This month’s gallery opening features all works on paper, and almost all of the artists we represent participated. It is the most artwork we’ve ever featured in a single show, the pieces crowded together on the walls, creating a riot of color and form. The Susan Easton Burns’ wall found at the back of the gallery gives you the impression of being in a parchment forest with the way the animals look back at you from their pinned positions. Under glass, between acrylic, mounted on foamcore or simply pinned to the walls, each way the paper hangs appeals to a different side of me. I equally enjoy the clean look of the glass, the canvas-like appearance of the foamcore, but I especially love the way the paper curls away from the walls, invading the space around it when it’s simply pinned into the wall. Artists portray the same whimsy and beauty on paper as they do on canvas, both the abstracts and figurative pieces capturing the mind and beauty of each artist just as effectively as canvas. Take Erin Henry’s pieces for example: many of them are the studies she did on paper before moving on to make the finished piece on canvas. The paper pieces have the feeling of a sneak behind the scenes, like accidentally stumbling into the artist’s studio when they’re not home, getting to peek into the mind and process. But now the in-between has become the finished product, and they’re just as compelling as anything we’ve ever featured before.
I asked our bewitching gallery manager Paiton McDuffie and our illustrious gallerist Donna Krueger just what it took to put this show in place:
Lily Tischner: What’s your favorite piece in this show?
Paiton McDuffie: My favorite piece, by far, is an Erin Henry piece called “Untitled”; a 10×8 mixed media on paper. I’m actually fortunate enough to be taking it home after the show comes down, but it was one of those pieces that as soon as I saw it, it grabbed me. A lot of Erin’s work does that to me. I collect her pieces so I’m partial, but there is something just so otherworldly about it. I have a tendency towards darker art, but this piece had another element to it; one of mystery and vagueness.
(To read an interview regarding “Untitled” by Erin Henry, click here.)
Donna Krueger: My favorite is “Freedom Dance” by Connie Sales. This piece is so deep. The lines of the figure, the traces of blue in the piece. It’s so engaging to me, and calls to something in me that relates to this figure searching for freedom.
“Untitled” by Erin Henry “Freedom Dance” by Connie Karleta Sales
LT: How long did set-up take for this show?
PM: From start to finish, physically hanging the Gallery took about 3 and a half days. But that doesn’t count the prep time beforehand when we were trying to work out details on actually displaying the pieces. Some artists were fine with us pinning pieces with a tack or pushpin, while others preferred their work not be punctured. A few pieces needed to go the framer as well, so we had to allot time for that. In total, planning for the show, ordering supplies with which to hang the pieces, and actually hanging took around two weeks, I’d say.
DK: We plan a year out for our shows so that there is a rhythm of interests. Planning is both internal and external, ensuring we have topics that are broad enough to include all of our artists to be included, inspiring enough for our artists to paint for, and that also appeal to the media and our patrons. We strive for interesting and attention-grabbing themes, and some shows are definitely more informative than others. This is actually our first July show that’s not patriotic.
LT: What’s different about choosing and hanging paper pieces over canvas?
PM: I wouldn’t say there’s too much of a difference on choosing what to hang, but rather how. Paper and canvas hang differently (obviously), especially when the paper is loose. It’s difficult to get two tacks the same height on the first try, and the binder clips needed to be adjusted so that pieces were hanging evenly. We always like the walls to flow regardless if they are paper or canvas. There is a sense of order if you look closely. It could be moving from a colorful palette into a more neutral one, or all warm pieces and all cool pieces, a certain subject matter grouped together, or simply that a few pieces look good hanging together. But we need it to be cohesive. That doesn’t change just because it’s canvas or paper.
DK: Well, we did this paper show for accessibility, primarily in price point. Paper doesn’t seem as intimidating, it taps into a commonality. People can choose how to hang it — accessible and versatile to any interior style. Artists say it’s more freeing — no risk of ruining the canvas. It’s been fun to present different ways to hang and frame paper to explore all the different options of hanging. If you’re not worried about formality or traditional displays, think outside the box and just put the paper on the walls. Our favorite clusters of paper are the ones we have up on binder clips.
LT: How do you prepare mentally for a show opening?
PM: I remember the first show opening I worked I was so nervous. There are so many people to meet and talk to, so many questions asked; you have to wear 10 different hats in a 4 hour span. But it’s all about positivity and loving what you do, and it’s easy for me to stay in that mindset on opening nights. The energy in the Gallery is infectious and you can’t help but get excited when clients and patrons connect with the art that is hanging.
DK: I don’t know if I really prepare mentally for a show. At this point, it’s just part of the whole experience. I do try to chill at home for a good part of the day, but I don’t get stressed out about them anymore.
LT: What’s your favorite part of gallery openings?
PM: My favorite part of opening nights is just the raw emotions that people experience when they see new work for the first time. There isn’t anything like that initial reaction, be it good or bad. I love conversing with clients, patrons, and artists about the work that we are featuring and understanding their responses and comparing them to my own. It’s all about growth, and opening nights are so conducive for conversation and opening up about our connection with the art that is here.
DK: Oh, gosh. There’s a lot of great things about them. Probably, when the person that either doesn’t care about the art or hasn’t ever been in here before is in awe and becomes enamored with the art — the power of the art to make people feel something, the wonder that art touches people with. We’ve got a lot of sophisticated people who come in here who love the art, but I love the moment when someone who hasn’t really been around the art falls in love with it. Then they approach me and say they want to get into this. It’s a moment of, “I don’t know why, but something is happening to me. I don’t get it, but there’s a connection.” It taps into a youth, a childlike feeling that we lose that art can bring back.
The other thing is, it’s so busy in here, but you take a peek outside and see the Marietta Square is electrified with people at the Art Walk. It is what it is, arts is the arts. That first Friday all the art has come alive, and that electrifies this city. Especially in today’s times, we need that beauty. I love the vibe and the energy of what’s going on.
Our show this month is titled “Pin Up” and features all works on paper. For more information about this show and other events going on at the gallery, visit our lineup on the dk Gallery webpage.