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Three Exchanges: Collaboration w/Matt Thiesen 2010 - C. Shoup


“Matt and I went to high school together. After graduation we each left Kankakee County to explore different cities, and eight years or so later, under different terms, we both returned here. “We had engaged and tasted the wider world, and back here we found an artistically sterile environment. I don’t remember the specifics, but we started to connect as artists. Matt had a digital video camera. We made a few “art films.” I remember it as a time when I was involved in a crazy, exhilarating creative process. We went so far as to film a donated and preserved sea turtle shell traveling around Salina and Essex Townships; another time we spent a chilly autumn afternoon filming guitar improvisations inside an abandoned mental hospital. “Three Exchanges involved a completely different process. I liked one of Matt’s paintings; he gave it to me. Then after a few months, I drew on it, gave it back to him, and we began to exchange the original piece and add to it, uninhibited by any rules or directions about what we were doing or what outcome we would achieve…”


Film Stills

The Day Danny Fought the Storm; 2004 Turtle Shell; 2005 Manteno Mental Hospital; 2006


“Places was the first exchange with Matt. The painting started as the blue background and the color buildup in the upper right area. On a whim, I drew the iron tower, sent it back to Matt, he added the nurse, the word “places” and after a few more weeks of exchanges, this piece landed on my doorstep with Matt’s final submission. He had “painted” a hideous, juvenile, sloppy drunken mess in the middle. “Anyway, I set it against the wall and looked at it for a week, and eventually saw Matt’s mess as tentacles somehow growing from the blue background. I blended oils until I matched the original background color to define the final octopi arms, and I used a gold paint marker to harness the wayward dark smudges. “There is balance around the perimeter, a concentration of interacting images, circles set in motion, and even a gouged out, pure black “entrance” into this piece. Our unlearned and spontaneous composition works.”


Places, 2010 Acrylic, oil, pen, wood, mixed media on masonite panel.


“This piece was exchanged only once. I framed an oak panel in walnut. Onto it I painted the black tree and the blue and white organic shapes. “I didn’t consider it finished—but didn’t know where else to go, so I dropped it off at Matt’s. “A week later it reappeared on my doorstep. Included now was a solid horizon, a creeping combine, an ominous barn and silo, and a strange dried up plant. “It was such a fascinating composition, and I had the good fortune of recognizing (immediately) that it was finished. “This is a supreme collaboration.”


Modern Agriculture, 2010 Oil, acrylic, mixed media on oak panel.


“Matt—being Matt—ultimately lost interest in the art exchange process after the second piece—but I insisted we complete three. “He had salvaged an old baking board from the alley, added the mixed media, and then apparently during some hallucinatory moment of ecstasy, poured paint across the upper edge, and dropped it off at my house, saying: “I don’t like it. Do whatever you want.” “I challenged myself to create a narrative atop this background. The archer is made of slivers saved from my framing stock. The three “mini framed” color squares are heavy canvas covers from old library books. This is the story of an ancient hunter.” Overview; details from the back of The Archer.


The Archer, 2010 Acrylic, mixed media, wood, bamboo, glass, canvas book covers on masonite.

Collaboration with Matt Thiesen  

"Three Exchanges: Collaboration w/Matt Thiesen" is a collaborative project that was completed in 2010.

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