When you hear the words, Free Life Center, you might think of something cultish. You might think to yourself, "Free life? That sounds crazy." But is it crazy? Or are you just a wee bit curious and maybe even envious that your life doesn't feel completely free and centered? I know I am, so I was ready to drink the Kool-Aid when I visited the Free Life Center, a hand-built, house-like structure, dreamt up by artists Seth Neefus and Mark Warren Jacques. It is touring the West Coast this summer in all of its freedom and glory and has recently taken up residence at Needles & Pens in The Mission.
Before we continue, why not watch a video introduction to the intentions behind this traveling installation?
Clearly, these two Portland-based artists have carved out a lifestyle for themselves where they spend their free time making art, music, and friends. In their world, it appears that free time equals all the time. They draw, make videos, build things, ride skateboards while strumming guitars, and drink beer. Things you probably do, too, but only after work or on the weekends. But don't assume their "free life" equates to screwing around all day. These artists work hard to live free. They raised funds for their project on Kickstarter and found a company to donate recycled building materials. Both artists have dabbled in design work and help run Together Gallery in Portland. And, as you can see from the documentation below, they're no strangers to hard labor -- they personally re-build The Center at each tour stop.
The latest installment of the Free Life Center is small, but inviting. It smells and feels like the '70s and is filled with framed paintings and drawings, an old-timey stove, and a typewriter on which you are invited to write notes and drop them in a mailbox. Small objects, such as an animal's jaw bone and a stringed instrument made out of a hinged box, are sprinkled throughout the space, along with a pile of books by Kurt Vonnegut, Winston Churchill, and Hermann Hesse -- items that are undoubtedly symbolic and inspirational for the artists.
Seth Neefus and Mark Warren Jacques aren't hippies. They are simply living the dream that all creative people share -- the dream to make meaningful objects and experience life exactly the way we choose, without inhibitions, worries, or responsibilities we don't enjoy. If we could all find a similar way to live more creatively and freely, I believe we'd have a revolution on our hands.
Free Life Center is on view at Needles and Pens through August 30, 2009. For more information visit needles-pens.com.