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Austin Museum of Art Present New Works by Okay Mountain Collective
Okay Mountain, Water, Water Everywhere So Let's All Have a Drink (2010).

AUSTIN, TX, TX.- Okay Mountain collective makes murals, installations, drawings, and sculptures together, all while running a gallery in East Austin. For New Works, Okay Mountain collaborated on the video installation Water, Water Everywhere So Let's All Have a Drink (2010), a satirical send-up of mass media. Okay Mountain draws on both their aesthetic and conceptual similarities, as well as their differences, to frequently experiment with mediums outside of individual artists’ personal practice in order to complete and contribute to a cohesive, shared artwork. The result of these experiments reflects the group’s hard work and initiative paired with an equal passion for the light-hearted and whimsical.

In November 2009, the Austin Museum of Art launched a new exhibition plan, including a project space for fresh contemporary art by local artists, an extension of AMOA’s commitment to showcasing local and regional art. The ongoing quarterly series, New Works, debuts art in diverse media, with an emphasis on work by artists taking steps forward in new directions.

Okay Mountain collective is made up of artists Sterling Allen, Tim Brown, Peat Duggins, Justin Goldwater, Nathan Green, Ryan Hennessee, Josh Rios, Carlos Rosales-Silva, Michael Sieben, and Corkey Sinks. In 2006, these ten artists came together for the sole purpose of running a gallery space that would feature the type of art that they wanted to see in Austin. It was only after fulfilling the shared duties of operating this business that the members began to work together on artwork outside of the gallery. What began as doodling during weekly meetings has developed into a wide range of collaborative projects as diverse as the members themselves. The decision to collaborate came not necessarily from a shared artistic vision, but rather the recognition of the group members’ collective strength.

Their 2008 exhibition, It’s Going to Be Everything, at the University of Texas’ Creative Research Laboratory was the first exhibition in which the individual artists made new work together. It featured collaborative work by the Okay Mountain staff originating from the group’s games, challenges, or rules. The formal aspects of the work are scrappy, colorful, and never minimal, with an emphasis placed on drawing and the artist’s hand. Okay’s Mountain’s illustrative style can be seen in two significant mural projects. A board game motif tells a rags-to-riches story of venture capitalism through a 1,300 square-feet painted mural in the Austin Ventures offices, and Food Fight (2010) transforms historic battle scenes into a war between health and junk foods commissioned for the cafeteria of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Pulling from the group’s diverse interests and talents, they have created drawings, murals, videos, sound recordings, prints, zines, and large-scale sculptural installations.

Their Corner Store (2009) installation, commissioned by Arthouse and exhibited at PULSE Miami, turned the art fair booth into a convenience store complete with products, store fixtures, soundtrack, advertisements and Okay Mountaineer cashiers. All items in the store were for sale and had been hand-made or altered by the collective. The installation received both the PULSE prize and Viewer's choice award during the fair.

For New Works: Okay Mountain the artists created a video installation, Water, Water Everywhere So Let's All Have a Drink, (2010) that pokes fun of mass media. A larger-than-life television monitor constructed out of wood dominates the gallery space, amplifying the dominance of media in culture. Despite their hand crafted aesthetic, these artists represent a generation that grew up on the ubiquitous digital screen images of televisions, video games, cell phones, laptops, and ipods. Equal parts homage and satire, Okay Mountain created a multitude of short, collaborative videos, which project intermittently onto the monumental television monitor. A seasoned channel surfer may recognize familiar television tropes: low-budget infomercials, how-to programs, and local news blunders. While their New Works video installation shifts away from the group’s aesthetic style, its production methods remain true to their collaborative process. To produce the videos, each artist listed memories of daytime television features, then working in small groups took turns scripting, creating hand-drawn graphics and props, acting, filming, recording soundtracks, and editing. The resulting assemblage of videos offers great visual texture, while humorously critiquing media’s barrage of imagery. The title Water, Water Everywhere, So Let’s All Have a Drink, a twist on a traditional song in which sailors bemoan their ironic thirst when stuck at sea, suggests that despite the availability of more information than ever before , sometimes it may lack content or quality. Following its display in Austin, Okay Mountain’s video installation will be included in the Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans’ Prospect 1.5 exhibition later this year.

New Works: Okay Mountain is organized by the Austin Museum of Art and curated by Andrea Mellard, Assistant Curator.

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