Process and repetition: the significance of the everyday
The new works you see at 1624 Grand, by Nebraska-based Pecos Pryor, were carefully chosen for their alignment with our ethos for the space. Here’s some of the story.
From Pecos’ artist statement:
"Process, routine, daily life, memory, and mental space: my current work explores these themes. The recurring action that is our lives both at home and at work, like brushing teeth or mopping a restaurant’s floor each night, are opportunities for mental rest, digestion of the day; they engage the creative process. During these repetitive acts, I often recall the day, realize the significance of certain events, and find clarity and inspiration to create art.
The driving elements of the finished pieces are their physical presence and the process by which they were made—quite literally the marks that make them possible.
these pieces can be seen as odes to art making, while also suggesting a space to remember the quiet moments that often allow for human reflection."
~ Pecos Pryor
I visited Pecos to check out these pieces before an art show he was having in Austin, Texas last Summer, in 2017. As he shared the work with me, and talked about some of these ideas: the beauty of process, the “physical presence” of work that requires time and duration - I thought of all of the processes that have gone into our daily work. There’s the “inspired” parts of the work we do at Messenger + Ibis - determining the right balance of ingredients for a new pastry, honing in on roast profiles, cupping coffees to find those that fit our coffee philosophy. And then there’s the work, the work that requires time, labor, and repeated processes. A 30 hour fermentation for the bread and repeated processes of shaping, weighing, and scoring loaves, the several years required for a new coffee plant to mature, farmers hand-picking each individual coffee cherry, our production team filling coffee bags, offloading pallets of green coffee from a truck into the warehouse.
"This body of work includes drawings, prints, and select detritus from the process. The art making process is the impetus—time, distance, and materials become means to explore the significance of mundane everyday life."
~ Pecos Pryor
I think of all the detritus from the process of making the best bread and coffee we possibly can - some of which becomes beautiful in its own way, some of which just gets thrown out: the 80% of the starter we discard when feeding the levain (twice per day!), the pulp of the coffee cherry gets discarded and we utilize the seed only in roasting.
"Many people in my generation, and perhaps all generations, seek a job that satisfies and serves some greater purpose. Likewise, I’ve continually questioned the purpose and function of art in my own community and the larger society. Through my contemplation I’ve arrived at more questions: How do I want to spend my morning, day, month, year, etc.? Mostly what I’ve found or what I’d like to believe is that the spectacular occurs within the natural rituals of living."
~ Pecos Pryor
There’s no doubt that “doing things right” is different here than it is elsewhere. There’s no automation going on with our roasters or with our ovens. We still roast our coffees by hand, by scent, like we always have. We use fresh milled flours and hand-shape naturally leavened dough. We don’t take shortcuts that would sacrifice quality — there’s no real bread without long fermentation and hand shaping, there’s no balanced cup that comes out of a fully-automated coffee roasting factory. We’ve chosen processes that take a lot more time, and the time given by our roasting and baking staff is in some sense its own profound form of art.
"One of the correlations of my art and the ethos behind Messenger + Ibis is the honor of and beauty cultivated by everyday work. The work and concept behind my art is just as important as the final image seen by the viewer. I enjoy depicting the beauty that is born through persistent labor. By incorporating in the space the actual bakery and roastery, Messenger + Ibis places value on process and invited their patrons to collaborate in life's daily procession."
~ Pecos Pryor
From some of the earliest conversations we had about our space at 1624 Grand, art was in the thinking. I loaded our architects up with inspiration from blue chip and young artists alike, and hoped those aesthetic ideas would make their way into the design of the space. We think they did a good job of this, and we're even more thrilled to get to hang work from artists like Pecos on our walls! ~Trevor Welch
Pecos Pryor is an MFA candidate at the University of Nebraska. You can contact Pecos about buying work, or just to chat with him, on his website.