100 Dallas Creatives: No. 45 Absorbing Artist Jeff Gibbons
Mixmaster presents "100 Creatives," in which we feature cultural entrepreneurs of Dallas in random order. The art of Jeff Gibbons defies definition. His work is anything but straightforward, often subduing any obvious meaning in its layers of media. His art spans genres and takes on an interior life that requires a patient viewer -and in its complications, his work can be either revelatory or unsettling. But it's this promise of reflexive engagement that pulls visitors in anytime his name, or that of his collaboration with Justin Ginsburg, Apophenia Underground, is on a show's flyer.
In his time here, Gibbons has been a part of some of the more interesting installations at galleries including Beefhaus, and CentralTrak - where he is currently an artist in residence. He also teamed up with Ginsburg to organize Deep Ellum Windows, a series of pop-up exhibitions in abandoned buildings. He's added layers to the local art scene, not just with his own work, but with his projects throughout the community that have inspired myriad interactions. We're lucky to have him in Dallas for however long we get to keep him.
Your work often has winding, poetic titles, but it doesn't necessarily seek to explain your work. Is this obscurity important to your work? I don't want the work to be obscure so much as I want it to have many layers of meaning. When I'm choosing show titles, I look for something that loosely hovers around the work and offers more of a feeling than an explanation. It seems that everything ends with words (critique, history, eulogy...) so I try not to let it die that way. If I've made something and the words aren't there to complete the puzzle, or they are difficult or impossible to find, then that's probably a good thing. While language may be the go-to mode in which we exchange ideas, it's not the only way we communicate. I feel visual art has a responsibility to interact with ineffability as much as possible.
Aside from the availability of space, what was the impetus or philosophy that led to Deep Ellum Windows? At its core, we (Justin Ginsberg and myself) wanted to do something subtle while being simultaneously large, something highly meaningful hidden in the guise of a spectacle. The empty buildings (and the spaces between them) became a conduit for showcasing interactions between artists as well as intimate venues that challenged both the artists and the viewers. The entire thing was built on trust, communality, and good art/people. We loved doing it, but are happy to be moving on to other projects now.
You've had several collaborative exhibitions lately. In your words, how is working collaboratively distinct from your personal practice? For me, it's as simple as the differences between playing alone and playing with others. Both are good. Both are important. Historically, there is an emphasis on the lone romantic artist, in their bohemian studio, romancing collectors with their romantic art. While I'm a fan of romance, it's often an illusion that is retrospectively applied to cull purpose from existential boredom and social anxiety. In reality, people are talking and working with each other all the time. Working with others is natural, and I enjoy it (and often require it) equally as much as working alone.
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I'd love to embed one of your videos in the post, would you mind choosing one and then sort of walking us through your process of creation of that specific one? This is a movie called "Humming Music / Grinding Teeth." It's a piece that I've continually added to for a few years now. It's sort of an auto-fictional psychologically driven journal, something akin to poetry. The embedded version here is chapters 5:1 through 6:1 (and 13:3). The earlier chapters are available online, starting from chapter 1:1. This section has never been shown before. I feel like this project comes from the ebb and flow of living, and doesn't hold itself to any construct. It has scripted elements alongside candid and found footage, and connects diverse evolving ideas across time and place within the content and format of the piece. I see the project as entirely open ended. It could end at any point and it could be added to until I die. It might be done now, I don't know.
From my perspective, Dallas can be a tough place to live/work as an artist. Do you agree or disagree? And what keeps you here? I think it's difficult to make a living as an artist anywhere. I don't believe Dallas is any better or worse in that regard. For the last year I've lived in CentralTrak's residency program, and I feel extremely grateful to have had the time to work in the area under their aid. I grew up in Detroit, but left there 10 years ago and have kept moving since, so I've grown accustomed to change. I don't consider myself to belong to any one place. So I'm here until it's time to go. But Dallas has been good to me. There are some very brilliant and passionate people here I've had the privilege to meet and now call my friends, which in many ways is the most important part of any environment.
See Gibbons' work throughout Dallas: November 22 - January 3 as part of Sundowner at Circuit 12 Contemporary. December 6 as part of Action at 500X. February 21, 2015 at Conduit Gallery in a solo show, Drink the Bath. March 14, 2015 at Epitome Institute in San Antonio, TX: PURE DURATION 2: THIS IS GHOSTING (collab with Gregory Ruppe).
100 Creatives: 100. Theater Mastermind Matt Posey 99. Comedy Queen Amanda Austin 98. Deep Ellum Enterpriser Brandon Castillo 97. Humanitarian Artist Willie Baronet 96. Funny Man Paul Varghese 95. Painting Provocateur Art Peña 94. Magic Man Trigg Watson 93. Enigmatic Musician George Quartz 92. Artistic Luminary Joshua King 91. Inventive Director Rene Moreno 90. Color Mavens Marianne Newsom and Sunny Sliger 89. Literary Lion Thea Temple 88. Movie Maestro Eric Steele 87. Storytelling Dynamo Nicole Stewart 86. Collaborative Artist Ryder Richards 85. Party Planning Print maker Raymond Butler 84. Avant-gardist Publisher Javier Valadez 83. Movie Nerd James Wallace 82. Artistic Tastemakers Elissa & Erin Stafford 81. Pioneering Arts Advocates Mark Lowry & Michael Warner 80. Imaginative Director Jeremy Bartel 79. Behind-the-Scenes Teacher Rachel Hull 78. Kaleidoscopic Artist Taylor "Effin" Cleveland 77. Filmmaker & Environmentalist Michael Cain 76. Music Activist Salim Nourallah 75. Underground Entrepreneur Daniel Yanez 74. Original Talent Celia Eberle 73. Comic Artist Aaron Aryanpur 72. Classical Thespian Raphael Parry 71. Dance Captain Valerie Shelton Tabor 70. Underground Culture Mainstay Karen X. Minzer 69. Effervescent Gallerist Brandy Michele Adams 68. Birthday Party Enthusiast Paige Chenault 67. Community Architect Monica Diodati 66. Intrepid Publisher Will Evans 65. Writerly Wit Noa Gavin 64. Maverick Artist Roberto Munguia 63. Fresh Perspective Kelsey Leigh Ervi 62. Virtuosic Violinist Nathan Olson 61. Open Classical's Dynamic Duo Mark Landson & Patricia Yakesch 60. Rising Talent Michelle Rawlings 59. Adventurous Filmmaker Toby Halbrooks 58. Man of Mystery Edward Ruiz 57. Inquisitive Sculptor Val Curry 56. Offbeat Intellect Thomas Riccio 55. Doers and Makers Shannon Driscoll & Kayli House Cusick 54. Performance Pioneer Katherine Owens 53. Experimental Filmmaker and Video Artist Mike Morris 52. Flowering Fashioner Lucy Dang 51. Insightful Artist Stephen Lapthisophon 50. Dallas Arts District 49. Farmer's Market Localvore Sarah Perry 48. Technological Painter John Pomara 47. Progressive Playmakers Christopher Carlos & Tina Parker 46. Purposive Chef Chad Houser
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