Written by Reed Everette
“An image is an image, and sincerity is in the shuffle”
—Erin Hayden in conversation with Max Guy
Erin Hayden and Max Guy’s exhibition Cups Swords and Eyes may be at Heaven Gallery, but its concerns are altogether earthly. The techniques are playful and quick, the style ranging and unpretentious, the materials scrappy, the ideas “elementary”—to quote the artist—creating a show that is quite sincere. Here there is no desire to transcend into the heavenly realm, but rather an insistence on sitting in all of one’s detritus and obsession. There is real comfort in the simplicity of the show’s ideas and in its commitment to making process visible. Hayden and Guy couldn’t have found a better home than with Heaven Gallery’s warm and casual atmosphere filled with gently pulsing dance music, champagne light, and a gorgeous selection of vintage clothing. The rarified environment of art is blissfully far from mind, and visitors are welcome to meet the art on its own terms.
Dominating the main room at Heaven Gallery is a massive salon hang of orca images put together by Erin Hayden. Some are paintings, some are quick drawings in pen and ink, some are done up in oil pastel and watercolor. The works on paper and the printed images are tacked onto the wall with blue painter’s tape, and the paintings are more classically hung. The paintings have elements of assemblage with printed fabric and cutout inkjet images—of orcas, of course—using thick globs of white paint breaking the surface of the canvas to represent water spraying out around the whales.
Layered into the works on paper are sprays of text that all seem to express some kind of longing to connect and heal: “flaws,” “where we first met,” “hope to see you soon,” “wondering when everyone will know.” These phrases create a vulnerable and personal relationship between artist and viewer. The focus here is not so much on the art but on the artist’s relationship to its making. By extension, looking at the work also becomes about the viewer’s relationship with the artist. One can only ask, What was the artist trying to learn? How might an orca serve as a symbol for human connection? And how might I be connected to this person through their art? In conversation with the receptionist I was told that Hayden had a dream wherein an orca told her to “dive deeper,” and it is clear that she took that to heart.