From the Metropolitan Museum of Art (if driving) get on the NY-495 , take the I-78 W and I-81 S to Central Blvd in Hampden Township. Take exit 4 from US-11 S Drive to PA-641 W into Mechanicsburg merge onto Central Blvd turn right onto PA-641 W… You Have Reached Your Destination. ….The Metropolis Collective.
Photograph by Stephen Cavrich 2017
The distance from New York City to the pragmatically named small town Mechanicsburg is around 200 miles. At a glance the cultural distance between these two places might appear considerably further. New York’s infamous art scene continues to provide a major axis point for what is going on in the art world and, without doubt, it is one of the cultural destinations to visit. But deviate a little beyond the perimeter fence that’s in your head and you start to uncover some hidden treasures .
The Metropolis Collective is such a gem ,
The digital age has enabled such small town places to become amorphous centres where creativity is being stretched in all sorts of off-kilter directions. Ventures such as the Metropolis Collective are bringing together people and their art in ways that are perhaps more interesting than in the big cities where essentially culture filters from the top down and where everyone is desperately clamouring to get to the top.
So obviously, when we at Deviation Street heard about The Metropolis Collective and its founders, Richard Reilly and Hannah Dobek, we were keen to get an interview with these cats (as well as Richard and Hannah) ha ha
‘ Human Cats’ by Atomic Keeg, aka Keegan Beinhower
DS: How did metropolis come about and why did you think it was important. Did you guys move from new York together?
MC: Metropolis Collective was founded in June of 2012 by Richard Reilly and another artist, who left to paint full time in 2013. Richard had spent the last 20 years in NYC, working as the computer/tech guy at The Prestigious Adelson Gallery in Manhattan. His early interest in computer tech had been something that carried him from his Street Punk days, into a beginner’s computer Class at the New School in the early/mid 1980’s. He actually shared a class with Fred Smith, (Television), in a field that put his skill in high demand. This allowed him the freedom to save money and later open his own recording studio, Ricochet Records. ( Which now runs out of Metropolis)
His 20+ years at the Adelson gave him just enough behind the scenes exposure to the excess of the NYC Art World, for him to shrug it off, but he had always loved being around the Art itself. After a divorce and his welcome retirement from The Adelson, he decided to leave New York City, because it had “become everything he had moved there to get away from.” Originally from Lincoln Park area, N.J, Richard grew up in a blended family, with a sister and 3 brothers. He dropped out of school at 15, realizing ‘school wasn’t for him.’ He started getting odd jobs, playing guitar, crashing at relatives houses, and even living in a tree house for a while. He loved Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, the Everly Brothers and The Beatles, mostly because of his Dad’s musical influence. But it was the Rolling Stones that really inspired him to want to play music.
Richard Reilly with Bo Deadlys photo Stephen Cavrich
I (Hannah) had a completely different background than Richard. I was raised by two well-meaning but very fundamentalist parents, my father a Jazz composer and pianist, (Influences, Keith Jarett, Chick Corea, etc..) and my mother is a writer and singer. They home-schooled my sister and I through the 1990s. ( before it was cool?) Most of the kids in town thought we were vampires, cuz we stayed inside all day and they never saw us at school. We were definitely weird, but, this sort of ‘existing in a vacuum’ period led me off the beaten path, and into Art. I had an older friend who would come to the house once in a while, and we’d put on Gershwin or Nina Simone and draw, or do collage. My older sister was married to an Artist and Musician in Boston at the time. When they would come to visit, He would leave me CD mixes with bands like The Sugarcubes, X-RAY SPEX, The Ramones, and Morphine. When I got a little older, I started tracing the influences of these bands, which started my interest in Rock and Roll history/genres/pop culture/cover art/artists, etc. Looking back, I can see what a lifeline this was, as most of the culture I was immersed in at the time was hyper-religious, and I needed the challenge and pull of really infectious music to pull me out of all that.
I wound up going to a religious school in the late 90’s, getting married, Living in Rochester, NY for 5 years before moving to Central Pa, and then getting divorced. I have 2 kids from that marriage, a 12 year old girl and an 11 year old boy. Parenting is the ultimate Art. I am in awe of anyone that can ‘do it well’.
I met Richard through the gallery, sometime in 2012, before I started working here. I’d been part of a couple group Art shows, but I lived in the podunk part of our area, and couldn’t make it to all of the events. The first time I came to an Art show at Metropolis, there was a Surf band called Buzzchopper on the stage, and they were Loud, and Dark, and fabulous. After leaving a city like Rochester, which had a pretty good Art and Music presence, I’d spent the last 5 years virtually culture starved, living in the sticks, avoiding the locals and scouring the internet for bands and Artists that kept me inspired. I stayed home with my kids during the day, and then I’d paint at night, as a way to kinda hold onto myself. It was a dark time in parts, but that’s some of what has made me so determined to make Metropolis a fun, welcoming place for Outsider types. To me, Metropolis was one of, if not the first place, down here in Central PA that seemed to get that DIY ‘Outsider’ feeling.
“Water Siren” Maude Marrowbone
“Art and Music for Freaks and Weirdos, I thought. Finally.” It was primarily Richard’s vision, and I walked into it, and caught it too I guess.
“A Wintery Mix” group exhibition
Richard and I didn’t really speak to each other at shows, but I’d always found him interesting, if a little Intimidating. ha ha. However, when his business partner left to pursue her Art career, and the gallery manager position opened up, he called me to see if I wanted to help him out. It was a loud crash of Destiny and noise. ha ha . so I started here in August of 2013 and we’ve been working at this ever since.
Greta’s Headpiece by Hannah Dobek Hucklebuckle tee shirt
Group Show And He/I felt Metropolis was important, because there was literally nothing like it here, before its existence. Its not a bar, Its not just a Gallery, its not just a Music Venue. Its got a soul. In the last 5 years, the Art Scene in Central Pa has really begun to explode, and we like to think we had a hand in that. Just the fact of the Artists with a much less traditional subject matter, or political voice (This is Trump land, all..) having a common place to fly their freak flag, and inspire and hopefully challenge each other.. Its a big part of why we are still doing this. Sometimes we question ourselves, but mostly we feel its imperative to our area, and to supporting an Art/Music scene. Build it and they will come. The problem is occasionally they don’t leave. ha ha
DS: With the collective in mind. … Had either of you been involved with art based collectives or any other arts organisations. …..
MC: Richard “ in my early days, I’d share rehearsal spaces with other Artists/Musicians. This was almost like a Collective, but it wasn’t trying to ‘be’ anything… Victims shared a space on Bowery Ave with Cheetah Chrome, The Stilettos, and sometimes The Senders. We called it ‘The Pit’. Probably the closest thing to a collective, a slum, basically, a ‘collective mess.’. ha ha.
“Les Femmes Tragiques” Zack Rudy and Garrick Dorsett aka The Hucklebuckle Boys
Hannah: I personally have not worked with other collectives, I’ve always been a lone horse, kinda. ‘Corporate’ Gallery type places.. Are beautiful and pristine, but I feel they lack the fever of kinetic creativity, so I was never really interested in being a part of a place like that I guess. Metropolis felt different to me, from day one. It felt alive, like a person. Not a building.
“Bad Fit” Zack Rudy
DS:Something about the transition from the victims, being in a band, rock and roll lifestyle etc with all its myths clichés and realities… To operating in the art world.. Was it like crossing over some kind of threshold or just an extension of being creative.
Richard: “It was just an extension of being creative. A quest to make something happen, or keep it alive.. To keep around creative people, and encourage that spirit of innovation, I guess. It felt organic at the time to translate my Love of Art and Music into a living entity that helped keep these things around.”
“Sisters Forever” “Only Forever” Chris Cash
DS: How are you finding the art world where you live in comparison to new York?
The Art World here probably couldn’t be a further Cry from New York. The Art Scene in Harrisburg is pretty small, and a little cliquish, although its really growing over the past few years. There is much more public Interest in Art, and non-traditional Art in particular now, Styles of street art, Low Brow, New Brow, and Multimedia are getting a lot more recognition and acceptance than they did previously. again, we can see a linear-ness to that wave, and were on the forefront of that. But, the level of buyer you find in NYC doesn’t really exist here yet. This is essentially a poorer area, by comparison, Art Market wise.. if you can call it an Art Market. ha ha..
“Richard Reilly Darko” by Brent
Thanks to Hannah and Richard for the interview and Brent for making it happen , Love this image that looks like an updated version of Grant Woods American Gothic painting .
We look forward to future interview with Richard Reilly which will focus on the music side of his ventures , we also look forward to hearing more updates on The Metropolis Collective .
You Have Reached Your Destination