Porters Neck Yoga and Spa
8044 Market Street
Friday, March 25th • 6 – 9 p.m.
The composer Claude Debussy once said, “The attraction of the virtuoso for the public is very like that of the circus for the crowd. There is always the hope that something dangerous will happen.” That sentiment will not only be echoed but combined at Porters Neck Yoga and Spa this week, as a pair of like-minded artists bring spectacle and whimsy to their new art show. On the schedule for the grand opening is a collection of fantasy paintings, a host of steampunk photography and even a fire dancer to bring home that absurdist fun.
Wendy Kowalski and Christy Rae sat down to talk about the show, their history as friends and colleagues, and how they continue to inspire each other.
encore: How did the idea for ‘Riding Tandem’ come about?
Wendy Kowalski (WK): Initially, I met a couple who got married based on their ability to compete in tandem bike races. Riding tandem is no easy task because of the tremendous trust exuded by the back rider and the intuitive communication that takes place between rides to achieve velocity. This fascination with bikes expanded with the mutant bikes at Burning Man and the concept of tandem.
My work is the direct result of working in tandem with DJs and musicians, and I have been inspired by Christy Rae’s photography of our tribe of friends. That was the impetus of all my circus work. The photographs were initially of night-clubbing and expanded to street performers and most recently aerial silk acrobats and circus arts, such as trapeze and acro yogo. My work does not exist without the trappings of tandem inspiration.
e: Christy, how did you get involved?
Christy Rae (CR): Wendy approached me at the end of last year about the concept. Because of how our art and lives are already so ‘tandem,’ it seemed perfect. It’s been so long since we have displayed our art together; yet, when I go to a show of Wendy’s, I will always see a figure in her paintings that is twisted or positioned just so and often know exactly which photograph of mine she pulled it from.
e: What is the general theme here?
WK: Transformative! It’s a courageous act of transforming our lives into art!
CR: Things in tandem—moving and working together, in motion, pulling and fueling the whole thing with the results of it all being magic and art!
e: How does your art differ?
CR: Wendy is a painter, and I am a photographer. But it’s not as simple as paint versus photo because we take such strong cues from each others’ lives and work. I will create a photo shoot that is inspired by one of Wendy’s paintings, and she will use a random photo of mine from an event to make that painting happen.
e: Tell me how you two met.
CR: I have known and been inspired by Wendy for over 10 years! I saw her first painting, ‘Lost Object Found,’ at an art show in Chapel Hill, and thought it was the most amazing piece of art ever. I was impressed by her brilliant mind and use of the random to create art that I just knew I had to keep her forever and ever! We quickly evolved into a dynamic tandem even then, doing ‘Shake and Bake’ galleries. Oh, the days! Fun, random art events all around the Triangle area! But this is the first show we have taken on since those days so long ago.
e: What do you have planned for the show?
WK: A fire-spinning performance by Burning Man award-winning spinner, the Amazing M.A.R.K., who is part of our circle of friends. Also some acro yoga demonstrations and a new installation of my paintings called ‘The Wilderness.’
e: What will that entail?
WK: It’s a room of paintings, sculpture and sound—my take on a dawning consciousness and the most visionary art I have ever done! It took a lot of trust to paint these pieces without my eye glasses or contacts. Christy urged me to just put the music on and do what I do. It was a voice in my head at times.
Ultimately, trusting in art means giving ourselves permission to cross dimensions. The work is a dawn over lotus plants, co-mingling with jelly fish and stilt-walkers peddling a high-top bike. It is water, air and light—an external hallucination, perhaps, or just the inevitable consciousness shift that air, water, and us are all one.