Artists, poets team up for ‘living room’ show


Ed Kemmick/Last Best News

Artist Michelle Dyk, center, talks with poets Pete Tolton and Anna Paige. That’s Dyk’s living room space at 2905, site of a Friday night art and poetry pop-up show.

Most writers and visual artists, in one way or another, have a way of inviting you inside their minds.

This Friday in Billings, several artists and writers are inviting you inside their living rooms.

The event is being billed as “Ekphrasis: A Collage and Poetry Pop-Up Show,” ekphrasis being a Greek word for a vivid, often dramatic verbal description of a visual work of art, either real or imagined.

On postcards sent out advertising the show, it is also described as “as interactive, experimental living room exhibition.”

The exhibition will feature collages by artists Michelle Dyk and Matt Taggart, together with poems inspired by the collages, written by Pete Tolton, Anna Paige, Ashley Warren and Kelly Mullin.

Poems and collages will be hung from light stands, forming walls, of sorts, around the artists’ living rooms, which will be set up in the main room of 2905, an event, exhibition and performance space at 2905 Montana Ave. Dyk, Paige, Tolton and Warren will be moving in furniture, fixtures and furnishings from the their own living rooms.

“You are going to be able to sit down in any one of our living rooms … and just hang out and get a sense of how we live,” Paige said.

The the show sprang from an idea Dyk had. She was thinking of her poet friends and wondered “what would happen if they used my collages as inspiration for a poem.” More than a year ago, she and Tolton exchanged some collages and poetry, and in time they invited Paige and Warren into the mix as well.

At one point they were making plans for a big event involving a sit-down dinner, wine and an exhibition, but in a meeting a month ago, they opted for a stripped-down affair with less formality and more fun.

And over Labor Day weekend, Taggart and Paige went to Bozeman to see an event sponsored by the Bozeman Poetry Collective. Mullins, a member of the collective, had already seen Paige and Taggart perform at a “poetry jam” that was part of the Richard Dreyfest V last month in Billings.

They invited Mullins to be part of their pop-up show, and Paige and Taggart have been invited to take part this January in Fantasia, the Bozeman Poetry Collective’s annual “surreal arts ball.”


Ed Kemmick/Last Best News

Dyk looks at one of the collages she created for the Ekphrasis show.

The Friday show will open at 6 p.m., with poetry readings from 7 to 8. The art will remain on display until 9:30. All the collages will be for sale, as will framed poems and poetry chapbooks. Admission is pay what you will, to raise money for future events.

Sponsors of the show are artist Jon Lodge and the Last Chance Pub and Cider Mill, which is donating some hard cider for the event. In the spirit of the living room scene, though, people also also invited to bring their own drinks. Lodge is paying a moving company to haul the artists’ living room furniture to 2905.

Tanner Vinecke, general manager of the Last Chance Pub, will be one of four DJs spinning their favorite records on old-school record players.

Guests are also invited to bring any bits of poetry they might have, as well as print media they can use to create their own collages. Meagan Lehr will be helping people creating works of art, and some supplies — magazines, books, scissors, glue and the like — will be provided.

Paige said she felt a little daunted about putting her living room on display next to Warren’s. Warren is a minimalist and a feng shui consultant (no kidding), Paige said, “and my living room is an explosion. None of my things go together.”

Tolton said his living room at 2905 will be “cluttery and childish, like my real living room.” Taggart won’t be setting up a living room.

“Matt lives out of a suitcase essentially, so the joke is that maybe he’ll bring his suitcase,” Paige said.

Dyk, Paige and Tolton said the best thing about the new show is that it forced the artists to work together in a way that artists don’t often do.

“This is really a team effort,” Tolton said. “It’s more than just taking our artwork and putting it in the same space at the same time.”

And it’s only for one night, Paige said, “which adds to the insanity of it all.”

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