Sunday, March 1, 2020

Colleena Sabatino of La Matadora Gallery

Colleena Sabatino is the owner and director of La Matadora Gallery, an edgy, post-modern gallery located in Joshua Tree, CA.

Photo: Carly Valentine

When did you first realize your passion for the arts?
I fell in love with drawing when playing Exquisite Corpse (a Surrealist parlor game) with my friends. At age 14, I created and illustrated my first of many zines. In college, I studied art history in London, which really deepened my love for art.
What was the initial seed that got you started with La Matadora Gallery?
La Matadora is an offshoot of Candelabra, a gallery I had in Tucson, AZ for 3 years prior. I wanted to create an alternative space that combined my passions for art & performance.
Does La Matadora align with or differ from what you originally envisioned it to be?
At only 333.33 square feet, I initially thought La Matadora would be somewhat limited in scope, but I'm amazed at how much it packs a punch! I've been able to host painting classes, art talks, have bands play, and do way more than I imagined.
Do you find that you have the opportunity to express your own voice through this line of work?
Putting together art shows is an art form in itself, and I always like to add a little something-something to give it an edge. For example, as homage to Valentine's Day as well as Flu Season, I plan to set up a Germ-Free Kissing Booth. It will be interactive so whoever wants to take part must wear a hygienic mask & use anti-bacterial wipes (provided at the booth).
What do you find most rewarding about running La Matadora?
I love meeting people from all over the world, and being part of the Art Queen complex. The gallery is surrounded by sweet neighbors such as The Beauty Bubble, the World Famous Crochet Museum, Space Cowboy, etc. in the heart of downtown Joshua Tree. I also feel lucky to work with Wendy Gadzuk, an incredible artist, who takes over the gallery every third month so I can focus on my own art.
What are some of the challenges that you face?
I'm not formally trained in the art of running a gallery, or any business for that matter, so I'm pretty nontraditional & idiosyncratic in my style. I'm still learning as I go along... and I'm in my 6th year! Maybe I could be called an Outsider Gallerist (like an Outsider Artist who never went to art school).
Are there certain qualities that you look for in artists in deciding whether they will be pleasant to work with? And on the contrary, any habits of artists that deem them undesirable to work with?
I seem to gravitate towards art that is somewhat edgy but with a sense of humor, so working with those artists can be more fun. Mutual respect and appreciation is important; in a sense, we're both doing each other a favor.
Do you have any specific do’s and don’ts for artists looking to submit their work to you?
I suggest checking out the gallery first and attend a few art parties, if you can. If you like the vibe, then email me some images of your art and info about yourself. Visiting me at gallery is fine too, but it's not always the best time to share your work.
Do you have any plans for La Matadora beyond what it is today?
I'd love to maximize the space outside the gallery and install arty vending machines, or something weird like that. I'm inspired by the Glass Outhouse Gallery and how they actually have a glass outhouse. In a similar vein, I have The Loovre, a bathroom gallery full of thrift store art (collected by Curated Mayhem). I hope for more collaboration like that in the future.

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