A few weeks ago, the opening night for Brian McCutcheon’s exhibit Out of This World was, in fact, a little out of this world. And it wasn’t the last-minute change of venue (due to pesky rain showers) or the presence of corn hole inside the Deer Zink Pavilion that made it unusual – it all started with McCutcheon’s artist talk, which was about as interesting and complex as his stunning new exhibit. To gauge everyone’s reactions to the work and his talk, I talked to guests and made a video for the blog – be sure to watch out for one very special appearance!
During the talk, McCutcheon’s son, Angus, who is featured in (and served as the inspiration for) much of the exhibit, was seated at a drawing table in the middle of the stage. While his father discussed his successful career, Angus sketched on giant sheets of paper, sipped water like a true performer, and engaged charismatically with the audience. When images of Angus came onto the screen, he pointed emphatically and radiated pride. It was sort of like live art – and considering Brian and Angus were in matching orange space suits, we’re thinking this was intentional. In fact, the marriage of life and art was a major – if not the main – theme of Out of this World.
Angus’s fascination with space travel is what originally inspired the exhibit, and McCutcheon took the extra step by turning Angus into a main subject. He photographed, filmed, and even sculpted images of Angus, giving the contemporary exhibit an unmistakably warm and inviting feel. By including Angus in his work, McCutcheon was able to fuse fatherhood and artistry to see everything in a different perspective. With such a change in context, he was able to trust his instincts and create strong, emotional art worth seeing. In fact, the case could easily be made that without Angus, Out of this World may never have been conceptualized.
Equally pertinent to the exhibit’s completion was the fact that McCutcheon created each and every detail in each and every piece. Nearly everyone at the party spoke about his seemingly endless skills; from a room full of fiberglass balloons to a massive floating satellite, McCutcheon studiously mastered the various techniques necessary to could create such a diverse exhibit. Even the lawn chairs (placed in the middle of the balloons and inside the red capsule) were crafted by McCutcheon and his team with thin sheets of metal painted and stretched to look like dense woven fabric.
In fact, that gleaming red capsule was one of McCutcheon’s most talked-about pieces. Not only does it perfectly embody his conceptual mission – a harmonious mixture of masculinity, space travel, and playfulness – but even this industrial work became human when Angus took part. What at first looks like an impenetrable piece of metal becomes completely unexpected and remarkable when you walk around and see the small hatch door propped open. Inside sits the lawn chair, where a spacesuit-clad Angus sat and was filmed while the capsule was rocked and shaken to simulate a real spaceship. The final video is projected onto a gleaming glass screen, giving a sense of movement and exhilaration to the entire space. In fact, it’s hard to imagine the exhibit without that background noise and flickering image of Angus in his spaceship. The infusion of life with art is unbelievably present, making it the perfect final touch to Out of this World.