It goes without saying that a lot of sweat goes into the works of Jean Lowe and Kim MacConnel, but the two artists are positively glistening as they attempt to put the finishing touches on their new collaborative installation. Quint Projects' warehouse space in Bay Ho can get a little steamy, but Lowe and MacConnel, along with their trusty watchdog, Ceci, are powering through in preparation for The Museum of Metropolitan Art. If the name of the show sounds a bit odd, there's a reason for that. Individually and collectively, Lowe and MacConnel have become a bit of a proverbial power couple in the local art scene with a decades-long reputation for nuanced, multi-layered and even blatantly bemusing works.
"Marriage aside, we're both really hard workers so collaboration came easy," Lowe says.
Both artists are highly respected and regarded, locally and nationally. MacConnel is one of the forebears of the Pattern and Decoration movement of the '70s, while Lowe has become known for conceptual and even satirical works in everything from paint to papier-mâché. The element of satire doesn't completely encapsulate The Museum of Metropolitan Art, but it shouldn't be downplayed when discussing it. Opening Saturday, Aug. 13, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and being shown every Saturday morning through Sept. 24, the show will be made up of paintings and sculptures inspired by the European classics galleries within the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Lowe and MacConnel's Museum isn't a tribute, however, and one look at the latter's reinterpretations of the classic paintings and it's easy to see what he means when he says the show is "definitely out of the box."
"What interested me about this idea was the concept of doing something that was adamantly about art not as commodity," says Lowe, adding that none of the work at Museum will be for sale and that the Quint space will be set up to look as if patrons are actually standing inside a gallery within a larger museum.
"This has been a real challenge for me to take these beautiful paintings and essentially turn them into folk art," MacConnel says. "Not only is it challenging, but there's always the risk of it being hugely embarrassing."
Lowe, however, is quick to rebuff him.
"I disagree. I love the idea of seeing a classic painting refracted through somebody else's eyes. The quirks are what make it so interesting."