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Hot One Inch Action: Button Art and Social Interaction on Nov. 5

Trading art buttons at Hot One Inch Action. Photo by Chris Bentzen.

Trading art buttons at Hot One Inch Action might be the most fun you’ve ever had at an art exhibition.

Designed to promote social exchanges in a gallery setting, the “button show” features artwork by 50 local artists—printed on one-inch buttons. Participants can buy bags of random buttons, then trade with other attendees to snag their favorite pieces. If you’re adept at wheeling and dealing, you could take home the entire show.

This year’s Seattle show will be held one night only, Saturday, Nov. 5, 8-11 p.m., at the Piranha Shop.

The “button show” is the brainchild of Vancouver-based artists and event organizers Chris Bentzen and Jim Hoehnle. When they met in 2004, they discovered they shared a mutual enthusiasm for building community around creative endeavors.

“At a traditional gallery show, you might stand and look at the art, chat a little with your friends, have a drink—but not have a chance for other interaction,” explains Hoehnle. “At Hot One Inch Action, you get all that and the chance to trade, converse and connect with anyone else attending.”

Hot One Inch Action debuted in Vancouver in 2004, and the Vancouver button shows now draw hundreds of artist submissions and even more eager button traders. Bentzen and Hoehnle organized the first Seattle show in 2010, and it promises to become a much-anticipated annual event. Hot One Inch Action will also come to Portland’s Hand Eye Supply on Dec. 1.

Even for wallflowers like myself, Hot One Inch Action creates a friendly environment in which to engage with art. At last year’s show, I was trading buttons with an amiable stranger and remarked, “Oh, I don’t have that button yet. Will you trade?” She gave a delighted gasp and replied, “That’s the piece that I did!” We parted the best of friends.

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