Eric Rieger, aka HOTTEA, is not your typical gallery artist. A former graffiti artist, Rieger was, at one time, more accustomed to police tasers, than art openings. Rieger says he quit the graffiti life because of the toll it took on his family. And so he tried a more traditional path for artistic youth- art school. In 2007, he graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and worked in the proper world for proper companies like Converse, Red Bull and Google. But he still had a hankering for the streets.
After his grandmother’s death, Rieger started thinking about ways to combine his love of typography and street art with her favorite mode of expression- knitting. She had taught him to knit, and it was something that had bonded them. Maybe, he thought, he could use yarn in street art. Then yarn woven into chain linked fences began to appear around Minneapolis. Rieger called this new expression “fencework”. Soon he was making yarn statements on light poles, and with yarn canopies on walkways over freeways. The police this time left him alone. Yarn was somehow less threatening, and, maybe, less permanent than paint.
Rieger was not aware of a larger public art movement, called “yarnbombing” or “guerilla knitting.” As far as he knew, he was the only one doing this kind of work. As his work garnered attention in blogs, he began to receive invitations to work in cities such as London, Berlin, and Los Angeles. Unbeknownst to him, he had become part of a guerrilla knitting trend. Back at home he got his first show at a hair salon, HAUS, called “Flying Solo.”
Today, Rieger, AKA HOTTEA, has his first solo show at an art gallery: Burnet Gallery in Le Meridien Chambers Hotel at 901 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. The show consists of nine sculptures exploring themes from his personal life. It runs through July 7.