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The Midas Touch

Interview with Artist Eva Avenue on Her New Gold Room Installation at Oleson Gallery

By Shae Krispinsky on April 9, 2014 1:02 PM Artist Eva Avenue and her St. Petersburg gallery Installation Eva Avenue and her golden touch. Photo by Xina Scuderi.

You could say Eva Avenue has the Midas touch. The visual artist, art philosopher, musician and journalist has lived throughout the U.S. but has returned to her St. Pete hometown, where she's setting up Gold Room, an installation at the Oleson Gallery.

Funded by an Awesome St. Petersburg grant and a year in the making, Gold Room is more than something to look at. It's also an art party and photo-op space that will be open to the public on Saturday, April 19 from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m.

I asked Eva to tell us a little bit more about Gold Room. She didn't want to say too much about the installation in fear of ruining any surprises, but here's what she was willing to share:

 

St. Petersburg Art Installation at the Oleson GalleryGold Room is ... a gold room? That seems too simple. What else you can tell us about this? 

I wanted the space to play with paint and props in a big way, fueled by the love I feel every time I come back to St. Pete.  I get loose and wacky and then conceptualize and reign it in, then expand it again and tighten the visual impact some more until I have it in this balance where it becomes what I consider art. Hopefully it becomes art by opening day. I love saying when something is and isn't art—it makes some people mad.

One thing I’m ultimately looking to do is foster the poetic sensibilities of people. You can still look at things in special ways or look at things simply for what they are. I love how every piece of art is so different, like handwriting, because everyone has this specific lens through which they see the world. There’s also lots of people who do neither, they just fog on through the day. So it’s a time to focus for the sake of focusing. Everyone’s an artist that night.

What inspired Gold Room? Why gold?

I was crouched in an alley in Seattle, in Pioneer Square, spraying objects gold because my photographer friend and I were producing a photo shoot for SSG Music with my favorite local band there, The Tempers. 

Mind you, nobody in Seattle talks to you in public unless there’s something wrong with them, generally. It’s a hard, shriveled nut to crack. But as the sun bounced off the tall buildings and washed down the wall and just bathed all these gold objects in a brilliant, liquid shine, almost everyone who came down the alley stopped and talked to me and marveled at the succulence, and some wanted to do the same thing when they got home—spray some of their things gold.

That experience illustrated one of my favorite quotes: “Art offers the possibility of love with strangers.” Walter Hopps, a curator in L.A., said that.

 

Painting by St. Petersburg artist Eva AvenueThe room has been described as "a vessel for everything you never knew." Can you expand on this idea?

The simple answer would be because you've never been inside the Gold Room before.

That phrase is also this poetic, sad, romanticized sensation I carry around and manifest into my work. It doesn’t mean anything specific I can put my finger on. I did two paintings in Albuquerque called "The Party You Didn’t Show Up To." I think of those paintings when I consider the phrase “a vessel for everything you never knew.” These two paintings gave you a sense you were missing out on something great, but it was inevitable anyway that you would not have gone because you did something else or went to bed early or maybe something terrible happened.

Carrying along that idea of everything you never knew, not knowing things can be wonderful. Peace, to me, is having no thoughts in my mind at any given time. I've become really good at it. I can walk around all day with hardly a thought in my mind, just noticing things. It’s urban nomadic bliss.

People are encouraged to take photos in the room. Is more interaction with the space encouraged? Can people add or take away from it? How else do you suggest interacting with it?

People can, within reason, move things around if it serves their photo. There may be a climbable ladder in one room. If there’s a chair, they can sit in it, if there’s a table, they can lie on it, that sort of thing. If they want to drop acid, do their taxes, bring their favorite pet chicken, write a thesis on the room, dress all in gold, show up naked – I personally do not give a flying waffle!

I’m not really “encouraging interaction,” but I don’t care what people do, unless it’s clearly ruining the space in some way. Common sense decision-making is what I expect. It’s like any standard art show but I’m loose about the no-touch rules because I want people to use it for photos.

How long will the room be in existence? What happens after?

The plan is that we’ll have a sign-up sheet at Oleson Gallery that night – photographers can sign up for an allotted time slot they’d like to use the space for a shoot that following week. It’ll be open and closed sporadically throughout that week, depending on what’s going on.

The following Saturday, April 26, John Taormina will have his paintings up for a birthday art show raffle, and Gold Room will still be there as a back drop. Then, I guess, down it goes and it’ll live on in photographs.

Ultimately in billions of years the sun will slowly explode outward, melting everything in its path, and none of this will have meant much of anything at all, though it’s absolutely necessary that we’re here. We’re a working part of the structure of existence—how cool is that? It’s worth a Gold Room picture or two in the meanwhile. God bless St. Pete.