The week leading up to the Art Walk I came home every night to a room covered in t-shirts and paint. From outside I’d see warm light shining through the window, the music up loud. Inside, the table covered with a shiny tarp, piles of black cloth on the counter, blue all over the cutting board, turquoise in the measuring cup, turquoise on the counter, turquoise on the floor. Henry Jokela and Tala Schlossberg standing in that chaos, brows furrowed. One pouring paint into a frame and shucking it around with a little wooden paddle-thing; the other, pacing around with two paint-soaked shirts in each hand, frantic for something to hang them on.
“Elijah!” Henry would say, not looking up. “Where’s your fishing line? We need to hang the shirts, we need to string your fishing line now!”
And I would (and it would break, a disaster). Then dinner for three, not realizing the spoon in the soup had paint all over the handle. Eleven o’clock, I say goodnight. They stay up many more hours. Tala at the paint-shucking station, Henry pacing around, the scene as little changed as a twenty four hour stretch of shoreline—many tides of t-shirts and paint.
In the morning, one or both lie asleep on the floor. A stack sits in the corner, folded like it belongs at the Gap outlet. I make coffee. One or both sit up, a laptop with class readings in the left hand, hot iron pressed to a t-shirt in the right.
I arrived at the gallery on the night of the Art Walk holding a mason jar with a little plant in it. I had painted the mason jar while sandwiched between visiting families in the Red Tusk Arts Bay. I had been taught a Bollywood routine in the Ossa dance studio, and listened to four of my peers take solos over three-chord changes in the Music Bay.
“What does it take to make art happen at Quest?” Flushed and haggard, Henry asked me as we stood outside the new gallery space next to the MPR. His answer was you take up space and don’t sleep. Behind us, the gallery was brightly lit and crowded. Students and their families were milling around, looking at the pieces—photographs, paintings, embroideries, music, and printed images from Instagram hung on the white walls—many of them holding newly purchased silkscreened-black-and-turquoise t-shirts.
Henry and Dan Ellis had spent that week and the block break leading up to it transforming this space, the hallway outside the MPR, into a gallery as part of their self-directed work-study with Jamie Kemp. They painted walls, gathered art, found a glass cabinet, benches, and a D.J. booth.
Meanwhile, Elly Grant, the Art’s Bay Coordinator, had come up with the idea of the Art Walk and organized it with the other members of the Arts Coordinator group. The Art Walk was a student led tour of Quest’s various art spaces—the gallery space outside the MPR, the Music Bay, the Arts Bay, and the Dance Studio.
I spoke with Elly about the event. She expressed her frustration with how people always talk about art here. “At Quest there’s this narrative that we don’t have enough arts on campus, or there isn’t enough opportunity. But I don’t feel like that’s true. We have all the resources that we can have for right now, given what’s financially feasible for the school. The Art walk was an event to show what we do have.” The last thing Elly told me is we need to “stop complaining and start doing”. The arts coordinators put in a lot of work to make space for art on campus, and that night they pulled it off.
If you are wondering about the silkscreened shirts, Tala says: “Prints Prints is a roaring success. Get them while you can. There’s still a box in my closet”.