Making one out of two – Meshing art practices of Ben Will and Sarah Eberle at Grizzly Grizzly

(Sam sees the Citywide exchange show at Grizzly Grizzly in which Sarah Eberle and Ben Will collaborate for the first time on an installation that looks as harmonious as a nicely planted garden. –the Artblog editors.)

The show Making Eyes begs the question: is the show’s title really intended as a lovey-dovey sentiment or is it a literal reference to the creation of new modes of visual perception?

 “Making Eyes,” installation view. Found Styrofoam packaging, magazines, toilet paper wrappers, paper and paint.
Making Eyes installation view. Found Styrofoam packaging, magazines, toilet paper wrappers, paper and paint.

The exhibit by Rebekah Templeton gallery owners and artists Sarah Eberle and Ben Will, is an installation that is part of the Citywide Initiative of exchange shows in which many alternative gallery spaces like Grizzly Grizzly and Rebekah Templeton exchanged spaces to host shows of their art. (Rebekah Templeton gallery is hosting a show by the artist-members of Grizzly Grizzly this month). This show marks the first time Eberle and Will, who are married, have ever made art together. According to their statement, the show represents them “flirting with each other’s artistic practices.” The result is a fantasy of a garden with flora created from found man-made materials, a little bit like walking into someone’s dream.


Both artists work with found materials and their two practices are in such harmony in this installation that it is hard to believe they have not previously made art together. There is a strong botanical theme present in most of Eberle’s meticulous cut-paper designs, but in an arrangement near the gallery’s ceiling, they resemble planets in orbit. Eberle’s individual objects were created out of toilet paper wrappers from her favorite bars and restaurants, according to the artists’ statement. These objects were then mounted or placed upon Will’s sculptures made of found Styrofoam packaging material, covered with paper and painted white. In relation to one another, Eberle’s pieces resemble ivy that has grown over the objects Will has found and repurposed.


Perhaps the title “Making Eyes” can be understood to refer to the creative perspective or “eyes” that Eberle and Will presumably share with each other and, in this show, with the viewers, where artificial materials create what could be a real-life “natural” garden or floral arrangement. Not to get too wild here, but one can almost imagine the artists walking through the dirty streets of our fair city, seeing  wrappers, paper and packaging materials strewn in the alleys as the vegetation of a heavenly garden. More realistically, this art practice built around found objects isn’t politically motivated (i.e. to support recycling), but based on a natural creative inclination towards these types of objects. Will said in an e-mail: “I have been fascinated by packaging since I was little, and found just as much interest in the packaging of toys that I received as the toys themselves.”


This installation could be seen as an intimate, romantic conversation between two people that viewers have intruded on, as the cheesy photograph of a couple walking down the beach in one piece suggests. But it seems more interesting as a reflection of the unique product created by the meshing of two artistic practices – a final result that is neither one nor the other, but something greater than the sum of its parts.

Making Eyes will be up at Grizzly Grizzly through Nov. 30.