A few decades ago Gary Hirsch began drawing the creatures of his nightmares, an empowering process inspired by his father that allowed the young Hirsch to minimize the intensity of his nightmares by confronting the monsters haunting his sleep. It led to a lifetime of doodling and scores of paintings balancing the jocular, cute, illustrative, comical, dark, scribbly, narrative and, mostly, friendly.
In these parts, the Portland, Oregon, artist is most known for his Bots—"totemic" art objects (each featuring a robot) for sale at Trifecta Gallery, offering guidance, wisdom, love and advice to those who carry them in their pockets. The blank dominoes, hand painted and covered with protective sealant, fall into categories ranging from joy or love to courage or calm.
This week, Hirsch takes a more interactive approach. Fifty of his Bots are placed in plain site in locations throughout the Las Vegas Valley, each alerting the discoverer that he or she has come across a Joy Bot. Finders are directed to photograph it with something that brings them joy in Las Vegas, be it an object or location, then upload the photo to a provided web address with a note stating where they found the Bot and why the photo's subject brings them joy. The photos and text will be posted online.
As hokey or self-promotional as it may seem, the project is actually a repeat of Hirsch's efforts in Portland and in Austin, Texas, that resulted in notes from a community, a sweet portrait created by locals of all ages and backgrounds who came across the Bots and shared a moment in their lives.
"The goal of the project is to document what brings Las Vegas Joy," says the artist, who suggests leaving your Joy Bot in another random location for someone else to encounter and continue documenting.
The project is in conjunction with an installation Hirsch is creating for Trifecta's Attachment Room, May 2-25, featuring a Bot multitude.