(One of the posts I wrote on my Swell 24.7 blog in my previous life as a gift store owner in the busy tourist town of Provincetown on Cape Cod; posts that are grouped here under the category What Else Is Swell?, and are generally about life in Provincetown, life as a retailer, our fabulous dog Jack who sat outside the store for well over a decade, and other random things that grabbed me at the time.)
There are many advantages to having a husband who used to run the store with me, not least of which is the fact that, as long as he isn't at his own job, he can step in and cover for me in an emergency.
And by emergency I mean, of course, something to do with art. An opening, a closing, an artist talk, a members drop off at PAAM; anything that I would be totally gutted if I had to miss.
Which is why Nick ran the store the day we reopened for the season so that I could go to the deCordova Museum to hear Rachel Perry Welty talk about her amazing show 24/7. And it's why he stepped in for a couple of hours, on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend no less, so that I could go to the closing of the Robert Rindler exhibit at the Provincetown Art Association.
Clearly I have the best husband ever. He loves going to art exhibits with me but he also totally understands that if I'm mostly hyperventilating while I'm there then he'll have to do whatever it takes for me to be able to go to any follow up activity. He already knows that we are so going to NJ next Feb or March for the even bigger version of Rachel Perry Welty's 24/7. It's really his fault as he's the one that got me the copy of Art New England because he knew I would totally love the cover; and that is what turned me into an RPW groupie in the first place (as you'll see if you read this).
But I am also a Robert Rindler groupie and I managed to get to his exhibit several times (and I've already written here about why I liked it so much) but I still really wanted to go back for the closing where there was to be a dismantling of sorts of the largest part of the exhibit, the 9 rectangles of different colored plastic items. As I wrote before (yes I really do want you to read that post too - can you tell?):
I read in the program that at the end of it's run people are allowed to take 25 pieces, for free. So then these previously discarded trinkets will go to people's homes with the accolade of 'art' attached to them elevating them to a whole new status and giving them a whole new history. How fantastic is that? It's so simple, and yet so perfect.
And that was what I wanted to see.
There were not as many people there as I had expected but those that were exhibited an amazing level of commitment to the task. They showed up with shopping bags and plastic tubs, canvas totes and cardboard boxes. One woman handily had a reusable tote bag she had bought at our store just a half hour earlier which she whipped out once she realized she needed some sort of receptacle for the treasures she was eying. People were serious; and it was pretty clear that no one was going to be held to the 25 piece limit. A couple of minutes before it was due to start Rindler announced that they would hold off for an hour as other people were on their way. Not a chance. There was a minor mutiny from the crowd and he quickly (and wisely) acquiesced.
Rindler had several on the spot rules to go over:
1. No taking cups or pitchers with handles - he has an idea for a piece that will need them;
2. He showed people how to shuffle into the center of the rectangles without breaking things and implored them not to mix the colors;
3. He asked them to only take things they really really wanted and to promise to keep them and that if they ever in the future wanted to get rid of them they must be taken to the recycling center and absolutely not be thrown away;
And, 4. Everyone could take up to 25 pieces.
And then he let people go for it.
And go for it they did. Everyone was bent close to the ground with the small children having a huge advantage over the adults for a change. This little girl with jet black hair wearing a red and white polka dot dress looked like she was part of the exhibit as she moved from color to color and very seriously considered everything that caught her eye. It was mesmerizing to watch her.
One woman took what looked like hundreds of pieces, but every single one of them from the green section. Someone else went for purely practical items - serving spoons, dishes and containers. Another collected everything she needed to make her own Jetsam Jellyfish, including a long plastic string type thing that she could bind them together with.
I had actually gone there to pick up the Jellyfish we had bought, but that required a tall ladder and with all the happy chaos that didn't seem like the smartest thing to do, so Rindler's partner James kindly brought it by the store later. I didn't forage for my alloted 25 pieces but during the course of the event I did somewhat bond with 2 yellow bears and a blue grasshopper thing so I decided to take them home; reminders of the joy I felt everytime I had been to the show.
Rindler repeated the rules many times over the hour or so and for the most part people were very respectful, apart from the 25 piece limit thing. On the one hand it seemed like people should be able to take as much they wanted; at his talk the artist had said he didn't want to take any of it home and what else was he going to do with it all? But on the other hand making people choose a maximum of 25 would force them to be selective; it would make them take only those pieces they really wanted. And I could tell that was very important to him. I think actually most did do that; despite the vulture like appearance I saw lots of people look at things and put them back because they didn't really really want them.
It was hard to tell if Rindler was having a good time or was totally stressed by not being in control of everything. Maybe a little of both. It seemed like it was the end of something very big for him. A giant relief but also some loss. This huge installation was a massive accomplishment, the result of years of collecting, months of planning and days of setting up. And in just a few hours it's all gone and something new takes it's place.
It must leave a void for the artist.
It certainly leaves a void for me.
(You can see a lot more pictures from the exhibit on my own Facebook art page.)