Friday, May 30, 2008

sheer, unadulterated joy

Robert Longo, Lithograph, Sandy

I am having a panic attack of joy. I feel like I've reached the point in the cycle in which all the good karma I've projected into the universe is finally raining down on me. I emailed Kevin Cyr yesterday and was rewarded with a very gracious response! I plan on writing an entry about his amazing bicycle-camper project: more to come. 

Tonight The Bridge, a really fantastic, dynamic band out of Baltimore is playing at the gallery, AFTER a drop dead gorgeous modern dance performance by local dance troupe, Traduza. Good night for the gallery indeed! I sold two Mark Ryden prints today and got a lot of good work done.

Robert Longo, the man responsible for the above interpretation of "sheer, unadulterated joy" is one of my favorite artists. I love his silhouettes (I'm very drawn to high contrast so artists who work in silhouette, like Longo or Kara Walker) often really draw me in. I also have the good fortune of having the Jordan Schnitzer art museum in my back yard which has an edition of Longo's "Joseph" print in its permanent collection. The image has always made me smile because my very dear friend Joseph is a break dancer (a phenomenal one at that) and he's very big in his movements, which I can see in the unabashed release of the office worker in "Joseph".

(Robert Longo, Jospeh, Lithograph, 2002)

Good things are coming Fenario's way.

state of the union

we closed the gallery space today for the next week and a half! we've got four nights of performance this weekend by an amazing modern dance troupe, Traduza, who need the space bare for their dancing (there's a great deal of floor work and they use the walls, incorporating all kinds of surfaces, its going to be beautiful) and then next week we've decided to leave the curtains up in the windows and leave the space clear so when can take our time setting up for the first friday ark walk. in june we have a show by peruvian artist louis salinas quispe along with sacred textiles of the q'ero tribe, which is a benefit show to seed a living trust for the q'ero tribe. i'm really glad that we're involved in this project for several reasons, which i'll get to later, but mostly i'm happy because i think that it is broadening interpretation of what a "visionary art gallery" (which is how we've advertised for the past four years).

while i think that the idea of a visionary art gallery is timely and well suited to our worldly, cultured, eugenian crowd, i think that artistically speaking we have to widen our scope of artists to include mystics from all kinds of cultures, and to be archaeologically sound in our designation, we need to try to exhibit visionary culture on a historic level. martina hoffmann and robert venosa, two very talented and intelligent artists that we've shown, though very culturally sensitive and genuinely well versed and knowledgable about their subject matter, that often involves native spiritual rights, are but two fairly westernized interpretations of those rituals. i think that the quispe show lends credibility to our designation as a vision art gallery by showing those same rights through the eyes of the indigenous culture. i've found the project intellectually stimulating because i've been forced to try to not view the art through my own lens of visual culture. i find the images challenging. some of them, forgive me for saying this, but they remind me of peruvian thomas kincaid. sort of bucolic gentle village scenes but set it the high andes, missing only an electric lamp in one of the windows, and a qvc commercial. but then i have to remind myself that louis salinas quispe is a shaman who lives in the mountains of peru, and surely doesn't have the same visual repetoir that i do, probably doesn't know who thomas kincaid is, or have a natural aversion to certain techniques, compositions, and colors that i do (the slight snobbery you contract somewhere around your third year through an art history degree). at first i found his color palette to be overwhelming, but i had to remind myself that someone whose childhood was spent in the jewel box of the rain forrest would have a completely different relationship with color.

i can't really speak too broadly about the future direction of fenario, because i'm only the boss lady when b's gone, and the decision doesn't rest in my hands. but what we have discussed is a desire to move in a more urban contemporary direction, and i do feel that it is likely that the term visionary will eventually erode (or at least be redefined) from our identity, if simply because its limiting. we're rebranding as well, which is exciting. we were trying to think of a background for the website the other night, someone mentioned black and grey argyle, and that's when i had it: houndstooth! its perfect. don't steal my idea. 
more tomorrow. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

yeah! for artists

(written yesterday 5/28, not sure why it didn't post)

today was a good day. i got a lot done. i got a confirmation that fenario made it onto the juxtapoz gallery guide which is exciting. the more exposure the better, for the gallery as well as the artists that we represent. jen bekman, who is my current art space hero, does a bi-annual photo exhibit called Hey, Hot Shot!, and recently changed the protocol so that less artists were selected and the exhibit lasts longer, maximizing exposure for the photographers. i am so happy to see people going about art exhibition in this way. in an exhibit the art is the star of the show, the artist a close second runner up and the gallery is merely the stage they get crowned on. i like to think of the theoretical art space as a service for the art/ artist. i'm not suggesting that those who run the space itself should get no credit so much as the emphasis ought to beplaced on striving for the best possible outcome for both the gallery and the artist: financially, critically, and visually.  i appreciate and admire ms. bekman's emphasis on what is best for the artist... besides, lets face it without them, we'd starve.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

waving the white flag

like the little drummer boy and his white flag of defeat i've crested the rise and laid down my arms. while voraciousness in battle has always been a trait that i've admired, there is a grace in peaceful concession that i value more. there's something very freeing about knowing that my blog has received no comments, and this anonymity makes me feel safe. i hope to someday have the time and energy to mold this into a great art blog (by great I mean well written and interesting, not great as in popular or profitable). my desires for this blog extend no further than allowing people to be exposed to great art, and maybe in turn get some exposure for the gallery that i work at. but until I get one single hint of an audience i see no reason that i can't use it as a soapbox from which to vent my frustration - its publication in the world wide web abyss giving me the smallest inkling of hope that some one might hear my ramblings and maybe, though i'll probably never know, agree with me.

i've been taking on a lot of outsourced stress in my internal anxiety factory of late. went through a really rough patch last year and nearly killed myself (figuratively) with stress and worry; had a moment of clarity and decided to force myself to be self aware enough to deal with it. the last few months have been fortifying. i've done some serious inner growth, and, pardon the cliche, found an inner happy place. but as dictated by our old friend Mr. Murphy's laws, as soon as i got my act together the people around me seemed to start falling apart. i speak of no one in particular really. i've been blessed with a grounded, easy going and self sufficient group of friends. its not any one individual, but merely the natural cycle of drama and peace that i see prevailing any fairly complicated social scene. what gets to me most is the some what unspoken assumption that to be part of the group you must feel like the group, and that a happy, balanced person in a room full of wingnuts is obviously exhibiting a glaring omission in empathy. is it my personal responsibility to those who i hold dear to take a serving of shit pie when its passed around the table?

and more importantly, if that is the social standard that i observe, how do i get myself, a born people pleaser, to believe my own hype enough to rebel against the gloom? i tried being steadfast. but preternatural chiperness is a known tantrum causing agent in the presence of any stubborn, cranky mule of a friend. then i tried going blank - attempting to neither flaunt my serenity nor submit to the blues - but lets face it, blankness = creepy. unfortunately, meditating on these notions seems to only make me feel introverted and thus on the verge of joining my community on the dark side, and my place setting at the table of the well adjusted has been hard won. in other words, me spending my day off sitting in my room blogging about the craziness in my live only cements me as a sad but willing actress in the drama. 

(Alla Nazimova - visionary feminist silent film maker)

in the past few weeks i've been trying to get out of it by throwing myself into my work and trying some self imposed art therapy. truly beautiful, meaningful art is a potent elixir for me, but even a hard pull from the Brancusi bottle doesn't seem to be doing it for me lately. my work is its own kind of drama - an ever evolving, mine filled playing field of egos. i got out of waitressing because i couldn't handle the constant belittlement of strangers (and because waitressing in a college town equates to being trapped in career limbo, and everyone can smell it on you). it made my hair fall out to have some one i'd never met shake an empty glass at me like a trained monkey and have to not only satisfy their wishes, but do it with a smile. and though artists, and participants in the art community are generally less oblivious than the average customer in a restaurant, part of my job still entails stomaching complete strangers b.s. - albeit b.s. buffeted by weak intellectual scaffolding (which is apparently designed to trick me into taking a back handed compliment like an orphan meakly smiling while accepting a proffered chunk of moldy cheese). 

i worked really hard to write the submission protocol for our gallery. my boss gave me a brilliant blank slate on which to craft my vision for where we are going in terms of art that we represent and how we choose to launch it into the wider world. i felt pretty pleased with myself, and my ever supportive boss seemed stoked too. now that its in effect i find that for those artists who it doesn't suit ("us old timers can't possibly figure out how to put 5 .jpgs in an email" - "my art is far too complex to be summed up in 5-10 images, you're amputating me artistically!!") they just go around me. i know its new - but its just down right insulting to work your way up in your career only to be completely overlooked when you get there. 

i can't tell you how many artists that Brent has tried to have me work with only to have them push me aside and tell me they will only work with B - who not only doesn't have the time and resources to be doing all the portfolio reviews and artist interviews, but gave me the job because he actually thinks me capable of doing it. the most damaging reviews that i've gotten recently are from those people who i am introduced to as the gallery manager, who are told that i will be the one reviewing their portfolios, and who from that point on continue to refer to me as Brent's assistant - or in one particularly stomach turning photographers charming words "your secretary" wink wink. 

i'm only 24, and i look young for my age, so i understand a certain amount trepidation on the part of the elders in the community. maybe they feel like i couldn't possibly have the breadth of knowledge to understand their art contextually, or maybe they think that if i liked it i wouldn't know what to do with it. i think my youth is one of the best qualities that i have going for me at the moment, in the confines of where our gallery is at and where we want to go. i think that some of these people are just genuinely terrified of change, and can sense full well that i intend on changing the status quo in the eugene art scene. and its not just the elders who show an immense lack of faith in my abilities. the other day i had a young man in, who i feel sure i was exceptionally kind and professional with, who not only had a list of criticisms about my submission protocol longer than the sheet itself, but had the nerve to leave the sheet on my desk and a poorly formatted , unlabeled cd of mangled images reading "to brent" on my bosses desk. its not just that people seem resistant to my administrative overhaul, they're blatantly ignoring it.

if you are an artist and you are reading this: please, PLEASE leave your ego at the door when you're trying to get booked at a gallery. i know that there are some galleries, bastions of snobbery and elitism, where having your ego in tow is probably a valid self defense weapon. but there are other galleries out there that really seek to be easy going and open to all, and we don't have the armor to deal with all the ego. there is a great interview that i read in which a seasoned art gallery owner talks about the realities of owning an art space. artists often come into a gallery armed with demands, but the power really rests with the gallery because they're the one working day to day to meet the overhead needs of the space itself. no one wants to work with someone they know is going to be hard to please, and when you come with your portfolio AND an attitude it makes fillies like me pace madly with wariness. if the first few steps of the process go smoothly, it fosters confidence in both parties, and gives the time and space for a mutually respectful relationship to form. 

phew! that shit was all over the place!

Thursday, May 22, 2008


"Soak #2", 2007, pencil and gouache on bristol board

Looks like the fate of my blog almost went the way of my many half full journals. I've been a bit swamped lately. I'd say my biggest complaint about being stretched too thin is the motivational nose dive that I tend to do in my off time. I get done with work and instead of going home and creating, writing and doing things that bring me a sense of satisfaction I tend to get lit and watch TV, anything to dull the circus in my head. It takes time to establish new life rhythms, but I've been impatient with the process recently. I'm ready to feel settled.

Things at the gallery have been going smashingly. After a fairly worrisome slump we've picked up in all areas (printing, framing, design) and art sales have been up. Our good fortunes put me in a position to add to my own personal collection and I bought a beautiful Roberta Weir lithograph that I've always loved. 

I've been really fascinated with contemporary art dealing with the urban landscape's encroachment on the natural environment. The proximity of nature in a wild, virtually unadulterated form is one the things I love most about the Willamette valley. You can still drive thirty minutes from my house and get to a place where the city lights don't blot out the stars. Josh Keyes' paintings give me chills. They bring to mind the bittersweet shock of a wildlife sighting in the city. There's something exciting and sad about seeing an animal in an urban scene. Its wonderful to see the adaptiveness of nature, but I can't help thinking about the fact that under the pavement is that creatures ancestral home.

"Treadmill", 2006, acrylic on canvas

I think the NW community would really respond to this kind of art. How do I find a way to satisfy my community's lust for the outdoors in an interior space? I'd love to have a few of these artists in the gallery:

"Stilt", 2006, acrylic on paper

"Battle of the Deep", 2007, acrylic on maple panel

Friday, May 16, 2008

Prophecy of Movement - Michael Robinson

a squirrel in a tux!

big daddy kane

if i've learned anything recently it is that thinking that anyone is immune to stress is foolish. we all feel it, we just manifest it in different ways.

the existence of a young gallery is fragile at best. it requires a great deal of love, dedication and a massive amount of time and energy. you deal with a lot of misconceptions. people tend to make assumptions about your success based on the aesthetic success of the space. unfortunately, a pretty exhibition space doesn't directly translate into paid bills. keeping a gallery space open entails an ouch-worthy amount of overhead, and in a market like eugene (small but growing) paying the bills with art sales alone requires a hustler of epic proportions. big daddy kane was NOT kidding: pimpin' ain't easy. 

i consider myself one of the luckier girls in the world. i grew up in a creatively diverse community, surrounded by inspiring people, and have never been yolked or too tightly reigned those in my life. as a result i always had the feeling that if i wanted something it was within my reach. i've never been a "big" dreamer in the sense of wealth and possessions. i hate really big houses, and too much money makes me feel itchy and uncomfortable. if i've retained one long term wish it is simply to make my bills without sweating too much, working with people i admire, and remaining free. i graduated university of oregon in 2006 with an art history degree. i fought off four years of "you'll end up waiting tables the rest of your life" (while waiting tables) only to graduate.... still waiting tables. shortly after graduating i met my friend brent who owns fenario gallery and we arranged for me to work a couple days a week doing clerical work while i continued to tend bar. 

a year and a half had passed and a couple weeks ago (with the help of some gentle nudging from our ol dog photographer Hank - the older brother i never had) my boss/captain/pal gave me the green light on quitting my restaurant job (just days before i stabbed someone to death with their own taco), and i came on board at fenario full time as gallery manager. being 24 and working in my field, actually applying my degree, has got me waking up singing oklahoma every morning (oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day, i've got a bright golden feeling, everything's going my way...)

but along with all the creative liberties and sense of accomplishment that comes with my job there are daily challenges. getting out of the service industry does NOT insure safety from jerks. artists can be in a class of their own. but i've been really lucky so far. i've met a lot of immensely talented and genuine people. i've seen a lot of raw talent, and it continues to inspire me to keep looking and to believe in the process. i'm lucky in that i have the best crew of co-workers in the world. in many ways the newness of the gallery gives us all a blank slate to work with, and we're trying every day to craft the kind of open-minded, forward thinking, opposite-of-snobby exhibition space that we would all love to visit to see art. 


like daybreak inside a railway tunnel

i say:
leap and the net will appear.

i always wanted to be one of those people who diligently kept a journal, though i can't say that i ever intended on sharing it. i was always one of those people who was attracted to blank books but whose interest petered out after about nine and a half pages. the only time that i managed to record my life with any accuracy was while i was living in greece. journaling while living abroad is a bit like a single person buying a cat to create movement and sound in an empty studio apartment - a talisman against boredom and loneliness. 

so why was i compelled to make myself a blog (a word that still sounds a bit odd and unsavory to me - like the word penis echoing through a stunned classroom of third graders)? well to begin i have deeply rooted fear of loosing my memory, any intellectual ground i've gained simply sloughing off like the aftermath of a sunburn. my life has finally begun to take shape, i finally feel like i'm on the road that university promised but dropped most of us a few blocks short of. i'd feel pretty sour if, when asked by a morose teenager working off community service by bringing their allergy aggrivating pet to my old folks home what being a 24 year old gallery manager in the days before our self imposed ice age hit i can only scratch my butt and shrug. 

so i'm relying on the slightly creepy fact that most everything we put out on the internet is cached somewhere in websoup to bolster my waning memory.

oh, and i really like talking about art, but not everyone wants to listen. i figure this way, its up to you whether you find what i say interesting and want to hear it. if it doesn't tickle your fancy simply slap yourself in the face, remind yourself that you're holed up in your house reading other peoples diaries and GO OUTSIDE.