Space goes joyful and other news

ramseywindowCanadian artist Luke Ramsey’s “Finding Joy” installation at Space 1026 is energetic and — in a twist I’ve seen recently in some young art — optimistic. (See his website for more of his art.)

(Image is one small part of Ramsey’s joy art installation at Space 1026. The writing is on the window. “Happy to be here,” it says. On another window the sentiment is “Love to be here.”)

Without reading too much into the joy-love-happiness phenomenon, which I take to be sincere and not irony-laced, I’ll just say I welcome it as a respite from the darker art that is ubiquitous at the moment.

Although I do wonder about the artful embrace of joy — which seems a hippie holdover with some cultish undertones. It’s a little too loud and insistent, dipping dangerously close to pre-kindergarten sentiment — or to cultish word cant. (image is installation shot at Space 1026)

I need to study it more and talk to the young artists. Perhaps they’re just channeling childhood, a time when war, hatred and unhappiness are not words in the lexicon. Love and happiness are. Maybe there’s some cognitive therapy going on? I will make myself happy by saying happy things.


There’s a song played a lot on the boomer-friendly WXPN radio lately and while I can’t remember the name of the young male singer who croons it, the song’s got the new ode to joy down perfectly. The ambiance is let’s hang out and be happy; you make me happy and, in the one lyric that sticks out as emblematic of what’s going on here, “I’ll come up to your room and try on your clothes,” the guy sings to his girl. (Help me here it Damien Rice?)

I’ve seen four year old boys and girls do just that — try on each other’s clothes. It’s among the things they do when play acting their way into who they are and what their bodies are all about. The lyric may be metaphorical. But even if it’s not, the sentiment it embodies — who are you and who am I and how do we differ and let’s get silly and naked and try on each others clothes — is somehow willfully juvenile and captures the spirit of the joy art phenomenon in all its sweet four-year old charm. (image is a $2 poster by Ramsey that got wallpapered to the walls as part of the installation. It’s a very nice robot and machine image that conveys both Victoriana (when it’s on the walls) and psychedelia.)
Anyway, Ramsay’s installation is lovely and cheerful. His cartoons show the influence of Barry McGee, Jim Houser and others. The installation, which runs the entire room including the windows is nicely done. I especially like the wallpapered posters on the walls and the writing on the windows — call them joyful, benevolent grafitti. There are also books and zines to look at and a “merch” table that includes $2 posters and other great, low-priced works on paper. The artist is in residence and working on drawings for a new book. I missed him the day I was there but drop by and you may find him in.

Bookmobile up-shifts for year 5!


Can you believe it. The little bilingual airstream trailer called the Bookmobile — Bookmobile Mobilivre — is getting ready for its fifth year of running around North America dispensing artist’s books and teaching people in small towns how to bookbind.

Courtney Dailey, one of the Bookmobile moguls was screen printing merch for the upcoming tour when I was in to see Ramsey’s works. The merch was t-shirts with a great image of a big randy bunny sitting astride the airstream and reading a book. I’m sorry i didn’t take a picture. Ginger Takahashi is the artist and I’ve admired her bunny-play for years.)

Dailey, who was assisted by Janet, another Bookmobiler, said the Bookmobile tour this year launches in Canada at the end of April. There will be a big show in Montreal at the beginning of what they’re calling the “High Five” tour. I’ll let you know more when I get the info. The website gives you last year’s itinerary and this year’s will be similar.