These days, Michael James Armstrong spends a lot of time just looking.
That’s not to imply he has too much time on his hands. Quite the opposite. In addition to installing a show from Spring Valley-based graffiti artist Saratoga Sake at Ice Gallery (the Barrio Logan space that that Armstrong owns and curates), he’s been focused on his own show, 4:2, a site-conditioned installation piece that is set to debut at Quint Projects (5171 Santa Fe St.) in Bay Ho from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 21. The piece is the second in a series of works that use thousands of threads and natural light to create what could be described as an illusory geometric sculpture. Armstrong’s meticulous approach, however, often means that he feels the need to examine the space at all times of the day.
“If someone was with me, they’d be bored,” says Armstrong, adding that it took four days of standing around and examining the space before an idea materialized. “I’ll stand in the corner for an hour and just look. I’ll open the door or just stand in a different spot just looking.”
4:2, which is named after the two light-flooded columns made of white nylon thread and the four black rectangles that frame the piece, is the first new work to be showcased in the new Bay Ho art space. He was given permission by Quint to build two new skylights and several walls. Armstrong says he hopes people will come see it at the Saturday morning opening, but also be tempted to make an appointment to see it another day.
“I think it’d be cool for people to come anytime during daylight hours, because it won’t be lit at all. No lighting tracks or anything,” Armstrong says.
Once the show at Quint is done and the Sake show at Ice Gallery is complete, Armstrong hopes to be afforded an opportunity to contract a new thread piece, but says he won’t force it.
“This shit is not fun and the act of building it is not particularly enjoyable,” says Armstrong, who still hopes to do one more thread piece before moving on from the project entirely. “It’s the end result that makes it completely worth it. The end result, I look at it and think, ‘I’m glad I did that.’”