July 3, 2015

7/1/15 – Bananarama with Andy T

Artist: Andrew Thompson

Location: Russell St. Deli


AT – Vegetarian Hash, rye toast

SRS – Raisin bread French toast, side of bacon, NO BANANAS

First of all, any visit to Russell St. Deli counts as a “Breakfast with the Artist,” because chances are good that you’ll encounter at least one of the trio of artists-in-charge over there, in this case, co-owner Jason Murphy, whose most recent show was up at YOUNGWORLD during most of May.

During breakfast, Andy T was discussing how one of his approaches to teaching–currently in the context of Antioch College–is to come to the table heavily over prepared. Meaning, he has typically done more research than he ever presents, the advantage of this approach being that he is well equipped to dive deeper on any subject that his students seize upon as a point of interest. In the case of breakfast, my emphatic no-banana stance triggered a deluge of information Andy T has amassed on the subject of the history of this fruit in America, which subsequently veered into an lesson in Jean Baudrillard’s simulacra and simulation, in the context of artificial banana flavoring (created by banana “esters,” I now know).

We also discussed graduate school and the state of arts education in general, a subject for which Andy T has boundless enthusiasm–it is a rare and beautiful thing to see an artist who cares far more about the process by which he might enable other people’s access art, rather than to single-mindedly further his own career. Ultimately, Andy T seems to identify more as a teacher or a curator, but observation of his behavior reveals constant fabrication of the physical and social infrastructure of the art world–a practice that closely aligns with the current rage for “social practice art.” Andy T is a much beloved fixture of the Detroit art scene, and a connector of many pieces.

We also talked about found art, which constitutes much of Andy T’s personal practice, such as it is. He described his “second-favorite object” (recently displaced as his favorite object by a crushed shopping cart in the possession of artist Corrie Baldauf, a situation that Andy T has clearly struggled to reconcile within himself)–a crushed spray paint can which, in the flattening, has torn through to reveal the glass bead that once rattled around inside. Andy T describes this as being just the type of thing he would be compelled to simulate as an artist, only he doesn’t need to simulate it, in this case, because he has it. A nice bit of circular logic, although it begs the question of whether Andy T will be compelled to create a process piece to deal with the shopping cart conundrum.

Speaking of simulacra, shopping carts, and Russell St. Deli, I was compelled earlier this year to create a 1:12 scale replica of a sculpture in a show at 2739 Edwin some years ago, by RSD’s other co-owner, Ben Hall. What it signifies, I can’t rightly say. But I like to bring things all together, when chance affords me the opportunity.

"she shells." by Ben Hall, on the left. "BH_bh" by me, on the right.

“she shells.” by Ben Hall, on the left. “BH_bh” by me, on the right.

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