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Art exhibit in Carbondale explores the flow of time through tattoos, stale bread and frozen moments

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Dominic Anthony Walsh
Aspen Public Radio
Marilyn Lowey's "My Birthday Party" and Simon Klein's "I except it: I accept it" run through April 8 at R2 Gallery in Carbondale. The title of Klein's exhibit is tattooed on his back.

Inside R2 Gallery, at The Launchpad on Fourth Street in Carbondale, a film projector runs a fuzzy, faded series of images. The setup is rigged so that the physical film slowly destroys itself.

Piano compositions by Miles Chandler and Art Williams also fill the space.

It’s a busy, multimedia room – part of a show created by Simon Klein called “I except it: I accept it.”

“The title ‘I except it: I accept it’ was sort of something that I've wanted to do for a while as a tattoo on my body,” Klein said. “The idea of being without something and being OK with it, or the transitive of being OK with something and thus being without.”

And he did get that tattoo, and the photo is part of the exhibit.

Next to the self-destroying project, another film runs. In it, Klein carries a chair across western Colorado. The projector showing the film is supported by the very same chair.

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Dominic Anthony Walsh
Aspen Public Radio
Simon Klein's "Escape Velocity" takes on philosophical questions about the nature of time.

A row of photos show Klein in motion across a stretch of desert dunes. Individually, however, they show him frozen in time.

“It sort of took on Zeno's Arrow a little bit,” he said. “That whole story about how can an arrow be in motion – if you took smaller and smaller increments of time, it would be moving less and less. So, how can something be in motion?”

Near the row of still images, a loaf of bread grows stale on a pedestal.

“This show is a lot about just some strange thoughts and ruminations about time – different ways to be in time,” he said. “I wanted to create a show that was about the flow of time.”

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Dominic Anthony Walsh
Aspen Public Radio
Bread will grow increasingly stale as the exhibit continues.

On Saturday, the sound of a tattoo gun rounded out the soundscape of the exhibit.

Tattoo artist Summer Orr, who lives in Utah, stopped by for a one-time activation called “In your time always.”

On the wall behind Orr was the reference for today’s tattoos: a circle resembling an astronomy chart of some kind, with different layers and phases of the moon along the edge of the circle.

“It's a bit abstract, but it is a very broad inversion of what I imagine is the most important kind of reference time, which is sedimentary earth and mountains and the breakdown of geological, specific, noticeable time within that landscape,” she said.

Depending on the time of day people interested in getting a tattoo arrive, the part of the chart from which their design comes is different.

“There's 12 components of this. And once I get past 12 people that I tend to, I'll just restart it,” she said. “But I really like astronomy and like old lunar-cycle illustrations … and star-watching ephemera, I suppose,” she said. “I try to simplify these ideas that I have about time and make them consumable as a tattoo."

I sat down for my tattoo at noon.

The final result is a 1-inch-square image that depicts three phases of the moon rising above two lines – one meandering, one gently curving.

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Dominic Anthony Walsh
Aspen Public Radio
Summer Orr's artwork on the author's arm is still healing after 24 hours.

It’s an unusual medium for a gallery.

“Tattooing is a very interesting art form,” Orr said. “It is permanent in a lot of ways. You don't often see it in a gallery setting either. So, I really like that idea. I do think it's dismissed as higher art very often. So, I really love this collaboration in that I get to be in this space and I get to interact with this world.”

“The idea of ‘the gallery space’ can be very stifling,” Klein said. “I often think that I want to do unserious things seriously – so, like things that aren't necessarily what one might deem, you know, proper or more straight-laced art or more technical. … Like, a lot of things I'm doing are for fun and are based around play, but I want to treat those things with full effort and full care. And I think tattooing does a lot of that.”

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Dominic Anthony Walsh
Aspen Public Radio
Two screens show Simon Klein's self-destroying reel of film.

Orr's “In your time always” tattoo activation ended Saturday. Klein's exhibit “I except it: I accept it” runs through April 8.


Dominic joined the Edlis Neeson arts and culture desk at Aspen Public Radio in Jan. 2022.