For Artist Meghan Grubb, Her Joint Show at Monaco Is About Longing

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click to enlarge Water cuts. Fabric, plaster, string, gel medium, hog rings, wood brackets. 2018. - MEGHAN GRUBB
Water cuts. Fabric, plaster, string, gel medium, hog rings, wood brackets. 2018.

Making art is often a solitary pursuit. Past experience, artistic influences, a thoughtful word from a trusted friend who understands your work – these are the everyday companions for many artists, and they roll around in the back of the brain while painting, sculpting, drawing, contemplating, assessing and starting over in pursuit of an elusive goal.

And then sometimes you decide to do all that in concert with a collaborator. As Blue is to Distance, the new exhibition at Monaco (2701 Cherokee Street;, is a joint venture of individual expression by Rachael Starbuck and Meghan Grubb. The show opens with a free reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, March 2. On Saturday, March 3, both women will discuss the show with curator Stephanie Weissberg at 4 p.m.

Starbuck and Grubb met during various artists residencies and decided the time was right for a show together. Each of them uses the immersive possibilities of installation art in their practice, and for this particular show they took their cues from the work of writer Rebecca Solnit. The title of the show comes from one of Solnit's better known essays, which explores how the color and vastness of the sky and sea is linked to and inspires a sense of longing for something that can never be fully apprehended.

For Grubb, the essay was a revelation. "We both read her for years and years, but I hadn't read it until Rachael brought it up. It was a natural decision recently to name it after that particular piece. I don't speak for Rachael, but her work is often about intimacy and the space between bodies, and then there's the longing that comes from nostalgia."

click to enlarge Untitled (water clippings). Digital print on newsprint. 2018 - MEGHAN GRUBB
Untitled (water clippings). Digital print on newsprint. 2018

Starbuck and Grubb worked independently while preparing for the exhibit, but not entirely, Grubb says. "Some of the direction and selection of works evolved together. Not an explicit collaboration, more works created in parallel." After a pause to think, she continues,"I feel like I've moved more towards her, the tension between bodies, but mine is more from an immersive installation place — more from an archeological space."

In Grubb's case, the current exhibition was a chance to make a leap forward. "My work in the show is very new, it's about tension between body and space," she explains. "Spaces that disorient you or unhook you, make you reconsider your physical distance to something. I want it to unhook you from unthinkingly moving through day-to-day life."

The drive to reacquaint yourself with your own body shows up in Grubb's installations, many of which are inspired by the motion and color of water. In the mobile-like Water Cuts, the gray, blue and white of the sea is suspended from a wall in asymmetrical shapes and oblongs, shocking in their unnatural stillness. A streak of silver separates the duller colors, imitating the play of light on moving water. It's wrongly static, a memory of a beach-side trip that never changes, the past made false by being present – but that's the intention.

"We have that reset button in our brains to see something new, or experience it anew," she says, laughing at the strangeness of our perceptions, "but only if you can somehow trick yourself into an open state of being. So much of my work that's my goal."

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