Kellen: So, how did you two end up hitting the open road this summer?
Kate: Michael's moving back to Jersey to start a store and gallery, and I wanted to see where he's from and check out New York, so it just felt right to quit my day job and go with him. We packed up his Astro van complete with a twin bed and boxes of paint and hit the road with a leisurely 2 week timeline to get east and basically just a commitment to meeting up with people we know from life or the internet along the way. We didn't want to rush across.
Michael: Mmmm hmm, also I have been in and out of California for the last 4 years and my time felt as if it was naturally coming to an end there.
What are some of the stops you've made? I know you’ve been stopping at galleries and museums along the way. Any impactful pieces or places worth checking out?
K: Our first stop was near Mt. Tahoe. We pulled off the highway to strip our clothes and paint under a bridge. Next day was Yellowstone, walking around amazing pools of water with an eerie pearlescence that looked as if they were a static wave washing ashore or a window into a prehistoric dimension. I remember Michael saying that "it's places like this that make people believe in God". As we were leaving the park there was a section where huge elk mingled with tourists, munching on mowed grass among the parked cars.
M: Then we ended up in Bozeman, Montana, ate some pizza and went to this lavish hot spring pool. There was about a dozen pools of various temperatures. We slept in a National Forest for free that night. After that we drove quite some miles to Minneapolis, ate something, and then left for Milwaukee, which is where Kate's family lives.
K: The Milwaukee Art Museum is beautiful- definitely a must-see if you are in the city. It's designed by Calatrava and looks like a white bird. Other than that, we drank a lot of beer in Milwaukee. I worked on my paintings for Got It For Cheap, a big traveling group show where everything is sold for $30.
M: On to Chicago, where we stayed on the 40th floor near the Trump Tower, my childhood friend trades options...something related to hedge funds...American Psycho stuff. Don't judge. The Art Institute of Chicago was very impressive, I mostly explored 1900-present, and Kate mostly explored earlier European work. It justified the $25 it cost to get in, which is a bit steep. We also went to CAKE, which is an alternative comix convention annually held in Chicago, the highlight of that was a new John Pham risographed book.
K: I pretty much spent my entire Chicago Art Institute time drawing a painting of Venus and Cupid from the 1700's. That's my jam, posting up in front of a few paintings and studying the composition and light by trying to recreate it as accurately as I can. I guess I payed $25 to draw. I would have gone back if I could.
M: After that we drove to Detroit, airBNB'd in a dilapidated house that cost the owner $10,000, and ate some really good food. We casually explored the city, went to some art spots and saw a Jessy Lanza show.
K: I dipped into a huge abandoned warehouse near the Eastern Market in Detroit and painted a woman wrestling a snake. It smelled like death and trash and every surface was covered in graffiti. I need to go back to Detroit. Then we drove 10 hours and ended our trip by going to a proper Jersey wedding. We started our trip with the Sierra Nevada mountains of Tahoe and ended it with mountains of calamari and antipasto.
How has it been trying to make art outside of the studio?
K: Before we left on the road trip I decided to switch it up and make some good ol' food videos. I need to take breaks from painting sometimes, get some fresh material. I also can't really draw in the car, I get the motion sickness. I did sketch a little bit though, to avoid going insane. Michael's been filming my hands poking eggs, squeezing a banana, washing my hands with chocolate. I pair the videos with captions about feminism and personal experience. I mostly used Instagram as my digital sketchbook for the trip.
M: I mostly make art outside of a studio setting, aside from my brief stays at Le Qui Vive and Athen B I never had a studio after college so it's normal for me. Not really preferred, but normal. Thus, I made some quick animations in the car on my drawing tablet, an easy way to animate without pulling out a scanner or paint.
You collaborate a lot as a duo, has this shared experience led you towards more collaborative works?
M: On this trip in particular no, not yet, but I was in squirrel mode for most of this trip, gathering the nuts.
K: Yeah, we took some pictures and video in Yellowstone that we'll use as a background for a collaborative animation at some point in the near future. It's important to take a break from full-throttle studio mode to have experiences that will fuel the next chapter of work.
Now that you're in New York, what's the plan?
M: I'm opening a storefront/gallery/venue in Rutherford, NJ. It'll all be clearer in the coming months. Keep em peeled.
K: K: I'm staying in Bushwick for most of July, watching a dog and living in Helen O'Leary's loft/studio. I can't wait to be surrounded by her work. I've got a couple group shows (Stephanie Chefas Projects in Portland and Athen B.) and artist-run art fairs (Open Space in Baltimore and Girl on Girl in Brooklyn) lined up for the coming months so I'll be making work out of her studio. I'll also be exploring with the dog, and trying to soak up as much New York art as possible before I go to the Acre residency, outside of Chicago, where I plan on making erotic ceramic sculptures before heading back to Oakland for the 4%ers show at Athen B. Then we will see what materializes from there.