bringing it

Wowowow. Boy, did I need some rest. I’ve been sifting through the photos from the past couple of weeks, and it’s well nigh impossible to edit down to a wee few. It appears I’ll have to subject you all to several related posts on this whole SoEx saga.

In order to get from here:

(dec 31)

To here:

(jan 11)

it took about 40 people, give or take. At the beginning, sometimes one or two folks a day; towards the end, there were as many as 6 people holding it down.

Since I started essentially from scratch on Dec 27 with only generative drawings as references and nothing pre-built, the only way to make my demented vision of a project come to life was through some serious teamwork. For a seemingly simple installation outcome, there was an enormous amount of hidden labor: multiple layers of primer and paint to get the right flat look, paper pattern-making then cutting out forms from MDF with a jigsaw, hand-lining everything in black with a brush, panels spackled, sanded, etc etc).

This installation was only possible in such a short time-frame through the generosity of friends, family, the SoEx goddesses and their SoEx volunteers who have now become my new friends, too. If any of you folks are reading this, thank you again and again sooo soo much for your time and talent. You are beyond awesome. I couldn’t have done this without you.

Roll call on the VAD (Volunteer Art Dept), aka the unseen forces behind “Unseen Forces”:

The Fs and F:
Camille Wofford, Rick Griffiths, Max LaRiviere Hedrick, Summer Benavides, Libby Pidgeon, Bryce Ballinger Sarabia,
Suzanne Husky
, Michael Hall, Lisa Ricci, Christian Maychack, Frankus Flores, Dorothy Santos

Galleon Traders:
Mike Arcega, Claire Light, Stephanie Syjuco, Christine Wong Yap

LHS Alumni, inc Art Boot Camp corporals/pirates:
Angie Lau, Laura McKinney, Claudia Alvarado, Karla Louie, Nicole Hsiang, Sam Heller, Andrew Lux, TZ Rogers
The Go Bears:
Sarah Brock, Josephine Zarkovich, Kenneth Lo

The SoEx Volunteer All-Stars:
David Huff, Carrie Katz, Adrian Cotter, Helen Lee, Laura Poppiti, Crystal Chou, Pam Gilmour,
Chelsea Heikes, Suzy Elizabeth

The Fine Ladies Of SoEx:
Maysoun Wazwaz, Courtney Fink, Aimee Le Duc, Tara Foley
They’re so amazing, and so much more interesting than these trolls. Why don’t I have a proper photo of them?

Upon some reflection, here are some of the ideal conditions for an exhibition, created by Southern Exposure:

1. time
SoEx was amazing about providing contracts and details about exhibitions well in advance. They also provided us with an unprecedented window of installation time: 3 weeks (usually it’s 2, I think, but we had the luxury of the winter holiday break to pad us with an extra week). I’ve never had so much time to install before. The average has been 2-3 days, occasionally as long as a week. This was especially critical, since I had little ability to construct this work at home first.

2. communication/text/publicity

SoEx was consistently excellent about communication on multiple fronts. They were great about emailing and calling me with necessary details. They had members of their curatorial committee write essays about each of the 4 artists, and then created a small catalogue with these. Artists almost always need published critical writing about their work, which can be very hard to come by. Our show was widely publicized, via email blasts, detailed website info, and press releases to the various local fishwraps (we got a really nice preview piece in the SF Weekly).

3. moolah
SoEx provided healthy stipends which covered all of my material costs for this show (and even helped with the food I provided for volunteers). I didn’t make money doing this show, but I didn’t go into the hole, for once. Unless one’s got a trust fund or a lucrative part-time job, it’s unfortunately pretty typical for an artist to go into debt when putting together a non-commercial show. I’ve done so many shows over the years where I had to pay for everything out of my own pocket: in 2008, that phase of my career is officially over.

4. overall professional support
The women of SoEx are like the coolest, smartest cheerleaders in the world (no, that’s not an oxymoron): extremely positive, friendly, consistent, and professional. I always felt like they trusted my intentions, and were willing do whatever it took to help make my project happen. They had a comprehensive, well-organized supply cabinet with everything I needed for installation.They loaned me keys to the castle, so that I could work as long into the night as I needed. They had an army reserve of volunteers that they called into active duty.

5. community
Piggybacking from #4, the community of nice people that orbit around SoEx makes everything feel doable and makes an artist feel deeply appreciated. Add to this the aforementioned friends and volunteers who were so willing to jump in and help with the project, and it was genuinely touching how much was possible under those conditions.

I could go on and on, but suffice to say, in my many years of showing, primarily at nonprofit/artist-run spaces, it’s been extremely rare to have this perfect storm of good conditions. This is not meant as a diss to other spaces: there are many practical/financial reasons that not every show can operate this way. I think that in naming what went so right at SoEx, though, I’m hoping that it continues to clarify for me and for others how things can and should be done, where possible.


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One Response to “bringing it”

  1. adrian Says:

    Wahoo! It was a lot of fun helping you out, Jenifer.

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