Seattle Catalog’s In-Store Performance

The art trio sets up a popup to explore art and commerce, and, you know, to sell some art.

By Laura Cassidy June 1, 2012

From the upcoming Sea Cat popup: Jenny Heishman’s Tied, oil, pigment, and acrylic painting on paper; $400

There’s an ongoing conversation in the art community about art as art and art as something you can sell.

There’s an ongoing conversation in the pretty much the rest of the world about art you can afford to buy.

The one-day summer po-up art sale at Cafe Weekend at the Artspace Hiawatha Lofts on Saturday, June 9 from 10 to 4:30 will speak to both of these discussions.

Organized by a trio of artists and friends who operate under the name Seattle Catalog, the sale is a real-world iteration of the actual catalog (which is both a print and online inventory of art objects for sale) and a sort of performance piece—a way of exploring the idea of things like catalogs, prices, physical space, value, and success.

Stay with me here. When I spoke to codirector Matthew Offenbacher, he assured me that this project "kind of on purpose doesn’t fit in any of the existing categories." (He also gave up the fact that neither he nor his cohorts, Gretchen Bennett and Wynne Greenwood, are business people.) Fair enough.

All you really need to know is that you’ll enter the cafe to find the work of about fifteen artists (among them: Jenny Heishman, Elizabeth Payne, Joseph Veltkamp, and Sean Johnson, who recently Scotch-taped a couch to the wall at Tacoma Art Museum), in a popup shop setting. The pieces for sale were chosen by the Sea Cat trio; you’ll find some of them are what is traditionally recognized as art (works on paper, sculpture), and some are not. Some, like a pillow case that is not just a decorative pillow case, occupy a place in-between.

Offenbacher says he and Bennett and Greenwood hope to see art consumers and art thinkers. They hope the environment will feel boutiquey, but also allow "shoppers" to think about supporting artists. (To that end, 25 percent of the revenue will feed an art grant that the trio set up; art supporting art.)

And about that idea of affordable art: Seattle Catalog recognize that traditionally speaking, only the wealthy could acquire art. They’re proponents of collectively collecting art, and to that end they wrote a three-act play made a short film about a group of friends who buy and share some. It’ll be there at the popup shop next weekend—maybe you can inquire about buying that, too.

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