Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Quang Bao of 1969 Gallery

Quang Bao is the director and founder of 1969 Gallery, a contemporary gallery with two locations in New York City. 

Photo: Pau Atela

How did the launch of 1969 Gallery come about?
I returned from running an artist project space in Berlin in 2016, massively underemployed. People who loved me said that if I opened my own thing, they would support me. That thing could have been a magazine or might have been a store of another kind, possibly one that sells reading lamps. I had never worked in an art gallery before. I think if I had, I might not have opened 1969. I think a lot of gallerists fall in by accident.

You have two gallery locations and participate in international art fairs, among other community offerings (I believe I noticed some dinner party events?). How do you find the time to oversee so much activity on a regular basis?
“Oversee” is the key word. I try to give autonomy to everyone working behind the desk. Team '69 is a very committed lot. My colleagues bolt up from bed in the middle of the night about things that are or are not being taken care of at the gallery. And I have zero problem asking for help, especially off-site and at art fairs.

Next year, 1969 will also be doing a couple of book parties and artist talks. We are hosting a benefit for the National Book Foundation and a book party for a collection of writings by Vietnamese American authors.

Regarding the dinner parties - I believe every artist deserves a perfect drink. The gallery dinners are a way to acknowledge and celebrate the creative, personal and collective effort. In the beginning, my boyfriend, my assistant, and I were prepping all the food. Now, we have Benjamin. I also come from a family of drinkers and eaters - It is how I bond with people.

Your gallery seems to focus on works that are emotionally, mentally and visually challenging. What kinds of qualities do you personally feel make visual art most impactful in today’s world?
I know it when I feel it. Emotionally, challenging artwork does not necessarily require brain chemistry and language. Images can still be immediately and visually arresting.

What do you love most about running your gallery?
The relationships, and directly experiencing how they deepen or altogether disappear over the course of time. I have this highfalutin sense that the work we do is contributing to culture and a broader contemporary conversation concerning meaning and truth.

What are some of the challenges that you face?
1969 has been in a protracted, intense period of expansion and growth. Publications, participation in more international art fairs, year-round exhibitions and programs for the main gallery and project space, residencies for our artists. The administrative pile-up is unbelievable, shipping absolutely sucks and nothing in the work load ever repeats - no two PDFs, installation designs, artworks and exhibitions are ever the same. Like other galleries our age, we need more staff.

Do you have plans for 1969 Gallery beyond what it is today?
One word: Barcelona

Friday, August 26, 2022

Craig Krull of Craig Krull Gallery

Craig Krull is the owner of Craig Krull Gallery, located at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, CA.

When did you first fall in love with the arts? 
My Mom is an artist, so that is where my interests began.  As a young person, I would sit in her studio having long conversations while she made art.  It was engaging, meditative, peaceful and quietly bonding.  Her love of Pre-Columbian art opened my eyes to that work and to art in general, then it just became a voracious appetite to see and learn about all the arts...Minoan and Manet were first loves.

What was the catalyst for establishing your gallery? 
Studying art history in college, I was considering teaching, writing, museum work or galleries. When I became director at Ace Gallery in 1985, I started meeting key figures in the artworld on a daily basis and knew this was my future. (Billy Wilder walked in on my first day). Owning one's own gallery allows for one's personal vision to be manifested more immediately than in a museum context. No need to ask permission.

Your exhibits have a focus on “place oriented” works. Can you explain why this theme is particularly relevant to you, and the kind of response you wish to evoke in your audience? 
I have always been drawn to places.  One of the first questions that I ask an artist is where they are from, where they have been, where they are now.
The poet, Gary Snyder said, "Our place is part of what we are." 
Our climate, community, daily travel patterns, language, culture, historical contexts all combine and sometimes become reflected in who we are and what we make and do.

What do you find most rewarding about the curation process? 
Curating is rewarding because it affords the opportunity to draw linkages between artists and ideas. One of the great pleasures in operating a gallery is the installation process, deciding what goes where and how unforeseen dialogues start happening between artworks.
A couple of recent curated group exhibitions that I organized included "Narrative Painting in Los Angeles" and "of rope and chain her bones are made." Read the exhibition statements on my website.  Beyond assembling artists and works around a specific theme, these exhibitions also were the basis of a couple dozen new friendships and even new gallery representation of several artists.

What are some of the challenges that you face running a gallery? 
There are challenges every day. Representing 65 artists who I want nothing more than to please and expose their work to the world is a full time psychological, diplomatic, and inventive process, and constantly thinking about collectors and museums that the work would connect with. Although that part is fully rewarding... The challenging parts can usually be the mundane daily logistics of things like shipping and following up on requests or "favors" from all corners of the art world. One of my mottos is that every situation is different. Every exhibition, every sale, every transaction in the gallery is unique and characterized by its own special context, which of course makes it wonderful, but sometimes challenging because there is no one approach to anything.   

How do you discover the artists that you showcase- do you seek them out or do they come to you? 
It just happens. If one is curious and has an open mind, the opportunities are boundless. What I do not have is an agenda, or checklist or wishlist, or set of criteria, and I certainly do not hunt - discovery is the right word. And yes, they come to me as well, and that has been going on for years... Luckily they still come, so hopefully that means I am still relevant, but the hardest part of my job has always been saying no to hundreds of artists. The artists that I have represented over the years are like family, so beginning a relationship with an artist goes much deeper than "business."

Do you have future plans for Craig Krull Gallery beyond what it is today? 
I have been doing this since high school, and operating my own gallery for over 31 years (28 at Bergamot Station). Probably because I like "place", I also like the consistency of my location. Being a native Angeleno and showing LA artists in LA is important to me. I will continue to explore the rapidly expanding art community of Southern California with no other goal in mind but that.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Bardi Tosobuafo Matilda & Bardi Osobuanomola Catherine of The Huts Magazine

The Huts Magazine is a contemporary art magazine co-founded by Nigerian sisters, Bardi Tosobuafo Matilda and Bardi Osobuanomola Catherine.

You are a sister team based out of Nigeria, both with a strong passion towards the arts. When did you first realize your love for art, and have the two of you always collaborated on creative projects?
Honestly, our love for art goes way back, when we were much younger – secondary school actually. Catherine was always the creative one like our uncle, always drawing and painting with whatever she had, while Matilda stayed back watching, wanting to learn the craft. Then university happened and Matilda magically got whisked to study Fine art and Catherine, Theatre arts with an elective in Graphics and textile design. So, art has always been a part of us from the onset.

Until the birth of ‘The Huts Magazine’ we have never really collaborated on any other creative projects.

It’s wonderful that you were able to launch something as proactive as The Huts Magazine during the unsettling time of the pandemic. Can you share with us what sparked the idea, and what it was like to initially get this project off the ground?
The Huts Magazine was Catherine’s idea, but teamwork made it into a reality. You must know, the magazine started when the pandemic was at its peak, where fear was our daily bread and lockdown placed us in inevitable jails. And we wanted to get out of it, badly. Matilda went to her canvas while Catherine went to her laptop, writing stories she would one day share with the world. Combining our talents, we thought we could assist individuals during the bad time, while taking care of fear problems. This was our way to escape the harsh reality of life. When we started, our target was Nigerian artists specifically but so many were unwilling to respond to our emails, text, dm… it was an emotionally damaging moment for us. We cannot really pinpoint what led to our next move, but somehow, we found ourselves messaging international artists – Emerson Wang and Jessica Schweizer. We can never forget their names. They were our ticket to starting our journey and we thank them for that. They gave us the confidence we needed to pull it off.

In the beginning we made mistakes of course. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s your ability to grow from them that creates the real magic. We were going hard at everything without taking a moment to reason that things needed to jump on water stones to get to the end. We were flying without walking, and this took a toll on us. It was overwhelming. So we took a break for over four months to plan and get our heads out of the sand. So yeah, we had a rough start and we learned how to get out of it, and we’re still learning to improve on what we already have.

What kinds of qualities, aesthetic or otherwise, do you look for when selecting the artists that you showcase?
Actually, we don’t ask for much. Almost all of our showcased artists are gotten from Instagram, since that’s where we began. At first, we just chose whatever upcoming artist who would show up at our doorstep needing exposure, and we were always happy to place them in our magazine. Then we grew up mentally. We became mature after a long break to finish up school. We realized, these artists needed the right exposure, and we weren’t giving them that. So, we messaged galleries, magazine stores in Europe willing to accept a hard copy from us. It was at this time we knew what truly makes art, art. You can scribble whatever you want on a canvas and throw in colours and name it whatever you want without realizing the lack of connection those two substances have. So, looking past the beautiful visuals, we personally look for the emotional connection of the works, the overall theme, understanding why the artist does what he/she does. There should be a sort of unique voice, originally to the piece presented to us. We do not like it when young artists copy, because they want to achieve the same glory another artist has, and they fail, woefully in fact. They miss the whole essence of art creation. So yeah, we just want to see a promising art piece that speaks visually and creates a connection with the audience.

What do you find most rewarding about the curations and editing process?
We get to learn. Sitting and going through all those numerous artworks gives us an opportunity to learn about art styles we’ve never seen or heard before. Reading through their statements open new doors to connect with the person behind the words – what they’re feeling, what they’re going through, how they perceive society and what not. We get plugged into whatever they have to say and charge up (100%) at the end of it.

What are some of the challenges that you face? Currently we are facing a handful of challenges in our current stage. It is quite difficult balancing our personal work with the magazine. Until recently, both of us have been the editor, social media manager, curator, designer, and technical director- it was hectic. We’ve recently employed a social media manager and co-editor to lessen the work overload, even at that, we have to make sure they do it right. We would stay up late at times, but we always enjoy the process as long as we achieve our goals in the end.

Do you have future plans for The Huts Magazine beyond what you are doing today?
Yes. We certainly have plans for the future. Big ones in-fact. So this year, we are holding our second international virtual exhibition for artists in June, curated by Gita Joshi. After this, we plan to take a break from exhibitions and focus more on competitions. We feel that would help build and encourage emerging artists from our local communities, here in Nigeria. We also want to bridge the gap between Nigerian and international artists – a method we would employ to help make locally made works reach their peak. There will be interactions provided to educate and communicate and know more about what the outside Nigeria looks like. So basically this is us bringing Art home and taking Art outside.

We have made plans to contact more galleries in the future that are in line with our niche, attend more physical shows and exhibit to broaden our exposure and get people to understand what our magazine is truly about.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Danijela Purssey of Beautiful Bizarre Magazine

Danijela Purssey is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Australian based international contemporary art magazine, Beautiful Bizarre Magazine.

What got you started along a career path in the arts?
I have always had a deep love of the arts! My personal experience with visual art began with my studies in high school, where I did Fine Art studies in my senior year. This then progressed to my joining the artist platform DeviantArt – at the time there were over 20 Million artists all sharing their work online. It was a wonderful community for creatives. I created a group on this platform to share my favourite artists works and grew this audience over some years. When Facebook launched I moved the group to Facebook – actually March 2022 was the 10th anniversary of the Beautiful Bizarre Magazine Facebook account! I was spending much of my time sourcing and sharing artwork on this page whilst still working full time in my non arts related day job. In 2013 I decided that I needed to find a way to pursue my passion full time.

Serendipitously self-publishing became a reality at this time. Prior to this, in order to publish a magazine one would have needed to collaborate with a large publisher and distribute through traditional channels which is a huge up front investment. One I could never have afforded at the time. With the availability to self-publishing Beautiful Bizarre Magazine was born! I published the first issue in July of 2013, by December of that year the 3rd issue was released with Audrey Kawasaki’s work on the cover, our Facebook account was around 50,000 followers

by this stage. By the end of January 2014 – just 2 months later we had grown to 250,000 followers! From this huge growth in such a short period of time [I remember the days before the algorithm very fondly! If only we could still achieve the same level of organic growth] I knew we had found our niche, and that our community needed a magazine like Beautiful Bizarre Magazine – that showcased emerging and mid-career artists working in all static mediums including painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, photography, digital art etc – and across all styles from traditional realism to lowbrow and pop surrealism.

In 2016 I was awarded the prestigious AMP Foundation ‘Tomorrow Makers’ Award, which
included grant funding to expand Beautiful Bizarre Magazine [AMP is one of Australia’s largest financial institutions]. This was given in acknowledgement of my dedication, tireless hard work and support of young and emerging artists locally and internationally. AMP's Tomorrow Makers Fund provides acknowledgement, support and funding to extraordinary change-makers, who are positively impacting communities - individuals who are creating a better tomorrow. This grant allowed me to quit my day job and work full time for Beautiful Bizarre Magazine, which enabled me to grow and expand the business. This recognition and grant funding was a pivotal turning point and one I am deeply grateful for!

Since, I have gone on to publish 36 issues of Beautiful Bizarre Magazine. Our 9th Anniversary Issue 37 will be released on 1 June 2022! I have also been able to bring the pages of the magazine into the real world by working with our partners in leading galleries in the United States, Europe and Australia on Beautiful Bizarre Magazine curated exhibitions - which have included the best representational artists from around the world. Our next curated exhibition opens at the New England Regional Art Museum in Australia on 13 May! This exhibition is our lucky 13th and our 2nd Museum exhibition. I am personally very excited about this special exhibition because it exclusively includes local Australian artists. It is a real joy to bring to Beautiful Bizarre Magazine brand aesthetic to my own country through the work of 70+ of the best representational artists working across styles, media and genres in this country.

We also host our own non-acquisitive international Art Prize – the Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize! Now it its 5th year, we are giving away over US$57,000 in cash and prizes, generously donated by our incredible sponsors. The Grand Prize Winner will receive US$13,500 cash and prizes! The Prize is open to all static mediums and styles, I strongly encourage artists of all ages and stages to enter at – I would love to see their work!

In 2013 you co-founded Beautiful Bizarre Magazine - Have you always imagined it would
become the outlet that it is today?

I remember when I won the AMP Tomorrow Makers Award I said that, I want Beautiful Bizarre Magazine to be like Australian national radio station TripleJ, who are an incredible platform for musicians to have their work discovered, and shared with a national and international audience – to help their careers grow. I believe this is what we have achieved through our various projects including the magazine itself, the Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize and our curated exhibitions.
We of course are always striving to help our community. Every single day we post 12 artworks on our social media to over 1Million followers – most of which is simply work that we have found and love. It is purely to give the artists the visibility they deserve. We also have a regular call out - ‘Submission Sunday’ allows our community to have their work chosen and shared every Sunday just by hashtagging #beautifulbizarre on their posts in Instagram. Some of these works are also published in each issue of the magazine in the regular editorial called ‘Join The Tribe’ - our socials community feature.
I am also deeply honoured and grateful to curate a platform which enables me to raise the voices of women and minorities, both through my staffing choices and Beautiful Bizarre Magazine projects.

I can also now reveal the most exciting news ever - 20 issues of Beautiful Bizarre Magazine from Issue 17 [June 2017] to Issue 26 [March 2022] are being archived and sent to the moon next year as part of the Lunar Codex project! Yep literally to the moon! Check out the details here.

"The Lunar Codex started as a project to spread hope during a dark time - the years of the Covid-19 pandemic on Earth. The Codex instills the Moon with some of the heart of humanity, our art, so that when we look to the sky, the Moon is a tangible symbol of hope, of what is possible when you believe. The Codex is also a message-in-a-bottle to the future, so that travelers who find these time capsules might discover some of the richness of our world today. It speaks to the idea that, despite wars and pandemics and climate upheaval, humankind found time to dream, time to create art."

Dr. Peralta, physicist, film producer and novelist has digitally archived a diverse collection of contemporary culture from 91 different countries - including art, literature, music, and film - onto nickel-shielded memory cards that will be placed into three different time capsules headed to the moon. Twenty issues of Beautiful Bizarre Magazine will be included in the Lunar Codex Polaris time capsule which will head to the south pole of the moon in Autumn 2023 via the Astrobotic Griffin/NASA VIPER mission.

This is truly the most incredible legacy for Beautiful Bizarre Magazine, and the artists and contributors inside these special issues – I am very grateful and deeply honoured. To think that future generations of humanity, and perhaps sentient beings from other worlds will one day read Beautiful Bizarre Magazine to understand our culture is totally mind blowing! You can read more about this amazing project here on the Luna Codex website.

Can you explain why one of your motives is “to help shift the paradigm in the global
contemporary arts industry regarding what is defined and accepted as contemporary art”?

As a leader and advocate for the arts, Beautiful Bizarre Magazine champions emerging and mid-career artists. In the 9 years since our launch, Beautiful Bizarre Magazine has proudly become a voice, a tribe, and a platform for creatives whose work doesn’t always fit neatly into the traditional fine art “box”.

When it comes to the valuing of figurative and representational art in Australia we are still decades behind the United States and Europe, particularly when it comes to surreal work. Australia, sadly, has been slow to accept this resurgence of work that focuses on technical mastery, preferring to continue largely down the old path of conceptual and abstract art. So too our Art Schools and Arts Degrees in Australia. In almost all of our institutions we no longer provide practical training in the technical aspects of painting, drawing, sculpture etc. So students who wish to learn these skills must look elsewhere, often overseas. Many Art Academies all over the world have taken up this mantle and are now teaching the next generation of artists the skills they need to create the kind of work that is now the focus of the new generation of creators and collectors. This situation is a huge loss for Australian art and Australian artists. Through our various projects I have the ability to help shift the focus of the visual arts landscape in this country and internationally, and to give the practices of representational artists validation and visibility, particularly in the commercial gallery and museum sector where it is still hard to get representation. Beautiful Bizarre Magazine has become an important and influential part of the conversation regarding what defines “new” contemporary art in today’s

I personally agree with Beautiful Bizarre Magazine June 2018 issue cover artist Malcolm Liepke, who stated in his interview, “I saw a piece of art one time that I didn’t like and didn’t understand, but next to the painting was a page long description of what I was supposed to get from it. I remember thinking ‘this person should have been a writer!’ Art should be visual! If you don’t get that understanding just by looking at it then it misses the point.”

Considering that creative expression often reflects our zeitgeist, how do you feel about some of the recurring themes showing up in contemporary art?
The spirit of our age continues to shift and change. However I have seen a huge increase in artists using animals and the natural world as their subjects over the last several years. I believe this is because the sensitive souls of artists are very in tune with the escalating devastation that is occurring to our environment and the planet as a whole. I think they wish to draw attention to the climate crisis and its affects, and wish to inspire the viewer to form a deeper connection with the non human animals of this world – because it is through this deeper / more personal connection that we will feel moved to take action to protect them.
I feel the same. A number of our curated exhibitions have focused on this precise ‘theme’. Our first museum exhibition in Berlin in 2019, our exhibition in New York last year, and to some extent our next exhibition in Australia all explore this theme. The upcoming Australian exhibition’s theme is ‘Interconnected’. Of course we will each have our own thoughts and opinions about what Interconnected means to us in 2022, however I believe that the last few years of the global pandemic, draught, fires, floods, and now the war in Ukraine has made evident just how interconnected we are as a species – no matter our geographical location, society, ethnicity, or religion. The climate crisis is also affecting Australians in extreme and devastating ways, making the fact of our interconnectedness to nature glaringly obvious. Sadly we are not doing enough, quickly enough, to make real change in this area. My hope is that this exhibition will also shine a light on the importance of change now – not just for our environment and nature, but our human populations too. To find deeper meaning in the current challenges we face, to reach out to those in need both locally and globally, and to demand change of our governments in order to save ourselves and environment for future

What do you find most rewarding about your position as editor?
I particularly love hearing about the experiences of the artists who have either won or been finalists of the Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize. It feels so wonderful to know that Beautiful Bizarre Magazine has had a real and significant impact on their lives and practices. I also really love curating the exhibitions and the magazine itself, and of course going through all the Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize entries – it’s always a wonderful resource for our various projects!

Alternatively, what do you find most challenging?
Emails! I get so many – hundreds a day! This often feels overwhelming, and the task of responding seems never ending. I have now set boundaries around my email to help me
achieve balance. I now only respond to emails from Tuesday to Thursday each week – this allows me to work on non email related tasks as well. It seems to be working well.
The importance of work/life balance is also something that I learnt the hard way. As you can imagine starting a business, while still working in another full time job – so working 70-80 hours a week takes its toll! I am very grateful that I have been able to understand the importance of rest and unplugging, and to prioritize it for my physical and mental health. This is also something I strongly encourage for my staff.

Any advice for aspiring artists looking to be featured by BB, or elsewhere?
Invest in yourself! If you can afford it then please enter the Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize, for just US$40 you get your work in front of me - I curate every issue of the magazine and our exhibitions. The Winners and Finalists of this years Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize will participate in the Beautiful Bizarre curated exhibition at Modern Eden Gallery later this year. So not only is this an amazing opportunity for me to see your work, it is also your opportunity to exhibit with a prestigious US gallery and to form a relationship with them. This is a super affordable way to invest in your practice and have your work seen by the right people. Of course the cash and product prizes are also amazing!

If this is out of your budget there are other ways to have your work seen – I have mentioned

some above in relation to Beautiful Bizarre Magazine specifically.
More generally, make sure you are on social media and regularly sharing your work to create a community of people that love what you do. Make sure you also have your own website, just social media is not enough. Your website is a permanent catalogue of your work and very important. It should also have a form allowing people to be added to your email mailing list – this is your greatest asset.

Finally here are a few simple pieces of advice to always keep in mind:
1) practice, always make time to practice your painting/drawing etc, to learn, experiment and
develop your technique and your unique vision
2) create work that brings you joy in the process and the outcome
3) create work for yourself and not for an audience.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Rom Levy of Volery Gallery

Rom Levy is the founder and director of Volery Gallery, a gallery focusing on new contemporary art in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 

Let’s get straight to it: Why do you love Art?
It is just something uncontrollable for me, like a visceral feeling that takes over my heart and invades me with all its might.
I grew up with no art education and did not have parents interested in Art, galleries or museums.
My first memory of Art appreciation was in Paris in 1997. Going to school, I walked daily through an area called “La Butte Aux Cailles” - this was where the first street pieces of Paris popped up, and it was the highlight of my day. Every day, I looked forward to this moment like a hunt to see if any new works had appeared.
That was a true revelation for me; it touched my heart and emotions, gave me answers to questions I had, and decided that Art would be all my life.
Growing up now and with 15 years of experience, I have no idea what else I would be doing if it was not for Art. It has fulfilled my life, and I will be forever grateful to Art for what it brought me.

Having established various successful platforms such as a pop-up gallery and online art journal (to name a few), what compelled you to open your brick-and-mortar Volery Gallery?
I have been living in UAE for the past seven years. I have always been interested in exploring new artists and seeing works that I would see in international art fairs and galleries. I always felt the need to create a place that could offer exposure to the contemporary artists that the galleries in Dubai were missing. I always thought that Dubai, being the megalopolis that it is, should have the same experiences that I could have in NYC, London or HK.
Covid-19 accelerated the process as I could no longer easily travel to see exhibitions. Therefore, I decided to launch Volery Gallery at that time in an effort to bring the Art I love to Dubai and develop what the art scene in the city had to offer.
The acceleration of the city’s growth and lack of variety in the art scene made me feel that it was the perfect place and location to create something new.
It has been quite exciting to discover that many people had the same feelings and were satisfied and happy to discover Volery Gallery.

What are some of the qualities you look for most in the artists that you showcase, aesthetically and professionally?
I am looking for feelings and emotions. The artwork has to trigger my instincts and touch me emotionally.
To me, the in-depth relationships with the artists, getting to know them, hearing their story, following their creative processes and seeing the results of their works is everything. I love the meaningful relations that go beyond those first studio visits when I can observe their work and reach a deep understanding of the artist and the artworks. Exhibiting their creations makes me
the mediator of their practice, which requires comprehensive knowledge and insight.

What do you find most rewarding about the curation process?
Curating is rewarding to me at a fundamental level because it’s the perfect mix of academic rigour and practical application.
It is an honour supporting artists in developing their visions and making them happen, from creative brainstorming sessions to the final exhibition. I will never get bored of getting a glimpse into the minds of artists who have the imagination and know-how to create new and visually stunning works.
Each exhibition is different, the process can remain the same, but the experience and emotions are always new, which is probably the most rewarding for me.

On the contrary, are there any challenges that you face?
There is a significant challenge due to being in the Middle East. My curation has to consider and respect the local values and customs. For example, things like nudity are not easy to show; however, the art scene in Dubai, being an international hub, is becoming more accepting, and the boundaries are gradually lifting. Until then Volery Gallery will continue to appreciate the freedom of creation and support artists in delivering their concepts in every way and form.

Are there any upcoming events or plans for Volery Gallery, beyond what you are doing today, that you are excited about?
Yes, I am working on expanding Volery Gallery with a second location in Saudi Arabia. More
details soon!

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Derek QXQX of The Canary Underground

Derek QXQX is the founder of The Canary Underground, an art and animation collective based in Los Angeles, CA.  

In comparison to other art forms, what is it about animation that inspires you so much?
What I love about animation specifically is that it literally can be anything. In my opinion, it is the most universal form. It can be photography, sound design, color, drawing, painting, literally anything. In a way, film almost is the same but just not quite. So the sheer openness of it all is what inspires me. That and combined with it is just what I watched so much of growing up. From 70s kids stuff through 90s kids stuff into more adult stuff like The Simpsons in middle school into more underground stuff as a teenager, it has just stuck and been with me my whole life. So I like trying to contribute back to the medium as an animator but also as a TV fan. I want to make a new type of TV.

What was the catalyst for starting your art and animation collective, The Canary Underground?
As I’m sure you know, art is emotionally draining. Most forces in this world, the big ones, don’t really understand it and thus, don’t care about it, and think you’re a dipshit for pursuing it. It’s hard to stand up to how those voices manifest within yourself. For me, I think I had no other option. So, to answer your question, the catalyst was finally giving in to the other voice that just asked “wouldn’t it be cool if…” and then I was forced to fill in that blank. It’s something I have to continually rediscover and has changed so much over the years.

You focus on works that are emotionally honest forms of pop surrealism - Can you elaborate?
My aim is to somehow blend the worlds of academic art, shitty low-brow art, TV and emotional honesty. Those to me, are all forces that kind of oppose each other but maybe that internal conflict is what’s true for me right now. I want the work to operate on several levels. Maybe that’s an insecurity in me trying to appeal to everyone. I have found that without the emotional honesty part, the other stuff feels like novelty, or is seen as that. So, I have to “bring it” and be vulnerable, which hopefully allows others to as well. I think aesthetically, pop surrealism is just fun and I like it, haha.

Do you have any future plans or events slated for The Canary Underground that we should be aware of?
Yes, thank you for asking. We have a new movie premiering April 15th at the Airliner in LA. We produce this screening event, Vision World, with Redacted Emotions, another narrative film company. Artists and filmmakers make shorts for our show so it’s a night of all premieres. This summer we are doing a large-scale festival/installation here in LA so please follow us on instagram @thecanaryunderground for continuing details about that.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Kaylan Buteyn & Pam Marlene Taylor of Stay Home Gallery

Kaylan Buteyn and Pam Marlene Taylor are the owners of Stay Home Gallery, a contemporary gallery and artist residency for women and non-binary artists and their families in Paris, TN.

What are some of your first memories of feeling passionately towards the arts?

Pam: I loved “arts” growing up but the first time I felt *PASSION* - like, yelled-my-first-curse-word passion, was in high school (I have never told this story). You know how a lot of people have those amazing nurturing art teachers who saw their potential stories? I have whatever the opposite of that is, but I think it had a similar effect on me. I had taken all the art classes there were and wanted to take a senior level class. So, the school created one for me where I would spend one period a day painting a mural in a corridor between two parts of the campus. I worked - what in my memory feels like - all year on this giant school mural and a few weeks before school was out, I came in and my art teacher had painted it all white, it was gone. I think I may have fallen to my knees (laughing about this now) and I ran into her class room and demanded to know why and she said “the perspective was off.” I yelled my first curse at her, which I can't even remember what it was, but I distinctly remember really surprising myself. Anyway, I think my curator identity of being a protector of art kicked in that day.

Stay Home Gallery began as a private home, to eventually become an immersive residency space and gallery. What was the catalyst for this transformation?

Kaylan: The pandemic was truly the catalyst for this project, combined with my family moving and us wanting to preserve the home and studio to be used by artists. Pam and I were inspired to start curating together when the original lock-down in March 2020 began. We curated 12 weeks of virtual shows with themes that responded to the very real experience of being in isolation and all the fears we had. It was so healing to put that energy into a project and when the potential idea for SHG to turn into a brick and mortar happened a few months later, we knew we had to try it out. We loved working together and wanted to continue supporting artists!

How do you wish to make a socially conscious impact on the art world with the artists that you showcase?

Pam: I think of my goals on more of a micro level I suppose, I feel more motivated by the artists than the art world as a whole. We choose to showcase art by women and non-binary artists specifically and though I hope the rest of the art world catches on, what really matters to me is introducing the incredible artists we get to work with to as many people as possible. I hope to be something that artists can point to and define as a step in the right direction in their journey and I hope we make a difference for everyone we work with.

What do you find most rewarding about the curation process?

Kaylan: We work with so many amazing artists and love curating for the space! There is nothing better than seeing a show come together and getting to experience work in person when we view so much of it online. I think one of the most rewarding things is just being surprised by the work and by what we accomplished each time a new exhibition comes together.

Pam: I love so many parts of this, but one of my favorites is to tell an artist that their work sold. Because I’m an artist as well, when I hear that someone bought a piece of mine I just feel so excited and valued. It’s just a big confidence booster so I love when I get the opportunity to spread that feeling.

What are some of the challenges that you face?

Pam: Shipping during COVID is getting trickier, especially international shipping. With shipping delays we have to make sure we give the artists extra time, which means getting calls for art out sooner, it’s really just a lot of thinking 6 months - 1 year ahead at all times, while maintaining and balancing the day to day.

In terms of the submission and /or exhibition process, are there any areas of improvement that artists should be aware of?

Kaylan: Never ship with packing peanuts! Clearly label your artwork! Try to use the best possible photos of your artwork to submit as you are able. And if you are planning to send artwork in a frame, please submit a photo with that frame so we can jury it with the full end vision in mind.

Do you have future plans for Stay Home Gallery beyond what it is today?

Kaylan: Right now we are loving the groove we are in! We are booked out at least a year in advance for our residency and facilitate 3-4 exhibitions a year in our space. Some big dreams include adding more resources to the facility and possibly going to some art fairs together to showcase our represented artists after this pandemic is finally over! We are working on building out a sustainable curatorial network so we can bring in guest curators we trust to work on new exhibitions for us. Maybe a second location one day? Who knows. We love keeping ourselves open to new possibilities and riding the wave of the present moment.