Get ready to bawl your fucking eyes out, Seattle. Come June, after nearly two years of curating room-sized art installations, Colleen Louise Barry will no longer be operating Mount Analogue out of her glitter-floored studio in Pioneer Square.
The reason Barry plans to close up shop will be familiar to every artist in town. "Burnout. Money," she said in a recent interview at Linda's. "It's just an endless hamster wheel I want to jump off for a while."
Barry says the hunt for funding is an exhausting cycle. She says people are exhausting. She says the "community" is exhausting because they expect so much from curators. "All that's totally valid," she says, "But it's exhausting."
She also ran into a growth problem, which was good until it was not good. Hosting monthly, room-sized art installations, poetry readings, chamber operas, drag shows, and dance parties alongside an art book store became too large of a project for one woman alone.
She regrets not being able to make enough money to hire more people, which may have helped keep the space alive, but she's glad the visiting artists made some money selling their wares.
Three shows made Barry feel as if she were on top of the world. The opening of Jess Joy's The Singing Mime show "couldn't have existed in any other space in the world," Barry said. People packed the room, which Joy decked out in papier-mâché foliage. In these environs, Joy played theremin and guitar as she danced around and sang about a breakup. Barry said she could tell the artist was experimenting a lot, and that it was ultimately "an example of what the space could be."
She felt similar heart-swells when Samantha Gorham and Darrell J. Jordan of Operamuse premiered their BDSM chamber opera, Susanna's Secret, last year. "The opera was an example of our finical success that month, too. We paid every singer in that show, and paid our rent with ticket prices," Barry said.
She also felt particularly energized by Seattle's response to the Marina Fini show, Motelscape. "They showed up, they got what was happening, they wanted to participate," Barry said. "I wasn’t crazy about becoming an Instagram gallery, and have since totally ruined my Instagram reputation, but I’m proud of that."
For the last six months, Mount Analogue has become a residency program. Barry selected six other artists to take over the space and run their own gallery / art show for those months. This venture, which was also born of exhaustion (and of a need to provide space for "ideas that don't make money but are good"), has been pretty successful.
The events surrounding Patty Gone's hilarious, intellectually rigorous, and totally dreamy book, Love Life, more than adequately stimulated gallery-goers, and not just because the installation gave Barry the occasion to recreate Danielle Steel's writing desk, which is constructed of giant replicas of her own books.
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we’re ready for you l💗vers 〰️ @patty__gone LOVE LIFE opens tonight at #firstthursdayartwalk with performances by sarah galvin (@nakeddrugbutler) mona real (@mona.real) and patty them self starting at 7 〰️ also great shows at @partyhatparty @coldcubepress + @cocaseattle 🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹 SEE YOU SOON #daniellesteel #lovelife
I also loved the work Anthony White selected for Ultra Light Beams, which my colleague Jasmyne Keimig accurately called "post-analog as fuck."
And this month, art collective Women.Weed.Wifi have apparently created a nice bedroom for you to peruse. They call it the Sanctuary of the Modern Divine Feminine, and it's complete with an ivy swing, antique VHS tapes, good spots to take pics, and fine clothes for sale.
The absence of Mount Analogue as a gallery space will leave a beautifully strange hole in the fabric of Seattle's visual art scene. Barry's aesthetic is part romance novel, part juggalette chic, part psychedelic-academic, and part kiddie pool full of plastic balls in an art museum. She's an incredible artist with 10 good ideas a minute and the ability to realize them. Every one of the shows she curated and every one of the books she published in Seattle defied genre, sparked wonder, and made me crack up laughing. I mean, do you remember Final Rose? That book by Halie Theoharides composed entirely of screenshots from The Bachelor (with closed captioning on)? Everything was that funny, that strange, that great.
Though Barry's bowing out of gallery ownership for now, she's convinced there's a strong group of young artists in Seattle who are where she was two years ago, and she hopes one of them will take over the space.
And it's not like she's burying her creative genius in the sand. She wants to make Mount Analogue "more abstract again," and wants to refocus on publishing again. She's currently thinking about launching the first issue of Mount Analogue "The Magazine" in December/January of 2020.
"It’s going to be a big production," Barry said, before reeling off a list of surreal possibilities. "It'll only be available in doctor’s offices—sometimes. Other times, only in horse barns. Other times, the writer and the artist who create the magazine will never speak to one another. I might reprint in its entirety a 1970s issue of Vogue, but then ask someone else to write the captions. I don’t know. It’s going to be wild. 'Mount Analogue the Magazine: coming to a dentist’s office near you.' 'Mount Analogue the Magazine: one person wrote all the ads.' 'Mount Analogue the Magazine: Breakfast of Champions.'"
“It’ll come in a box. And it’ll be edible.”
Catch Mount Analogue's last installation this May. FORGE. art magazine, now based out of LA, will curate a large group show. Barry assures it will be "dope af." Here's the cool poster.