Multimedia artist Grady Kane-Horrigan has taken two of the most mundane and ubiquitous technological phenomena – Facebook and the smartphone – and mined them for unsuspected artistic gold. The result of his refining, a show that e calls “words + pictures + paper = books,” is currently on display at the Elting Memorial Library’s reading room until March 24. Though loath to characterize himself or typify his work, he has added an explanatory subtitle, describing the show as “a few offbeat/off-base/off-kilter artist’s books written, drawn, painted, folded, glued, stapled, pasted, sprayed, bent and otherwise thrown together.” “Books” is the operative word here. Over the past year, relying strictly on daily prompts offered by a Facebook writing group to which he belonged, Kane-Horrigan used his 5c iPhone to create the texts for several dozen books that he then drew, painted, folded and…you get the picture.
Since his first public show at the Starbucks across the street from the library more than a decade ago, Kane-Horrigan has had yearly exhibits at the Barn Museum at the Mohonk Mountain House, where he works, and where his antic impulse often meets – even collides with – the serious and the profound.
If his latest show speaks volumes in the same ways (and it does), Kane-Horrigan doesn’t. He describes himself, reluctantly, as “a hard-to-pin-down writer/artist with a natural-born aversion to labels such as ‘writer/artist.’” Nevertheless, in a recent interview and after much prodding, he described a bit more of his roots and aims, saying that he has always been fascinated by the interplay of text and image.
“My art education began with Where the Wild Things Are and Tenniel’s Alice, which were followed by Spider-Man and Daredevil comics, which led to Art Spiegelman and later, Saul Steinberg.” Words and pictures, he said, are the vehicles; storytelling, through the sometimes-cooperative and sometimes-antagonistic synthesis of those two elements, is the challenge. Put another way, he said, “I want to make art that makes you laugh, pokes at your brain, tastes like a cup of expired hope, reminds you of the ghost of your Great-aunt Trudy and the things she used to whisper to you while you slept.”
Like all the more traditional books that you’ll find at the library, Kane-Horrigan’s are intended to be handled and browsed and explored – though they can’t be checked out (at least not without a note from your Great-aunt Trudy).
Kane-Horrigan grew up in New Paltz and Kingston, has never lived in Brooklyn nor worn a porkpie hat and now lives in Eddyville with his wife and three children. His exhibit will be on display in the reading room of the Elting Memorial Library, located at 93 Main Street (Route 299) in New Paltz, until March 24.