As part of the Diane Marek Visiting Artist Series, “Roadside Attractions” was commissioned for the Cress Gallery of Art at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. The sculpture, which is as much a print project as it is a sculpture, draws upon the mythology and quirkiness of different categories of roadside attraction, some more or less substantial, some more or less believable, all for the purpose of delighting and confounding the expectations of the browser and would-be tourist. The brochures themselves, all one hundred designed by the members of the collective, mimic the discordant imagery and incongruous information often found in a typical visiting center brochure rack, a place where do-it-yourself and professional design are forced to cohabit. The printed works – like the brochures they are drawn upon – are free to the viewing public, giving “Roadside Attractions” something of a life outside the institutional setting where it originates.
In 2006, Okay Mountain formed their collective and simultaneously opened an exhibition space in East Austin, Texas, by the same name.Their participation on both the production and vending sides of the same industry contributed to a shared heightened awareness about the nature of exchange—a trait that has manifested itself in objects and performances that parody our uniquely American reverence for commerce. Through calculated exaggeration and espousal of the absurd, Okay Mountain creates farcical caricatures of a national identity. Faux infomercials, flyers, guidebooks, and memos are rife with satirical imitations of salesmen, tour guides and mascots – playing on our communal tendency for insatiable want. As consumers, we’re often told that the perfect handyman tool, business plan, or instructional manual can guide you towards your best self; Okay Mountain riffs on these distorted perceptions, and lampoons their fallacies with a shrewd wit. Nonsensical instructions scrawled across a whiteboard mimic the brainstorm sessions of a start-up company, but ultimately lead to inconclusive results. Products born from harebrained invention appear fetishized and enticing, but are fundamentally useless. Okay Mountain identifies the contrivances that shape our relentless desire for immediacy and accumulation, and spoofs them with a sagacious flair.
Formed in 2006 in Austin, Texas, Okay Mountain collective is comprised of artists Sterling Allen, Tim Brown, Peat Duggins, Justin Goldwater, Nathan Green, Ryan Hennessee, Josh Rios, Carlos Rosales-Silva, Michael Sieben, and Corkey Sinks. While most artists are alumni of the University of Texas at Austin (TX), others are graduates of University of California Los Angeles (CA), Rhode Island School of Design (RI), and the University of Kansas (KS). Institutional exhibitions have included those at the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston (TX), Austin Museum of Art (TX), McNay Art Museum (TX), Arthouse (TX), University of Tennessee, Chattanooga (TN), and the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum (MA). Their work is included in the permanent collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art (CT), McNay Museum of Art (TX), Orange County Museum of Art (CA), Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (CA), Santa Barabara Museum of Art (CA), and Vanderbilt University (TN).
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