Monday, December 12, 2016

Home Is Where the Art Is

Local artists find ways to build galleries out of domestic spaces

No Assumption: A Collaborative Exhibition of Art in a Residence. House exterior including "Intestine" (2010) by Asia Ward, "Summer Signage #1 (Wonder of the World)" (2010) by Kevin Loecke and "Prayer Flags for Healthcare" (2009) by Vandana Jain. Photo by Terry Gydesen.
No Assumption: A Collaborative Exhibition of Art in a Residence. House exterior including "Intestine" (2010) by Asia Ward, "Summer Signage #1 (Wonder of the World)" (2010) by Kevin Loecke and "Prayer Flags for Healthcare" (2009) by Vandana Jain. Photo by Terry Gydesen.

A sandwich board sits on the corner of the lot of the white house at 3500 Bryant Ave. S., directing people to the They Won’t Find Us Here (TWFUH) gallery around back. A large sign is lit on the top of the garage, where the makeshift gallery resides.

I climb the cement stairs, leading to a backyard with about 15 people huddled around a fire pit. I am not sure what to do at first, and I don’t know anyone else at the show so I decide to check out the gallery. Like most art galleries, it is brightly illuminated. The walls have been painted white; the windows are paneless. Despite the gathering in the backyard, no one is in the gallery when I get there, though a man enters while I walk around the small space.

The show that November night, titled SK8 or D8 Me 2010, is by The Basketball Team: Christine Peterson and Sophie Weil. The artists’ statement is difficult to follow—about space, fear, being overly aware of your dress. I wonder if I would comprehend it better had I gone to art school. Small mixed media installations line the gallery’s walls: a tiny bowl of sugar on a skateboard, writing on various cloth materials. I don’t understand it completely, or think it is pretty, but I like it. I like that it exists in a space like this.

When I exit the gallery space and head into the yard, two members of TWFUH, Matt Lawler and Jake Dwyer, hang around the fire, mingling with friends and visitors, eating cheeses and drinking beer. (The rest of the six curators—Lauren Allshouse, Emily Atchison, Jennifer Hedrich and Kelsey Olson—are not present that evening.) Despite my worries that those running the gallery would be standoffish, they are welcoming and enthusiastic. They mention others involved in creating similar spaces and suggest I check out a show the following night at 1419, a makeshift art and living space housed in an old warehouse-type building in Cedar-Riverside.

After speaking with them, I head to a craft night, but I feel the way I do whenever I step out of my comfort zone and experience something new—appreciative of those who create such opportunities and motivated to get involved.

Holly Hilgenberg is a local writer, artist and thrift store shopper.