Artists Turn Bathroom into Gallery (Daily Lobo Feature, 11/25/08)

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Artists are decorating and enhancing toilet seats for the Wooden Cow Gallery’s art show “Art de Toilette.”

Elaine Russell, member of the Wooden Cow cooperative, organized the show, which will be displayed in the gallery’s bathroom. Artists pay a $20 entry fee, which also pays for the wooden toilet seat. Russell chose wooden seats because they’re cheap and easy to hang.

They’re available for pickup at the gallery at 7400 Montgomery Blvd. N.E.

“My daughter and I had the flu, and we were spending more time in the bathroom than we cared to admit,” Russell said. “It occurred to us we have a really huge bathroom at the gallery. We intended to put some art in there but not a show. We said, ‘What better than wooden toilet seats?’ Toilets would be hard to mount on the wall, (but) we would probably accept those.”

Artists must price their toilet seats to sell between $50 and $200. There’s no deadline, as it’s an ongoing, semi-permanent bathroom installation.

So far, a handful of people have made a toilet seat for the project.

“We have a mosaic-tile artist, and she’s going to take the finish off and mosaic-tile it,” Russell said. “We have a gentleman who does art in colored pencils. He’s actually putting pencil stubs all over it. We have one lady who does primarily jewelry, but she also does mixed-media stuff. She’s doing an homage to Queen Victoria.”

Cindy Chavez used to live in England and has collected lots of Queen Victoria memorabilia. Her piece is called “Ascending the Throne.”

“The top will have a crown, and where the seat is, there’s a mirror,” Chavez said. “Actually, I’m doing two seats. I’m doing one with an Aztec theme called ‘Montezuma’s Revenge.’ He was the emperor in – I can’t remember the period. It’s very Aztec.”

Russell decoupaged love letters from World War II onto her toilet seat. They’re written in German, and a friend found them for her at a garage sale. The piece is called “Dear John.”

Russell was a nurse for 17 years, she said, and struggled to situate herself into a comfortable art-making flow.

“The family I grew up in did not consider art a way to make a living, and because my brother was the artist in the family, I was really, really discouraged,” she said. “Like, ‘You don’t have any talent. Go make a real living.’ I didn’t have lofty artistic goals in my life. But over the years, I’ve done all kinds of things. I’ve worked as a professional photographer since ’86.”

The 25-member cooperative Wooden Cow Gallery opened in September, and the name was inspired by the Donkey Gallery, which closed in the summer.

“(The Wooden Cow) used to be a chocolate store or something,” show director Jill Riester said.

For $50 per month, artists can rent gallery space to sell their works. Russell said co-op members do a lot of promotion for the artists.

“The beauty of the co-op is there’s no rules about fine art or real art,” she said. “Lots of galleries will only show fine art.… We have everything from $3 to $15,000. We’re actually doing really well. It’s surprising because Albuquerque, in general, has a lot of art galleries. We’re doing something so different because we involve a lot of art and have more modern art.”

For more information, call the Wooden Cow Gallery at (505) 999-1280.

To read the original article, and to support The Daily Lobo, visit the article on their website, here.

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2 Responses

  1. WOOT !

  2. What will they think of next? Well, that was my first thought on reading the article. But after a while I thought it actually sounds like a great idea. Whish I was living in your area so I could see the final product of it all.

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