Close To You

September 17 - October 16, 1999

Sheila Pepe charged Fritz Buehner, Robin Dash and herself with the task of selecting one other artist (each) for an "Artists select Artists" exhibit. But in the process of looking at who was creatively interesting or influential to the making of their own work each of the "selectors" came to an equally unexpected and undeniable realization. The person that was closest to them or one of the other artists in the exhibit--not some famous artist or writer far removed--but a partner, lover or spouse, also an artist, was the obvious choice. The result is an honest illumination of the relationships that often invisibly support and enrich the act of creating art. The revised title "Close To You" and work exhibited describes interesting differences and overlapping interests of artists who are true peers; competing with, influencing and evaluating each other. In addition, ignoring taboo "conflicts of interest" between artists reveals the personal side of that sometimes fleeting, unintentional moment: inspiration. -James Hull

Fritz Buehner -- ( selected his partner) --- Diana Puntar
Robin Dash -- ( selected a partner of another artist in the exhibit) --- Carrie Moyer
Sheila Pepe -- ( selected a friend from a residency at Skowhegan)) --- Georgia Metz

Introduction by Sheila Pepe
It seems that for some time now it has been important for artists to actively and strategically situate themselves, their practice and the work they produce, in a specific part of the art world. It is something I do myself. It seems to come as an evolution of conceptual practices, and from a need to make critical statements that convey my values regarding art hierarchies and norms. With this method I can work towards addressing life's experiences not easily conveyed by existing art practices, or are better stated in other disciplines, by finding an odd assortment of methodological, conceptual and stylistic signs that I use like tent poles - with me carving out a place to set up camp by using my own personal hybrid of art history and the art world.

Often artists work directly to or from the kind of signs set up by theoreticians, critics and historians. This can be an enriching experience for both the artist and the scholar. Crossing the bounds of media and discipline can create new complements and synergies. It can expand audiences and generate a sense of value and status where none had been before. This happens in part as work takes on a greater sense of authority by passing into the "more objective" realm of another discipline.

Most often I work directly to or from the kinds of signs set up by other artists. Frequently these artists are people I don't know, some times they are dead. But sometimes, more and more these days, I know the other artists. When you think about how this happens it is very interesting. You can meet the work first and know the person through the work, meet the person first and get to know the work later, or meet them both at the same time and be drawn by the work to know the person better, or visa versa. The thing is, there is nothing objective about this kind of dialogue and exchange. We converse with either other on two tracks: as friends or lovers and as fellow artists. It's risky. As in any meaningful relationship - one in which understanding evolves by expressing differences as often as similarities - terms and connections are always under construction. This process can produce an amazingly fertile place of work, play: creativity. However, where ideas run free, ownership is challenged. And in an art world with limited opportunities, we naturally compete with each other. It's very complex. And I find the complexity rewarding. These are the relationships that best challenge and support my conviction to keep making things. These are the relationships that keep my life close to real art and my art close to real life.

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