New Orleans Triennial,
New Orleans Museum of Art, 1998
more images of "Gray Painting"
pictured and reviewed by Michael Plante ("Southern Discomfort" pg. 67) in "Art in America", March 1999
"1998 New Orleans Triennial" catalogue published by the New Orleans Museum of Art
Gray Painting was initiated by a comment my friend and sometime collaborator Matt Vis made: "No wonder your work is so popular, it's so colorful." Immediately I made plans for a monochromatic installation.
Selected for a studio visit by 1998 New Orleans Triennial curator Charlotta Kotik and New Orleans Art Museum curator Bill Fagaly, I set upon creating a green installation in my studio and scheduled their visit during the running of the Kentucky Derby (this would later become the show Breeders Cup at Marguerite Oestreicher Gallery in New Orleans). Charlotta selected a version of the site-specific installation Webelo for the Triennial.
When Matt made his comment I envisioned a beige piece—the blandest color possible. But for this piece I had the museum's gray granite floor to work with, and thus Gray Painting was born. Like Webelo, Gray Painting is a gallery of "portraits" hung on painted walls, with furniture and puzzle paintings to be completed by viewers. I think of this as the gallery in the boardgame Clue. Gray Painting specifically surrounds the viewer in the painting and gives them a role to play in its completion.
One half of the walls are covered in images from the museum's City Park location, the other half my standard cartoon wood paneling pattern. The paintings are all done on stretched fabric whose color and patterns have been grayed out. Each painting has a background image from the museum and City Park grounds and a foreground image from my personal cast of characters, including Balzac and Painter Boy. Since I was supporting myself as a house painter at the time, I gave the piece a final spin with a brochure touting the skills of the fictional contractor Gray Painting, thus possibly making the whole piece a showroom and further questioning or expanding what a painting may be.
As with all of my work, many thanks go out to those whose help and patience was strained with it's completion. In particular, Michael Greathouse for jigsawing help, Erin Miller Arnold for upholstery and patience, my parents Martin and Yvonne Hailey for financial support during an extraordinarily busy time, and Christopher Saucedo, who surely helped me with something.
Genre Picture would be my beige piece...