An Empty Room: The Sequel*

An Empty Room: The Sequel
September 17-October 10, 2013
Curated by Cortney Lane Stell

Philip J. Steele Gallery
Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design
Denver, Colorado

An empty room is something of an oxymoron. For a room to exist, it must contain the things that define it as a room: walls, doors, a ceiling, and a floor. This paradox is precisely where we start this exhibition.

All the equipment, display furniture, and lighting from the previous exhibition, along with existing tools, materials and miscellaneous items from the gallery’s storage closets are used to make new works. The gallery’s architectural elements are captioned; photographs and exhibition announcements from previous exhibitions are reconfigured.


Title Sheet

Show Invitation
archived digital files, digitally printed on 12pt paper, gloss coated on image side

Composite image made in Photoshop by layering 35 invitations from previous exhibitions held in the Philip J. Steele Gallery from 2008 to present. Layers are ordered chronologically with varying levels of transparency so one element from each invite is visible.

Exhibition Title Graphic
black vinyl

The RMCAD graphic designer Sarah Foley, was asked to apply the counters, picked out from the cut vinyl as decorative embellishments to the exhibition title graphic.

Didactic Wall Captions
digital print, PVC

Everything in the gallery that is not art is labeled with a didactic wall caption stating the material, dimensions, year, and description.

Gallery Wall Painted with Leftover Paint
latex paint (green, pink, black, white and various greys)

All the leftover paint cans from previous exhibitions emptied into one large container. The paint was not stirred, the mixing of colors occurred gradually as the paint was applied to the gallery wall using paintbrushes.

Leftover Paint Canned
latex paint (green, pink, black, white and various greys)

The unused ‘leftover’ paint carefully decanted into 18 cans. Made available for free in exchange for a photograph of the paint applied to a wall in your home. The paint must not be mixed and must be applied by brush directly from the can.

Floating Wall Shelves
three Ikea 11” shelves, six 2” screws

Floating shelves, installed as a vertical stack, then reconfigured to reveal alternative hanging variations making visible the normally concealed wall mounting screws.

Leveler Shelves
five Ikea 4’ shelves, cheese, pencil sharpener, doorstop, serving tongs, nail

Shelves positioned at the angle in which levels the object on the shelf.

Counterfeit Frame
custom built frame, Ikea frame paper inserts

Frame built by Joseph Coniff for an exhibition in August 2012 at the Philip J. Steele Gallery. The frames were built to a specific size to display work and match the standard Ikea frames in appearance. The grey paper packaging insert from the original store-bought Ikea frame has been placed inside of the custom built replica.

Pedestal Props
four pedestals, hammer, broom, stepladder, tape measure

Pedestals from the Summer BFA Exhibition propped and balanced by items selected from the gallery closets.

Moustache Piece
scanned hand written text, October 2013 issue of 5280 Magazine

An instruction asking readers of 5280 Magazine to draw a funny moustache on the face of each person pictured in the magazine.

Repeat Print
jpeg, rubber printing block, green ink pads

A ‘repeat print’ pattern made from the ‘think before printing’ email signature icon. Applied both as a digital image on the e-flux email announcement for the exhibition, and as a rubber printing block stamp filling a gallery wall.

Gallery Rules
gallery attendant candidates, 8.5” x 11” copy paper, blue ink pen

All candidates who applied to be the gallery attendants where asked to write a list of ten rules, Do’s and Don’ts, that they think should be enforced in the gallery (e.g., No Photography). Each applicant was given one sheet of paper and 20 minutes to complete the task.

Opening Shots
gallery photographer’s archives, Sony monitors

Photographer, Sara Ford, was asked to provide all of her documentation photographs taken during previous openings at the Philip J. Steele Gallery. The photographs are divided by their orientation and shown in the same gallery spaces they depict.

Please Do Not Retouch The Artworks
retouched digital photographs, Sony monitors

Sara Ford was asked to photograph and retouched each work to create idealized exhibition documentation. The photographs are presented on monitors, divided by portrait and landscape orientation.

Snapshots Captured
CCTV camera, laser printer, 8.5” x 11” copy paper

For the duration of the exhibition all gallery attendants are asked to make screen shots from the CCTV monitor, of any person taking photos in the gallery. The screen shots are printed out one per page and hung near the surveillance cameras in each gallery.

Subject to Change
headphones, MP3 players, recorded audio from Subject to Change lecture

One hour ‘audio guide’ lecture recorded September 17 live with an audience in the Mary Harris Auditorium. The lecture is made available to gallery visitors on headsets for the duration of the show.

Visitor Book
sketchbook, pen

Each visitor to the show is asked to respond to the comment from the previous visitor, and pose a question to the next visitor. It is intended that the book will slowly take form similar to the surrealist game ‘Exquisite Corpse’.

Title Sheet
8.5” x 11” copy paper, toner

All artworks are listed on this title sheet with detailed descriptions. It is printed on one side of a standard sheet of copy paper. Each subsequent copy is photocopied from the last copy made, with the intention that the more copies that exist the more degradation happens and the less legible the content.

Combined, the works create a dynamic, experiential staging of objects, archives, and processes that are present at every exhibition, but are often tucked away or hidden in plain sight.