These lyrics were written and performed by Peanut Butter Kids, a recording project by the Providence, Rhode Island artist Joseph Buzzell (American 1984-2013). Can You Dream It? embodies a collision of cuteness, transcendence, and ambivalence. It sounds adorable and poppy, yet its optimism belies a weird tension: the verses read like an inventory of store bought kid’s crafts; while nostalgia-inspiring, perhaps also stifling and destined for the trash. The song visualizes a world of pure play that we yearn to create and then half regret visiting at all. Even so: the call and response chorus brings the listener in (we are alone, together!), the beat keeps on, and we keep dreaming.
As teens, Joe introduced me to art making and to a world that would supplant my normal view with a new reality; one of endless youth and of self made magic. Now, I notice his energy all over - a particular blend with an orientation toward materiality, irony returning to sincerity, and friendship. I taste this flavor in artists in our hometown and elsewhere. Some of us are aware of each other and others are two steps removed. We are art siblings.
This network of kinship includes artists that know and own beauty. They create poetry in lo-fi, cute garbage and devoted kitsch. It’s honest intimacy and innocence seen through seasoned eyes. Their convo is contemporary culture and craft, and they suggest alternate realities with hope available as content (symbols of aspiration within fearful currents). By assembling these beloved objects of a shared tone, and curating my own fantasy collection, I want to sing a little hymn to Joe. The show is a celebration and, for me, experiencing these artworks all together makes living in this particular universe much more radiant.
Two Coats of Paint