The Distance Between Us

Bringing creativity to everyday practice with local arts collaborations

Imagine the entire planet as one large artwork. Sound like a fantastic piece of conceptual art? It is.

It’s also an actual goal for arts collaborative Earthbound Moon. The group aims to realize this goal one artwork at a time.

The term “Earthbound Moon” seems familiar at first. You recognize the words and don’t give them much thought. But lingering on the phrase reminds me: Oh, I’m like the moon; both it and I are bound by the same source of gravity.

It is this type of connection, between the everyday and universal — between things we consume and the life we create — which Earthbound Moon is after. For instance, an imaginatively created style of beer can be both a product and a work of art. 

Lee Pembleton is Earthbound Moon’s member in Eugene (See “A 5,000-year Art Plan” in Eugene Weekly Aug. 16, 2018). He submitted a proposal for his art project “The Distance Between Us” last year to Eugene Cultural Services’ Bridge Exhibitions, a contemporary art platform curated by artist Lillian Almeida.

The result is that 15 downtown businesses are collaborating with 15 local artists to create products — or artworks — that will be exhibited for one week, from Sunday, April 14, to Saturday, April 20. Works to be offered include not just conventional contemporary art such as installations or performance art but everyday products like a tea drink and a fingernail treatment.

“The Distance Between Us” will take place on Willamette Street between 7th and 8th avenues. Works will be sold at prices similar to those of other products in participating establishments. A certificate of appreciation handed out with each purchase will be in the shape of a 5-inch Penrose Tile (after mathematician Roger Penrose). Collecting all the tiles will yield a complete design.

Because the pieces can be arranged differently it’s likely, Pembleton says, that no two designs will be identical. 

Artists normally work alone. They then bring in their work to a gallery — a place of business. This project brings a more collaborative art spirit to places, such as a law office, for example, that you might not ordinarily associate with creating art.

What happens when you integrate art with business? Examples of collaboration include a rose tea drink that comes in multiple parts at Perugino coffeehouse by artist Mika Aono called “Ichigo-Ichie — Stumbling Upon” and a two-hour nail treatment by artist Courtney Stubbert at London Hair Studio titled “Let’s Compromise.” 

Other artist and business pairings include: Joshua Isaac Finch at Doc’s Pad; Sunny Selby Johnston at Manifest Beer Company; Sterling Israel at Ravens; Helen Liu at City Landscaping; Tallmadge Doyle with Gary Dawson Designs; Charly Swing with Park St Café; Lisa Sansevere with Urban Therapeutic; and Libby Wadsworth at Spence & Sabitt. 

Doc’s Pad will host the Lane County History Museum’s monthly pub quiz at 5:30pm April 17, focusing on the history of downtown Willamette Street. On Friday, April 19, Doc’s Pad will become an experimental music venue with performances by musicians who are also participating artists, as well as University of Oregon music school faculty and Pembleton.   

Bridge Exhibitions advertises “The Distance Between Us” as a weeklong artwork that asks the question: “What if we walked along a city street the way we walk through a museum? Can we see our surroundings as cultural treasures?”

If you feel like asking whether a cup of tea or a glass of beer — even limited-edition ones made for one week only — can really be considered works of art, you might want to attend a roundtable discussion at Perugino at 5:30 pm Tuesday, April 16, or the closing event there Saturday, April 20, with some of the participating artists and curators.

That’s what this is all about, says Pembleton, bringing people together in conversation. 

If it’s well received, he says he would like to try a similar project on a different block. And then another. Today the block between 7th and 8th avenues — tomorrow the world.

For information about artworks and events relating to The Distance Between Us, see