Seven Minutes in Heaven with Chuck & George, Oak Cliff's Boredom-Fighting Art Duo
"Well, this is all the adult stuff," Brian Scott says, gesturing to the current exhibits in Conduit Gallery's two main rooms. We'd just exited the project room, situated in the back of the Design District space, where I'd literally looked into the mind of Oak Cliff's Chuck & George, the alter egos of Scott (aka George) and his co-conspirator, Brian Jones (Chuck).
Audra Schroeder Brian Jones faces his ceramic self: "It's like looking in the mirror!"
Their new collaborative exhibit, Table Scrappin' Vol. 1, opens on Saturday, and I joined the two as they were installing it in the eight-foot by 12-foot space. As we got deeper into conversation, however, I started to experience the twinspeak between the two artists, who live and work together. I went back to the their Masterminds interview from January, when Scott told me: "We often start something and make an inside joke about it. If you were really good at forensics, you could figure out what we're talking about."
Inside joke is a good description. Since January, they've been working on Table Scrappin', a very meta presentation of Chuck & George's life together, with emphasis on the shared storytelling of childhood. On a table outside the project room sits a diorama. At a small table inside the diorama sit tiny reproductions of Chuck & George. On a TV plays a video, with Chuck & George as animation.
"It's very derivative," Jones remarks. "We're very tangent-oriented people. Drugs may be involved...but that's part of storytelling too.
"I mean, I love dollhouses, don't you?" he adds. "If I had a gerbil, I'd make it live in this." The two laugh and lead me further into their collective unconscious.
Table Scrappin' is a continuation of their 2011 series of pencil drawings, which showed at Webb Gallery. It's also a three-dimensional reproduction of their domestic life, right down to a table that sits in the corner. Scott shows me framed drawings that will hang on the walls; one is of Chuck & George at a table, as children.
"I think there's a difference between the way girls play and boys play," Jones says. "There's always some innate violence." He points to another drawing of Operation-style surgery being performed on a teddy bear. "When I played [that game as a kid], I wanted to lose my patient."
Their childhood memories, skewed to be nearly absurdist, inform Table Scrappin' -- it's also meant to be a parlor where people converse, which is helped along by the intimate size of the space. Jones ponders adding an audio component of cats fighting behind the walls. Deeper in, he talks about his childhood, and Texas' blue laws, which prohibited the sale of toys, magazines and booze on Sundays, in an effort to stave off evil.
Audra Schroeder Brian Scott, eye to eye with evil
"They would tape off the aisles and magazines with blue tape," Jones says.
"And they would do it every week," Scott adds. "You'd think they would get some blue ribbon, it's fancier."
"They thought they were going to save people from going to hell," Jones explains. "But I didn't quite know what hell was yet."
"So in reality, this show is a protest against the blue laws of Texas," Scott says.
Table Scrappin' runs through May 11 at Conduit Gallery.