Articles

Open 24 Hours: Julie Torres Transforms Hyperallergic HQ into a One-Day Exhibition

by Kyle Chayka on May 2, 2011

Over the 24 hours of May 1, 2011, artist Julie Torres transformed our Williamsburg office into a project called “Open 24 Hours,” with a plan to paint 100 distinct paintings in that limited period of time. Julie’s first 12 hours was all painting, finishing one 9 by 12 inch work on paper, putting it up on our wall and moving on to the next. The second 12 hours were a gallery show, with friends, writers and fellow painters stopping by to check out Julie’s work. The video above presents a three-minute long time lapse photography document of the full day.

Julie's paintings at Hyperallergic HQ

By the time I got to check out Julie’s progress at 6 pm on Sunday, the wall was only partly filled with paintings. The reason? During the gallery show portion of the event, every visitor was invited to choose a painting to take home with them. One by one, visitors walked into the gallery, contemplated the ever-dwindling grid of paintings and grabbed one before anyone else could claim their favorite. Julie explained that it took her a good part of the beginning 12 hours to get into a good painting groove, so the best paintings came out about midway through the marathon. Visitors agreed — that middle section of paintings was the emptiest patch of wall.

The artist seemed pretty wiped out by the evening of May 1, but that wasn’t stopping her from continuing to paint. I gave Julie a call today to see how she was feeling about the whole project. Here’s what she had to say.

*   *   *

Kyle Chayka: So, first things first: did you get to 100 paintings over the 24 hour period?

Julie Torres: No! I did 80 paintings total. I got about 70 done overnight [and 10 more done after the first 12 hours]. I realized very quickly there was no way I was going to do 100. There were a lot of reasons … but it was totally insane to try to do 100, that was the main reason. I really think on a perfect day I could have done it, because the paper I wound up with was much bigger than I was planning, the art store was also out of the paint I wanted, so I was using a paint I wasn’t used to, I had a hard time with the paint. The other thing was that I recently took a few weeks off from painting altogether, so I had to get back into it.

Having the 24 hour event was the important part. I wasn’t completely heartbroken that I didn’t finish all of them.

KC: How were you feeling during that first 12 hour period (ending at 12 pm on May 1)?

JT: I should have warmed up. Because I hadn’t painted in a few weeks, it took a while for me to hit my stride. It took a couple hours to get to the place where I felt like I was painting freely, to hit that rhythm. Once I hit that rhythm I had a great time. But it was also very isolating. It went quickly. I didn’t run out of steam, I didn’t get bored, I didn’t get tired, I was really intent on finishing as many painting as possible. I was very focused.

KC: Did you learn anything in particular about your own painting process through the project?

JT: I learned how attached I can become to materials. I’ve been using the same gouache and same paper for a long time. You build a relationship and a language with those things. What was shocking to me was how that relationship disappeared when those materials changed. It was like running a marathon without your running shoes. Everything you know how to do goes out the window. I also learned the importance of exercise… art exercise. I took a few weeks off of painting, it’s like running a marathon but not running for two months. I never realized how much work is happening just by the practice of doing it. [The marathon] isn’t about the end result, it’s about the practice, the action, the joy of doing it. Everything that happens in that 12 hours is preparing me for every painting I’m going to make in the future.

KC: Anything else you’d like to add?

JT: The project was inspired by the 12 hour painting marathons that Geddes Levenson does, and a photo that Kevin Regan took.

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Check out the video of Julie’s “Open 24 Hours” above, and see some of our own photos of the event below, shot by Hyperallergic staff. If you missed this chance to snag one of Julie’s painting and see her process, fear not — she says she might be doing another one soon.

Hyperallergic HQ is located in a spacious loft at N11th and Driggs in Williamsburg. Are you an artist with a project you’d like to do, a writer wanting to plan a reading or just someone looking to produce a creative event? Get in touch through our contact page!

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  • Anonymous

    Huge thank you to Hrag, Veken and Kyle for letting me take over your space, for setting up that beautiful time lapse and for making this project possible. I loved every minute of it. And Hrag knows exactly how many seconds that is. THANK YOU!

  • http://bespangled.tumblr.com Janelle

    It sounds like for such a process-oriented project like this, having less than ideal situation was a benefit in itself, for the learning experience. A “perfect day” would yield a different experience with the works produced. Given the marathon analogy, this sounds like a project worth repeating to chart the differences in each go.

  • JBraun

    I love Julie’s comments about “practice”…because artists use that word so often as a noun…a stand in for their “work”…but Julie is referring to the verb…to practice…which is probably insinuated in the noun usage…but not necessarily. The interesting thing about Julie talking about the verb, practice, is that her work is also about being UN practiced…being free and making things from an subconscious place…and yet she is saying she still needs to practice that approach…like practicing how to let go. Maybe Julie can comment more on that…?

  • Anonymous

    hi judith! yes, you’re right, that is what i meant. getting into a place where my brain is turned off and my movements are free does take practice. when i’m painting regularly, at least a few times a week, that place is much easier to get to. having taken time off, i was very rusty. i couldn’t find it! but after a few hours, i weaseled my way in. i think :) thanks so much for commenting!

  • Nathalie Chikhi

    Each times, I watched [at least 3 times] Julie’s video it
    makes me smile. I can feel the energy of active studio practice. I love the
    idea of experimentation/action and I would even call it performance. She has
    been courageous to document this by allowing a camera in her back. I was also intrigue
    by the fact that she started to paint on the floor, continuing on the table.
    Did the fact to paint on vertical or horizontal surfaces have a particular
    influence in your paintings?

    • Anonymous

      hi nathalie! thanks so much for your nice comment! actually- the only reason i moved to the table was because my back was becoming very stiff. but now that you mention it- the paintings did change! they got much looser, in a good way, perhaps because i was more comfortable. i’m so happy that you like the video because your work is a tremendous inspiration to me. thanks for writing!!

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