“It was a weird thing for a kid growing up in a Baptist family to collect,” says Andy Coolquitt of the whiskey bottles that formed his earliest stockpile. “I was interested in the beautiful, sculptural shapes of the bottles and the graphic design of the labels. It was something we didn’t have in our house, so it was a bit exotic. I had them displayed in this little cave-like space off the garage.” The now Austin-based artist was raised in Mesquite, Texas, in what he describes as a “bland, boring suburban existence,” with little “interest in visual culture.” Rebellion came in the form of “having a whole lot of stuff around me and letting that stuff dictate my aesthetic.”
Since then, Coolquitt has literally turned obsessive scavenging into an art form. Metal pipes and tubing, plastic lighters, aluminum cans — these are just a few of the found materials he repurposes and transforms, setting them up in conversation with each other and giving them a life-like, almost human quality. He’s constantly on the lookout for cast-offs. “Every time I drive or walk or ride my bike, I’m always doing it.”
It’s always been as much about the process of drifting around the city, as the objects he picks up and the works he eventually makes from them. “I consider everything that I do part of my practice, whether it’s talking, walking, collecting, curating, arranging, writing, making a functional design object for a company, or making a sculpture for a gallery. There’s no reason to separate.” His sculptures can look like they belong in a high-end design showroom, and in fact, a few are currently available at Matter: recreations of a side table, console, and coffee table he’d found in the street. “I just see everything as sculpture. If you’re making a sculpture, it’s not a big stretch to make a piece of furniture; to make a light fixture, it’s not a big stretch to make a house.”
And that’s exactly what Coolquitt did, building a live/work/performance space/ongoing art project in Austin, which he’s called home since 1994. How people inhabit and move through physical environments is a key concern for him. For his latest solo show, which opens this weekend at Lisa Cooley in New York, he’s focusing on the ways in which we understand a sense of place. “It could be totally impossible to create a sense of place at an art exhibition. But I’m gonna try anyway.” If Coolquitt makes work that “wants to be on the fence,” the same could be said of the things that influence him. The following objects, places, and people affect him in ways that aren’t easily classifiable. But you can see in these picks his long-standing interests in domesticity, sociability and spatial relationships, collecting and arranging — as well as the spillover zones where the distinctions between art and life, and form and function, cease to matter much.
When Mason McFee and Jessica Clark decided to name their new company Crummy House, referring to their own charmingly ancient one-bedroom rental in Austin, Texas, it was mostly out of admiration rather than denigration. Sure, the paint is cracked in places, the garage has an uneven dirt floor, and in the winter, the cold night air blows through with no regard for shuttered windows. And it was a bit of an inconvenience when, two months after they moved in, an old tree fell directly onto McFee’s car. But with two desks in the living room, a workshop in the garage, and the kitchen basically converted into a studio, the house has become a kind of creative haven for the couple — a getaway from McFee’s responsibilities as an art director at the ad agency Screamer, and Clark’s as a graphic design student at Austin’s Art Institute. They spend weekends making art there, side by side, and with Crummy House they’ll start their first true collaboration.
The artist William Hundley — known for photographing plumes of fabric hovering enigmatically in mid-air and strange objects balancing atop cheeseburgers — recently began experimenting with self-portraits. Which wouldn't be out of the ordinary, except that Hundley happens to hate letting people know what he looks like, so he obscures the photos of his face with collages of weird body parts and other incongruous images. He’s also been playing with masks, shooting the results of elaborate tribal-inspired face-painting sessions with his fiancée. “There’s this perception that I’m this badass artist who doesn’t give a fuck, this imagined character,” says Hundley, a boyish Texas native who lives deep in the suburbs of Austin. “But I work at a hospital in IT. So that’s why I don’t like putting images of myself or a biography out there — I mean look at me, I’m all-American white-boy looking. It would ruin the illusion.”
Sighted in the seventh issue of the online journal 01 Magazine, an interview with Philly-based blogger extraordinaire Andy Beach. Despite having never met the two women behind the Vancouver-based publication, we feel a certain kinship with them: They meander across disciplines, they cover folks who are near and dear to us like ConfettiSystem and ROLU, and they even have a healthy appreciation for the absurd. But when we saw the story about Beach, in particular, we knew we had to repost it, as we've been trying to weasel our way into the man's home ever since we first met him in Milan two years ago, when he did a pop-up shop with Apartamento and sold us this book from his personal collection. For now, we'll settle for excerpting a Q+A that shines a light on the goings-on behind the scenes of his cult blog Reference Library, including the avalanche of inspiration binders that started it all