A Collaborative Landscape
Cal Anderson Park
A Free Arts in Parks Painting Session
Saturday, July 30 4pm to 7pm
Sunday, July 31 4pm to 7pm
Local, recognized artist, Jesse Higman, is hosting two 3-hour unique, collaborative, community painting sessions on July 30 and 31. The event, uses an innovative painting process developed by Higman, he has named illuvium, and is open to all. Participants will cooperatively and simultaneously pour watercolors onto a sixteen-foot, horizontal canvas. The sessions will be held from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm each evening. The event takes place next to the Waterworks fountain in Cal Anderson Park. Local businesses, neighbors, citizens of and visitors to Seattle, outliers and dissimilar others, are invited and encouraged to join in.
By hosting these events, Jesse hopes to contribute to the spirit of inclusion that has long been part of the draw of the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Three times each hour, groups of up to 20 people will take their place around an original painting structure, designed by Higman. Using his process, the group will work together to pour paint to create a shared vision under his direction. “Because we are pouring different areas,” Higman says, “There are places on the canvas where we meet and negotiate intuitively. In the give and overlap, we see how our influence interacts with what others are doing. Looking at the evolving field creates a sense of collaboration and neighborliness which goes hand-in-hand with democracy and compromise.”
The paintings are transitory and will exist only during the time they are painted and as they are captured via photos and videos before being wiped away via an ecological and earth-friendly process.
No sign-up or reservation is needed. Anyone and everyone can simply show up at the painting location and take part in this shared opportunity.
This free celebration of community is made possible an Arts In Parks grant from The Office of Arts & Culture through Seattle Parks and Recreation, and a 4Culture Art Projects grant which enabled the fabrication of the large canvas stretcher.
About Jesse Higman
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Jesse Higman began his creative career by painting album cover and poster imagery for Seattle’s rock bands, including Heart, Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Candlebox and Blind Melon.
Higman’s work has been presented at Lollapalooza, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Experience Music Project, The Smithsonian Museum, Kennedy Center for The Performing Arts and on MTV. In 2009 he was honored with a Seattle Mayor’s Arts Award. Most recently, he has received numerous grants supporting his public paint pours throughout King County, including 4Culture‘s Arc Artist Fellowship in 2019, the CityArtist 2020 Award and a 2022 Arts In Parks Grant from Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture.
About the Process, illuvium
A 2009 Mayor’s Arts Award recipient, Higman developed a system of painting he calls illuvium, named after the geologic term for particles flowing across a floodplain. A quadriplegic in a wheelchair, his need for help to accomplish larger paintings evolved into a social practice. Leanne Mella, a consulting curator for The Smithsonian said, “Higman’s work, with its communitarian and convivial ethos, exhibits many of the tendencies associated with Relational Aesthetics, a theory of art practices that takes the whole of human relations and social context into consideration as a point of departure for the production and presentation of the work of art.”
From Higman’s art statement, “With limited movement in my arms, I use a flexor hinge splint to hold a cup. I found that by pouring fluid paint, I was charged with the responsibility of releasing or restraining a cataclysm of events. This painting technique makes creation accessible to everyone regardless of age, physical, cognitive, or artistic ability. Applying pigment is as simple as pouring liquid from a cup. It is meeting with nature, the other, and the responsibility of the forces at hand which change the scale of our actions on this landscape.”
About the Collaborative Landscape Events
Higman continues, “For almost two years, we have retreated to protect ourselves and those closest to us from Covid-19, while Cal Anderson Park has been the center of revolution, social disintegration, homelessness, gang murders and only now, a small group of off leash dog walkers finding community. At a time when dis-similar others have never been more threatening, I would like to produce a painting event whose purpose it is to bring our valuable diversity of humans together in art.”
During the event assistants will distribute cups of iridescent mica flakes in solutions of water to participants. Forming collective agreements on readiness, a paint pour begins. Compositions form as individual flows of color move towards weighted holes in the center of the canvas. Photos are taken by all, the painting is wiped away, and a new group is formed. The paintings will be live streamed and a free NFT recording of each transitory painting will be offered to the participants.
• Facebook event
• Collaborative Landscape Instagram
• Use hashtags #CollaborativeLandscape and #CollaborativeLandscapeCalAnd
• Who can participate in A Collaborative Landscape? ~ This event is free and open to all. We encourage everyone to join this cooperative activity!
• Do I need to RSVP or reserve a spot? ~ Nope! This is basically a first come, first serve activity. If you come with a group we will do our best to accommodate you. We’ll see you at the fountain!
• What should I bring or wear? ~ Just yourself and friends or soon-to-be-friends you meet along the way. Because the paint is poured on a flat surface and drawn towards the center of the canvas the chance of getting paint on you or your clothing is small.
• What if I got paint on me/my clothes? ~ This rarely happens, but, if it does, simply rinse with water before it dries. Water will be available. Garden sprayers will also be present, keeping the canvas wet so it does not dry in the sun. Just ask for spray! The paint is a solution of mostly water, mixed with 2 teaspoons per cup of Golden’s Interference fluid acrylics. They appear translucent milky-white in the cup, with no visible color until poured onto the black canvas. Then, as the tiny mica flakes settle, they align in similar angles to produce an architectural color, refracting light, as apposed to a color produced by staining pigment.
This video is my most recent work sample for a grant application. It illustrates the path to this project in the park, with examples of previous group painting pours, and the design for the larger painting table.