Portland guys Will Bryant and Eric Trine have been making some fun stuff lately. Over the past few months, the illustrator/designer/artist and woodman/object maker/artist have combined forces to make what appears to be tiny, bright set pieces that combine their studio practices. The collaboration is part-object collision, part texture time, part subtle nineties celebration, and all fun. They call the work #AlleyOop, a tag team art making system based somewhere between Portland and the stars. If you’ve been following the guys on Instagram (and their meticulous hashtags), you’ve taken a peek into their process and know that they have brought their goods down to Los Angeles for a fun Saturday art show at Poketo. To get an idea of what they are bringing, to hear the story behind the ‘Oops, and just to catch up with these neat bros, we had a little conversation with Will and Eric about the quickly approaching #AlleyOopLA.
You guys have been doing #AlleyOopWarmups for what feels like forever now but, obviously, all this alley ooping is fairly recent. When was this collaboration born? Where did it stem from? The basketball reference: aside from the collaborative nature, are there any basketball influences to the pieces?
We’ve been talking about a collaboration for about six months, but with our rigorous school schedule it was hard to find the time to actually work on a project. I think the intitial theme of Alley-Oop arose as a response to a sculpture workshop I did based on Japanese renga poetry–it’s a sort of call and response format to writing poetry that leaves the poem open ended. I thought to myself, if that’s the Eastern style of call and response, then the Western style is more like an Alley-Oop! Set it up and Slam it! We made 3 cosmic basketball hoops, but other than that, there aren’t really any other direct BBall references.
You guys are both Portland based but are most certainly are not from the Pacific Northwest. The pieces are so bright and fun: how does Portland manifest itself in the work? For Eric, is Southern California visible? For Will, is Austin visibile? Are they in any way tied to a place?
The pieces are bright and fun and they definitely stand out in Portland. We built and photographed most of the pieces in my studio, and the other students were like “Whoa! Crazy bright!”–I mean, were all used to a bunch of grey skies this time of year, so this was refreshing in a way. We both like to use a lot of color and thought it would be well received at the Poketo space.
Bringing the work to Downtown Los Angeles is certainly a big jump from up North. How did the debut show of #AlleyOopLA come about?
I started talking to Ted and Angie at Poketo about doing a show in the space before the store even opened. I just love Poketo’s “Art for your Everyday” approach–and Will and I do work that rides the line between art and design and how that’s infused with our lives.
Aside from the show, what are you both looking forward to most while here? The weather is pretty lame, unfortunately, but are there any items you guys are pumped for?
ERIC: Since I’m from here, I’m looking forward to hanging out with my friends and family and soaking up the sun.
WILL: It’s just being in LA. I haven’t been here since 2008, so just driving around with Eric and seeing everything from an insider’s perspective has been awesome. I want to see it all and do it all!
BOTH: Our wives are flying in for the weekend too, so we’re looking forward to all hanging out together–go for a drive on PCH or something.
Do you guys think Los Angeles as an environment will lend itself to spreading the #AlleyOoping? What do you think Angelenos will take from the pieces that others won’t?
For sure. I think it’s a fun way to think about collaborative work. Collaborative work can be really draining, sometimes downright frustrating–but when you frame it up as something that can be fun and enjoyable, I think it can be quite rewarding. For us, it was good to get outside of our grad school brains, and laugh a lot! I think Angelenos will understand the “fun” aspect, but hopefully that will be a window for some deeper inquiries. Maybe. Will’s favorite quote these days is “I ain’t here for a long time, I’m here for a good time,” by George Strait. My favorite quote these days is “Take your pleasure seriously,” by Charles Eames. There’s something more profound about fun than just entertainment, and hopefully we captured a bit of that through this process.
Out of all of the pieces you guys have made, which are your favorite(s)? Are there any you guys are predicting to be big sellers?
ERIC: I just really dig the colors we used. I like all the objects put together.
WILL: The mag horse.
After this show, what is next for you guys? Is there going to be an #AlleyOopPDX soon? What’s the next evolution of the project? When you guys leave Portland, what will that mean for the collaboration?
School, school, and more school. We’re both in our final semester, so we’re gonna hunker down and write massive papers and mount our own thesis exhibitions. I think this project is exactly what we needed before jumping back into our “serious” work: Alley-Oop has reminded me to lighten up and remember to have fun. We hope to publish a thick zine, or small book documenting the whole process from incarnation to the exhibition. I could see this project coming back around for us as often as we need it – It’s like when your a kid and your stuck on a math problem, so you take a break and go outside and shoot some hoops – and then you come back to the homework and finish up. Alley-Oop is a kind of recess, and recess is vital.
If you are in LA tomorrow, you certainly need to stop by Downtown’s Poketo for the opening of Will and Eric’s Alley-Oop. There will be very rad people there and you can even get your hands on some affordable art pieces. Get more about the event here.