The Pearl Jam guitarist and accomplished visual artist pushed each other in new ways in their collaboration. Their exhibition opens at Winston Wächter Fine Art gallery with March 22-23 performances from the mixed-media duo.
Mike McCready is wearing his “fancy boots.”
It’s not his typical workwear, at least on an off-tour morning when the Pearl Jam guitarist is nimbly hopping around cerulean blue and yellow paint splotches on the recycled Home Shows merch boxes spread out on the concrete floor.
It’s a precious sunny winter day, but McCready and artist Kate Neckel are in the bowels of Pearl Jam’s warehouse, fine-tuning the performance aspects of their upcoming exhibition at Winston Wächter Fine Art gallery. A photographer snaps away (hence the snazzier kicks) as McCready swipes a curvy teal stroke across a large canvas. Off to the side, Neckel’s gaze oscillates between the guitar she’s gently strumming and McCready’s movements.
Armed with a paint brush and Polaroid camera, McCready bounces between the canvas and the decorated mannequins seated at a nearby card table with increased urgency, avoiding the acrylic puddles on the cardboard beneath him. As if sensing his energy shift, Neckel’s playing intensifies, with harsher tones growing louder. Eventually, the two trade places and as the audiovisual art piece continues to build, a natural sense of order emerges through the media-blending pastiche.
“It’s always different,” Neckel says after completing the trial run through what will be a portion of their exhibition. “There’s no real rules.”
Hence the name of their boundless mixed-media collaboration, Infinite Color & Sound, which debuts at Winston Wächter with sold-out opening performances March 22-23 as part of an exhibition called “Sway.” Some of the musical elements will be for sale on a few 45s. The fixed pieces will run at the South Lake Union gallery through May 18.
The duo who make up Infinite Color & Sound first met at last year’s Seattle Art Fair where, enamored with her work, McCready wanted to know the story behind each piece — something he never does, he says. McCready’s wife was already familiar with Neckel’s art and the couple commissioned her to do an abstract family portrait for their home.
As they got to know each other, McCready — a son of an art teacher — mentioned he’d always wanted to do a project combining music and visual art in the vein of Andy Warhol’s The Factory. Neckel, a veteran of the New York art scene who moved to Seattle two years ago, shared the same vision and the two began collaborating.
“It’s scary and vulnerable,” McCready says of the “soul-opening” experience, taking a seat on a folding chair. “I’ve never painted before, I’ve never drawn or been comfortable with any of that until this project. Kate brought that out of me. …
“Do I have paint on my face?”
His boots survived the morning’s art romp unblemished, but his cheek did not, and Neckel pops up to grab a wipe.
“Mom, no!” McCready jokes, fake squirming as Neckel scrubs the teal streak off his face.
“You don’t want this getting in your skin,” she says.
There were no real limits or expectations to their fertile sessions, which, from the sounds of it, had the childlike spirit and energy of creative play dates between new friends. One day they’re at Alki Beach, painting rocks and tracing each other on a canvas and the next they’re hauling the mannequins, a guitar and some snacks to a Seward Park amphitheater McCready never knew existed for an impromptu jam session/photo shoot exploring their new setting.
“You know when you’re a kid you might go to friend’s house and take two chairs, grab a sheet off the bed and make a tent?” Neckel says, describing their work style. “You just start creating an imaginary world with a friend, seeing what you have around in your room — ‘All right, let’s make a tent. This is gonna be a spaceship now, launch it to the moon!’ That’s the mentality that we have.”
The title of the exhibition, “Sway,” stemmed from McCready’s favorite Rolling Stones song “Sway” — particularly the line “It’s just that demon life has got me in its sway.” For whatever reason, he and Neckel found themselves writing the word on each other’s arms or someplace each day as they worked, and it ended up in the title.
“To me, it’s about, how do you navigate life when adversity comes your way?” McCready says. “What happens? Do you crumble? Do you rise above it? Do you learn something from it? As a human being, how do I keep learning from the sway of life?”
For both Neckel and McCready, embracing new mediums came with trepidation and excitement. McCready, no stranger to big stages, admits to some nervousness before the morning’s practice run in front of a reporter and a few members of his camp. But thanks to each other’s encouragement and creative synergy, the rock great and accomplished artist have been empowered to explore new creative avenues they previously thought they couldn’t.
“It’s opening my mind to art and life,” McCready says of their collaboration. “It’s given me a confidence that I hadn’t had before, in terms of artistic ability or changing the way I’m thinking — like, ‘Wow, I guess I can do this stuff’— instead of negating it in my brain.”
“It’s like I’ve found a whole new aisle in the art store,” says Neckel, who only knew a few chords before they connected. “I’d never written songs before or even attempted to write lyrics, and now these things just come to me, through [working with] Mike.”
Infinite Color & Sound: “Sway” exhibition; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, March 22-May 18; Winston Wächter Fine Art gallery, 203 Dexter Ave. N.; free; seattle.winstonwachter.com
I'm happy for Mike. Pearl Jam is dead.
Ok chicken little.
I'm happy for Mike. Pearl Jam is dead.
Here’s the guitar Mike McCready is talking about in the article ✍️✨♾
The renowned guitarist is putting aside fear and embracing a new artistic medium.
March 18, 2019
It’s hard to imagine that someone with more than 25 years
experience playing lead guitar for one of the world’s top-selling bands
would be intimidated at the prospect of an art gallery show.
But longtime Pearl Jam lead guitarist Mike McCready, who fans know as
a major force behind singles such as “Alive” and “Glorified G,”
acknowledges that his first foray into the visual arts is taking him
beyond his comfort zone.
On March 22, he and artist Kate Neckel open a collaborative art and
music show at the Winston Wächter gallery in Seattle. So how exactly
does he feel? “Nervous and excited,” he told artnet News. “But more
Infinite Color & Sound (Kate Neckles and Mike McCready). Photo: Chris Adams.
McCready met Neckel after his wife saw her artwork at the recent
Seattle Art Fair and commissioned a major piece. Neckel, a former New
Yorker now based in Seattle, has long been inspired by some of her
favorite bands and musicians. She has even worked with David Byrne to
create t-shirts and videos. And now, with McCready’s support, she is
learning guitar, honing her vocals skills, and writing songs.
The two initially discussed doing a project loosely modeled on Andy Warhol‘s Exploding Plastic Inevitable, a
series of 1970s multimedia events. But even with precedents in place,
there’s still a learning curve. “We’re both learning these things that
we don’t know how to do,” McCready says.
The duo have dubbed themselves Infinite Color and Sound, and their
Seattle show is titled “Sway” in homage to a favorite song from the
Rolling Stones’s album Sticky Fingers. Currently, there are
about half dozen large canvases completed along with numerous drawings
and original songs that will feature in the show.
Infinite Color & Sound, Circular Vision (2019). Photo: Jim Bennett.
“I was always fascinated by painters and artists in other mediums,”
says McCready, whose mother was an art teacher and who introduced him to
artists like Vincent van Gogh, David Hockney, and Monet. He cites Laurie Anderson’s song “O Superman” as a good example of “mixing worlds.”
But McCready says he never really pursued visual art. “I never had
the confidence to put a paintbrush to paper or draw because I just felt
like I wasn’t good at it,” he says. “That kept me stifled in terms of
creativity. Guitar is something I was used to.” (He first picked up the
instrument when he was 11.)
He and Neckel are also working with a vocal teacher on harmonies and
breathing. (The exhibition includes two sold-out performances.) “We’re
serious about it,” he says. “Even though this is something I’ve done a
little with my band, I need to learn in terms of other things, like
writing lyrics, which Kate does very well. It’s cool to see someone
learning how it all works in terms of making a song for the first time.”
Neckel, whose drawings have been featured in publications including Vogue, Vanity Fair, InStyle, O, Fast Company, and GQ,
has also created commissions for Hudson Studios, Cole Haan, and the Ace
Hotel. While she has been expanding the handful of guitar chords she
already knew, she has also been focusing more on lyrics, singing, and
bringing ideas to McCready. “He opens it up on a whole other level and
brings it to life on the guitar,” Heckel says. “It’s the most exciting
Infinite Color & Sound, Colliding Muses (2019). Photo: Jim Bennett.
Asked what parallels he sees between music and fine art, McCready
says with guitar playing, “generally the first take, that’s the one, and
I don’t think about it too much. I feel like that’s how I’m painting
too, by doing the first thing in my head or creating music to what
[Kate] is painting, how her hand is moving, or the line she’s creating. I
can’t think stuff out because if I do that, then it becomes forced and
doesn’t have a soul to it.”
On the other hand, he says he recently bought a book on how to draw a
nose. “I probably never would have bought that book before,” he says
with a laugh.
Asked about the takeaways from creating their first show, McCready
says he didn’t realize that four months is not a standard amount of time
for an entirely new body of work. “Maybe next time,” he says, “we’ll
take a year.”
“Sway: Infinite Color & Sound” will be at Winston Wächter Fine Art, 203 Dexter Avenue, Seattle, from March 22 through May 18.
March 22 - May 18, 2019
Artist in attendance
Main Gallery Infinite Color & Sound Performances, SOLD OUT: Friday March 22nd & Saturday March 23rd, doors at 7:30pm
West Gallery Infinite Color & Sound Exhibition March 22 – May 18, 2019
Winston Wächter Fine Art is pleased to announce the premiere exhibition Sway by
the collaborative group Infinite Color & Sound, comprised of artist
and musician Mike McCready (of Pearl Jam) and New York/Seattle painter Kate Neckel.
Infinite Color & Sound is a visual art and music duo, with works
ranging from collage, sculpture, painting, drawing, music and
performance. Guests of the two performances will experience an intimate
view of the process which created artistic duo, Infinite Color and
Upon meeting, the two immediately connected artistically and began
their journey through color and sound, which can be described as
‘Infinite’ due to a lack of rules, boundaries, or restrictions in their
synergistic creations. “You could drop us anywhere and we could
create…,” says Neckel. “We intuitively guide each other and know how to
play like kids. Mike feels what I feel and knows exactly what to do with
it. I trust his hands and eyes like my own.” McCready adds, “Kate has
an amazing, artistic vision. Her paintings are expressive and moving and
it’s an honor to be creating with her. She has given me a confidence to
step out of my comfort zone of (Polaroid photography and music) and
challenges me to try other mediums like painting and collage. One of my
favorite aspects of this project is the vulnerability that is
Kate Neckel’s work has been exhibited nationally, and in the
documentary “House of Z.”. Neckel has been featured in Vogue, Vanity
Fair, InStyle, O, Fast Company and GQ. Her drawings have been
commissioned for the walls of private and corporate clients, including
The New York Times, Cole Haan, the Seattle Seahawks and the Ace Hotel
New York. Neckel holds a MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art and a
MFA from School of Visual Arts.
Mike McCready is the lead guitarist, and one of the founding members
for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducted band Pearl Jam. He has
also been a member of Temple of the Dog, Mad Season, The Rockfords and
Levee Walkers. Additionally, McCready plays with friends in Flight to
Mars, a UFO tribute band that hosts charity events for the Crohn’s and
Colitis Foundation’s Camp Oasis program and the Jennifer Jaff Care Line.
When not performing live, McCready scores TV and film projects, which
have included Elvis Presley: The Searcher, The Glamour & the
Squalor, Shameless, Fat Kid Rules the World, Hawaii Five-O, We Bought A
Zoo, Horrible Bosses & Fringe.