Cynthia St. Charles Store

Friday, October 12, 2007

Artist Cooperative Gallery and Studio Idea

I've had an idea incubating the past couple of years and I think I have come close to solving the logistical problems involved. I would love feedback on this idea . . . . (just in case I am overlooking something significant).

I have long yearned for an appropriate local gallery space for my art as well as some kind of collaborative community for artists.

I happen to own an old brick building in a high traffic area of downtown that contains a vacant retail space of about 1000 square feet. It has been newly renovated with new paint and carpeting, etc. I am contemplating opening a cooperative gallery / studio. The front 2/3 would be the gallery, and the back 1/3 (divided by a wall) would serve a communal studio space for member artists. Member artists would pay monthly rent for use of their designated portion of the studio work space and gallery display area and would be required to staff the gallery one day per week, but would retain 100% of sales of their work.

I would like member artists to commit to a six month contract (converting to month to month thereafter) and to further agree to participate in regular organizational sessions for the purposes of problem solving, setting up displays, and light housekeeping.

My role would be to oversee the business of the gallery and I would plan to set up a work station in the studio area, with regular hours, in order to participate in the communal artistic process. I would need to establish and enforce protocol for shared studio space, and manage the other gallery consignments (60 / 40% for non-member artists).

I thought I would implement an application process for members requiring art samples, an artist bio, statement, references, and an interview. I would be seeking two to five compatible individuals who demonstrate a dedication to their art, are congenial and cooperative with others, reliable, and enthusiastic about presenting their work to the public. I would be most interested in finding artists working with textiles, jewelry, ceramics, assemblage, ceramics or collage, etc. These medium are not well represented in galleries in this area, currently (most galleries have western and wildlife art, bronzes and the like).

No name yet for this venture. I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.


joyce said...

It sounds like you've thought this over quite thoroughly and I can't see why it wouldn't work if you can find the right people.

Karen Stiehl Osborn said...

Sounds like a great plan! I don't live close enough to be a member, but I would be interested in having work in the gallery.

sion said...

marvellous idea (something similar is on my "if I ever win lotto" wishlist). It might be cool to keep one space as a x-month-only residency, so that you have a fresh influx of talent at least every x months (you may even be able to get grant funding for something like that, to open it up even further). A teaching space might also be a good thing, for occasional workshops or demonstrations. Unless the studio spaces are going to be *fully* separated (from each other as well as the gallery), you may have to have something in the contracts that permits early ousting if someone persistently annoys everyone else - I've been in shared-studio situations that got pretty uncomfortable when there was no way to get rid of a member. You probably know this, but JIC: while it sounds like you mostly want a kind of co-op feel, you'd have to make sure everybody knows it's really a benevolent dictatorship & that you're both willing & able to kick ass when necessary.

Julaine Lofquist-Birch said...

Cynthia - our church has recently installed the Walker Hanging System for our "gallery" - they have specific "hardware" for textiles so long as the quilts, etc. have sleeves on them. Take a peek on my blog to see what it looks like set up...

It was the easiest, fastest installation I've ever been part of!

The best of everything for your new venture!

Judy Sall said...

Cynthia - you have a great concept there, and as was mentioned by another commenter, it would just require finding the right parties, i.e., those who would honor their commitment, work together in a positive manner to make the venture a successful one, then all you need is patrons! I have always had a slightly different fantasy, which would involve offering classes, selling supplies, and room for the artists to sell their work, but it all boils down to finding the right mix... good luck with your dream!

Judy Sall

Julaine Lofquist-Birch said...

In response to the hanging system for my solo exhibit: there was wooden moulding on the wall about 9 ft. up with cup hooks attached. Since I hate fishing line, I used a fine metal wire which I pre-wrapped onto dowel rods that had eye hooks on the ends. These rods were inserted into the quilt sleeves ahead of time.

I used a 1" diameter dowel rod with a cup hook on one end, grabbed the center of the long wire, and lifting it up over the moulding's hooks. It worked great for the quilts.

For the garment, I wrapped and secured a double length of the wire around the center of the birch branch and lifted the folded end of the wire up over the moulding hook.

I knew my knees would not take kindly to the ups and downs of using a ladder...

This could be a challenge for other work that weighs more than textiles, though.

P.S. on the Walker System - they have clear rods, but was told by the company that in time they do "bow out" from anything hung from them.

Dale Anne said...

What a FABULOUS idea....something I have thought about if I ever won the lottery!
Would require those members of the coop to work periodically at the gallery?
You are not that far away from me....