When I met Greg Lundgren, it was six years ago at his solo exhibit ‘I am from Bellevue‘ in Open Satellite (a contemporary art space which no longer exists). From that day on I wanted to collaborate with him and this is technically our first official curatorial project. After not receiving other project grants from the city, it makes sense that Out of Sight is an independent venture. Greg dreams big and he just so happened upon a space that enables that dream in plain sight at the center of Seattle’s arts district. Out of Sight is an exhibition of Pacific Northwest artists in conjunction and responce to the Seattle Art Fair this July 30th – August 2nd. It is a Vital5Production (Founded and run by Lundgren himself) and co-curated with Roq La Rue’s Kirsten Anderson, Sharon Arnold and myself.
Serrah and I asked co-curators and facilitators Kirsten and Greg to have a conversation about this large scale exhibit, it is brief because we are all literally running around building and painting walls while also heading to studio visits of over 100 artists in the region. It’s an exciting time for all of us and it’s hopefully only the beginning!
Greg Lundgren : Hi Kirsten. Two weeks left before Out of Sight opens. How are you feeling?
Kirsten Anderson : Hi Greg! Pretty great! Only slightly panicky but there seems to be a vibe that started around this show since day one that assures me everything is going to be great! I guess that start is a good place to begin- how did you start conceptualizing this show? I know when we first started talking about it it was a very different animal…
GL : I think it grew out of Walden Three and my interest in securing the Lusty Lady building as a contemporary art space for PNW artists. That one didn’t go as planned, but my desire to highlight the enormous creative talent we have in this city has been a constant since I moved back to Seattle in 1995. The Seattle Art Fair was just too big of an opportunity to miss.
We started out on the same block in Belltown 17 years ago. How has Roq La Rue changed over the years? You’ve always championed the region, but it feels like you represent more PNW artists than ever before.
KA : Yeah, I still remember the night Vital 5 and Roq La Rue opened in the summer 1998 quite vividly! Who’d have think we’d be working on a project all these years later. I feel like you’ve really championed NW artists most of the time. I’m only more recently showing more local talent because there is an influx of artists showing the type of work I deal in, also bringing in Sharon Arnold at Roq La Rue (also a co- curator of OOS) exposed me to a lot if local work I might have overlooked. And of course Sierra Stinson has been showing local work for years too.
This show was put together really quickly- it felt like we really needed to get something together in time to take advantage of the Seattle Art Fair occurring. Care to speak to that? What do you feel were the negatives about doing a show this fast? And how about the positives- because I feel like there are many!
Before the walls were built, June 19th
GL : Everything is happening so fast. We got the keys 3 weeks ago! We were so close to pulling the plug, to calling it quits because the time line was so short. We had to make a lot of decisions fast and we didn’t have the luxury of investigating the rest of the PNW deeper, let alone our own city. I really look forward to next year (hell yes) when we can have a whole year to explore British Columbia, eastern Washington, Portland and our own backyard more thoroughly. But when faced with the decision to throw in the towel or rise to the occasion, I’m really glad that we said yes. Even if it meant I had to basically live in a train station. As for the positives (there is no time for negativity right now), I love how many artists that were not invited still rallied around what we were doing- be that volunteering or Home Depot gift cards. That’s the community that has kept me here- we want each other to succeed. That is really exceptional an so different from my years in Los Angeles.
Got any good stories about Out of Sight? Seems like people see how rare of a moment the Art Fair is.
KA : Really I’ve been most taken with how involved- almost possessive, some people feel about it. I’ve never worked on a show with this level of heightened emotion surrounding it. Really impressed how artists not picked this time around are volunteering to help anyway! I think there has been a desire to see something like this happen in the NW for a long time. I see the artists in this exhibition really knowing they have to bring their A game- and I think there’s something to the fact we’ll pass on work that doesn’t meet our expectations. The artists know we’re dead serious and that causes them to be too. It’s totally great! It really feels like the groundwork for a seismic shift in Seattle’s art scene is poised to happen.
As you mentioned- it’d be great to make this a yearly production. Do you have a vision on how this could grow?
GL : The more time I spend building walls and hanging lighting and wrapping my head around Out of Sight, the more excited I am about seeing this as the beginning of an annual event. This first year is happening so fast, but I already look forward to next year. It allows us to look at art through a new lens. It makes me want to explore what is happening in different parts of the PNW – Vancouver, Eastern Washington, Portland, Spanaway. And of course take a deeper examination of the art that is happening in our own back yard. Out of Sight was inspired by all the great artists we did know and I think future years will be fortified and made greater with the inclusion of new talents that we do not yet know. It has created a really exciting, deeper motivation to explore our region and shine a light on the brilliance that is not so easily discovered. Sometimes sequels are worse than the original but I really feel this has the capacity to just get better and better.