Take a Bottle Off the Wall with Dirty Bandits
We come into contact with beer bottles all the time, and they’ve almost become a pedestrian object in our daily lives. But Annica Lydenberg, the creative force behind Dirty Bandits, has come up close and personal with almost a hundred of them for her latest project entitled “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” As a non-beer drinker (she drinks mainly wine, and bourbon sometimes), she didn’t give much thought to beer bottles before this project. But now it’s almost like seeing a new world. “I have been full of appreciation for just how beautiful the glass is and just the subtle differences between beer bottles, which I’ve certainly never picked up on,” Annica says. “On some level it’s the diversity of the beer bottles that are out there that I’ve never really thought about much before.” She’s spent the last couple months applying beer centric puns and word play to these dozens of bottles and now that they’ve become her tiny canvases, they’re something new to love.
The challenge has been that the bottles are so small. Since she’s using old school sign painting techniques on a teeny glass canvas, she’s really had to focus her approach. “What’s not easy is painting on something that small. And painting on something that’s round is actually impossible,” Annica says with a laugh. “It’s just been me and a size 0 brush for months now. Pulling straight lines on something that’s curved is very challenging.” On the other hand, tying the bottles into cultural history hasn’t been that much of a challenge considering the much beloved song that the project draws information from.
In one way, the bottles are totally deferential to the old song, but in another way it’s totally subversive. It takes a song that has become a marker of annoyance and turned it into something beautiful. “I love that it borrowed from the childhood traveling song,” says Annica. “I took a super irritating song from my childhood and turned it into a very adult art project, which was fun.” When broken down, the song is about communion and sharing space with people. That’s where Annica went in her exploration of this songbook staple.
It seems that Annica has made a habit of painting a large volume of items to be placed on the wall. But unlike her project with Weight Watchers the source of inspiration this time came from her friends. “It’s been a really fun thing to brainstorm with friends in bars when we’re out at night. I have an endless list going in one of my notes on my phone,” says Annica. “I don’t even drink beer. I’ve been buying a lot of beer for my friends. Every time I show up to a friend’s with a six-pack I’m like, ‘Can you drink these all while I’m here?’ Painting is so solitary, and this involved other people. So, that was really fun.”
“99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” will be on view at The Little Lodge, a gallery in San Francisco, from January 30 to February 21. The show happens to coincide with San Francisco’s Beer Week this year, so you can find even more information on the official SF Beer Week website.