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Not So Bad at Sports: {SWWMYOSBL} Hall of Fame by Erik L. Peterson


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When Meredith Weber, Chicago artist and one-third of Happy Collaborationists (Happy C), invited us over to check out the installation of their latest exhibition, {SWWMYOSBL} Hall of Fame, a solo…

Erik L. Peterson and Meredith Weber during installation of {SWWMYOSBL} Hall of Fame. January 28, 2011. (Photo Credit: Tempestt Hazel)

When Meredith Weber, Chicago artist and one-third of Happy Collaborationists (Happy C), invited us over to check out the installation of their latest exhibition, {SWWMYOSBL} Hall of Fame, a solo project by Erik L. Peterson, we jumped on the chance. In 2010 Happy C had a successful lineup of events and exhibitions, including a collaborative car for Art on Track and solo shows with the work of EJ Hill, Nina Mayer and Isobel Shirley, to name a few. Going into their fourth year, these ladies have stepped it up a notch and are launching two new series, ACRE Exhibitions and Hypothesis, which will take you well beyond the blue.

{SWWMYOSBL} Hall of Fame, which opened January 29th, marks a couple of different firsts for them. It is the first public event that they have done since their Live Blude Girls installation at Art on Track in August of 2010. It also marks the first exhibition in a series of exhibitions that they are doing in collaboration with Artists Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions (ACRE). While there are several spaces that ACRE is working with to exhibit over sixty artists that participated in last summer’s residency (Johalla Projects, The Hills Esthetic Center, Mess Hall, etc.), partnering with Happy C is unique in that the ladies reached out to ACRE and offered their space to use. The result is a season of hand-picked artists to show in their unique space for the first time. Between now and June, Happy C will be showing the work of Alexander Stewart (2/26), Mara Baker (3/26), and Myranda Gillies & Elspeth Vance (4/30).

But first, Erik L. Peterson. I sat down and spoke with him about his work and this show as he took a break from installing:

Promotional Postcard for {SWWMYOSBL} Hall of Fame. January 29, 2011. (Image Credit: Erik L. Peterson)

Erik L. Peterson discusses {SWWMYOSBL} Hall of Fame:
(Note: SWWMYOSBL = South Western Wisconsin Make Your Own Soft Ball League)

As Meredith [Weber] will tell you, I came up with about four or five or six different ideas for this space, just being inspired by it. [With] the work that I did at ACRE, which was this softball game, I started thinking about how I could use the human resources that we had at ACRE. How can I offer [the artists] some sort of event, have some fun and also shake it up a little bit?

Write up in Courier Press from August 30, 2010 on display at Happy C. January 28, 2011. (Photo credit: Tempestt Hazel)

ACRE is in Steuben, Wisconsin, which is this tiny little town kind of on the west coast of Wisconsin. What I was trying to do was not only get artists to play sports, but also to have them build a sport in some way and invite the community. So, we invited the local newspaper, which covered the region and also the local community. I was really interested in activating that audience. I knew the artists themselves, the performers if you will, were also an audience in some ways. [I was interested in] making it a sport and making it a sort of event that is accessible. People know softball. But adding that twist and adding some absurdity makes it so that an audience not used to viewing art can see something new and think, “I didn’t realize art or sculpture could be a softball game.” Or, “I didn’t realize that the ideas of printmaking could actually have to do with making the shirts, the jerseys or the logos.”

Erik L. Peterson and Rykeyn Bailey discuss installation details at Happy C Exhibition Space. January 28, 2011. (Photo Credit: Tempestt Hazel)

Bringing it back in [Happy Collaborationist Exhibition Space] looks at how can I further push that audience idea. We had those two or three audiences in the field, so how do you push it back to the art audience and say, “How can sports be entered into a gallery? How can the gallery be transformed into a different type of event space?” I was thinking about how to obtain some of that absurdity and insert some of the legend and some myth. What better way to do that than a hall of fame?

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.  Look for the extended interview with Erik J. Peterson in the coming weeks.

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