"Mad Homes" puts 11 art installations, including works by SuttonBeresCuller, Troy Gua and Ryan Molenkamp, in five soon-to-be demolished houses in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. Daily through Aug. 7, 2011.
“Oh my gosh — there’s things coming out of the floor!”
Those were the first words out of Judea Ezell’s mouth on Monday as she entered her old home on Capitol Hill’s Bellevue Avenue East, the site of Mad-
Art’s latest project, “Mad Homes.”
Just inside the door, a wolf kept bobbing up into the view from a slot on the left, while ocean waves kept “breaking” on the hardwood floor at the right. Behind them, an upside-down bird swung out from the wall like a pendulum, as if ticking off the minutes until this whole odd scene disappears — which it will, shortly.
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Each of these motorized acrylic-on-canvas items is part of Allan Packer’s installation, “The Fulcrum of Prescience.” And Packer’s project is just one of 11 that MadArt has installed in and around five Capitol Hill homes slated for demolition.
MadArt’s stated aim is “to bring art into our lives in unexpected ways,” and with “Mad Homes” it has outdone itself. For Ezell, a burlesque artist, the project has a special poignancy. She moved out of her house, which she loved, after a nasty break-in.
“It was the scariest time in my life,” she says, “and now it’s turned into beautiful art. It’s a happy place.”
Happy — and surreal.
Down the street, a whole home has been shrink-wrapped and slapped with a bar code sticker as if ready for shipment, in Troy Gua’s drolly titled “Chrysalis (Contents May Shift in Transit).”
Next door, three artists who go by SuttonBeresCuller have wrought large-scale mischief with “Ties That Bind,” entangling two homes in a state of neighborly tension, using red polypropylene straps that look like giant rubber bands. Inside one of the homes, the straps form a 3-D maze — a tangle of domestic tensions? — that you can explore from room to room if you’re feeling limber.
Smaller pieces that would appear quite large in a conventional art gallery play with the notion of fleeting occupancy. Allyce Wood’s “Habitancy” uses string to create human and canine shadow figures on the walls of a vacant room, while Ryan Molenkamp’s “Strain” seemingly internalizes the rolling/spiky shapes of Seattle’s hills and broadcast towers in a conventional black-and-white painting, only to have them escape the painting’s bounds and become 3-D structures wrapping their way around both the inside and outside of the house.
There’s plenty more to see, including Jason Puccinelli and Elizabeth Potter’s “Philtering,” an interactive piece using video and anamorphic trickery to translate distorted image fragments into something coherent — a variation on the reclining female nude in Manet’s “Olympia.” As you walk between the image and its multiple sources, you become aware of yourself as a ghostly video presence.
The real madness is in tearing these lovely old homes down. MadArt’s response — placing transient art in transient structures — feels sane by comparison.
Michael Upchurch: firstname.lastname@example.org