Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Time Between Shows - Part II

As noted in our previous post, this blog emailed the following question to Max Presneill, TAM's director and curator:

"What's New, Pussycat, closes March 5. Are the final few days of a show -- particularly one you co-curated -- exciting? Sad? Bittersweet?"

Presneill's emailed reply:

"By the time the close of a show arrives we are already way into the next exhibition – arranging shipping, getting the catalog together and that sort of thing. We have moved on from that particular relationship and are courting the next one, ha, ha."

How would Presneill's response compare with that of fellow art and culture professionals in and around Los Angeles?

We checked in with a handful of those folks this week, asking about their own experiences between shows they've put together or overseen.

The below are among the texted and emailed replies:


"To me it was like a Saturday... A restful period between work periods."

-- Adolfo V. Nodal, curator, gallery and museum director


"I like the time between shows -- one of my favorite things about it is the potential inherent within the empty yet charged space."

-- Irene Tsatsos, Director of Gallery Programs, The Armory Center for the Arts


"It only looks like a breathing space from outside, usually it's a hectic time -- the exhibition may be closed as far as the public is concerned, but the logistics of deinstallation and reinstallation then arise -- getting stuff off the walls/floor, packed up, stored or returned/picked up; patching and painting walls, even moving them; collecting unpacking and installing new work. To say nothing of the PR, website update, writing and printing labels, catalogs etc. And of course conceptualizing and designing new exhibitions.

"There's a great book called "Art Worlds" by Howard Becker, from the `80s which unpacks some of the people and tasks involved with the intention of demonstrating that work is not the product of a single artist but everyone who supports the work's production and display, from canvas weavers to security staff; the action of a multiplicity not a singular individual, in other words.

"When I was co-directing Raid [Projects] with Max [Presneill] we did a new exhibition every month, that was a conveyor belt of action that never stopped. Maybe the first or second week of the exhibition were times of a slight lull -- but that might just have been the result of collapse due to exhaustion."

-- Janet Owen Driggs, curator, writer, former co-director of Raid Projects


"At the Studio [for Southern California History] the period in between exhibits usually is a scurrying period of cleaning and whitewashing. It is often a period of cleansing and the last time we did it in between Law & Disorder and Love is Living Large there was a great excitement waiting for the new exhibit. I normally am too exhausted to really think about it. However, I am usually so sick of an exhibit by the time it goes down that to have it go away is a fantastic feeling of accomplishment."

--Sharon Sekhon, Founder & Executive Director, the Studio for Southern California History


"In my experience that period is when I have felt a nice concentration of creative energy. The sense of possibility in the new presentation is still felt because it is still being realized and the type of questions that run through your mind are will it live up to my expectations? will the artist be able to actualize their ideas? how will everything look installed?"

-- Name Withheld, director of an arts and culture organization


"The period between exhibitions is full of hustle and bustle. It feels like there are a million and one things to accomplish, and all while we are winding down the previous exhibition! Has all the art been received yet, when is it being installed? Are the press kits finished, post card, catalog, website, is the gallery prep done? It's all very exciting!"

-- Colton Stenke, former Assistant Curator, Torrance Art Museum