In Rochester, NY, in the early ’90′s, the Pyramid Arts Center was the center of Harvey’s world. Filling the top floor of a mall converted from a brewery, Pyramid had space, art and attitude. For a small city like Rochester, it brought in interesting work by big-name contemporary artists, and maintained an open relationship with the public and various communities around the city.
It was through Patricia Bacon, an artist and teacher who showed frequently at Pyramid, that Harvey ended up there. Matt had done a show with his high school class (led by Mrs. Bacon), and the Pyramid asked him to put together a group to do a show in their back ‘project space.’ It was to be the first of many curatorial projects for Nash, and the first collaboration of the team that would become Harvey Loves Harvey.
The group was a mish-mash of high school misfits, artists and kids to whom a gallery show was both a novelty and an adventure. Matt collected his classmates Jaye Arney, Cory Cottrell, Nathan Mourey and Josh Meisch. He also called his friend from the summer art program, who lived three towns over: Jason Dean.
The resulting show was called ‘TV Sucks Out Your Brain,’ a thorough look at the most important staple of teenage life. The u-shape of the exhibition space allowed the show to become three ‘rooms,’ each escalating the themes of the last. Viewers were confronted with a wall of televisions, broadcasting constantly. An artificial boy was bound to a chair by a web of video tape, while two televisions sat on a couch, watching the wall of televisions. In the third ‘room’ viewers were channeled into a narrow space, facing the back of a column of televisions. Peering through the hollowed back of one TV, they saw a whole living room facing them, the mirror on the wall reflecting them as television spectacle. Amazingly, in 1993 ‘reality television’ was only a year old.
The show was a minor success. The local newspaper wrote a piece about it, and the gallery asked Matt back to do two more shows with them. ‘TV Sucks Out Your Brain’ was the work of high school kids aspiring to the gallery and artistry, and it proved that artists working in a group could accomplish much more than individuals. There is no doubt that the Pyramid Arts Center, and the opportunity it gave some kids from a farm town, is one of the most important galleries in the history of Harvey Loves Harvey.
In the fall, only a few months after ‘TV Sucks Out Your Brain,’ Jason moved to New York for school at SVA. Matt stayed upstate, working hard to become the artist he dreamed of, but there were fewer and fewer collaborations. Both Jason and Matt wrote letters constantly, telling of their lives and adventures. They joined bands and recorded music; they wrote stories and kept journals; they read books and let themselves be inspired by movies and music. Still, in reading those old letters now, there is a note of loss. Matt collaborated once more with another artist, Christine Holtz, for a show at Pyramid, but the results were mixed. Jason was meeting new friends and heroes in New York, now living close to the beloved Mike Romanelli, but collaborations were sporadic.
‘TV Sucks Out Your Brain’ is the only pre-Harvey gallery collaboration by Nash and Dean, a strange mix of all the themes they would eventually pursue in their work. Raw, youthful and naive, it is only in retrospect that ‘TV Sucks’ can be called an important Harvey project.
TV SUCKS OUT YOUR BRAIN was on view at the Pyramid Arts Center in Rochester, NY in the spring of 1993.
Collaborators included Jason Dean, Matthew Nash, Jaye Arney, Josh Meisch, Cory Cottrell, Courtney Adams and Nathan Mourey. The exhibition was coordinated by Matthew Nash, with guidance from Peter Michael Kinney and Patricia Bacon.