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Animal collective

Strength in numbers in Brunswick
By IAN PAIGE  |  August 27, 2008

A SEAT AT THE TABLE: The bar scene, by !nd!v!duals.

"There's No Such Thing As Panthers"
by !nd!v!duals | at Coleman Burke Gallery, Fort Andross, 14 Maine St, Brunswick | through September 20

!nd!v!duals (a group comprised of Dom, Meers, Col!n, and Luke O) has overrun Brunswick’s Coleman Burke Gallery with an impressive display of giant beasts toting weapons (or other anthropomorphizing accessories) fashioned from salvaged materials. The results reveal deep attention to detail and, most importantly, a humorous collective approach. You can’t help but enjoy this show, because these guys obviously enjoyed bringing it to you. The Portland Phoenix sat down with three of the members (sadly, Luke O was on safari) to find more about what’s behind their unique brand of irreverence.

MEERS A delicious blend of artistic flavors!
COL!N A collective of artists birthed from God’s manly fists!
DOM “There is no I in !nd!v!duals” — that is the whole point of the exclamations. We are a group that works well together but we also work well as individuals.

C I really love the Indian robot. A wooden robot in the midst of battle with his arm cocked back wielding a tomahawk, while the other arm boasts a semi-automatic bow firing at a turtle rapelling from the celling. We really wanted to put some interesting details into this one so we created different-sized and -colored cogs at different depths in the body, arms, and head.
D For me it was the bar scene. We decided to each build our own animal heads without help from others (which is not our norm). I built a crocodile which was totally my own, but as we all put them together at the bar scene, the piece really became whole, where you can see everyone’s separate voices and working style.
M Luke and I did the monkey screwing the donkey...

C Well, we knew going into this that everything would be constructed from found wood; we just didn’t know how or where we would find it. I think it was Kyle Downs who told us about a massive wood pile at the town dump. A more beautiful sight, I cannot recall. It was the jackpot of wood piles, the kind any parent would take a bullet to keep their kids from climbing. With John Bisbee's financial help we rented a U-Haul. We tried to pull pieces based on condition, uniqueness, and color. There was a lot of rotten wood. Our haul consisted of doors, fence posts, windows, stairs, chairs, walls, plywood, framing for houses... We filled the truck two and a half time times and unloaded all found materials into the gallery space and organized the pieces by size and shape.
D People from Maine who come to our show are looking at junk they threw out. Our only expense was screws.

D I met Luke in kindergarten, I watched him eat shit off a huge motocross jump that he tried to take on his BMX bike — that was funny. Col!n was my roommate next door freshman year of college at MassArt — we didn't start hanging out till I found out he had Grand Theft Auto Vice City. Meers and I met somewhere in middle school, but we didn't hang out till we went to RISD pre-college together. Me and Luke have done lots of projects together, the most important of which is our drawings. We literally used to sit in class and I would draw something on a blank sheet of paper, like a bear, and then I would pass it to him and he would draw something. This would go on till the paper was filled up with animals and people fighting each other, shooting each other, puking on each other, you know, boy stuff. And the drawings look just like our art show, so it's really the same discussion we've been having for years, just now it's 3-D, and in a gallery.

C This particular idea spawned from a music and arts festival held in Manchester, Tennessee, called Bonnaroo. John Bisbee has brought down a group of student artists for the past four years to create interactive pieces of green/recycled art. Luke knew John from the Art Institute of Boston so he was invited the first year of building. Luke came back raving about the experience and told Dom, and me. The three of us attended the next two years building together, and Meers joined us this year. Our pod theme was the Human Zoo, which this year we took very literally. Bonnaroo is what really brought us together as a building group and helped form !nd!v!duals.
D Bonnaroo gave us the time and freedom to work out our ideas. We had time down there to learn what not to do, like leave screws sticking out everywhere. So our work up here is the same work, it's just better constructed since in the gallery we didn’t have to deal with living out in the rain and blistering sun.
C 2008 was a very successful year for us at Bonnaroo. There was quite a buzz going around about our work and we had more crowds and festival organizers stopping by than previous years. There was hardly a moment where someone wasn’t taking a picture and posing with the animals, that’s when we realized we had built something special.

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