Monday, March 23, 2020

Nathan Cartwright of Hive Gallery & Studios

Nathan Cartwright is the owner and director of Hive Gallery & Studios in Los Angeles, CA featuring Pop Surrealism, Low Brow, Performance Art and Events



When did you first realize your passion for the arts?
I've been drawing every since I was wee bitty tike... I would draw incessantly on dot-matrix printer paper in the basement when all the other kids were out playing.

What was the initial seed that got you started with Hive Gallery?

The initial seed was starting at Hangar 1018, a large gallery/event space which I worked out of and helped organize before the Hive. I loved working with other artists and musicians in a community setting.

 
Does The Hive align with or differ from what you originally
envisioned it to be?

It aligns perfectly with my vision, because I am very near sided... I see what is in front of me and go with the flow. I create, organize and run my business the same way I make my art- organically. I have rough sketches, but enjoy getting lost in executing the overall plan.

Aside from being a busy (bee) gallerist, you are also an artist. Do
you find that you have enough opportunity to express your own
creativity?

I have plenty of time to express, but it seems there is less of that as the years go by... Thus, I've had to become a master of time management. I work on my art late at night until 3/4am during the times that I'm not working on the business, answering phone calls, being tuned into social media. To create is  a challenge, a juggling act, but it's what I live for... similar to having a child. I organize my lifestyle so I can spend time with her.

What do you find most rewarding about gallery directing?

I love working with artists that are in the zone and evolving. Watching artists emerge and grow is one of the best things about my job... besides being around visionaries, freaks, the shamans of our era.

What are some of the challenges that you face?

Working with the rules of the city and the bigger picture is a challenge. I've had to learn the rules as I go along, and figure out how to abide by them, but keep things moving in a forward motion.

Are there certain qualities that you look for in artists in deciding
whether they will be pleasurable to work with? And on the contrary,
any areas for improvement artists should be aware of?

I look at skill level first; It's important to have skill in figurative work first. This says a lot about an artist's dedication to his/her trade. I show more figurative/surrealist work and that's what I sell mostly in the business. This is what I'm usually looking for at first.

 
Do you have any specific do’s and don’ts for artists looking to
submit their work to you?

Please have a website or some kind of online presence. I don't look at paper portfolios... Also, I ask that you do don't try to show me your work during shows. That is a time when I need to connect with my guests and sell artwork.

Are there any misconceptions about your position as gallerist in
which you face from the public?

I'm a different kind of gallerist-I'm first and foremost an artist, who happens to sell art. I don't know if this is a negative thing, it's just a distorted mirror between gallerist/businessman/artist...but with me I am all in the same.

Do you have any plans for Hive Gallery beyond what it is today?

I would love to have live/work studios in the future... a real community where artists can live cheap and make amazing magickal work. This is a dream which is in the making! In the meantime, I would like to keep pushing new artists, showing them around the world (like our shows in Japan, Germany and Italy), and help them continue to succeed as art warriors in this crazy, wacky world in which we live.
 http://hivegallery.com

Check out Nathan Cartwright on instagram at:@kingbeeme.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Michael McCall of YVARTS Center

Michael McCall is the Executive Curator at Yucca Valley Visual & Performing Arts Center in Yucca Valley, CA.


When did you first realize your passion for the arts?
I was always the kid drawing at his desk, not paying attention to the teacher… when the 1st Grade teacher one day took me to the 6th Grade class to show them how I could cut designs into folded paper, I knew this was the start of something I would do, I didn’t know what an artist was, but it was fun to stand up in front of those bullies and show ‘em who was boss.
 

How did you come into being a curator?
I was always doing the bulletin boards at school, designing the imagery my classmates would see.  During my MFA schooling, I was involved in an invitational exhibition that continued for ten years afterwards, from Key West to DC to Duke University, even to a commercial gallery which was a stretch because nothing was for sale in the show. I’ve always been putting other artists’ work in front of viewers, trying to help my artist friends and expand the public’s perceptions of contemporary artworks. The position I hold now as Executive Curator at YVarts allows me the venue to develop scholarship and back those thoughts and ideas by selecting the imagery to present artwork to the public, and that is very rewarding.

 
Does your current work with the Yucca Valley Visual & Performing Arts Center align with or differ from what you originally envisioned it to be?
I didn’t come into this blindly, I understood what was expected of me. The position is political at times. I was told by my friends to make this work I would have to become more diplomatic. I was a little na├»ve to believe I could navigate between artists, the greater arts community, and the people who pay my salary without a few setbacks.  My goal is to support all the artists - a utopian concept, but pretty impossible. Choices have to be made. What I want to do in this position is motivate and inspire all artists to get better, to expand their own ideas and go beyond their limitations in developing their work. They are individuals, communicators of concepts and ideas. At the same time, I want this Arts Center to expand and support the arts community, to present the incredible talented artists I find in this area and beyond the boundaries of the hi-desert.
 

Aside from being a busy gallerist, you are also an artist. Do you find that you have enough opportunity to express your own creativity?
As far as spending enough time in my studio, from the time I got out of art school, there was always the challenge of finding a way to pay for that time. To stay focused in that studio, you have to block out a lot of the daily demands. Having a more-than-full-time job doesn’t allow the concentrated amounts of time needed to move the studio work forward like I did before becoming a gallerist.  It becomes frustrating and challenging to do both.
My primary goal is to be a creative person. I have developed ways to use many mediums, sometimes in and on the public stage, while using social media to promote my creativity, not by just isolating in the studio and hoping someone is going to see those creations.  As a multi-disciplined individual, I can be creative anywhere, anytime. One of my strengths is my ability to organize my time, to organize the demanding variables of everyday activities.

 
What do you find most rewarding about gallery directing/curating?
Meeting the artists, visiting their studios, and trying to help them in ways I can.
 

What are some of the challenges that you face?
My biggest challenge is to stay patient with the artists who are not professional with the nuts and bolts of being an artist. All of our jobs are hard enough. If an artist can come to the table prepared, give me what I need to promote their work, to include them in my programming and in the manner that doesn’t create more work for me, I am very appreciative.
 

Are there certain qualities that you look for in artists in deciding whether they will be pleasurable to work with? And on the contrary, any areas for improvement artists should be aware of?
We all have to understand we are in this thing together, and that egos have to be checked at the door. When an artist can show a sense of humbleness in the light of being a fantastic talent, I am usually impressed and feel they will be a pleasure to work with. When an artist thinks they are the cat’s meow and I sense they are not a sharing person, I tend to back off, no matter how good they are.
 

Do you have any specific do’s and don’ts for artists looking to submit their work to you?
Here’s a few do’s and the don’ts:
With the demands of the administrative responsibilities to do my job, I generally don’t have time to ‘google’ it or look at artists’ websites. What I ask for is a very simple email inquiry with a few jpegs of a couple artworks that are indicative of their body of work they want me to be aware of. That way I can build files for future reference when I am designing an exhibition.  That’s how I do it.
As far as the don’ts… when I have failed to get back in touch after you have made your inquiry, have patience -  understand that my time is limited in answering, and that sometimes I cannot answer. Secondly, when I’m in the public arena or at an opening, don’t pull out your cell phone and try to show me what you are doing. Email me or make an appointment during gallery business hours. Try to understand I can’t be receptive 24/7.

 
Are there any misconceptions about your position as gallerist in which you face from the public?
The main misconception is that we are well-staffed at YVarts. I am the only staff member of a very ambitious project called the Yucca Valley Visual & Performing Arts Center. We are a newly developed non-profit art space in the hi-desert. In the past two years, countless people come to me with ‘suggestions’ on how to make this place better. We are a volunteer organization, and I need you to help by volunteering time to make this the place what it can be. Don’t tell me how, show me how, pitch in with more than words and your suggestions.

 
Do you have any plans for the gallery curation, and your own work, beyond what is happening today?
As for the curatorial duties, we just opened our biggest exhibition thus far, MOJAVE MADNESS. I am very proud of this effort, I made over 3 dozen studio visits to the artists of the Mojave Desert to find and exhibit their passions. But, as always, I’m working on the next show, on next years’ ideas for shows. That keeps my mind open and ready to look at more, allowing me to find new artists, challenging me to overturn the next stone and find what’s underneath.
As for my own work, my memoir, Captain Squid & the Tentacle Room has just been published by Fabrik Media.  For the moment, I have the opportunity to promote my own artworks in conjunction with this memoir. I spent 15 years writing the story, attempting to relay what it is like to be a practicing artist for 50 years, living through the incredible ups and downs of a profession that is both demanding and unrewarding at times. The reward comes when my creative soul is connected to the Devine spiritual entity that helps me make positive decisions in living a life of fullness. I get up every day with enthusiasm and aliveness to explore, to live in happiness and contentment. 
Visit http://yvarts.com

 

 

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.