Friday, October 14, 2011
What I know is true...
There has been a lot of talk about the Fayetteville Underground lately. A lot of talk from artists, friends, patrons, supporters, media and board members: you name it, people are talking. It has been as interesting to be a part of, as it has been to overhear and watch. As Andy Warhol was quoted as saying, "Don't pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches." With all of this buzz in the air, sometimes I just need to cut through the chatter and remember what I know is true of my experience at the Fayetteville Underground. There are many amazing things that I have been a part of at the Fayetteville Underground and some that I am directly responsible for. This is a list for me, so I can remember.
When I joined The Underground, I wanted a place to work away from my home studio. That was my only expectation. The first year I was there I didn't show my work in the galleries or sell my work from my studio as I was under contract with the lovely ddp gallery on Mountain St. Since the organization needed money and couldn't make any from me, I worked more volunteer hours than most to subsidize my rent and prove my worth. I wasn't counting the hours though, because I soon knew I was a part of something bigger than just a studio and that what you put into the Fayetteville Underground was what you got out of it. When the ddp gallery closed, I started showing and selling my work through The Underground as well and I was overwhelmed not only with sales but also all the opportunities that seemed to come my way. Suddenly it became apparent that we, the artists, were building something Fayetteville had never seen before.
On Saturday April, 25th, 2009 soon after moving my studio to the Underground I created the Fayetteville Underground Blog, to help familiarize the public with what was happening in the basement of the empty "old bank building." At first this blog was more in depth, as I interviewed artists and compiled press information for them with pictures of our new location.
I still maintain the blog today, posting special events and press information for upcoming shows, as well as other notable mentions for the Underground community. It serves as a small record of what we have accomplished in a short period of time and of all the brilliant artists that have crossed our path.
Besides starting the Fayetteville Undground blog, I was directly responsible for bringing many exhibitions to the Fayetteville Underground, listed below. This was an enormous task. There were countless emails, chats, diagrams, photographs, writings, ideas and questions sent back and forth between myself and some of the artists. Sometimes I even funded these shows, printing them in house, as well as mounting them. I also installed many of the exhibitions as well, handled sales and shipped the works back. I learned so much and have such a different understanding and appreciation of gallery owners and artists because of this. Thanks to all the visiting artists who had a show at the Fayetteville Underground. It was a pleasure working with you and your brilliant art. Thanks to Henry Turner for printing and installation assistance on the Institute du loop and Christian Demare exhibitions.
Matters of Consequence: January 2010 : Revolver Gallery
Christopher Baber and Michael Shaefer from Hot Springs, Arkansas
Strangers and Not So Strange: Feburary 2010: Hive Gallery
Craig Earl Nelson from Fayetteville, Arkansas
A place to drown: July 2010: Hive Gallery
Institute du loop from Taipei, Taiwan
Ghosts in the Landscape #2: August 2010: Hive Gallery
Christian Demare from Paris, France
North, West, East, South: September 2010: Hive Gallery
Thomas Petillo from Nashville,Tennessee
Theft by finding: April 2011: Hive Gallery
Steven Heaton, Rob Kedwards, John Spurgeon (aka Shakesmyteeth) all from U.K.
Iteration/Span: May 2011: Hive Gallery
Stewart Bremner from Edinburgh, Scotland and Craig Munro from Birmingham, England
Mise en Place: July 2011: Hive Gallery
Michele Maule from Portland, Oregon
The World Without Us: September 2011: Hive Gallery
Steven Heaton from Manchester, England
Animal Technology: October 2011: Hive Gallery
Flannery Grace Horan from Little Rock, Arkansas and Becki Lamascus from Fayetteville, Arkansas
As well as the exhibitions, I also gave several talks about my art, the Fayetteville Underground, the shows I curated and marketing art in general. I gave a lecture to the Boston Mountain Potters Association, on ways to successfully market one's art. I also gave the talk Art Collecting 101: The Thrill of Original Art at the Revolver gallery and gave a two-hour lecture/tour for students of The Osher Institute, called Artful Spaces: A visit to the Fayetteville Underground.
In July 2010 I gave an art talk about English artist, Institute du Loop's exhibition and in August I spoke about the work of French photographer Christian Demare. In September I lead another lecture/tour for the students of the Osher Institute and in November I gave an informal lecture about my work to a group of university students studying with artist Cindy Wiseman. Speaking about art and engaging the community is something I really enjoy doing. It was such a thrill to create my own opportunities and give back to the community at the same time.
Besides those speaking engagements, I often speak monthly with our local National Public Radio affiliate, KUAF's correspondent Jacqueline Froelich on Ozarks at Large, about our upcoming exhibitions. If I am not speaking, I am helping to facilitate the other artist's interviews.
Besides these exciting and more obvious tasks there are many other organizational things I do behind the scenes of the organization along with Co-Artistic Director Jennifer Libby Fay. We have helped schedule the artist's gallery shifts so that The Underground maintains regular gallery hours. We have also created the bulk of the programming for the Fayetteville Underground. Many weekly meetings are spent reviewing artist's submissions for exhibitions and studios from near and far. We spend hours coordinating with visiting artists, studio artists, and craft artists to fill our four galleries each month with top notch shows. We have also encouraged our fellow Underground artists to curate additional shows creating a varied and inclusive exhibition schedule.
Jennifer and I also coordinate the publicity with studio artist Matthew Depper, to make sure all the artists showing at the Fayetteville Underground get the publicity they deserve, as well as supervising the snappy banners, posters and vinyl letters that Matthew designs and orders, to help make us the professional organization that we have become.
A lot of time and energy goes into creating something as special as The Underground. Every studio artist, every craft artist and every visiting artist that has shown at The Underground has made it what it is today. I am grateful for all the opportunities the Fayetteville Underground has given me and my fellow artists.
I could never have done any of this without Jennifer Libby Fay. We make a brilliant team and I thank The Fayetteville Underground for our friendship and for showing us just what we can accomplish, all the while working on our own art and watching our own careers flourish. It has been truly amazing.
Thanks to the building owners, Ted and Leslie Belden for letting a dream grow and flourish for as long as it did in that beautiful space. Thanks to the art lovers and patrons for their support and encouragement, smiles and purchases.
What I know is that I am an independent business owner as an artist and I will continue to make my art and I will continue to share it and all the art I love with the community that surrounds me.