Buy This Book!
Seriously. I'm not going all sales-y on you. I'm just being enthusiastic.
Last night at the Creative Council's celebration of Ellen Harvey's new book, New York Beautification Project, I was knocked out by the artist's warmth, intelligence, and wit. She talked about some funny things that were actually quite serious, and some serious things that were firmly planted on the funny side of the fence. I picked up a copy of the book (And snagged a print that was given away to the first 10 buyers. Woohoo!!!!!). When I started to read it this morning I found the same entertaining charm and insight between the book's covers as I'd witnessed at the party.
It's one thing to put art in unexpected places. I could do that. It wouldn't be pretty, but I could do it. Anyway and however, to do it in a way that surprises and delights is another thing. Furthermore, it takes a special artist to make that surprise and delight extend beyond the initial contact. Ellen Harvey is that kind of artist.
In the book Harvey walks you through the story of each painting. My favorite tale is about her painting a scene on top of some grafitti in Washington Heights. When she revisited the site later she found that the graffiti artist had placed a small tag on Harvey's painting. Tagging a tagged tag. Art working itself out. That's the kind of stuff that makes me giddy.
I also like that while many artists--including Harvey--challenge the institution, here she challenges the non-institution. Painting unexpectedly and illegally on surfaces that had often already been violated begins a dialogue with almost anybody who sees it.
Near the end of the party a Harvey fan said to me, "Isn't it great when you meet an artist whose work you love, and they turn out to be this cool and nice?" Yes, Lauren. You got that right. (NOTE: The same rule applies to rockin' IT people as well.)