During a June 2010 residency at The James and Janie Washington Foundation, artist Garric Simonsen created a project called The Spectacle. The project was inspired by a parade where he saw vendors roaming the crowd with carts selling inflatable novelty toys and balloons. What attracted him to these mobile stores was the effort each vendor put into the presentation of their products. What also interested Simonsen were some unique connections these vendors shared with the business of being a self-promoted artist.
Artists put themselves into the public eye displaying things, trying to be noticed for their ability to produce unique items. Most commonly their art is engaged commercially and in some cases mass-produced to appease high demands from collectors. This project critiques the idea that art is a commodity. It also symbolizes the artist’s ability to withstand public scrutiny, standing as a metaphor that interprets what it’s like to be viewed as a spectacle.
The connections between an artist’s self-promotion and a parade vendor inspired Simonsen. During his one-month residency at the James and Janie Washington Foundation, he created one of these carts and stocked it with his own selection of inflatable novelties. The process began with finding an abandoned shopping cart and getting it back to the studio for modifications. He ordered his products from an online retailer and began outfitting the cart with oversized sunglasses, glow-sticks, balloons shaped like frosty beer mugs, giant crayons, little guitars and even a huge inflatable hammer called the “Big Bopper.” This Saturday, he will set out on a three-mile pilgrimage to the art district in Seattle’s Pioneer Square. Everything on the cart will be given away for free.
The walk will start around 10:00am Saturday, June 19th from The James and Janie Washington Foundation (1816 26th Ave.) and continue down Capitol Hill jetting back and forth between Pike and Pine Street eventually landing in Westlake Park around 12:30pm. From Westlake Park the cart will make its way through downtown, landing in Occidental Park in Pioneer Square between 3:30pm-4:30pm. Finally the artist will head up Jackson through the International District and turn north on 23rd , through the Central District.