Monday, June 4, 2012

Inside Insights On This Week's Artist Kamikaze IV

Musicians have always understood the power of collaboration. They form groups, or bands, sometimes in pairs and sometimes with a full orchestra, but always understanding that their effectiveness involves working together with another. Artists and writers, for the most part, work solo. The studio beckons and we value that time to put the world aside.

But three years ago I saw the powerful effect of a collaboration in the show 3N6D at the Red Mug. Last year I was part of an art event called Artist Kamikaze III in which artists working in different mediums are paired off to see what they will produce. It is an artist version of a Battle of the Bands, and this Thursday Pizza Luce here in Duluth will host Artist Kamikaze IV.

Here are some insights about this annual event from its founder and prime mover, Eris Vafias.

EN: What is Artist Kamikaze and how did you come to conceive of it?

Eris Vafias: The Artist Kamikaze is a one-of-a-kind art show/competition in the Twin Ports area, with close to thirty local artists all vying for the title of Artist Kamikaze Champion and other assorted prizes. It is based loosely on the Rock and Roll Kamikaze (which occurs annually at Pizza Luce-Duluth), insomuch as artists sign up and get placed into teams by random draw, fate, etc. Teams are then given a period of time, typically 1-3 months, to create collaborative work for the Artist Kamikaze (AK).

Artists in the competition include photographers, painters, sculptors, fashion designers, plus…The Artist Kamikaze is historically one of the largest group exhibitions in the Twin Ports area and is open to emerging local talent as well as local veterans. The collaborative nature of the event, often pushes artists to leave their respective “comfort zones” and to try things that they would have never done absent the other team member(s). Sometimes, in this process, artists will realize that they would like to go further with this new direction (sometimes not—though if they don’t like the work they generated they can explain it away by saying the Artist Kamikaze made me do it…smiles). Other times, due to personality conflicts and whatnot, projects don’t get completed or the teams drop out. It can be a difficult process for some, however I think by and large it is a positive experience for the lion’s share of participants. It allows artists to make connections in the art community, if not lifelong friendships.

All pieces are marked via team number. This is to level the playing ground, so that the AK champions are not selected due to any sort of “name recognition.” The team members are revealed by name after voting. AK Champions are selected via general in person voting. Ballots are available the night of the opening for a suggested donation of $2. The donations help defray costs for the event and the remainder, above and beyond those costs, is given to the Champion team in recognition of their efforts and uber-stellar art (as will be the case this year).

EN: This year the theme for Artist Kamikaze IV is Intergalactic. Where do the ideas for themes come from? (and what were the themes for the first three years?)

EV: Originally, the Artist Kamikaze (as envisioned) had no theme, however, during the first year, a couple of days into the process, after gathering information from artists who had signed up, it was decided that a unifying theme to tie all the art together is something that we wanted to pursue. The Artist Kamikaze themes that were chosen are meant to be highly open to interpretation, allowing for each team’s “take” on them to shine through. There is no real science in the selection of themes, other than passing potential themes by assorted alumni and seeing which theme seems to carry the most excitement with them.

AK-I theme: Gnomes
AK-II theme: Time
AK III theme: Elements
AK IV theme: Intergalactic

EN: Artist Kamikaze is sponsored by Limbo Gallery. What is Limbo Gallery?

EV: Limbo Gallery is a pop-up gallery. Much in the way a church can be anywhere, we believe that art can likewise be anywhere. We specialize in art events varying from one night only to longer dependent upon host/circumstance. It is our hope that by hosting art events in spaces that aren’t so “polished” it is more inviting to those who have never been to an art opening, as well as to provide a more comfortable space and an opportunity for new emerging artists to come out of their shells and show their work. Additionally, it is a great way for the more established artists to try something novel (a great majority of the art events have a loose theme). A lot of the art events we curate are more intimate than that average opening and in certain instances, depending on the show, contain art that may not be “fit” for the more mainstream galleries in the area. We particularly enjoy being on the fringe and helping people get started.

EN: What can we expect from this year’s show? How many artists are participating and what kinds of work do you anticipate?

EV: This year’s show will be out of this world! We had close to thirty artists sign up this time around- at least five of whom are participating for the first time. It is always exciting to have alumni come back into the fold, however, it is equally if not more exciting to see new faces and new art. Since the pieces are collaborative, that means that every piece of art in the show is generated for the show and thereby is new, fresh and unique for any given artist in the competition. We are especially excited to have the musical workings of the Cosmic Pit Orchestra (Richie Townsend and Kathy McTavish) during our reception, since this is a new component to the Artist Kamikaze.

EN: When and where is the opening for this year’s event? 

EV: June 7, 2012 at Pizza Luce in Duluth, Minnesota from 7-9 p.m. Voting ends at 8:30 p.m. and the team reveal and results of the vote occur around 9 p.m.

For more information or to be part of next year's event, follow the Limbo Gallery on Facebook.

Photo Credit: (top left) Paul Dobson, Rochester, MN

EdNote: This is my second year involved in Artist Kamikaze. The pictures here offer clues with regard to the submission my team has assembled. 

No comments: