Coloring is a pastime of the ages, and in current times, it is a good way to pass time. Enter the The Fine Art Quarantine Coloring Book, a collection of downloadable coloring pages by 26 artists launching May 7th, as selected by curator Brooke Wise. GARAGE spoke with Brooke while she was sheltering-in-place in breezy Palm Springs, a few hours outside of Los Angeles, where she normally resides. During the phone call, I heard a sloshing or splashing. In Palm Springs, this signals one thing: it is hot out there and her feet are likely in a pool. I was right. The coloring book is 100% free, with the option to donate to the charitable organization, Meals on Wheels, which brings healthy meals to seniors. As a digital interactive exhibition, this non-traditional release format is downloadable and printable from home, no one has to leave their home or go to their mailbox. Fully safe, low carbon footprint. This light fun project is perfect for now.
What inspired this?
I was first exposed to The Cunt Coloring Book by Tee Corrine in an art + sex class at Parsons. Corrine was an incredible queer feminist artist, who created the book in 1975 as a sex ed tool. The book is also humorous, which I connected with immediately, and I continue to use humor as a theme in my shows and projects.
How did the idea come about?
I was thinking of what I could do or put together to be productive and give back during these days of quarantine. The most obvious option was to curate an online show about isolation, or something coronavirus related, which is why I chose to not do that. That does not mean I'm against anyone else who has done that, I just wanted to think of something that I hadn't seen already being done or discussed. The idea of a coloring book was simple and accessible. I floated the idea by a few artists and had really positive feedback which made me excited about it. I asked my friend and designer Jesse Brown if he'd help me put it together, and we've been working on it every day since.
Is the coloring book free?
The coloring book is 100% free, with the suggestion to donate to Meals on Wheels, an organization that addresses senior hunger and isolation, which is so important during the COVID-19 crisis, especially being that seniors are the most at-risk group. It was important to me that the donation not be mandatory, seeing as we are all struggling during this time. I wanted those who felt able to donate, be able to do so at any sum of their liking, and those who felt they simply can't donate right now not be alienated from what these artists took the time to put together.
Did you color often as a kid?
I did color as a kid, definitely a lot of Lisa Frank coloring books. I remember the scholastic pamphlets being passed around and I would skip to the crafts section. I was a huge bracelet making, coloring book, crafts-anything kid.
Your sister, Chloe Wise, submitted a piece?
Chloe's piece is called Saniteary Eyed, it’s an iPad sketch of a group of people, all huddled together, far from the 6 foot distance rule we all (hopefully all of us) are abiding by. They are all seated beneath an elevated hand sanitizer, sanitizing them all in what appears to be a group shower.
Love the piece by Brian Calvin. Any favorites?
I also love Brian's piece, it may be the first one I color. I also love Katie Stout's and Cristina Banban's. Katie's is a drawing of lounging poodles, cats, and women. It's wonky and simple. Cristina's is of two exaggerated women, with oversized hands and features, which is consistent in her work. The two of them are relaxing and one is on her iPhone. Honestly, I love all the drawings. It has definitely been difficult to choose a cover.