August 14, 2015

8/13/15 – Dinner for Breakfast with Mike McGillis

Artist: Michael McGillis

Location: Mudgie’s


MM & SRS – We split potato salad, spinach & blue cheese salad, the Barrett (corned beef sandwich)

Full disclosure: this was basically dinner. HOWEVER, to be perfectly precise, and in defiance of all good health and sense, this was my first meal in a long and crazy day. So technically it qualifies.

What Mike and I talked about, mostly, was memory. He tells his children some of his canonical stories–the kind of fundamental self-mythology that we all create, but a lot of people keep from their kids, preferring to occupy the role of “Dad” in a way that abnegates all prior history. Not so, Mike. His daughters also come to him for haircuts on purpose. And they are good haircuts. Dad of the Year.

But while we have these fundamental memories, our “greatest hits,” Mike was saying how there are huge swaths of our lives that we simply don’t remember. I’m not sure about that – I think I remember more than the average person, but I see his point. This whole concept was dealt with unscientifically but rather charmingly in the recent Pixar movie, Inside/Out, which I recommend and MAYBE cried a little. You will never know, you weren’t there. But memories, and how we think of them, and what we keep, and what we alter, obviously shapes our self-image quite a bit.

Mike is working on putting together a proposal in a group project organized by Harmut Stockter, which will hopefully be converting the ruins of a former Danish WWII airstrip into a sculpture park of sorts. The perfect place for one of Mike’s pieces, which in my experience thrive in natural settings (as soon as he brings an installation indoors, he immediately commences to create artificial nature in its stead). Mike’s work seems to generate out of imaginary places…he has a high capacity to replicate mental environments externally, so that other people can be immersed in them. And I, for one, really enjoy it. I look forward to seeing what his fuselage/monolith corpse/playscape/??? turns out to be.

We don’t know yet, because Mike is still in his conception phase. He said something about this process that I really loved–when he’s approaching a new work, he tries to take notice of what idea he keeps coming back to, and then follows the idea that he keeps returning to as the guiding principle of the work. I love an intuitive and self-trusting approach to art-making. It’s like giving your brain credit for possibly being smart enough to know what its doing, and not having to pile on context to sound academic. Mike’s work is conceptually rich, authentic, and delightful enough that he has my faith whatever he may come up with, it’s going to be astonishing.

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