Imagine you own a nice home in Santa Barbara. You, your spouse and the kids all get together collecting, restoring and riding classic motorcycles. You all like your nice house, each room is decorated to please and flatter its inhabitants. Moreover, you are a gregarious bunch – the house is perfect for parties and you often host them. One day an artist comes to visit, you offer her a glass of wine. You notice that she accepts the wine a little too eagerly, but you let it go.
It’s three weeks later and she still hasn’t left. There is a storage pod in the front garden where your petunias used to grow. Her yoga mat lives with your bikes, her strange taste in books has invaded your media room. SHE’S USING YOUR MOST EXPENSIVE MOTORCYCLE POLISH TO PAINT HER TOENAILS!!!
You want to shriek, but you signed up for this – so you just pour more wine and hope the exhibition ends soon. (Where is that b*tch of a curator anyway?!)
Welcome my friends to at least one of the worlds of Bettina Hubby.
For a decade Hubby has been making clothes – art really. Perhaps I could say that “For a decade Bettina Hubby has been designing clothes, fitting garments together in a manner true to the 20th Century histories of fine art collage and high fashion. Once on the body these collages become sculptures and are both animated by and altered by the person wearing them.”
I spent time with Bettina in the past weeks, looking at her recent work and talking with her about many things. I wasn’t familiar with the breadth of Bettina Hubby’s practice before our studio visit and am surprised and also excited by what I learned there. I have been aware of Hubbyco, a company through which she makes clothing, and in a more recent project, Get Hubbied, she has taken on the challenge of joining a couple in matrimony. Get Hubbied offers the service of a complete, artist run and made wedding for some lucky couple. As a wedding coordinator Hubby has brought together a team of other artists including Barbara Bestor, Ed Ruscha, Joe Sola, Skip Arnold, Roger Herman and Michele O’Marah to conceive of and create a wedding.
I had not seen her works on paper before, these are new to me – quite surreal and beautiful collages of magazine images cut and pasted to nice paper. These collages probably owe as much to the Surrealistic fashion influences of Elsa Schiaparelli and Leigh Bowery as to the history of collage. I think that Hubby has taken what she learned by making clothes and is applying those skills and intuitions to fine art. The jarring unreality of her combination’s are magnified when she photographs and enlarges the images to make large wall works.
During the time we looked and talked, the notion of ‘sticking things together’ had become a theme. Painstaking stitching of fabrics to make clothes, finding willing people who want to be ‘stuck together,’ collages that are made of photographic imagery, and indeed photographs that have been clipped and Rorshached to make Op-art, Surrealistic panoramas.
Thinking now that sometimes casual conversation reveals more than confession I tell you that quite out of the blue – we were discussing her job in college of organizing visiting artist lecture – Hubby related to me a story of inviting Nancy Spero and Leon Golub to campus to speak about their work. Apparently much of their talk was about their relationship and how the ups and downs of each partner’s career might have tested their love. They each advised understanding “… a need to quiet one’s ego and to consider the other for the long haul.” Maybe this is a stretch, but I tell you – looking around on Bettina’s website, again and again I find references to joining together images, clothes, papers…. and people.
Oh! About Bettina Hubby’s project for the Home Show, Revisited:
Many of the images above, and also many more, will blown up (and therefore delightfully distorted), printed onto home-window-sized silk, and suspended from curtain rods outside the windows of Bettina Hubby’s ‘new’ home.
When you pass the house and peer at its windows, you will only see Bettina – engaging in one or another very personal activities. You will not catch a glimpse of the nice people who own and live in the house. As you pass you may also notice a rather vulgar and prominent storage pod. (Who knew Pods would have their own website?) On the exterior walls of this novel garden appurtenance will hang images of the interior of Bettina Hubby’s personal storage shed back home in Silverlake. (Ouch. In Santa Barbara?)
Below I’ve uploaded images of her collages and altered photographs. I’m sure we”ll be seeing more of Bettina Hubby’s work around – first in the “Home Show, Revisited” this weekend and then in additional exhibitions that Hubby mentioned to me. It will be nice to get more familiar with her language and her work.
No Santa Barbarans were hurt in the making of Bettina’s art project – any implication to the contrary is entirely my own invention.
CAF Part 5: Bettina Hubby for Home Show, Revisited