HoundsTooth Cottage Presents “Half-Cocked” during Art Basel

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This article originally appeared in PureHoney Magazine. Check them out here. 

What is art? And more importantly, when is the best time to exhibit it? There’s an easy answer if you’re HoundsTooth Cottage, the art collective and record label operated by Maitejosune Urrechaga and Tony Kapel, the husband-and-wife duo from posh-punkers Pocket of Lollipops: The “what” is up to you, and the “when” is right around Art Basel 2021.

Say what you will about the fair and its encroaching hipster presence, but Art Basel continues to draw crowds from all over to Miami, and it’s the uninvited locals who have hammered out the personality traits that make the event relevant. A counterprogramming case in point is HoundsTooth Cottage presents “Shooting Blanks: The Art of ‘Half-Cocked.

HoundsTooth Cottage, in collaboration with the artist organizations Clandestina Miami and Together, will activate a space at the 7 Seas Motel beginning on November 22 with an eclectic mix of art, music, performance centered on a thematic, immersive look at the 1995 cult classic underground music film, “Half-Cocked.”

A true-ish story with a documentary air and people untrained as actors playing themselves, the film follows a group of music and art scenesters from a Louisville, Kentucky party house who steal a van full of musical equipment and go on tour. Made by a husband-and-wife team who, like Urrechaga and Kapel, are themselves artist and musicians, “Half-Cocked” is an adventure in off-the-rails, multidisciplinary creativity.

Kapel, also a photographer, feels the same need today to record his creative surroundings. “The music scene is always changing, the art community is always changing,” he tells PureHoney. “If it isn’t documented from the inside sharing out, then those looking in could be limited on where to look.”

“Shooting Blanks” offers screenings of the 1995 film; photographs and ephemera from its writer-director husband and wife team, Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky; and art from cast, crew members and artists connected to the Louisville, Kentucky scene documented in “Half-Cocked.”

A love letter to Louisville (and thereabouts)

Galinsky, a photographer and musician, happened upon the Louisville scene while on tour with his band Sleepyhead. Upon returning to New York City, he connected with Hawley, then studying film, and the two set out to make a movie. Entranced by the electric charm of Louisville’s scene and the connections he made on visits, in correspondence and through word of mouth — all pre-Internet — the seed for a documentary like film was planted.

“While in college, I started a band and I started to document the community I first was a fan of, and then a member,” Galinsky tells PureHoney. “On our first tour, I met most of the people who would end up being in ‘Half-Cocked,’ and over the next couple of years, I made several trips that retraced the route of that first trip.”

Imagine the youthful ennui of Jim Jarmusch’s “Stranger Than Paradise” and the punk-fueled, devil-may-care attitude of Bruce McDonald’s “Hard Core Logo,” with everyone traveling the kind of trail blazed by Jack Kerouac in “On the Road,” and you’re in “Half-Cocked’s” ballpark. Ably acted by actual members of post-rock outfit Rodan, among others, the movie is more than a fictionalized doc; it’s a capture of a moment in a wildly creative, reactionary, independent and nurturing scene in Kentucky’s biggest city. “While the film starts in Louisville, and it focuses on the wildly creative people who were involved in the Rocket House, it’s really meant to capture the spirit and feeling of the much larger community of lesser-known bands and artists that flowed between a network of towns,” Galinsky said.

According to Hawley, the loose script served as a guide for the musicians to play “versions” of themselves and the biggest difficulty was to get them to act as if though they’d never played an instrument before, let alone assemble a drum kit for a gig.

Galinsky will also present his book, “The Decline of Mall Civilization,” a candid document for a bygone era of American consumerism. Kapel initially contacted Galinsky for an interview on the HoundsTooth Cottage show on internet radio station Shake 94. As it turned out, Galinsky was also responsible for the cover of one of Kapel’s favorite 90’s album, Unrest’s compilation “B.P.M. (1991-1994).”

“The impetus for making the film was to highlight and celebrate the amazing creativity we saw in the music scene through a teen riot/coming of age tale,” says Hawley. “Interestingly, that’s also the impetus for the HoundsTooth show, meant to honor and celebrate the intense creative lives that the people who surrounded the making of ‘Half-Cocked’ have pursued.”

Art Basel for the sake of art

The 7 Seas Motel gallery will feature works by more than 20 artists, and additional film screenings from independent film studio Rumur.

The spirit of this exhibit recalls that of the better satellite fairs that sprung in the wake of Basel over a decade ago. The ones that didn’t care about getting photographed while holding a bottle of champers (label out) or of pulling up to the front in a rented European sports car. No, this exhibit is for those who want to home in on artistry and enjoy art through the experience of those who made it.

Galinsky says it best in describing how “Half-Cocked” came to be: “We met a bunch of people who shared our interest in music, art, and rebellion and then went to another town where the people we’d just met told us about other people we should meet. We were like the pony express of indie rock bringing information from town to town and discovering new bands, ideas, and ways of being.”

From Wikipedia: “Half-cocked is a cult music road movie, made in 1994 in Louisville, Nashville and Chattanooga. The movie tells the story about a group of high school teens who steal a van full of music equipment and pretend to be a band, called “Truckstop” (played by the band Rodan) in order to stay on the road. When the band starts playing gigs, their sound is largely inconsistent and incoherent, however, over time, the band becomes increasingly competent in their musicianship. The film puts much emphasis on the indie/alternative rock subculture.

Many indie rock bands such as Polvo, Grifters, Freakwater, Versus, Slant 6, Rodan, Unwound, Helium, Sleepyhead, Crain and Ruby Falls are featured in the movie. Members of Rodan and Grifters play in the movie as well as actors. The movie appeared in a small run on VHS and unavailable for years until its 2007 re-release on DVD. A soundtrack of the movie appeared on Matador Records.”

HoundsTooth Cottage presents “Shooting Blanks: The Art of Half-Cocked,” Nov. 22-Dec. 5 at the 7 Seas Motel, 5940 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. houndstoothcottage.com

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Abel Folgar

Abel Folgar is the translator of the novella, Juego de Chicos.