Friday sees a one-day-only art installation

No longer vacant
By NICHOLAS SCHROEDER  |  November 30, 2011

art_vacantstore_main
SITE-SPECIFIC INSTALLATION Sadie Nott’s ‘untitled,’ paper towels and spray paint.

This week's Art Walk is replete with holiday shows, bazaars, and craft fairs. Those will keep you busy enough, but should you ever need a break from the marketplace, check out the unique show in the vacated retail space at 643 Congress Street. We spoke with local artist, curator, and Bowdoin College art professor Alicia Eggert about the one-night-only student exhibit.

IT'S DECEMBER AND HALF THE ART WALK TITLES ARE HOLIDAY THEMED, AND YOU ROLL OUT THIS ONE. I HATE TO ASK, BUT WHAT'S IT ABOUT? (laughs) The title? Actually the backstory is kinda funny. The students work in a building on Bowdoin's campus where they have to walk through this one room to get to their studio spaces, and on the wall is a piece that's just text that somebody had painted up high . . . we ended up using (it) for the title. Apparently the student who painted it made that piece just because she wanted to, it didn't have to do with any assignment. It's a very mysterious thing that we all walk by every day. The title was chosen sort of arbitrarily, but as soon as we chose it we thought it was very fitting, not just in these times because of the holidays, but also these times politically, what's happening right now with Occupy Wall Street and stuff like that.

THE WORKS DON'T OVERTLY DEAL WITH ANYTHING POLITICAL, THEN? No, not overtly.

ARE ALL OF THE ARTISTS BOWDOIN STUDENTS? Yes. They're all senior visual arts majors. A lot of what we've been doing this semester is visiting DIY spaces and looking at the commercial side of the art world and then the — I don't know what you would call it — but the other part of the art world that's more about creating things just meant to be viewed to give people an experience. They were really interested in showing in an nontraditional space, so I started calling around. Greg Shinberg (of Shinberg Consulting) gave us the space. Ironically, because of what you said, he was thinking about giving over space to artists to use for a holiday craft fair.

IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FILLING A COMPLETELY EMPTY SPACE VERSUS A GALLERY SPACE? A couple of students are doing site-specific work, and the challenge is that we have to leave the space as we found it. We can't really impact it or put holes in it. I think what's going to make this different from a traditional gallery is that nothing is for sale, and the work is about what the students feel they should be showing and not what other people might want to see. One student has been working with paper towels; she's doing a large, site-specific piece on the floor with paper towels. Obviously that material has no inherent value; it's just like trash. It's just exciting to be able to see something like that in town. I think besides (at) the SPACE Gallery, you don't really get to see that kind of, you know, really experimental work happening in Portland. Most of the other galleries are about the value of the object that they're showing.

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