At some point Monday night/Tuesday morning, someone threw a large cinderblock through the front window of the Okay Mountain gallery space in Austin. Although the cinderblock crashed through the window and hit the wall right next to the artwork on display, it did not damage the actual work, a neon installation by Chicago-based artists Joel Ross and Jason Creps. “But it was obvious,” says Tiny Park gallery Director Brian Willey, “that was the intended target.”
Although Ross and Creps often place their text-based works in off-beat locations knowing that they could be stolen, vandalized, or simply tossed out by a city clean-up crew, their current exhibition at Tiny Park gallery in Austin has only documentary photographs of these sorts of adventures. The show also includes some sculptural “signs-objects” installations and some preparatory drawings.
The one piece that was shown outside of Tiny Park was not out in some abandoned lot or on public property, but in a window display within the gallery space of their friends and neighbors at Okay Mountain. Now Willey is busy trying to get his neighbor’s very large window replaced, not just for the protection of the artwork, which is now safely covered, but because the Okay Mountain building also houses several studio spaces now left unsecured.
Willey admits that the work is “a little provocative” and that they had discussed possible difficulties before the installation, but no one foresaw this outcome. “I wish they would’ve just left a nasty note on the door.” The text of the piece, which reads “Torture Sounds Incredible,” is discomforting but, after a second or third reading, becomes incredibly ambiguous. If it was the content of the text that incited the vandal, it is difficult to predict which reading was the motivation for the violence.