Strangercrombie is goodness. For anybody new to this, it's The Stranger's annual charity auction. Last year it raised more than $50,000. This year the money will go to Country Doctor, Urban Rest Stop, and Senior Services.
That is not why I am writing this column.
I am writing this column because this year we asked six artists to make one-of-a-kind piñatas for Strangercrombie; the piñatas have finally arrived at the office, and they are a tiny group exhibition worth the ink. Smacking the crap out of any of these is going to be a problem.
Coco Howard's is a fuzzy, sweet-faced, cocooned creature with a rolled-up note in his little white hand—and he is dangling from a noose. The note is a suicide note. Inside, he's full of felt organs.
Buddy Bunting's piñata is a cop car as big as a kitchen table. He's been drawing cop cars for years. But since a Seattle police officer was assassinated this season, his car becomes particularly loaded... and it's full of doughnuts.
Jennifer Zwick built a "me-ñata" that looks just like her. It wears glasses and has long hair (creepy-looking fake hair) and cute pants, just like her (although the piñata's pants are extra-reflective). Inside it are 100 pins printed with her list of 100 "what might go wrong" statements—so when you smash her open, all her fears spill out. (Number 10: "spider gets under my eyelid"; 14: "mass extinction"; 16: "face melts off at a party.")
Susanna Bluhm built a white cube wearing girlie/funereal/festive/classically piñatan white fringe. She's calling it Minimalist Sacrifice (it joins great early takes on the austere, "masculine" minimalist cube—Roni Horn's pink glass, Eva Hesse's internally hairy box, Jackie Winsor's burned cement/wood/wire mesh). This one is full of "tokens from the world" and "little pieces of art" waiting to be violently released.
Joey Veltkamp's brown bear the size of a toddler is smooth and shiny, like a hard candy. He's big-eyed, big-bellied, and contains gift certificates of absurdly big value: $50 each to King's Hardware, Smith, Linda's Tavern, and Oddfellows Cafe; 50 free-drink coupons from Stumptown; and 15 free-cupcake coupons from Cupcake Royale.
Oh, and Vaughn Bell made a viaduct. Yup. For you to kill. Before the real one kills you.
See, aesthetics and ethics can coexist.
UPDATE: At the artist's request (and we agree with him), due to recent events we're not going to auction off the police-car piñata in this year's Strangercrombie.