Two artists with island ties have a new show

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 10:15am
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Two artists with Block Island ties have a new show

By Lars Trodson

Two artists with Block Island roots are having a show of new artwork at The Hive, a cooperative artspace in North Kingstown. The show, featuring Joann Seddon and Henry Hackler, will have an artists’ reception on Saturday, Jan. 11 from 5 to 8 p.m. The Hive is located at 650 Ten Rod Road.

According to a press release issued by The Hive, Hackler is a pseudonym for a Block Island resident who has lived on the island for the past 13 years. Seddon was a well-known presence on the island who moved back to the mainland a few years ago. The show is titled “Anarchy in the NK,” a take on the infamous Sex Pistols tune from the late 1970s, “Anarchy in the UK.”

We caught up with Hackler via email this past week.

Q: The biography issued by The Hive, the cooperative artspace in North Kingstown where you will be having your first show, says that you have lived on Block Island for the past 13 years, but offers very little else. What more can you tell us about yourself? Can you tell us where you are originally from, and any details you may want to share about how you grew up?

A: I grew up in Springfield, Mass. in a low-income dysfunctional family. After my father’s sudden death by heart attack at age 37, when I was 7, my mother downward spiraled into addiction, eventually leading to her demise six years later. She couldn’t take the heartbreak. I miss her very much. As an adult, I lived mostly couch surfing and relying on other people’s generosity.

Q: Why use a pseudonym? What’s the story behind Henry Hackler?

A: A lot of artists I’ve admired have used psuedonyms. Henry is a nod to Charles Bukowski and my best friend Eric Wagner, and his legendary grandfather. Hackler rhymes with Fackler. Pandy Fackler is a song that greatly inspired me, by Ween.

Q: When did you first become interested in art?

A: All the arts are deep in my blood and neurons, primarily aural. I became especially vigilant about creating art in 2016 when I went on an art purchasing binge and realized I could decorate for much cheaper. The process is also very therapeutic.

Q: You say you draw your inspiration from “chronic daymares, juxtaposed with bouts of childlike ecstasy.” What is your medium? What tools do you use to create your art?

A: I’ve shied away from brushes lately. It’s like trying to eat soup with chopsticks since I have no formal training. I prefer acrylics, spray paint and ink on canvas. There aren’t rules, sometimes we need to remind ourselves this. I smeared a tea bag and sugar and spices on a piece once but it got moldy. That was one of my favorite pieces. Inferior markers fade, so you gotta be mindful of stuff like that, too. My dream is to cover my cat in paint and collaborate with him, but thus far he’s expressed no interest. I do think he will participate heavily in my next musical project. Also, I’ve been heavily focused on writing and non-traditional methods of delivery. There'll be some examples at the show.

Q: Are there any particular artists that have inspired you?  

A: Chris Blair, David Lynch, Tor Lundvall, Björk Guðmundsdóttir, Vincent Gallo, Genevieve Castree and, of course, Aubrey Plaza, among many others.

Q: How do you see yourself evolving as an artist?

A: I’d like to do a large piece, 6-feet x 12-feet or something like that. Evolution is very important, though, and wherever it goes is fine, as long as it keeps moving. I have many ideas. I like the idea of six to 12 themed paintings presented as one piece. Lately I’ve been receiving cryptic messages from Laura Palmer, so I see a future in that. There are endless possibilities. I’d like to be commissioned to do an album cover for an LP.

Q: What would you like your audience to take away when they look at your art?

A: It varies from painting to painting. I see what I see, you see what you see. I’d like to think that no matter the thought, they are thought-provoking

Q: Do you think you’ll ever come out from behind Henry Hackler and show the world who you are?

A: Neither Henry or "the other entity" really exist. Life is a revolving door. Enjoy the colors.

According to a bio provided by The Hive, Seddon was born in Rhode Island in 1964 and is a “self-taught artist who works in a variety of media creating collage art and landscape installations. After a long career in the music and nightclub business, she turned to art when a series of personal and health setbacks put her on a course of self-discovery and growth by approaching things from a different perspective.”

The press release goes on to say that Seddon, “using music and popular culture… her ongoing shadowbox series explores various overlapping themes and approaches in a three-dimensional fashion. Seddon makes works using ordinary, recognizable elements, working with repetition, provocation and the idea of expectation. With an almost protective, maternal approach to her pieces, she places windows in front of her collage work which seems to create a safety barrier protecting her subjects.” Seddon will be presenting “an ongoing series called Play List that currently comprises 10 pieces. Each piece includes an essay in which I tell a personal story about the piece and about the music.” The Play List series includes pieces inspired by such artists as Lou Reed, Madonna, and Public Enemy.

Seddon, who now lives and works in North Kingstown, invites the audience to “make a choice in the way they view the piece,” according to the release.

In an email to The Block Island Times, she said, “I moved to the island in 2008 at one of the lowest points in my life and I credit clean salt air and, to this day, the finest folks I've ever met whom I feel blessed to have as friends, with helping getting my mojo back. After being injured in a fall, I moved back to the mainland in 2017 and though my life is now here, there's always a piece of my heart on the island.”

For more information, visit thehiveri.com and Henry Hackler Art on Facebook.