When I first read the press release for Paint it Now, showing at Space 1026, I was intrigued. It described a site-specific collaborative live painting installation featuring work by eighteen local artists. With any group show, a cohesive final product is a difficult thing to achieve. I am happy to report that Paint it Now does not disappoint.
The project is the brainchild of Thomas Buildmore and Scott Chasse, who met in Boston curating for the Distillery Gallery in 2007. Their plan was to join local and visiting artists together and, allowing only black paint on white walls, challenge them to interactively fill the space. The installation covers Space 1026’s lofty walls entirely with vignettes large and small. Though the stylistic range covered a large scope, graphic to sketchy to slow and finely rendered, a current of graffiti influence ran throughout. Some favorites included a comic take on Cerberus represented as a three-headed poodle, a stencil-like portrait of Ben Franklin holding a boom box, and a striking, graphic silhouette of an oil rig which was repeated throughout the space.
I sat down with Buildmore to discuss his role in the project and its development over time. A graduate of the Museum School, Buildmore amphibiously skirts the line between curator and artist. Buildmore and Chasse initiate the installation by painting first, respectively. We chatted about what I like to call, “blank canvas anxiety,” that sometimes overwhelming fear the challenge of a blank page presents to the creative mind. Interestingly, he commented that he has noticed that by painting first, he and Chasse effectively dissipate this tension, allowing the artists the freedom to creatively interact. Buildmore discussed his reasoning for the bare bones materials (the high-contrast black paint is a specific viscosity blend of Lascaux acrylic). A painter by trade, he has found that a limit is not necessarily a bad thing as it can be helpful in communicating a concept—talking about the state of contemporary painting in the language of paint.
As we chatted, Buildmore discussed the difficulty of finding funding. He and his collaborators are resistant to the idea of monetizing the project because, as he puts it, “it’s just not what the project is about.” None of the artists who participate are paid for their work. Think on that for a moment: the show at Space 1026 took approximately four days, with the artists working twenty-plus hours at a time, to install. That’s a considerable amount of time for anyone to work pro bono. Buildmore, Chasse and their collaborators are in it for something else. When all is said and done, and the walls at Space 1026 are covered over with a fresh coat of white paint, Paint it Now will continue. Their work, effort and creative energy become a calcified yet living moment in time. The ongoing project seems to me an effort to distill the flavor of an artistic community into a sort of metaphysical time capsule—a record of cooperative interaction of minds and hands.
Paint it Now is on display at Space 1026 until May 25.