I spent about a week in Buffalo installing Epicenter City. During that time I stayed with John and had a blast being in Buffalo and feeling like a “successful” artist. I also did an interview for Squeaky Wheel, a late night TV show about art and culture in Buffalo.
For the opening, my friend Ben Knight agreed to present a talk beforehand. I told him to do whatever he wanted and he ended up doing a multi-media presentation that used slides and Orson Welles radio broadcast of War of the Worlds that turned out awesome. He wore a business suit and stood at a podium and confused the audience much to my delight; I think I laughed the whole time. I liked that the AAPR could expand into new and uncharted territories. John said that this was the first time at Hallwalls that an artist didn’t give their own artists talk.
The show was up for about 2 months and I returned to take it all down. I brought my studio mate Max, who’s a professional photographer, along with me to photograph the show. I packed it all up and had it all shipped back to NY; Most of the city is now in boxes in my parents attic. The only part of the installation that I have ever shown again is Davy Crockett in a show in the Mandeville Gallery at Union College called Armed.
After Epicenter City was dismantled I started working on other projects outside of the Associated Artists for Propaganda Research. Epicenter City felt like a culmination of everything that I wanted to do with the AAPR and wanted to move on and try other things. Despite trying, I still haven’t gotten back to the same level of installation that I had at Hallwalls where I was able to control a whole space with my work. It seems that most spaces don’t want to commit to these kinds of ideas and I’ve been forced to show small elements of larger ideas in group shows which I find usually leaves the piece flat. I make work that belongs in a specific context and without that context the objects meaning gets lost. To this day I still feel lucky that John gave me the opportunity and the trust to build Epicenter City and create a full installation experience exactly as I wanted.
Below are 2 last images that I forgot to include. The first is of a series of orange concentric circles. These were planned to be projected over Epicenter City in the final installation but they were removed early on due to the technical difficulties of how to do it without ruining the “feel” of the overall sculpture. Part of me felt like this was pushing it a little too far into theater and I didn’t want to “cheapen” the experience for the viewer. It was also a little too literal and I didn’t think that the installation really needed it in order to makes its point. It did however get used in some of the graphics work.
The last image is of Davy Crockett (Alternate) which is a large drawing that I did in 2009. This was the alternate image that I thought about using instead of the 3 men with the suitcase bomb. It shows a soldier with a small atomic bomb on a rocket launcher using a tripod. I decided to paint the other image of Davy Crockett because this one had a lot of white in it and I thought that the other one was a better image overall.