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NEW YORK — For two artists whose work is so loud that it practically requires earplugs, Joe Grillo, 23, and Lara Grant, 22, are surprisingly soft spoken. The pair comprise half of the Providence-based art collective Dearraindrop, making their solo New York debut at the gallery John Connelly Presents… in West Chelsea.
Walking into Dearraindrop’s multimedia installation, named “Have a Nice Forever,” is like dropping down a neon-hued rabbit hole. Every inch of the narrow shag-carpeted room is teeming with found objects, from puffy stickers to plastic dinosaurs to old product labels, all combined with the group’s cartoony paintings.
Under the head of a pink inflatable elephant, a TV plays their video art, featuring vintage icons like Mr. Kool Aid and “Teen Wolf.” Nearby is a pile of the group’s T-shirts, sweatshirts and dresses — vintage finds that they alter by sewing on scraps of printed fabric — all sold at the gallery for $60 to $100.
One of Dearraindrop’s other two members is Hawaii native Alika Hereshoff, 23, whom Grillo met in Boston at an art school that shall remain nameless. “Let’s just call it the question-mark school,” says Grillo. “I hated it.”
The youngest member is Grant’s brother, Billy, 18, who passed on the trip to New York to attend his high school graduation.
For all the Dearraindroppers, half the thrill is in the hunt. Even the name is a found object. “We found a letter that this little girl wrote to a bird,” says Grant. “The bird’s name was Raindrop and the girl’s name was Karma.”
Five years later, Grillo and Grant can still recite the letter from memory — and proceed to do so together.
I love you. You are pretty. I love your song. A root toot toot on the flute.
Tweet tweet tweet, you’re so sweet.
Love, your bird-sitter,
Beyond their dumpster dives, the artists are loath to reveal their found art sources. As Grant begins to divulge too much information, Grillo stops her with a zip-it gesture. They do, however, name one prime locale: a store called Big Fun in Cleveland. “They have things like Richie Rich puffy stickers,” says Grillo. While in New York, the duo visited Pearl Paint to buy mass quantities of Flashe paint in all shades of neon.
Thus far, the foursome has managed to scrape by on sales of their T-shirts and the occasional grant. Hanna Fushihara, owner of the Tokyo boutique, Hanna, regularly puts in orders for their one-of-a-kind T-shirts. Fushihara also invited the group to show in Tokyo at the end of the year.
But the next project in the works is a full-length sci-fi film based on Werner Herzog’s “Aguirre, the Wrath of God.”
“We’re going to take off three months and just do that,” says Grillo. “Without talking to anyone or doing anything else.”