Joy and Reffry, Pulliam Gallery, Portland
Asked to put together a show for Portland, Oregon’s Pulliam Gallery, Seattle-based artists Roy McMakin (who we’ve profiled in the current issue of Wallpaper*) and Jeffry Mitchell thought they would bridge the two cities. Literally, by meeting halfway, in a little Washington town called Centralia. There, the two artists—McMakin a furniture and house designer known for his longingly affectionate textually playful work, Mitchell a Renaissance man as searingly tender with ceramics as he is with paper—bought a pile of found objects.
See a selection of the found and new pieces by ROy McMakin and Jeffry Mitchell
They curated the selection down to twelve objects, then split up and produced twelve of their own artworks. A piece, then, is one of each, selected at the buyer’s choice, and it’s there that this jewel of a thirty six-piece show expands into experiential infinity. Walking the small gallery, it’s hard to find the perfect match for, say, the two-chair teal loveseat, reminiscent of McMakin’s slat-back chairs but here a found object. Or McMakin’s Untitled (“A drawing of the scrap of paper Mike wrote his phone number on when we met,”). Or Mitchell’s transcendently translucent untitled piece made up of a ragged, hole-punched piece of paper, whose letters J and R express both the artists’ initials and the show’s title, taken, in typically playful style, from gallerist Rod Pulliam’s slip of the tongue as he called them Joy and Reffry.
An untitled McMakin drawing with “$1, 200” the numbers penciled in and the symbols cut out, makes artistic the realities of our economy’s having fallen off a cliff, and explains the particulars of the show. Each object costs $1200; a piece, then is $3600, with a third going to Pulliam, a third to Mitchell, and a third to McMakin, and it’s a remarkably open exposition of the usually closed-door intricacies of art world pricing that helps explain why the show is so approachable, so sweet.
And then there are the emotions, drawn out by pieces like McMakin’s A Drawing of Lyrics from a Tift Merritt Song (those lyrics reading: “This world is borrowed and incomplete,”) and Mitchell’s ceramic The Handsomest Men in the World that rip your heart apart only to gently put it back together.