First Friday La Taverna Exhibition—”Fare o Essere”

⬆️ Disclaimer—I did a horrible job documenting this show while it was up. I was hoping to photograph everything before I struck the show, but when I arrived to photograph and strike the owners had already started moving stuff around to help make things quicker, as it is a functioning restaurant and bar. Guess I should have planned better and taken more photos during the show, but I was just too busy having fun to care 😅. I don’t regret it.

⬆️ (click any image for a larger look) I built 10 medium-sized mixed media pieces—these made up the bulk of the show and were based off a series I started in 2020 called “random assembly required.” The name of the series implies exactly how the pieces were made. All of the content was literally plucked at random from my sketchbook or from stuff I’d scanned or photographed with my phone I thought was odd or peculiar. Example: A lot of people asked were the butts in the yellow piece came from…this was from one of my spouse’s chiropractor visits. I found it crumpled under the seat in our car one day and knew I needed to do something with it—it ended up becoming a metaphor for moving through the pandemic and all the physical and emotional things attached to that experience…

⬆️ I printed these large A1 size pieces on canvas—this is where the name of the show (Fare o Essere—Do/Make or Be) came to be and where the idea for the audience participation piece (see below) came in. The other typographic expressions are more or less other ways to say the same thing or pose the same existential question. One of my goals in moving to Italy was to design/set type in two languages. I’m happy to say I was able to do that here. That said, after a year + of learning I still have so, so far to go. I’ve been photographing a lot since I’ve been here. It felt great to use some of my photographs in this work as well. They printed really well on the canvas.

⬆️ I’ve always wanted to make a series of small square pieces—just because. These are 10X10 CM and are basically all just cherrypicked from my sketchbook randomly.

⬆️ Almost every show I’ve ever had features some sort of audience participation piece. This one was no different. It was really neat do do this is two languages (Italian and English) to explore potential cultural differences in how people might respond. I had around 70 responses in total—which I thought was excellent! It was about 70/30% majority Italian. And I found that people that responded in Italian tended to go deeper conceptually on the whole. My favorite response overall was “Fare lo stronzo o essere carta igenica”—which translates to—“Make the asshole or be the toilet paper.” As crude as it may be, this concept speaks volumes about so many problems we have today. I’d like to think this person might have been an engineer, architect, or designer, but who knows. This general idea of building better frameworks for survival or suffering the consequences really hit me hard. Bravo, whoever you are that did this! This one piece alone made the work of building the show worthwhile. It also felt great to use my garage screenprinting setup to print these with metallic black ink on color A4 paper stock. Gotta say, they turned out pretty sweet—and consistent! Still got it, baby 😀

⬆️ As I mentioned before, the show was already half way down when I came to photograph and strike, but nonetheless, La Taverna, Slow Bar in Polcenigo was the perfect location for this show. The owners are incredibly generous and were amazing hosts for our mixed reception of Italian and American friends. This show was held on the first Friday in April, 2022 and the place was packed. We were humbled by the amount of friends we had come out in support. It was also great to have patrons of the business mixing and mingling with us as well. The show was up for the full month of April.

More emphasis on fun that show documentation…

I’ve said most of what I wanted to say in the captions, but I do want to reiterate how humbling and neat is was to have both Italian and American friends we’ve made since being here come out (in driving rain) to support the show. Huge thanks to La Taverna and everyone that came. Since I’ve started working as a Graphic Designer for the USAF on base, there hasn’t been a whole lot of free time to do stuff like this. I’m proud to have been able to make this work and very much appreciate the support of my spouse, Amanda for coaching me through the pinch points. This was/will be a highlight of our time here in Italy for sure and I’d love to do something like this again in the future. Now that I’m not in a tenure track teaching position, there was no pressure or expectation to make this “fit” into any sort of framework for “approval.” I just made the work and enjoyed hanging out with the people that came. We had a ton of good laughs along with many drinks and great food from La Taverna. Yeah, I wish I would have snapped a few photos of the show actually happening, but looking back being fully present was by far more important/valuable. In the past when I’ve had shows I was preoccupied with how I would document it for tenure. Being free from that just felt right. Between the making, the screenprinting, and the audience feedback this experience touched on all the things that are deeply important to me as a maker—and as a human. Active energy exchange through making / thinking between maker and audience during an exhibition is absolutely essential for me. Ironically, there were many points in the process where time was short and things felt like an inconvenient squeeze to make it all work. The daily grind has a way of obscuring or distorting deep personal values, but even if you’re tired once you break that patina of inconvenience and get into something deep down you know will make you feel good…the good feelings do in fact, start rolling in. Enough for now—ciao.

📸 ➕ ✍️ ➕🖼 ➕