CURATOR’S CORNER: The Alice Gallery
A Conversation with Julia Freeman & Julie Alexander
Julia Freeman: Hey Julie, here’s the google doc we can start working on.
Have you seen Elana Herzog’s work? She’s in NY. Oh goodness it’s good. She takes old textiles and puts them into the walls and then takes them apart…at least what it looks like. I listened to her interview on Gorky’s Granddaughter and she was spot on. She’s big time, but would be a dream person to have in The Alice.
Julie Alexander : Oh man. She had a great looking show at Minus Space. I see her work on Facebook.
JA: This no-time-to-work-in-the-studio is starting to build up. I have so many pieces in my head right now. I have to do them to see if they’re any good. But for The Alice I want to do that show we were talking about today with Aneta Regel Deleu’s sculptures and Caroline Wels Chandler’s knit constructions. They would be awesome with Jamie Powell’s paintings and we could call the show Chocolate dipped red vines and serve chocolate dipped red vines (yuck!!).
JA: I am loving the intersection of textiles, painting, and sculpture.
JF: HAHA! YEs!! That would be one of the best shows I’ve ever seen if we could get all three. Love the appetizers for the show. Maybe there should always be some sort of food that relates to the show? What should we do for Wrappings? Bacon wrapped around stuffed figs?
JF: I think that’s our sweet spot, textile, painting and sculpture. Have you checked out what Rachel Mcginnis posts on Instagram? I think you might fall in love.
JA: I WOULD fall in love with them except I’m not sure what I’m looking at. I can’t tell which images are process shots of another image or not. The one with the triangles is spot on though with the trim pieces and the hand embroidery. Have you contacted her about the show with Maria? I’ve received some images from her that I need to share with you. She is working on a series of small work she calls snowflakes. The name had me a tad worried that I wouldn’t like the work. Silly me. It’s Maria after all.
JA: I had tai food and now I am having too many girl scout cookies. hmmm.
JA: that took a really loooong time to do. I bet Sharon would like Rachel’s work A LOT.
JF: Love that piece of Rachel’s. What are you thinking we should pair well with Maria’s work? On a different note, do you think my cat’s an artist? These are the things she brought me yesterday. Yes, that’s a sausage package.
JA: Those are some good presents indeed.
So, since this is called Curator’s Corner and we are starting out on this adventure of curating together here are some questions for you. 1) What do you think we bring to the venture as a team? and 2) How do you feel about altering our “vision” to allow for more potential sales? Big questions. But also, should we do a show about what the cat drug in? I love that picture.
JA: Saw a Yevgenia Barras interview on Gorky’s Granddaughter you would like. She brings in the body and adornment and fairytales into her talk about her crusty, luscious paintings. I would love to show her work. When I think of pairing her with anyone it doesn’t work. In my mind she would play foreground to whatever else is in the room.
1. I think we use each other in a great way. I think we are trying to a create an idea…what belongs together to form sentences doesn’t always look or feel the same. It’s such a delicate balance, but I feel like we are strong in what we gravitate towards. Then we work so well together knowing when something completes the sentence. I don’t always know how this translates, but I feel like we are collaborating on installations with other peoples work. We are making a space say something. I think that you have taught me so much about seeing through your eyes. What story does the edge of that paint create. Cracks and crannies. Surfaces and edges. Under, over and behind. Mazes that are fast then slow.
- I’m not feeling the sales component of our project. I don’t see anyone buying art in this city. If they do, it’s an artist or it’s for $100.00. I don’t know if it’s worth our time or effort to try to convince or alter what we show to get potential buyers. I’m up for applying for grants, selling t-shirts or baked goods. I think that selling art is an old myth that doesn’t exist. But then again, I don’t associate with anyone that has actually bought art. Maybe I’m wrong and there is a secret community on Mercer Island that has rooms full of feminists abstract paintings made from old cloths and large collages that are about the country as a blood sucking psychotic machine. If anyone has a room with artwork like this in it, please let me know and I will start a convent and hold regular worship. I love to wear robes.
- 14.) Yevgeniya Barras. I will check her out. I will watch the interview today. And I think there was a gallery in Pioneer Square that had a show called Cats. Anyone that did work about cats brought their work in. I’m also into that. I like presents from anyone.
4. How would you answer these questions?
5. How would you describe our space? What we show, who and why?
JF: Lunch tomorrow? How does noon sound? We need to talk about the next exhibition schedule, installation and the writer. Anything else? Also, how the rest of the exhibitions are going.
JA: Do you think the coven of collectors on Mercer Island have a facebook page?
JA: What we show, who and why? Even the how we show! That physicality thing. A backdoor way to answer this is to question how value changes over time. I have always been interested in the underappreciated, the busboy, the maid, the gardener, the stenographer, the supporting role that is essential but unseen. And as part of that, the rot that makes the loam that nurtures the seedling. And as part of that, the slime that coats our pipes we pretend isn’t there as it builds up unseen in all those pipes everywhere. And as part of that, the races and genders and ways of thinking that go unseen, unvalued. How can we take that all in? I’m not coming from an activist perspective seeking equality. I’m not interested in a litmus test that essentialises an identity. I’m interested in a multiplicity, a simultaneity, an equality/not equality. The home screen on my phone is an install shot from USEd with Dawn Cerny’s sculptures, Ari Fish’s ladders and Lael Marshall’s yellow piece. There is a rawness in that trio of works that lets me experience the active mind of the artists and I can bounce from one piece to another and the openness and energy builds. There is also delightful domesticity and humor and distrust. This is not all about what women do but I come across it way more often in women’s art.
JA: What we bring to the venture as a team. You bring more of a narrative to the mix and broaden my vision. I have such an abstract painter’s perspective that I worry it is too limited. Blay!! You say, think and do things I would not think of. I feel like we get each other and each others work and that has is a solid base. So far, I know this whole thing would be so much less without you. Thank you.
JA: All of what we are saying points to The Alice as an extension of our individual studio practices. That is definitely the way I think of my forays into curating.
JA: Our space? Physically? It is just the right size with the right light and I thank Sharon Arnold so much for passing it on to us.
JF: I love how you responded to these questions and is the foundation of why we work so well together. Our base IS that we get each other and each others work, but also constantly challenge and trust each other. I’m so appreciative that you asked me to be a part of this endeavor. You have had and have been pursuing curatorial opportunities with a lot of success, so I was really surprised that you wanted me to do this with you. I have never really considered curating, but once I switched my thinking and thought about it as installation art but using others pieces to create the scene…it became a really intriguing way to think. An activity that is similar to my practice, but also more at stake by representing and supporting others and less control. These two things are really good for me. I also really enjoy working, talking, idea making with you. You open me to seeing things I wouldn’t normally see or consider.
JF: The things not seen. Is curating teaching? As a teacher, there is such a fine balance between showing and telling. I think every teacher battles with this. Thinking about the unseen or the not-noticed, do we teach people how to see or do we put it in front of them? And who are these people? Who is our audience? Are they the unseen? Does the busboy, gardener, construction worker, laborer, electrician come to The Alice? If they do, what do they think? Are they being noticed? My close group of friends in Seattle are not artists. They are teachers, activists, non-for-profit workers, social workers, counselors, lawyers and again, teachers. These are all people that their profession is to share and to give. One of my biggest concerns and worries when opening this gallery was if I was leaving them out of my world by showing work in The Alice that they did not understand. These are very smart and capable people, but my worry was and is the production of not “getting it” produced in gallery spaces. Continuing the long story of contemporary art vs. the working class would perpetuate itself in the gallery. When to show and when do we tell? Who are we connecting with?
JF: This is Helen Keller. I have been re-reading the book I read about her life when I was 9 years old. The book was my mom’s and doesn’t have a cover, the pages are yellow and crumbling. This book is about how she learned to communicate, which lead to her being an activist and writer. When I read this book as a 9 year old, it was the first time I “read” a book. Before then, I wasn’t into reading and it was really hard for me. The simultaneousness of me learning to read and think, while reading about her learning and thinking was revolutionary to me. Sign language and Braille are both physical ways of thinking, communicating and learning. Re-reading this book has really highlighted for me, my draw to physical metaphors, physical ideas and understanding through my body. And also, the simultaneity that you were talking about in relationship to the invisible and the present merging. I see a starting point as acknowledging the physicality of our bodies, ultimately creating empathy towards others. I see our curating as physical in a way that acknowledges the body through looking. I see this as a political act because bodies are politicized and Octavia Butler coined the phrase “body-knowledge” which she used in all of her science-fiction novels and is a way of understanding how power works through the body and it’s experiences, senses, particularities, and histories leading to the embedded hierarchies of societies (my friend Kate Boyd wrote about Octavia in her dissertation and these are her words! Thanks Kate!) Seeing materials manipulated, scale shifts, evidence of process and reaching for the illusion or the actual occupancy beyond the picture plane towards the viewers eyes and spreading out amongst the walls are all physical words within the sentences that we are trying to make together in The Alice. The haptic experience of knowing how something feels physically, through sight.
“We all walk in mysteries. We are surrounded by an atmosphere about which we still know nothing at all. We do not know what stirs in it and how it is connected with our intelligence. This much is certain, under particular conditions the antennae of our souls are able to reach out beyond their physical limitations.” Goethe, letter of 23 July 1820, quoted in Flahrty, Shamanism and the Eighteenth Century, p.173.