The artwork done by No Touching Ground is in-escapable in this city. No Touching Ground is a visual artist working in various mediums who shows in gallery’s as well as doing street art type installations. I have been aware of his street pieces for years. Riding my bike around Seattle turned into almost a game of spotting his many new animals (Owl’s, Wolves, Bears, Etc..) wheat pasted in nook’s and ledges some might never notice. More recently two of his larger scale street poster’s have gotten notice on 11th & Pike’s “Free wall”. His first was a non commissioned piece on the launch day of the Serve & Protect; a show at Pun(c)Tuation Gallery focusing on the beating of Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes by the Seattle Police Department. This SPD Violence has become news yet again with the sad and unbelievable shooting death of Native American Carver John T Williams. A new NTG piece commemorating Williams now stands on the 11th avenue wall.
NTG has participated in several recent non street installations. TOMB took over an undisclosed abandoned Seattle Condiment factory and turned it into a massive interactive gallery collabortion with fellow artist NKO. The collaboration will be re-lived soon with an upcoming show re-creating the experience at 4 Culture Gallery.
His most recent solo show at Pun(c)tuation gallery was entitled Catch and Release. NTG pushed his work in a new direction focusing on process & using Pigeons to do it. The work used hand-colored graphics, screen-printing, bird seed to make portraits about the birds themselves and our relationship with them.
He took his 50 word narrative about the show & hand silk-screened each word to be placed in a custom designed vehicle, which is then attached to each pigeon. NTG made hand built traps, carriers and coops to catch the pigeons. As the shows artist statement said “This transcendental poetry is an act of human flight; through his words and work, NTG inhabits the city sky. NTG succeeds in recalling our human yearning towards flight while examining our urban existence and its relationship with nature.” We decided to go out and carry on this process for our photo shoot. He captured his pigeon, then allowing me to attach the encased word to it and then releasing it once again passing along on his story.
1. What was your experience like showing your artwork at Pun(c)tuation? Can you talk about the gallery and your show there?
Over the past few years I’ve focused exclusively on public work and hidden installations, working inside abandoned buildings, but for “Catch & Release” I wanted there to be a gallery aspect. I was approached by Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes about a solo show and I was immediately impressed with the galleries community driven approach and dedication to sustainability I knew Pun(c)tuation was the perfect space for the show. The opening was incredible, I’ve never seen so much support come out for a gallery opening in Seattle. I was further impressed by the sheer number of individuals who came back multiple times to view and digest the narrative The gallery aspect to “Catch & Release” took me a long time to put together and each piece was essential to the narrative.
When you work with the individuals at Pun(c)tuation your not working with directors or gallery owners, you’re working with fellow artists. They know whose been producing the hottest shit in Seattle for years. From what I’ve seen, Maikoiyo is curating shows that are five to ten years ahead of their time. This gallery is changing the work being done in Seattle.
2. Could you do your art anywhere, or do you need the Pacific Northwest to create?
It’s an honor for me to create work in Seattle. I feel like I have a responsibility to the community here. I’ll always be a Northwest Artist and I’ll always be a part of the New Mystics family. However I feel the need to keep pieces burning in spots like New York, Barcelona and Alaska, in addition to the Northwest.
Whether or not to stay in Seattle is something I’ve been weighing for awhile. Seattle is a great city to nurture your visions in. But it doesn’t have the funding, the art critics, or the opportunities that other major cities have. Seattle teaches you to grind for opportunities. However I don’t foresee being able to generate the funds needed to produce the kind of work I’d like to be creating. The funding just isn’t here.
But what this question really asks is, if I need to live in Seattle in order to obtain the inspiration the Northwest provides me artistically The answer to that question is that the Northwest isn’t just a physical space, the Northwest resides within me.
3.When did you first see a pigeon as a beautiful thing, and not a rat with wings as they are sometimes called?
The project “Catch & Release” was inspired by Joseph Beuys performance “I like America and America likes me”. I wanted to create a similar dialogue between man and beast.
The dove was once seen as a divine messenger, a herald of peace. In native lore the coyote was viewed as a mighty deity, shifting between physical and spiritual states. Both of these creatures are now largely viewed as nuisances, scapegoats and detriments to society.
I didn’t fully understand the nature of pigeons until I started working with them directly. I quickly came to appreciate their magnificence rather than focus on their imperfections. Pigeons are graceful, social creatures. They are survivors. They live mainly off free food and occupy marginalized spaces. Pigeons are true bohemians.