In the fall of 2011 Chris Sollars bottled a puddle in the mission and headed west on his bike for the Pacific. There, he emptied the jar and refilled it with water from the open sea. Back in the Mission, he closed the circle by draining the jar back in the puddle. The ceremonial gesture resulted in the neo-conceptual video Pacific/Puddle/Pedal, and led to The Swimmer, a new body of work where city and sea dissolve into a psychogeographic haze.
The Swimmer features photos, videos, and sculptures that intertwine street and sea through endurance actions and the transformation of objects. In a large-scale environmental drawing, Sollars traverses the coast of San Francisco, dragging behind a pointed staff that literally draws a line in the sand. In another epic work, he revisits John Cheever's short story The Swimmer, navigating his way across the city through pools and fountains in a Speedo. Echoing the tradition of Venetian grotto furniture, Sollars created a waterfront studio in the Bayview and repurposed a series of barnacle-encrusted objects pulled in from the bay for use back in town.
Sollars has always made urban space the focus of his work. In 1996, he consciously moved his studio practice into the street to have a more direct and immediate interaction with a public audience. He has huddled by the curb disguised as a bag of garbage, made out with public sculptures, and publicly washed trash. He once used a soccer ball like a sonar probe to explore the geography of downtown, kicking down streets and alleys with reckless aplomb. Now, knee-deep in bay mud, he is interrogating a city that is being developed by the second, and ticking away like an ecological time bomb.
Sollars has exhibited and performed solo and collaborative works in venues nationally and internationally, including SFMOMA, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and Southern Exposure, all in San Francisco; The New Children's Museum, San Diego; Berkeley Art Museum; Soap Factory, Minnesota; Franklin Street Works, Connecticut; Smack Mellon, Brooklyn; Tokyo; and the Aurlander International Airport, Stockholm, Sweden.
Sollars' work is in the collections of the Berkeley Art Museum, Mills College Art Museum, Fogg Art Museum, and Miami Art Museum. His honors include a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship, 2013 San Francisco Arts Commission: Individual Artist Commission Grant, 2012 Center for Cultural Innovation Investing in Artists Grant, 2007 Eureka Fellowship Award, 2007 San Francisco Bay Area Artadia Grant. His work has been featured in articles and reviews in the New York Times, BOOOOOOOM, Huffington Post, Juxtapoz, Contemporary Magazine, Daily Serving, Camerawork, Art Net, Flash Art, and San Francisco Arts Quarterly.
Born in Indianapolis in 1976, Sollars grew up in Maine before earning a B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design and M.F.A. from Bard College. Based in San Francisco since 1999, he is also director and curator of 667Shotwell, an experimental space in his home for artists to do time-based works.