica will create an installation at FilmScene, 118 E. College St., beginning at noon Friday and continuing through Saturday evening until the finished product is presented. The event is free for the public.

“To be able to see the artists making the art, to be able to come in at one point of the day, and then come back the next day, and see it grow and develop over time is a really cool experience we don’t always get to have,” Englert Executive Director Andre Perry said.

The rowdy collective started with three University of Iowa M.F.A. students with a desire for some brutal, but useful, commentary on their work.

Paintallica now includes around 14 artists, each with a fondness for unconventional creation. With their only parameters being time, gallery space, and inspiration, no two site-specific installations are the same.

“Usually, we experience something in the local environment,” said artist Jay Schmidt. “If there’s one thing we do for each event, it’s somehow engage the community and get influences of what we make by that.”

They’ll take their impressions of Iowa City to a sketching session Thursday night in FilmScene.

“We’ve never had work created in the space,” FilmScene Executive Director Joe Tiefenthaler said. “It will be really exciting to see them pull from the room, from festival-goers, and from the general public checking out their work as it’s created.”

Drawings will change hands and form quickly, as each artist adds, tweaks, or destroys the others’ ideas. Their installation will be painted, melded, or sculpted to life, largely in improvisation, all under the city’s eye.

“There’s something about when you demystify the creative process and you can see it being made that this conversation happens with the viewer,” said artist Jamie Boling. “The pristine white-wall gallery situation crumbles; people feel like they can be a part of it.”      

Pinpointing a mission of Paintallica’s events is difficult — they appear and vanish like a fever dream — but defying gallery conventions comes close. Their collaboration is a seldom-extended invitation into the artists’ mind. At the same time, it is an outlet to play with taboo subjects, cope with anxiety, and escape from the studio’s solitude.

“When you’re working with other people, conceptualization is really fast and wild,” Schmidt said. “The ideas that form through the collaboration really give it an energy, a vitality that is beyond what you can do alone in your studio.”

The Pedestrian Mall outside FilmScene will be charged with that energy at noon Friday as they perform their chain-saw log sculpting. The sculpture will then be taken into FilmScene’s gallery, where local filmmaker Kaitlyn Busbee will document the process. From there, it’s hard to predict any expectations.

“Our motive is always changing,” Boling said. “What is important to us right now is the big question that we try to ask ourselves when we sit down and draw.”

In the spirit of the Witching Hour, the viewer will have to buckle down and hitch a ride with Paintallica into the unknown.

When: Noon Friday-Saturday evening
Where: FilmScene, 118 E. College

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