Folk Art, Punk Approach
By Erik Gamlem
Self-produced punk shows have shaken the foundations of homes across America since the genre was born. But it's not often that homes are opened up as DIY art spaces as well. Amongst bouncing kids, shouted lyrics and crowd surfing, local artist Bridgette Bullock displayed her embroidery work on the walls of the Wagon Wheel (310 Stanford SE). The house venue, occupied by Alex DenBaars of folk-punk band Arroyo Deathmatch—in which Bullock plays washboard—was opened to the public to launch the fundraising efforts for their new project, Goathead Record Collective. The collective’s aim is to raise money for a portable studio available to the community of Albuquerque musicians.
Bullock is no stranger to displaying art to the public, but this is the first time she's ever shown in someone’s house. A BFA graduate in ceramics from the University of Oklahoma, Bullock found it difficult in a post-graduate world to create in her chosen discipline. “I didn't have any money to build a studio, and I felt really out of touch with art in general,” the artist explains about her emerging interest in embroidery.
Bullock's threadwork isn't the typical home-sweet-home designs that hung in your grandmother’s house. Instead, her work is sometimes silly, often political, but definitely not what someone would expect to find in the familiar stitched style. Some work is simple, like “Plastic Teeth,” a white outline of stitched fangs on black canvas, recalling the plastic fangs of youthful Halloweens past. Other work is more personal, like “Grow a Pair,” which features embroidered ovaries. “Body Positive” adds a twist to the familiar political concept by featuring a cute pig, smiling in the glow of the world, next to the words “Body Posi.” “I’ve always done female-voiced art,” says Bullock. Referring to other works that feature representations of bloody tampons, she acknowledges, “Some people might call it shock art.”
As for the venue, while Bullock has been juried in more typical art galleries, displaying her work at the Wagon Wheel amongst a group of sweaty kids moshing to folk-punk doesn't feel like a stretch. “This is a community; everyone is welcome. It's all-ages and I want my art to be that way,” Bullock says. She wants to help support the mission of the newly born Goathead Record Collective. Selling her art to help raise the money they need feels like a natural extension of the DIY punk show ethic.
DenBaars is excited about Bullock's art being displayed on his walls. This is the second time the Wagon Wheel has displayed art. DenBaars is a champion of redefining folk traditions through his band, Arroyo Deathmatch. Of the link between house shows and the artwork on display, DenBaars says, “It might be a result of the fact that she is interested in reinventing or reimagining traditional art forms.”
As the DIY venue emerges as part of American folk culture, the addition of this reexamined traditional form doesn't seem all that strange. One might not think of kids crammed in a house shouting and dancing while surrounded by folk art as “traditional,” but conventions are often redefined as each new generation emerges.
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