Sunday, April 6, 2014


The First Gift: Crown Jewels (ten years collecting rare coins and medals)

I need help!

LOTS of help!

Largely due to a capital-intensive expansion of the University of Baltimore (where I go to the gym), a dark and foreboding cloud of pure-bred-Chow-Chow-Denali-driven gentrification has swiftly swept a shadow over my small neighborhood in Baltimore.  Characteristically charmless and brimming with spite, Simone Campbell-Scott, the Charm City Queen of serpentine slumlords, and her witless handmaiden, Anne Rowan, will officially kick my well-fucked ass on the street at the end of May.

Erotic fictions fan girls do your dirty work!

When I moved to Baltimore from Texas to attend grad school ten years ago, I signed my first apartment lease sight un-seen.  I couldn't afford a trip to inspect the place beforehand.  After a long drive alone (and several frustrating hours attempting to secure a set of keys) I walked in to my new digs only to discover a 5 foot pile of sawdust in the middle of the room, the un-explained absence of a bedroom loft (as promised in the ad), and a colony of bitchy mice, whose calumny of constant chirping kept me awake every single night.  One unforgettable evening, I welcomed home a date to the sight of a small grey soul in the final throes of life's last grasp, expiring comfortably on my pillow.  This evidence (and more) to arm a defense, I kindly explained to my prevaricating landlord that I would break my lease unless she found the ethical prudence to severely reduced my rent.  Simone never forgave me.

10 years of property-owner bullshit now behind me: weeks in winter without heat, utility bills unpaid, an untold number of broken fixtures never fixed.  For a whole year Simone completely disappeared.  My neighbors and I regularly checked the obituaries for her listing.

That said . . .

Love, not spite, ruled Lovegrove: a dozen community pig roasts to benefit local artists, two co-hab boyfriends, each coloring disparate, though memorable, moments in my life (despite one souring tragically), and the incommensurable solidarity and friendship of two beautiful neighbors-- neighbors who fell in love, got married, conceived their first child and gave birth, all in the same building.  

Sadness aside, let the healing being!  I'm still dirt poor.  I can't afford to carry my many treasures with me, but I'm happy to share.

This 4.20 I'm throwing an epic POT-latch!!!  Come to Baltimore this Easter Sunday and carry away your very own bunny basket, full of freebies.  

But don't think you can get away without a piece of art too.  I heretofore declare every object taken a priceless Colby Keller original!

I've initiated a project I'm calling "Everything But Lenin" (a partial pun-- dumb-- on the sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond").  I intend to give everything I own away for free, everything except a large metal plaque of Lenin I bought off the black market in Ukraine thanks to Ebay.  Each exchange comes with a handwritten drawing/document declaring the piece a work of art (both the document and the exchange it represents).  The only thing I ask in return is a photograph together with the object(s) of your choosing.

Art often shies from the implications of transparency.  Obfuscation captures greater intensity.  A constitution of unwritten laws governs our collective aesthetic temperament-- appearance over insistence.  That said: every rule should be broken.  I've embedded another "utopian clause" in the project that deserves a concise explanation:

Ideally, I would like to find a person willing to grab the entire apartment in one sweep.  This would include EVERYTHING-- wallet, phone, computer, all of my clothes.  I would get a new phone, wallet, computer etc after the project period ends on May 31st.  There would be a brief moment where I am completely stripped bare, literally and figuratively.  This exchange would happen for free.  The person accepting the apartment and all of its contents cannot pay to acquire the piece.  A separate project for "donations" also exists.  The recipient of an object (or the entire apartment) is not obligated in any way to donate.  Each donation would also come with its own drawing/document declaring it a work of art.  Both types of transfer, a "free" object-based exchange and a currency-based donation, would essentially function equally as works of art.

Any single interested party would simply have to "store" the piece (my entire apartment and its contents).

The stored apartment however, exists only as an incomplete work of art.  To complete the piece, a "buyer" is needed.  The buyer would repatriate the entire apartment and its contents to its original site in Baltimore (or to a different location if the buyer pays to fully and accurately reconstruct an exact copy of the building at 1211 Lovegrove St).  Rather than buy the contents of my apartment, the "buyer" would instead purchase the building itself or have a copy of the building constructed.

Two other apartments currently exist in the building.  The buyer would then convert these two existing apartments into artists studios.  To fully "complete" the piece, a residency program for community-based or social-practice art must also be established with a pre-determined endowment-- "two", the absolute minimum social "exchange rate".  The buyer would fully restore my apartment as a permanent installation.  Imagine a small town "historical homes"-type scenario: "this is how a porn star lived in Baltimore in April 2014".  My apartment would function as a museum/library of sorts.  Lenin's tomb.  The apartment would be open to the public at set hours.  I, the artist, could never live in the apartment again for any period longer than 8 days, once a year.

Ultimately, the only requirement to bring the "utopian option" to fruition is a willing to remove the entire contents of my apartment for free and store it until a "buyer" for the piece can be found.  Potentially this could mean decades, or never.

It might also make sense for the person or institution acquiring the piece to arrange for a photographer to document the apartment and its contents for restoration purposes.  These photographs would also be considered works of art, owned by the photographer.

The person storing the apartment would have the right to sell the piece if it remains whole (even if this means selling the piece "incomplete").  This person would also have the right to show portions of the apartment in an exhibition context, as an "incomplete" work of art.

If the "utopian option" does not find a willing collaborator, I will distribute the contents of the apartment piece-meal.  While this process has already begun, I will keep most of the apartment intact for YOU until 4.20. . . 

Come and get it!!!

Bag of Beer



Tea Kettle


Empty Bottle


Grandma Box

Honey Kombucha

Tea Strainer

Thrifted Pictures

Phallic Figurine

Eight Days a Week



Pillow Case


  1. where are you moving to?

  2. Such an admirable exercise. I'm far too attached to my stuff. The mere thought of giving away my comic books or the 8-inch cardboard TARDIS I made when I was 16 gives me the shakes.

  3. Haha, "Chow-Chow-Denali-driven gentrification." Alas, you are talking about the ill-tempered, blue-tongued yuppie dog, and not the delicious Southern pickle relish. Might not be so bad if you were talking about the relish.

  4. Oh dear. That takes some serious guts. I am clearly a material person. Hope you find home soon. Please visit someday.

  5. I'm sorry but I don't get it. And please don't take this as snark but you basically want for someone to store your things until another person can buy your building and then those things returned to your apartment exactly as it was? For art?

  6. I'm getting kicked out of my building Anonymous and I can't afford to carry my stuff with me. I'm turning everything into art and setting it free. :-)

  7. argh! so sorry you're leaving us!

  8. How does one partake in this amazing opportunity to run away with a random sock and some Colby Keller memorabilia? After all, one supposes Baltimore is a big and expansive sprawl.

  9. I just moved last weekend. I had at least 60 boxes of books, and now I'm in a smaller, cheaper apartment.
    My 60 boxes of books are like an albatross around my neck...I wish I could let them go. But I just CAN'T. They're MY BOOKS.

  10. If I can get myself from Los Angeles to Baltimore for the weekend, I will definitely stop by. If not, I wish you the best of luck.

  11. Generally, I'm about de-accessioning my own worldly possessions, but it would be nifty to meet you. Handshakes, not stuff.

  12. Such a clever and artistic thing to do.. And brave just to set out and start over. Best of luck!

  13. A Brilliant Art concept!! More people who are trapped by their possessions should do this! ....Be less suspicious of Colby, please...

  14. Colby, just read about your "Colby does America" campaign and I am all in on the project. Happy to contribute what I can to the indiegogo but I ask something special in return. I'm also an artist and want to make a big ass drawing of you making your art on the road. I'm serious about this. If you're interested check out my site at If you're in or around Arkansas between July and October you can also check out my work in person art the Arkansas Art Center.