By Raymundo Muñoz
“Hey! I know you!”
Those are the first words I heard upon viewing S. Legg’s “I Can Only Guess How You Feel” on display at Hinterland. And those first words were a complete fucking surprise.
You see, friends, I KNOW S. Legg. Not as an artist, no, but as a customer. One of my favorites, in fact. You see, outside of the Oh so! romantic life of art writer and art blog editor, I have a day-job–as many in the arts industry have–creating and presenting food for people in a grocery setting. There’s nothing glamorous about it, true, but it pays the bills. In my line of work, I come across all sorts of interesting people, but few so interesting as artist Steven Legg.
I see him at least a couple times a week, always orders the same thing–Sesame Stir-Fry–and he’s always really sweet and very courteous. But here’s the thing: he doesn’t talk. Just motions and signs. In the murky depths of my memory, though, I remember him kinda talking, but not really. More so words mouthed, hardly audible, if at all. Nevertheless, in the last year or so, he definitely has not. But I know his order, and he knows me, and there’s an understanding, a ritual of sorts followed by Thank you’s expressed verbally and non-verbally. It’s an exchange I’m used to and one I appreciate in an odd kind of way.
So you can imagine the surprise I felt when Steven addressed me.
As surprised as I was regarding his ability to speak, though, I was more so–and pleasantly–surprised to discover that the art on display was actually his.
In a fervent exchange, Steven revealed to me that he’d taken an informal vow of silence for about a year, and it made sense: the way he spoke was rapid, passionate, deep, and almost too much to take in all at once.
My meager reply: “Wow, man. That’s heavy.”
Speaking to him made me wish I’d brought my audio recorder. Every sentence he spoke had a mass to it rivaled by Earth’s gravity. It was all so pure. So perfect. Such serendipity. I WILL attain an interview with him, but for now this humble review must suffice.
You see, my plan all along was to merely drop in on the show at Rule Gallery, shake some hands, snap some pics, then be off to the show I was hosting at Crimson Hilt, but wandering into the quiet chamber–so perplexing–that Hinterland was at the time, I fast realized my plans had changed.
It started with the sedate whirring of an antique fan blowing on a perfect dandelion housed in a plexiglass cube: “Safe Dandelion.”
Then a carousel of sorts: “Treat 1,” “Treat 2,” and “Treat 3.” Hanging from the ceiling as glossy and enticing objects of consumptive pleasure–an ice cream cone, a chocolate-glazed doughnut, and a box of chocolates–their true identity was soon discovered: cigarette butts, pills, and condoms.
Beautiful, wry, clever. I couldn’t fathom why people weren’t filling this room to the brim.
Then S. Legg addressed me, and my realization ached that much more.
There are plenty of fine artists out there–Denver alone has a staggering amount, which is partly why I do what I do–but when you meet a pure artist, friends, you know it. “Art is the ONLY thing that means anything to me in this world,” quoth S. Legg. His conviction hit me like a ton of bricks.
And you know, conviction in the art world is everything.
From there on, the artist gave me a tour of sorts, revealing his curious brilliance mingled with obsessive compulsion. Take the nearly 3000 Band-aids affixed to a mannequin (“Bandaids”), or the video of a hefty grande of pornographic images from the internet projected onto a woman (“Beautiful Girl”), or maybe the grid of 161 random anonymous faces from a social media site etched onto plastic brochure holders (“Faces”).
There was a video installation, though, that really stuck out: a grid of 36 separate videos of people on a pedestrian walkway titled “Pedestrians.” It was quiet and monotonous, but the unexpected element of the lone walker “jumping” as it were from video-to-video created an uneasy sense of expectation and excitement that was thrilling in a crazy kind of way.
“I haven’t spoke this much in a long time,” revealed S. Legg, and–truth be told–I haven’t written this much in a long time. Given what I know about the artist, I can only guess how he feels, but you–dear reader–can you guess how I feel?
S. Legg’s “I Can Only Guess How You Feel” is for sale and on display at Hinterland. For more information, visit www.hinterlandartspace.com.
“Bandaids” by S. Legg
On-view: “Beautiful Girl” by S. Legg, the artist on right
“Treat” by S. Legg
“Treat” by S. Legg
“Pedestrians” by S. Legg
“Faces” by S. Legg
“Underground Garage” by S. Legg
“Life Vest” by S. Legg
“Safe Dandelion” by S. Legg