Two of the organizers behind the pop-up art gallery operation Parachute Project are working together once again on what is shaping up to be a fabulous collaborative show Friday night.
Friends and studio-mates Makeal Flammini and Ella Dwyer have paired together for "Landfill," a show that blends Flammini's charmingly primitive paintings of a composite of bizarre memories and dreams from her youth with Dwyer's ghostly and fantastic paintings of assorted creatures and objects. The separate works compliment each other beautifully with vibrant use of color in abundance, and their collaborative pieces highlight their complimentary styles.
OnMilwaukee.com caught up with the longtime friends to talk about the show being held at their studio and living space, 524 W. National Ave., from 6 p.m. Until 11 p.m., which also features music by Crystal Rausch, formerly of The Barrettes.
OnMilwaukee.com: Tell me about what the show is all about and when you both started putting it together.
Makeal Flammini: I started thinking about this stuff a year ago. I started trying to archive memories or fragmented thoughts about things that have happened. When I paint them it looks like this weird bizarre world. You know like getting kicked in the head by this kid who told me he was really Richard Dreyfuss. As soon as I started thinking about that all these weird thoughts started coming back. So that's how it started. And then Ella and I decided we;d do this show together.
Ella Dwyer: I do a lot of animal imagery, and I am kind of a compulsive collector and thrifter and just always looking for stuff. So there is a lot of things that I find in my work, and I do a lot of stuff with folk lore and a lot of story telling and things like that. So I kind of pair that in with things that I find today that I really enjoy, just like magical, mystical bizarre stuff that I collect.
OMC: Makeal, tell me about some of the other stories that inspired your work.
MF: OK, um well I could tell you more about getting kicked in the head; just the pieces in there. I remember the first nightmare I ever had. I remember waking up and my legs wouldn't move and all these animals were throwing watermelons at my head sitting at a picnic table. And just all this weird stuff started coming back to me.
The other one in there is the little boy passed out by some Tide. When I was 12 I fell to sleep babysitting, because you probably shouldn't let a 12-year-old babysit. And this baby ate all this dish soap and it was pretty bad. And the neighbor girl used to let the dog hump her all the time, Like she would just sit there on her knees saying "She likes it."
OMC: So just composites of all these bizarre things that happen to you in life ...
MF: Yeah, just the things that stay with you that you get more and more separated from. It's just been really fun to try and look back at childhood or pre-adolescence.
OMC: Could you maybe take turns talking about what you like about the other's work?
ED: I feel like Makeal and I have always appreciated each other's work. Like she was one of the people when I was in the studio I was always drawn to her work. I like her imagination and the way she draws things and how she doesn't stick within the rules of how to draw something perfectly, but you know she has fun with it. And I liked her use of color. Just the playfulness and how good she is at conveying ideas. Just the landscapes. I like her combinations of imagery, just the way that you draw and how you aren't afraid.
MF: Awww, thanks.
ED: You're welcome.
MF: One of the first things I really like about Ella's work is that I have never met anyone who has such an understanding of color. I think it's incredible. We both graduated with printmaking degrees and it would just blow me away to see the way she was like a doctor operator in there making these combinations of color that I have never seen, or gosh wished that I had done that.
And I also really like the fantasy aspects. I like that you really like animals a lot more than most things, and I think the way you draw-- like the lines and how you fill things in and leave things out and allude to things-- is really ghostly and beautiful.
OMC: Do you remember the first time you met one another?
MF: I think I remember like how tall you are, and I am seeing orange lipstick in my head.
ED: I may have been wearing orange lipstick, yeah.
MF: It was definitely at UWM.
ED: I think I saw her artwork before I really met her, and I think I was like, 'Oh wow, that's really great. I really like that.'
MF: You probably thought I was creepy.
ED: No I never thought that you were creepy. I liked that you were creepy.
MF: Or obsessed with Ron. Ron is that beauty on the bottom (pointing to painting of large bald guy leaning against the wall). Ron was the maintenance guy at the last Parachute Project and he did everything for us. He is kind of like this middle aged balding worker man who was always drinking rum and coke at work.
ED: He was always wearing Bob Marley T-shirts and talking about cocaine.
MF: And like grumbling all the time but underlying that he was really sweet. So we became like semi-obsessed with him.
ED: We were good friends with him. He helped us out a lot. We would need a hammer and he would come in and have one. Like he knew what we needed before we really did. He kind of was like our dad for that week.
MF: He was just always swearing all the time and yelling at us, but kind of like that gruff man with a heart of gold you know?
ED: We love Ron. That's kind of like what we did. We are kind of obsessed with him. So our obsessions are in our work a lot of the time. We wanted to paint a thing about Ron.
I feel like we bonded over color maybe. We also bonded over Neko Case. I feel like we are obsessed with her and we both really listen to her when we make our art. What else? I think Ron and Neko Case.
OMC: You are calling he show "Landfill" any story behind that?
MF: Just the idea that as you move along you are constantly discarding things. You just become more full as a person with all these stories, and everything gets lost into this meshy thing of what happened. Does that make sense?
ED: Yeah, that was good.