Love Letter to Patty Gone

On the right, a toy figure reclines on a toy bed; on the left, a pile a small toy objects, including a teddy bear, a few chairs, a dresser, etc. lay in a pile—all before a red background.
Patty Gone, Still from Painted Dreams, Season 3. Courtesy of the artist.

Patty Gone’s art makes me feel seen. They have a brilliant capacity to take mundane objects—a Lisa Simpson toy, Mickey Mouse ears, a Seinfeld poster—and weave them into an art piece, commenting on pop culture and class. Each time they do this, it humbles me.

This humbling quality comes from Gone’s lack of pretentiousness with their materials and process. They prod the clichés of “High Art,” like the idea that art is made only for certain (wealthy, educated, white, cishet, male) audiences. As a white working class artist, Gone shatters the academic façade of eliticism and engages with everyday, nostalgic cultural objects like toys or inspirational plaques. The familiarity of the objects lets viewers find something of themselves in these symbols. Instead of impenetrable abstraction, Gone’s work is blatantly human.

Additionally, Gone masterfully jumps between creative genres. From film and installation to poetry and photography, they begin with a foundational idea and then let the form emerge intuitively. Gone always has a new project in the works. Last time we talked, they described their plan to dress up like Peter Pan and hang from the fifth floor of a building to comment on the queerness of Captain Hook. They also showed me a photo of butt plugs made out of sugar they plan to hand out as a part of a Pride parade float.

Gone incorporates art into every part of their life—from making an ornate tuna salad or choosing the perfect, bright blue curtains to add some decadence to their closet, they find beauty and purpose in the mundane. What they demonstrate, to me, is not only a model for being an artist, but also a model for living. 

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Author: Will Darling

Will Darling is a transfeminist artist, writer, and activist. You can find his work at www.will-darling.com