I SEE YOU A Three-Person Exhibition by Lynnea Holland-Weiss, Dan Isaac Bortz and NDA
Conversation between Lynnea, Dan, Nick, and Amy Boone-McCreesh in July of 2017
CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE TITLE FOR THE SHOW AND ITS PARTICIPANTS? DID YOU ALL KNOW EACH OTHER BEFORE THE SHOW?
Lynnea: We’re all friends, and Dan and I are also life partners. When Dan and I lived in Philadelphia about two years ago, we met Nick who moved here around the same time as well.
Dan: Lynnea had a show here [at Space 1026] after about a year of living in Philly. We didn’t really know many people; we came here for an apprenticeship I did at the Fabric Workshop and Museum. We were kind of hermitting a bit, just making work, and then when Lynnea had that show, Nick was one of the friends we made through this space, because he is friends with Will Laren who has a studio here.
Nick: I saw their work then and I knew I’d seen it on social media, so I put two and two together and we kinda clicked and started hanging out, making work together and putting up wheatpastes.
Dan: As far as the title goes, we were brainstorming ideas for the show and I came up with, “I See You” which is super versatile, not necessarily ambiguous, but something that can be interpreted in so many different ways. It’s humorous, but also goes much deeper.
Lynnea: I like hearing it as a slang, popular phrase right now that is a way to acknowledge one another. It feels relevant to how friends stay aware what one another are up to today, like “I See You …Doing You”
Nick: I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that at first I thought it was too hip, like we’re hitting too much of a note and [Dan & Lynnea] were both like, “We love it!” They kinda wore me down with their reasons in that it worked on several levels. And once they showed me it on the showcard, I thought it was perfect. I’m a visual person, so just talking about it back and forth doesn’t work.
Dan: My roots are in painting text, so when I think of a title, I see the letters and the whole layout.
Nick: And me just seeing a text that says, “I see you”–I didn’t know, but seeing the visual layout of it really brought it together for me.
Dan: We were trying not to be cryptic with the meaning, yet still poetic.
Lynnea: The work is playful, and we really all make work that is coming from an observational place, so I liked that the title supports that. To me, because it is overused lingo, it makes it feel everyday or commonplace, which makes it both casual and deep at the same time.
Dan: And when talking about social media and how it’s connecting all of us, we’re constantly seeing each other even if you haven’t talked to somebody for a long time. I See You is about this acknowledgment and web of connection.
DO YOU LIVE IN PHILADELPHIA, IF SO, HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN HERE?
Work by NDA
N: I do, I’ve been here about 3 years now. For a while I was living in New York and then New Jersey, but Philly was this nice in-between of affordable, still a city, lots of good cultural things going on with music and the arts, so it really hits all the buttons. It’s been a slow grind getting it to feel like home, but I’m here and I think I’m going to stick it out for a while.
L: Dan and I don’t currently live in Philly. We met at California College of the Arts in Oakland and San Francisco, which is also where I grew up.
D: I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and moved [to CA] when I was around 18 to go to school. And then when [Lynnea and I] graduated we travelled for about a year–
L: All over the US; we lived in New Orleans for a while, New Mexico, and were just on the road for awhile until ending up in Philly, for about a year and a half. After that, we went back to Oakland. So we’ve been based in Oakland [CA] for the last couple of years. We decided though to pack up our lives again and on our way to do this show we brought all of our belongings with us, and dropped them off in Cleveland, where we are going to eventually set up a new studio after a bit more travel. We are kind of always bouncing around different cities and love experiencing new places. Cleveland seems like a good central and affordable home-base for an epic studio, but also so that we can continue travel on a regular basis for projects and such.
THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I HAVE DONE AN EXHIBITION VISIT FOR A GROUP SHOW, SO HOW YOU DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR WORK RELATES AND DIFFERS TO ONE ANOTHER, ON A GRAND SCALE?
L: I feel our work complements each other, and once you know or can find the specific voices in the exhibition you can pick them apart and see where each person is coming from. [Dan and I] knew we wanted to do a show together, because we are always making work separately, but in the same space.
N: Is this the first time you guys have done a show together?
L: Well this is the first official show together that is focused, compared to larger group exhibitions that we have both been in. And this is the first time we’ve made collaborative paintings. We have three in this show.
D: The longer we’ve been together, the more our color pallets and ideas have become similar. We just kinda borrow things and assist each other.
L: It’s kind of impossible not to do that when you’re sharing a living and working space together all the time. Each piece [we worked on together] was a different approach. For “Text Message” that piece was a clear idea, where we knew who was going to paint what parts. In “Not Looking,” Dan painted the entire environment and I put figures into the space. And “Personal Confection,” I started with the figure’s arms and gesture and then Dan went in and the smiley and grape eyes, and then I went back to it and so on, so it was a back and forth process. (both pieces pictured below)
D: I’m way less process based. Most of my work is super idea based. I have a vision or an idea and then I figure out how I’m going to execute it technically.
L: I am the polar opposite. I’m all process-based. I usually don’t have a clear concept or desired outcome going into it. I just let it develop and react as I go along.
N: I’m somewhere right in the middle of that and I think stylistically when we were talking about why [the show] would work is that we all have certain color palettes that are a byline of the subject matter. The fact that certain thematic things worked their way through the show–that wasn’t really talked about, it sort of just happened based on common cultural shared experiences. It happened organically. I knew that if our styles were different enough that there were enough similarities between the three that we would make a cohesive enough show, and it really came together.
D: When talking about the thematic subject matter that connects our works, I think it is because we’re all just really intuitively making uninhibited work. We’re not picking it apart, it is a pure reaction to what’s happening right now in the world.
HOW LONG DID YOU HAVE TO PREPARE FOR THIS EXHIBITION AND HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO INSTALL?
L: We spent about a week installing.
D: Actually, less than a week.
L: And spent all day and all night here, most nights. But yeah, I think we [first] knew the show was happening maybe 8 months ago.
N: I usually do outdoor work in the summer, so I was a little hesitant about an exhibition around that time, but I had so much time to prepare for it. Usually you have to get something done in a month, but we had plenty of time so I felt really comfortable about that.
L: [Dan and I] had shows with the same opening night in Oakland, less than a block from each other actually, in April. So we pretty much made all our work for this show since then.
D: So we were working towards that and then pretty abruptly we made a decision that it was time to leave the Bay and move to Cleveland. We had a really developed studio in Oakland, and so we had to break that all down and pack up.
L: So we were finishing paintings and packing simultaneously–
D: And then drove it all across the country.
WHAT IS UNIQUE OR DIFFERENT ABOUT SPACE 1026 COMPARED TO OTHERS SPACES YOU’VE WORKED IN PREVIOUSLY?
L: This space truly is so awesome and one of a kind, and everybody is so great.
N: What I really like about it is that it’s the right balance of a legit space–it is a gallery, but also somebody works next door, so it has a really utilitarian aspect to it, which I really vibe off. When we were setting up, Space artists are always coming in and out and doing their work. It doesn’t feel too stuffy.
D: Artists that I respect and are inspired by have had studios and/or have shown here. This place has a history of showing really good work. It’s been here for 20 years and it’s a really important place in my eyes.
N: Some of my favorite artist’s have done shows here, so we’re in good company.
D: Before I even knew [about this place], people I followed in the early 2000s I’ve discovered have ties to this place and that’s kind of amazing.
L: It’s also nice to be in a space that’s all freedom. You can do whatever you want, as far as installation, it’s all open. You can see your vision fully through. In some ways it is a lot more work doing a show in a collective art space, because you don’t have the support of a traditional gallery as much, when it comes to the administrative, sales and preparator aspects of an exhibition. So you are responsible for making a lot of that happen on your own. But, you get to do absolutely anything and have total control, which is nice.
D: It’s better to go into something knowing that’s the case, than working with a gallery that creates obstacles for you, whereas here they do nothing but help you or get out of the way. It’s the perfect balance between being a DIY space that could be in total disarray and being super organized and professional…where they have a cool water tank. And I know that’s a silly thing, but it’s key.
N: If you’re working 13 hour days setting up, you’re going to need that.
WHAT OTHER PROJECTS OR EXHIBITIONS DO YOU HAVE COMING UP THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO PROMOTE?
L: I just found out I’m going to be working on a two person exhibition with Nicolas Holiber in South Africa. The curator has been based in New York, but is opening up a new space in Capetown. So that’s what I’m going to be working on for the next few months.
D: I’m going to be painting some murals in Cleveland, probably in August and September. I’m doing an album cover for my friend Doja Powerplay who is a really great rapper. Shout out to Doja Powerplay! Otherwise we’re moving to Cleveland to start a screen printing studio. I want to have a textile screen printing facility to print yardage because that’s the thing I really want to be focusing on. And then we want to be open for business and have enough space to be able to invite fellow artists and friends to do residencies or projects. I’m excited to create a scenario that hopefully can provide ample space and time to make work, and abundance to provide space for others as well.
L: Yeah I’m really pumped about the space and limitlessness that an underdog place like Cleveland allows for. But also before fully setting up shop there, we are interested in doing some residencies and more projects as a collaborative duo because we’re really excited about these collaborations we did for this show, and want to continue to push the possibilities our combined voice.
N: I’m a little superstitious about talking about a project before it’s locked in. But, I have several mural projects that really look like they’re going to happen on the East and West coasts. One of the reasons I moved to Philly was to work with Mural Arts. I just did my first one with them right before this show. I also have a couple of things going with friends of mine who have a clothing line, so I’m hopefully doing some of my pattern-based work on clothing. The thing I’m most stoked on actually is a collaboration between me and my mom. She’s a potter, so we’re trying to do a line of my work on her work. We did a few that looked cool, but we’re still ironing it out. I don’t know much about ceramics, so it’s a trial and error process. Also what I really want to do for the rest of the summer on my down time is get back to public art, just in general, like street art type stuff. I’ve got a lot of ideas kicking around.
Works by Lynnea Holland Weiss, Dan Bortz and NDA
The show runs from July 7- July 28, 2017 at Space 1026 in Philadelphia