Art by the masses, for the masses

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By Ljudmila Petrovic
Photos courtesy of EMI

Masterminds behind Bill You Murray Me back with a Spice Girls-themed art show

A group of friends, drinking cocktails, and making art: casual night in, or the beginnings of a series of themed art shows? For Christina Chant and the other members of the Quick and Dirty Collective, it was both. The premise of their art shows is that they are a group effort: anybody can submit an art piece, as long as it fits the theme of the chosen celebrity. The first show, “Steven Seagallery”, had the theme of — you guessed it — Steven Seagal. Chant says the initial idea for the Steven Seagallery was a friend of hers’ and that, after several nights of collective art, it became clear that a show of that sort would not be too difficult to put together.

In October 2011, with her friend’s blessing, Chant and several of her colleagues put together the Steven Seagallery. “It got people that don’t typically make art to make art,” says Chant of the show’s success. That and the high turnout convinced the organizers to do another show: this time, the theme was Bill Murray. Bill You Murray Me?! took place in February and March of this year, and had even more success than its predecessor.

“After the last show, we were pumped on the results,” says Chant, which brings us to last Saturday’s show: Zig-a-zigallery, a Spice Girls-inspired art show. The show took place at The Fall and, as per its theme, all the art represented the Spice Girls in one way or another. The mediums varied from drawings to installations to videos to paintings — the only possible reason a piece would get rejected is if it had nothing to do with the theme; everything else has the green light.

The art show was true to Spice Girls form: lots of music and colors, with a surprise performance by the Spice Boys. The atmosphere had a casual, just-for-fun vibe, where all mediums, ideas, and skill levels are welcomed with open arms — much like the approach the organizers themselves take to their shows. “It’s meant to be fun, and meant to lower barriers”, says Chant. “I have a day job. If [putting together the shows] wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t do it.” Unfortunately, the fact that it’s not for profit and only a fun project means that the organizers don’t have time to expand the project as much as they would like.  “Ideally, we would be able to have a website, with links to artists that have contributed,” continues Chant. “If there’s time, we’ll do it, but it’s on the backburner for now.”

The upcoming show has a theme that’s just as fun as the last few: Snoop Dogg. So, what do Steven Seagal, Bill Murray, the Spice Girls, and Snoop Dogg all have in common that got them chosen as themes? Celebrity subjects are picked based on being nostalgic, easy to poke fun of, well-loved, and something that people will want to come see, says Chant. “If people respond, it’s kind of a deciding factor,” she explains. “It’s what the public wants, man.”

The Snoop Dogg show is set to take place in November, with a punny title still in the brainstorming process.

These shows are meant to be fun, and they are meant to be about collaboration and art, uninhibited by skill or fear of judgment. Admission into all their shows is by donation, and the art pieces are for sale, with all the proceeds going directly to the artist themselves. The shows are about inclusion, and about community. So, contribute to the next show — even if it’s a stick drawing of Snoop Dogg. Or just get dressed up, come down, have a drink, and support local artists.