The Citadelle opens ‘temporarily permanent’ tape art exhibit to Valentine’s Day guests

The Citadelle Art Foundation’s 10th Annual Art and Lovers Unite Valentine’s Day event featured the unveiling of its newest—and perhaps most locally-inspired—exhibit, “Tape Art: It Tapes a Village.”

Former Canadian Mayor Oofie Abraham is featured in one tape art piece that tells the story of Santa Fe relocating 150 employees and their families from Canadian to Amarillo in the 1950s.
Former Canadian Mayor Oofie Abraham is featured in one tape art piece that tells the story of Santa Fe relocating 150 employees and their families from Canadian to Amarillo in the 1950s.

The exhibit displays the work of tape artists, Michael Townsend and Leah Smith (in photo at top), who visited Canadian for the second time last fall and created a series of murals portraying interesting and notable people and events in the community’s history. Wendie Cook—The Citadelle director and curator of this exhibit—admitted to the evening’s guests that the exhibit was unique. “It was a giant leap of faith for me to bring this to you,” she said, “because [so many people] think all that art stuff is boring and dumb and stupid.”

“But this is different, because when you see this, you are seeing threads of things that you don’t realize are chained,” she continued. “Everyone in this room has been affected in some, way, shape, or form by all the things that around us.”

Michael explained that the artworks they and their crew of “tape wranglers” create are intended to be temporary. “I mean it very literally,” he said, as he presented a slideshow of tape-art projects that span that last two decades, and which have been installed in public places from New York City to Worcester, Massachusetts, to a tiny little town in the northeastern corner of the Texas Panhandle. “Twenty-four hours after we make a piece of artwork, we tear it down, and we’ve done that for over 500 murals. So, every mural you see here was gone within 24 hours of completion.”

Michael Townsend describes how each tape art character was built so that it could be removed intact, and preserved for the exhibit's 'test drive.'
Michael Townsend describes how each tape art character was built so that it could be removed intact, and preserved for the exhibit’s ‘test drive.’

This latest tape-art project for The Citadelle is particularly unique, though, because for the first time, the artists were convinced to preserve a key character from each of the murals, for display in the museum’s art gallery. Alongside each character are pages from The Canadian Record, reporting the stories portrayed in the murals and the thread that runs through the community’s history, which connects them to each other.

“What you see in this room here is something we’ve never done before,” Michael said. “For us, art is only happening when the maker, the thing that is being made, and the viewer are together in the same place. The magic triangle. That is an act of full transparency.”

“This work will be up for a couple of months, and for us, that is super weird. Please tell your friends to come see it, because it will keep us up at night knowing that it is here and stagnant.”

Ben Mathers carefully records his story of Violet Mathers wearing diamond rings and cleaning the bathtub in a home being prepared for a family of Hungarian refugees.
Ben Mathers carefully records his story of Violet Mathers wearing diamond rings and cleaning the bathtub in a home being prepared for a family of Hungarian refugees.

“Sometimes, contemporary art is a little far out there for me,” Wendie admitted. “Um, but this is just different. I just want you to remember that where you are, how your life is shaped, is because of the people that came to Canadian before us…and aren’t we thankful for all of those things, whether they are happy thoughts or hard times.”

Leah encouraged those present for the evening of fine wining and dining to contribute their own stories. Orange Post-It notes were left on each table, beckoning the attendees to share their own connections with the tape-art characters and their role in Canadian’s history. “Maybe you know these people,” Leah said.

“Maybe you heard that story, or you were here for that story. Maybe you have another story with a connection. We’re hoping that you’ll write it…and post it near the piece you have a connection to, so at the end of the night, we can see what all those connections are.”

Pages like this one from The Canadian Record archives are woven through the exhibit, offering historic perspective.
Pages like this one from The Canadian Record archives are woven through the exhibit, offering historic perspective.

“This is your assignment for the evening,” Michael concluded.

“You’re our test drive,” said Wendie. “Congratulations!”

The evening ended with the presentation of door prizes, selected for their significance in relation to the exhibits.

The Tape Art exhibit will be on display at The Citadelle Art Museum for at least two months, with its closing date as yet undetermined.

The Citadelle Art Museum is located at 520 Nelson Ave. in Canadian, and is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 am to 4 pm. For more information, call 806.323.8899 or go to The Citadelle Art Foundation. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 65 and older, and free for children under 18.

The Citadelle Art Foundation Gallery and Education Center
The Citadelle Art Foundation Gallery and Education Center

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