It was artist Traeger di Pietro’s job to make the painting, valued at $15,000. It was Craig Miner’s job to cut it up.
“You can’t believe how hard it was to take a knife to that thing at first,” Mr. Miner said. He had spent more than 18 hours with Mr. di Pietro, watching the 4 by 12 foot painting evolve, and now he had to disassemble it, chopping it into 38 puzzle pieces. He then distributed the pieces to family, friends, and other community members. On Sunday, June 23, at The Field Gallery in West Tisbury, it will be their job to put it back together.
Mr. di Pietro is surprisingly cool about having his artwork dismembered and thrown to the wind, stating simply, “It’s out of my hands now.” It’s all part of the anything-goes attitude surrounding this project, aptly named Whatever the Outcome.
Whatever the Outcome (WTO) sprang from Mr. Miner’s long-term appreciation for what he calls “low-brow art.” He’s crazy about street art, graffiti, spray paint. And magnets. Especially magnets. As a hobby, he creates magnet designs to slap on Vineyard tailgates. He’s also a father and a teacher at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, and always has art supplies lying around. But he noticed the crafts tended to attract his grown-up friends more than the kids. Adults would consistently pick up the supplies, creating impromptu pieces of art.
“My friends that I never thought of as artists floored me with their creative abilities,” Mr. Miner said. Thus, he was inspired to create an event that would engage the creativity of the community as a whole. And it would involve, of course, magnets.
On a whim, Mr. Miner approached Mr. di Pietro, a well-known Island artist, and described to him a giant magnetic painting that would be cut into pieces and reassembled on a giant magnetic board.
Mr. di Pietro latched onto the idea with enthusiasm, promising Mr. Miner, “If I’m going to do this thing, I’m going to do it right.”
Within a few weeks, he had begun painting on a 48-square-foot sheet of magnet, working from an image he first envisioned in a spot of spilled oil. “I love the concept [of WTO]. I’m flattered and excited that Craig asked me to do the painting,” he said. “I like making art and having it be a part of the community and send a message.”
In this case, the message is community. The idea is to be all-inclusive, so “people who wouldn’t consider themselves artists can participate without picking up a brush or pencil,” Mr. di Pietro said. This accessibility has allowed Mr. Miner to reach out and involve an array of community members, from his seven-year-old nephew to the Black Dog employee that makes his coffee. Both have received puzzle pieces.
In turn, the community has been extremely receptive to Mr. Miner’s brain child. His friends have begun congregating in their free time to create flyers for WTO. Some have become patrons — donating paints and other materials for the project. One generous person even offered his basement as a workspace where Mr. Miner could construct the magnetic wall on which the painting will be reassembled.
“I’ve called in every favor, I’ve gotten everyone I can involved,” Mr. Miner said. “And my friends have been incredibly supportive.”
Mr. Miner has also won the support of The Field Gallery, which represents Mr. di Pietro. When Mr. di Pietro approached them with the proposition, they instantly agreed to host the reception and display the finished product, whatever the finished product might be.
As of now, only Mr. di Pietro, Mr. Miner, and a trusted few have seen the complete original image. The rest have only seen puzzle pieces. “I tried to make it so someone could get a piece and not know what the final painting would be,” the artist said of his design. And until each puzzle piece is returned, it will remain a mystery.
“It may never be seen in full,” he continued. “It would be a shame if all the pieces weren’t brought back, but things get in the way…it might turn out not all connected, but that’s the way life works.” Even so, he remarks, “What Craig has done here is created a concept that you can’t fail. Even the worst-case scenario is the best-case scenario.”
In Mr. Miner’s words, “You can’t do something wrong that has never been done before.”
The decision to embrace Whatever the Outcome, whatever the outcome, is part of its appeal. “With this project, it’s everything but the painting that intrigues me,” Mr. di Pietro said. For both him and Mr. Miner, the fun has been in the journey, in anxiously waiting to see how their labor of love comes together. Mr. Miner agrees that the project is a shot in the dark, but overall, it’s an experiment in art and in community that he hopes will grow.
Whatever the Outcome Reception, Sunday, June 23, 5–7 pm, The Field Gallery, West Tisbury. Reassembly of the painting begins at 6 pm. DJ, live music, refreshments, art supplies to create own mural. Free. For more information, visit whatevertheoutcome.com or contact Craig Miner at 774-563-0128.