An Empty Vase, 2011

Jenny Heishman & Matthew Offenbacher: An Empty Vase, 2011; foam, tape, wood, paper, fabric, paint, wire, glue, drywall mud, plastic, sand, and artwork

“Can one be both enthusiastic and masterful?” Johanna Burton asked in an essay a few years back. We believe the answer is: “yes!”... and also “yes!” ... and “yes!” to a whole bunch of related and seemingly intractable questions. For example: can you occupy both the center and the margin? Can you make the scene and be a spectator?

Burton recounts the apocryphal story of Ruth Kjar, from Lacan’s seminar “On creation ex nihilo.” Briefly: Kjar suffered from depression, “an empty space inside her, a space she could never fill.” Her brother-in-law, a well-regarded painter, asked if he might store some unsold paintings by hanging them in Kjar’s apartment.

Kjar agreed and enjoyed living with the paintings. One day, however, the brother-in-law sold a painting. He came and removed it, leaving a large empty space on the wall. Kjar, depressed by this absence, found a brush and some paint and (never having done this before), began to “daub a little” directly on the wall. From her inexperience and enthusiasm emerged a work of art which everyone agreed somehow exceeded her brother-in law’s. “Kjar’s enthusiasm,” writes Burton, drove her to “not only create, but to create impossibly, masterfully, originally.”

A special inaugural exhibition for Prole Drift gallery, Seattle.

Made in collaboration with Jenny Heishman, and including work by Gretchen Bennett, Buddy Bunting, Tim Cross, Nicholas Nyland, and Chauney Peck.

read the Stranger review