Tall Poppy Interview: Sandra Rechico, Artist, Writer, Co-Curator wade 2006
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Tall Poppy Interview: Sandra Rechico, Artist, Writer, Co-Curator wade 2006

2006_7_6rechicoalt.jpgBack in 2002 artists Christie Pearson and Sandra Rechico decided to create wade, a series of public art installations in Toronto’s many wading pools. With the help of YYZ Artists Outlet the the first wade project came to life in 2004. For one weekend Torontonians visited pools filled with blue jello, Dante inspired inflatable whales and many more pools re-imagined to make any number of artistic statements. It was a resounding success. The 2006 edition of wade is on this weekend and we exchanged e-mails with Sandra Rechico, one of wade’s founders, about playing with art, public space interventions and marrying gay penguins.
Can you tell me how wade got started?
Wade is Christie Pearson (CP, on the right) and myself, Sandra Rechico (SR, on the left) We were housemates at the time (2002) and are both artists. CP is also an architect. We share an interest in works of public art that can be interventionist and temporary within existing public space. CP has done extensive research of public baths and the rituals associated with them so the wading pool seemed a great fit as a public site within the bigger sphere of public parks Specifically were aiming to open the dialogue between the arts, the community, and our public spaces.


Wading pools are incredibly public places how have the non-art going public reacted to these installations?
For the most part the reaction in 2004 was fantastic. There were some growing pains, as it was our first year, but that’s to be expected. Recently as we’ve been doing site visits people have been approaching us to ask if the project is happening again and are very excited to hear that it is. I think there is a perception that the contemporary arts communities don’t give the public enough credit for understanding difficult work and it can set up an antagonistic public response. I think the wading pool site helps get rid of some of that. I am a firm believer that if the art work is strong it is also multi-layered and you should be able to read it on a bunch of different levels, and this is what we aim for when curating the weekend. When Gene Threndyle painted quotes from Danté’s Inferno on inflatable killer whales two years ago, the kids rode the whales, they didn’t care what they said. The parents could read the text and understand the irony in place even if they hadn’t read Danté, those that had read Danté …you see my meaning. Similarly Gwen MacGregor’s “blue” (pictured) was a pool filled with big chunks of blue gelatin. Kids tossed it at each other, walked through it with their parents and swam in it once it got soupy from the sun. If others wanted to talk about the legacy of Robert Smithson and entropy in the work, that discussion was possible. It’s all part of working publicly.
2006_7_6wade.jpg
How have kids and families related to the pieces?
Mostly with delight. It’s like coming upon a party they didn’t know was going to happen. The projects ask communities to engage in works atypical to a wading pool site and interact in ways that add them as authors of the work. In 2004 public participation and interaction often shifted the original intent of work and changed the anticipated results in ways that reflected the specific community. This created a wonderful layering of meaning between art, city, socialization, and as I mentioned authorship.
Can you talk about the sense of play and whimsy in so many of these pieces?
I think the site invites artists to relax a bit, experiment and allow for the unexpected, which aren’t often priorities in contemporary art. It also allows international and national dancers, musicians and artists to be grouped together in an event and be exposed to each other. Serious topics can be approached whimsically, like John Greyson and Margaret Moore’s wedding for the gay penguins at Central Park Zoo (they can’t get married in the USA so they have to come to Canada) [Sun. July 9th, 9pm at Palmeston and Vermont], or Sandra Gregson [Sun. July 9th, Noon, at Palmerston and Vermont] using artificial turf to create a fake oasis around the water (which may be visited by Hazel Meyers herd of deer heads that have likely been displaced from their natural habitat!).
What are some of your favourites this year?
I think it’s really difficult to have favourites, of course I think they’re all marvelous. I like the interactivity of Caines and Decter’s felt making [Various times at Christie Pits] or Winkler and McMullen’s [Sat. July 8, 10am, Grange Park and Sun. July 9th, 2pm, Trinity Bellwoods] sound buoys, the strange playful inflatable creature that will be made by Marcia Huyer [Sat. July 8th, Noon, Gerrard and Pape] the contemplative nature of the neon from Tony Stallard [Evenings, Bellevue Square] of the UK , the rose petals by Chrysanne Stathacos [Sat. July 8th, 11am, Bellevue Square and Sun. July 9th, 11am, Withrow Park] and the crazy choreographed fountains that Nick Tobier [Sat. July 8th, 2:30 and 4:30 at Trinity Bellwoods] will be presenting.

wade 2006 runs July 7th-9th and is co-sponsored by YYZ Artists’ Outlet. The series opens Friday, 8pm in Bellevue Square park in Kensington Market with Tony Stallard’s “Into the Abyss”

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