The Dots, Connected

On the one hand, I had received a notice that Capitol Hill Arts Orbit, which organizes and promotes the First Saturday gallery walk, had folded "due to the current economic condition," the usual sad syllables of our times.

On the other hand, the First Saturday gallery walk was vigorously alive and well this past weekend. This was the Capitol Hill Arts Hike, or Connect the Dots, and it featured two of what are by now (oddly) the most venerable alternative spaces in town, SOIL and the Pound Gallery, along with Bluebottle Art Gallery, and Oliwood Films.

It was at the Pound where I saw the work that made my night: a low-tech black-and-white video spoofing a Sesame Street-style alphabet lesson, with unexpected results--that's all I'm going to say, since the punch line is wasted in print. One of the artists responsible for the video, DW Burnam, was present in a suit and tie; to my surprise, the other artist was none other than Michael Sanchez, winner of The Stranger's First Annual Junior® Mints Sculpture Contest. We are so pleased we could spot his talent right out of the gate.

The alphabet video was featured in a show that was split between SOIL and the Pound. This show, called Speak 'n' Spell, was curated by Tory Franklin, who belongs to a collective called Sublevelthree, which I have been hearing about for a year now but had never bothered to investigate. Dumb, dumb me. I loved the mechanized innards of stuffed animals (especially the singing whatever at Pound) by Cathy McClure and Seth Sexton. I did not know Jeff Lopez's work, and someone told me he was leaving town as we spoke, which is very sad; check out his typewriter drawings (at Pound) and a strangely calligraphic set of ways to organize these United States (at SOIL). It is a sobering thing to see good work by artists one has never heard of; it may or may not indicate one's own obsolescence. You see how I have avoided the possibility that it will happen to me by sliding into the impersonal third person.

At SOIL I was made to talk by nonfunctioning cell phone to Flatchestedmama, who had covered a bathroom set in newsprint and lounged for part of the evening in a bathtub filled with shredded newspaper. (She wore a newsprint Band-Aid, too, and somehow had made very cute newsprint toenail polish.) We stood outside, and there I faced my utter, utter dislike of talking on the phone. We discussed the difference between walking down the street talking to yourself and walking down the street talking on a fake cell phone, the fictional possibilities for each. I tried (at Pound) to watch her fictional conversation video, which I am told is both heartbreaking and funny, but it was located in the bathroom, and I kept getting interrupted by people who most unfictionally had to pee.