The Cabinet of Curiosities

Gail and Zachariah Rieke

GAIL AND ZACHARIAH RIEKE live in an unremarkable neighborhood on an unremarkable street in an unremarkable house. Unremarkable, that is, until the front door opens. The first thing you see looks like a modern Japanese art gallery. Collages from Gail and paintings by Zachariah grace the walls. You make your way to the back, through a small corridor and come to a door.

“Open it,” Gail says. “Everything will make a lot more sense when you see what’s inside.”

What’s inside is astounding. Gail is a collage/assemblage/installation artist and teacher, Zachariah is a painter. While both are internationally renowned, you can’t totally understand their work until you see this room. It is a collaborative installation from the two of them, a cabinet of curiosities, all inspired by a dream Gail had 50 years ago.

I could try to describe it, but better to let them.

You are both successful artists, but have gained a lot of attention for your collaborations.

Gail: We have been a team for over 50 years. What goes on here is at once completely collaborative, partially collaborative, and completely individual.

Zach is a painter at heart. My pieces tend to be more assemblage/collage. Then some of the work is installation work, which we do together.

Zach: I have just come off of a twelve year period of working exclusively in black on raw canvas. Now I’m dipping into color. The painting is a spiritual quest. It’s hard to define, but when we work together, it mostly looks like assemblage. Kind of. Once we get into the studio, it will make more sense.

Gail: In 1969, I had a dream. That’s how all of this started:

Girl with a cracked earth face

Sitting on the ground

Surrounded by bowls and baskets

filled with seeds and pods and shells.

I walked by, Do you want to see my Incredibility Museum? she asked.

I said Yes.

She showed me a chest of drawers with feathers and natural objects.

There were doors on each side that opened and

they were full of balloons that had static electricity

emanating from them when you move your hands near them.

Above the drawers were whirling wooden pieces

like the inside of a piano.

I woke up and said, Zack, we need to do this and the rest of my work and our work has been making an Incredibility Museum.



Photo Michael Sumner