Garage for Sale

Liz Armstrong

Screw art. Let's race cars.

Some friends and I kind of accidentally crashed the fancy dinner for Whitney Bedford’ and Sean Duffy’s opening at Susanne Vielmetter last weekend. It was one of those things where suddenly security guards ushered us from the main gallery into a very serious room with a linked series of banquet tables, and a server was giving us soup. We were all giggly, playing with our food, dancing at the table. “Sorry man,” I said to the guy with the kind eyes sitting next to me. “You accidentally got seated at the kids’ table.” Then came all the announcements and gratitude to the gallerist, the cook, some attendees, and recognition of the artists, one of whom was the guy next to me. Oops. To compensate, I pulled it together like a professional and asked him about his installation.

Sean Duffy’s been making and showing art in California since 1992, experimenting with cyclical gestures and the visual aspects of music and pop culture. Enough with that for now though; he cleared everything out of his garage and put it up for sale because he’s making space for his new life’s direction as a race car driver.  

"People are more engaged with cars than contemporary art," he said.“Basically there was a point when I would go to openings and start talking about cars and racing and that was all people wanted to talk about. I'd have these long, involved conversations about cars and family and history. Conversations that were way more in-depth and passionate than I was having about art.”

It’s not just any racecar driving, it’s the kind with no doors, no roof, and no road. He’s preparing to off-road at high speeds through a thousand miles of desert in Baja for a project called Car 23.

All the shit that’s been hanging out in his garage is on display and has a price tag, an entire literal garage sale: His grandpa’s porn collection (vintage Vargas prints); a curiously large selection of 90210 dolls (“it was wrong,” he admits); records and a few decades’ worth of art magazines; pretty much the entire arc of his arts endeavors, some that were pretty successful, such as his chopped-up turntables, and some that didn’t get too far.

“When you collect stuff you lock it away and nobody sees it and you don’t really know if anybody appreciates it,” he said. “So it becomes almost worthless.”

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