2004 New Art Event
March 6 - April 25, 2004

Thursday, February 26, 2004
By Shannon Littlejohn
WSU Office of University Communications

The Ulrich Museum of Art's favorite art party and exercise in democracy is about to commence, and the Ulrich staff is excited.

That's because the Ulrich gets to debut its new acquisitions ó artwork by some of today's hottest young international artists ó at the 2004 New Art Event on Saturday, March 6, at the museum.

It's a chance for art lovers to catch the premiere of the new acquisitions and vote for their favorite.

In its third year, the event has become a popular one, says David Butler, director of the Ulrich. Its purpose, he says, is to highlight and promote the Ulrich's acquisition program, which is funded through a restricted endowment for acquisitions only.

"We encourage people to come," says Butler. "You can vote on your favorite but you can also campaign against the ones you don't like." The top vote-getter for favorite gets its own special label identifying it as the 2004 New Art Event winner.

"It's a way of generating excitement and dialogue about these new acquisitions," he says. "To me, the New Art Event is central to our mission to acquire and display contemporary art, and particularly to support the teaching program of the school of art and design."

It's a great way for students to have firsthand experience with important new art from around the country, and around the world in some cases, Butler says.

Among the acquisitions are a piece by the Rev. Ethan Acres, from Los Angeles, called "Face vs. Heel: The Battle for the Soul of John Travolta" and "Museum Ship" by New York Artist Matthew Benedict.

An artist and practicing minister whose goal in both art and life is to "put the 'fun' back into fundamentalism," Acres, from Los Angeles creates works that provoke humor and simultaneously explore the serious subject of Christianity. For the past several years he has been busy spreading the Word through a variety of unconventional channels ó staging performances, delivering sermons from a converted trailer-home he calls the Highway Chapel, and producing mixed media works based on Biblical passages and pop culture. The unexpected union of off-the-wall antics and sincere liturgical celebration is what gives Acres' work its unique punch.

Humor is in the forefront of "Face vs. Heel," which depicts Jesus and a devil-like L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, fighting for a celebrity's soul. "I grew up around hell fire and brimstone, but what touched me most was laughter in church," Acres says. "I believe humor is just as powerful an expression of faith as terror or guilt."

Painted in the manner of high-quality adventure-book illustrations for boys, Benedict's "Museum Ship" depicts the now-forgotten maritime vessel "Success," which, in a career spanning more than a century (1840-1946), made history on four continents, gaining notoriety as an Australian prison hulk that housed convicts, and later as a floating exhibition that was towed from port to port all over the world as a tourist attraction.

Other new pieces are "Last Supper" by Anthony Goicolea, "Little Ake" by Swedish-born Sigrid Sandtrˆm, and an untitled work by Maki Tamura.

This year, the public can attend a preview party at the museum and enjoy wine and hors d'oeuvres from 6:30-8 p.m. There is a charge for the party, but it's a lot of fun and gives attendees a head start on identifying their likes and dislikes, says Butler. Ulrich staff will be on hand to talk about the new art acquisitions. Preview party guests will receive a special gift "pARTy pak."

From 8-10 p.m., visitors can view and vote on the artwork. Attendance at the preview party is not required for the public viewing, for which there is no charge.

"There is nothing else like it, anywhere," he says of the New Art Event. "The exciting thing is, it gets people really talking about art."

The 2004 New Art Event, including the preview party, runs from 6:30-10 p.m. Saturday, March 6, at the Ulrich Museum of Art. The preview party is 6:30-8 p.m. at the museum; public viewing and voting is 8-10 p.m. Reservations for the preview party can be made at 978-3664. Works will be on view through April 25.

Reverend Ethan Acres (b. 1970, lives in Los Angeles),

Reverend Ethan Acres (b. 1970, lives in Los Angeles)
Face vs. Heel: The Battle for the Soul of John Travolta, 2003
mixed media installation

Matthew Benedict (b. 1968, lives in New York), Matthew Benedict (b. 1968, lives in New York)
Museum Ship, 2003
gouache and varnish on board

Anthony Goicolea (b. 1970, lives in New York), Anthony Goicolea (b. 1970, lives in New York)
Last Supper, 1999
c-print mounted on sintra

Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler, (b. 1965 and b. 1962, live in Austin, TX), Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler (b. 1965 and b. 1962, live in Austin, TX)
Singlewide, 2002
high definition video with sound transferred to DVD, 6:07 loop

Sigrid Sandstrˆm (b. 1970, lives in Boston), Sigrid Sandstrˆm (b. 1970, lives in Boston)
Little Ǻke, 2002
acrylic on mylar

Maki Tamura (b. 1973, lives in Seattle), Untitled, 2003, watercolor and linoleum print on mulberry paper mounted on linenMaki Tamura (b. 1973, lives in Seattle)
Untitled, 2002
watercolor and linoleum print on mulberry paper mounted on linen