Pipsqueak Was Here with children, animals and a message


Charming, sometimes haunting children appear to be inviting you into their world, where teddy and live bears dominate the animal inhabitants in "Caution Children At Play" at the Vertical Gallery, 1016 N. Western Ave. thru Sept. 22. 


Many more Pipsqueak Was Here!!! pieces are seen in a book with many of their images

Pipsqueak Was Here!!!, the internationally known Amsterdam-based duo, created 25 pieces from recycled materials in six to seven days for this, their premier USA solo, exhibition. 

While "Awe" and "Cute" may be one's initial reaction to their pieces, a more thoughtful "Hmmm" follows as the possibility of a deeper message becomes evident. 

Indeed, that is the point of the creations of this 25-year-old partnership that changed their name 15 years ago to reflect their interest to speak out, when least expected, in a "pip squeaky" manner, regarding subjects about which they are personally passionate. 


Pipsqueak Was Here duo at work

In their current series, the girl represents mankind and the bear nature. Often in the backgrounds, other symbols represent their cautions and messages about the fragility of this planet's resources and environment resulting from our use and abuse. 

Texture of reclaimed background materials often provide a visual depth to their work, enhancing the visual experience. Whether the images are brightly colored or muted, created with oils, acrylics, colored markers, inks, pencil, charcoal or wash on wood, metal, cloth or other background material, applied with a brush, spray can, pen, paste or glue as a painting, assembly or collage via stencil or freehand, their message is clear. 

The work is collaborative and individual. Whereas they do not use stencils for all their work, even when they do, every piece is unique. Made of a thin plastic, the stencils range in size from a postcard to garage door, they have more than 10,000. For this show 60 pounds of 400 to 500 were tucked into their suitcases. 


Girl in black and white


Same stencil used for girl in this and the black and white piece on the left

Even when using the same stencil, the image on each piece is different not only because of the color but how it may be enhanced on the background. One example is the girl with the rabbit ears. 

The black and white piece came about after their seeing an abandoned staircase near the gallery. Taking it apart revealed strips of black painted wood. Making those strips into a background then resulted in their choosing to use the girl, only using black and white paint. 


Though the same stencil was used for the girl on the piece with the bear, it appears differently. 

"We want to make people aware that they live on a beautiful planet and that they are wasting it at a speed that is insane. The children in our work symbolize how we treat the world…like little children not grownups. 

"There is a double meaning for our work too. Current behavior puts the planet in jeopardy for tomorrow's children," they said. 


"There are so many miracles in our world, but we take them for granted. We can get into an automobile and go somewhere…in seven hours we can be in a time zone seven hours different than ours. That is insane and everyone takes that for granted. 

"In only half century, with internet and other technologies, we can have live, instant connectivity around the world. These are but two of many insane miracles that we take for granted." 

They believe that these rapid changes are good because that means that saving the planet can also occur rapidly and they believe that people not politicians can make those changes.

Using one of their words…"insane"…This exhibition is insane and should not be missed!

Photos: Elaine A. Coorens



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