At No. 8 on Monday night, artist Beezy Bailey talked about how he convinced musician Dave Matthews to collaborate with him on their latest project, now (until April 13) on display at Chelsea's Robert Miller Gallery. Two holidays ago, "I proposed that he paint with me," Bailey said of Matthews, a long-time friend from South Africa. When Matthews expressed some apprehension, Bailey was quick on the take: "I said, 'Dave, no one has ever died making a painting." "Au contraire," moderator and P.S. 1 co-founder Alanna Heiss quickly interjected. "I'm sure many died looking at bad paintings," she quipped, to audience laughter.
The discussion was part of a series put together by the No. 8 Cafe Society and The Committee, organizations that produce cultural events. No. 8 doyenne Amy Sacco presided over the proceedings which -- luckily for this writer -- began about 20 minutes fashionably late.
What I quickly realized was that this collaboration -- the artists' first together in New York -- is not as odd a coupling as it initially seemed. At age 12, Bailey played the drums in his childhood band.
"The first boy band of South Africa," an audience member shouted -- again, to much laughter.
Matthews, on the other hand, has created much of his band's album artwork, including that of his most recent No. 1 records: 2012's Away From the World and 2009's Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King. But it's the duo's dedication to their art -- and their enthusiasm as artists -- that serves as the strongest bond. Matthews praised Bailey's "infectious quality" for eliminating any of his own self-doubt, but joked that it is an adjustment working at his friend's pace: "I hate you because it's getting harder and harder for me to sit in my house."
Both shun fame and all that accompanies it: Bailey said that he was recognized but once on the subway, while Matthews deemed himself "lucky to have people around me who remind me how similar I am to everyone else." The extent of his paparazzi attention? "When I go to the grocery store, the guy whose hair color changes every week goes: 'Hi, Dave.'"
28 silkscreens and one film later, the meeting of these two creative minds is currently on view for everyone to see. Heiss, who now runs International Art Radio, gave the exhibit her best endorsement possible: "Even though I have never sold a work of art in my life, I strongly suggest that you see it now."
Follow Melissa Berkelhammer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MBerkelhammer