Right around the corner from Bellevue Avenue and Roy Street in Seattle’s hipster Capitol Hill neighborhood, a small cluster of dilapidated homes has been slated for demolition. Capitol Hill is apparently in dire need of additional condos and these old Seattle Craftsman Style homes are taking the fall. To connect with the growing trend of creating art from found or recycled materials, the Seattle-based organization MadArt has gathered over a dozen local artists to utilize the interior and exterior of these homes to create large-scale, interactive artworks for the public. The result, Mad Homes, brings together a group of artists with vastly different styles, backgrounds and media, all contributing to create one innovative exhibition.
My coworker Afi Clark and I had the honor of attending the private opening reception of Mad Homes last week. In addition to food from Marination (a personal favorite) and having all of the artists on hand to discuss their works, pony-kegs (another favorite) were also in attendance, adding to an evening of art in the way that only free alcohol can.
It was a rare sunny night in Seattle and we were able to wander easily outside and inside the houses, asking questions and carrying drinks. The atmosphere was a lighthearted one, with a happy crowd of patrons enjoying the sunshine and discussing the exhibition. Afi and I picked our favorite rooms (“Tenants-Overlap-Motion from one home onwards” for me and “Interior #1 Wall Clothes” for him) and took photos with our smart phones throughout the homes themselves. A game of lasers even evolved while walking through a work of red belts that zigzag throughout two houses and an alley, “Ties That Bind,” by Sutton Beres Culler, a trio of artists who work together.
MadArt’s mantra is “to support emerging artists in our community, to bring art into our lives in unexpected ways, and to create community involvement in the arts.” This Capitol Hill location is certainly unexpected. Adjacent to a mini-mart and some recently built townhouses, these homes allow for the selected artists to be completely free of the typical art gallery space limitations. The true public nature of the exhibit adds to a more laid-back feeling for Mad Homes as a whole. Art enthusiasts will enjoy themselves, as will those simply looking for something unique to do in the city.
The artworks include an entirely shrinkwrapped two-story house, moving wooden elements which defy floors and walls, and a complete floor of rooms adorned with used clothing. Each room provides patrons with a different experience: the ethereal off-white room of strings by Allyce Wood is an entirely different style of work from the bold optical illusions of Jason Puccinelli and Elizabeth Potter. While the works contrast, the overall experience is a cohesive one. The artists complement each other, rather than distract.
The individual works themselves are interesting, but it is the exhibition and the idea behind it that are truly extraordinary. MadArt strives to select local emerging artists for their public displays, providing these twelve with an amazing opportunity. The exhibit is free and the possibilities are endless for the space. The idea that passers-by could simply happen upon Mad Homes and enjoy quality artwork within their own neighborhood in a casual environment open to everyone is an intriguing and exciting concept.
Mad Homes opened on July 16th and will be open to the public until August 7th. Pick a sunny night sometime in the next few weeks. Go for happy hour and wander over to this innovative exhibit before its demolition.