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Drunk-Tank Pink: The Psychological Effects of a Color in Art

_0000_december-12-Drunk-Tank-PinkNew York City – Friday, December 13, 2013

I started my professional art career in high school coloring comic books for Marvel, so I’ve always had an intimate understanding of the power of color applied properly in a work of art. The way a work is colored can change the vibe and tone of the image, and make the viewer feel differently about the piece.  It can shift you emotionally.  Color(s) can set a mood.  It can put you on edge.  It can soothe you.  It can offend your eye, or comfort you.

It’s fun to think about the colors in nature, in adverting, and colors in everyday life and how they psychologically effect us on a primitive level.  It’s something advertisers, as well as artists think about (whether consciously or not) when creating a work.

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 3.24.10 AM

Field Projects Gallery‘s new show’s invite  Show 17: Drunk-Tank Pink – Curated by Benjamin Sutton exclaimed:

“The nine artists in “Drunk-Tank Pink” harness the hue’s behavior-modifying properties to achieve extremes of numb sedateness and hair-pulling madness.” 

This show is a love letter to the color pink.  You might have heard of Fire Engine red as a name of a color, but have you heard of “Drunk-Tank Pink?”   I hadn’t until Benjamin explained it. The name of this show is actually the name of a precise shade of pink used in “Drunk-Tanks.”

“In 1979 Alexander G. Schauss, then the director of the Institute for Biosocial Research at City College in Tacoma, Washington, published the article “Tranquilizing Effect of Color Reduces Aggressive Behavior and Potential Violence” in the Journal of Orthomolecular Psychiatry. In it, he detailed how a specific shade of pink created by mixing one pint of outdoor semi-gloss red trim paint and one gallon of pure white indoor latex paint (try it at home!) had, at his urging, been used to coat a holding cell for new inmates at Seattle’s U.S. Naval Correctional Center. The new arrivals, typically the most violent detainees, turned docile after 15 minutes alone in the all-pink cells. This breakthrough led Schauss to name the anger-reducing, heart rate-lowering, distractibility-curbing color after the center’s chief warrant officer Gene Baker and facility commander captain Ron Miller. Baker-Miller pink began to appear in many jails, juvenile detention centers and penitentiaries on the west coast, eventually earning the nickname drunk-tank pink.”

Art writer and curator Benjamin Sutton.

The show was curated by one of the more prolific art writers in the NY scene, Benjamin Sutton of Blouin Artinfo.  350 artists submitted artwork to the open call for the show.  Of which he narrowed it down to 50 of his favorite.  Of those, there was a running theme that called to him.  Many of the works he liked were pink.  The Drunk-Tank Pink exhibition was born.  If you want to see the top 10 runners up who nearly made the cut, click here.

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 3.23.28 AM Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 3.23.39 AM Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 3.23.59 AM

_0000_kelli_thompson Artist Kelli Thompson in front of one of her portraits.

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Hyperallergic‘s Hrag Vartanian and and Veken Gueyikian were both in attendance.


Artist Hai-Hsin Huang in front of her work.

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 3.24.46 AM Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 3.25.14 AM On right, art writer Jillian Steinhauer and Veken.

_0001_robert_raphael Sculptor Robert Raphael in front of his large ceramic pillars.

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 3.25.24 AM Artist and Field Projects Gallery owner Jacob Rhodes.

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 3.25.54 AM Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 3.26.10 AM jen_hitchingsArtist Jacob Cartwright with artist and Associated Gallery Co-Director Jen Hitchings

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Sadly the opening didn’t have any blush wine, cosmopolitans, or pink lemonade (all of which would have added some pink to everybody’s hands), but they did have white wine, and who am I to turn down a classic?  If you want to calm down or sober-up from now till January 25th, be sure to visit Field Projects Gallery and get your drunk-tank pink on.

Field Projects Gallery  Show 17: Drunk-Tank Pink – Curated by Benjamin Sutton

Runs December 12, 2013 – January 25th, 2014.

Field Projects Gallery
526 W. 26th Street #807 
New York, NY 10001

Open Wed – Sunday 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Written and photographed by Cojo “Art Juggernaut”

Written by
Cojo Art Juggernaut

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Artiholics, Art Sucks, and the soon to be launched podcast Artist In Repose, Cojo "Art Juggernaut" (Colin C. Jorgensen) is a NYC based artist, art writer, and occasional photographer.

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