Get with the Downtown Saline art scene! Learn about The 109 Cultural Exchange here.
So. We didn’t do such a hot job promoting this amazing opportunity, but at Saline Main Street we really do want to show your art in our gallery space at the 109 Cultural Exchange! If maybe people could just get to know our artist and arts critic in-residence, John Anderson — they couldn’t help but want to be part of this new downtown artspace? He’s really such a big part of what we want this space to be for downtown visual arts and cultural richness!
Let us introduce you via this pretty cool Q&A to our amazing friend / artist / arts critic – John Anderson AKA “JA.” (And be sure to download our updated Call for Art at the 109 by clicking right here).
109 | Why are we announcing another Call for Artists?
JA | [Laughs] No one applied to the first call.
109 | Oh my! Why not?
JA | Who knows? This is The 109’s first call for art, and for a fledgling organization like The 109, there are bound to be some issues getting that fledgling off the ground. But, Art Around Saline once had similar problems.
109 | In what way are they similar?
JA | Well, when I joined the Saline Art and Culture Committee, Art Around Saline was in its third iteration entering its second year. After that call for art went out, only a handful of applicants answered, submitting maybe 30 or so pieces. It could have just been fatigue in the community. The program was still finding its legs, to a degree. And, things were in flux: the Committee membership was changing, and there were some changes at Saline Main Street (which helped the program). There might have been too much reliance simply publishing the announcement on Facebook and The Saline Post. The following year we made some changes to promoting the call, and we reworked the submission timeline. I think we nearly tripled the number of applicants, and submissions.
Unfortunately, I didn’t follow that same formula this time — I’ve been overcommitted on projects. You know how it goes. I didn’t go out there to beat the bushes like Tommy Lee Jones searching for Harrison Ford in The Fugitive…
109 | I noticed there are some changes between this call and the last.
JA | Yeah, there are a few. Like, our county is a little weirdly shaped. It doesn’t include all of Milan, Clinton, or Whitmore Lake, which intersect our county’s little rectangle. So, I thought the revision should include those communities. Your earlier blog post included it, but the old call’s PDF didn’t specifically mention it. The revised call does.
109 | That’s not the only change to eligibility though.
JA | Right. I eliminated the age restriction and the limit of four people to a group show. The 109’s space isn’t big, so it can’t hold tons of work. My original thinking was four people: they can easily show five or six pieces each. But that prohibits an artist collective, or a high school AP art class, or some college art club from having a show. So, may as well open it up.
109 | You got rid of the restriction around the right to remove work, too.
JA | Yeah. Maybe that scared people away? Ideally whatever people submit is what should be in the show.
109 | Scare? Do you mean that you might not show something, or censor a piece?
JA | I mean, The 109 is a mixed-use space. You don’t own the building — you have a landlord. The city contracts your services. A board oversees things. There are volunteers. There are a lot of non-art constituencies that end up living with the work for a month, or who might obliquely be seen as liable for what’s up on the walls.
I think a juror in any circumstance is responsible for two things. First is selecting the best work relative to the call’s parameters, and second is being mindful of the audience and space. For The 109, basically, if it couldn’t be in the Sunday paper then it probably won’t be well-suited for here. That still leaves plenty of space to be edgy, avant garde, and transgressive. There’s still ample room to submit challenging work, topical work, address social issues, whatever. Portraits, landscapes, still life, abstracts — of course those are fine, too.
109 | Do you have a preference for what people submit?
JA | No! In the end I’m looking for six slots to fill. And my tastes are broad. As an arts writer, I’ve written about a range of work — from Nam June Paik’s TV walls, to Renaissance painters, to ancient Roman marbles. I taught graphic design and digital media. My art work is all over the map in terms of form and style. I’m as much a believer of art that happens behind the eyes as in front of them. Art doesn’t have to be a pretty picture on the wall to punch you in the gut.
109 | Who are some of your favorite artists?
JA | oof… how much blog space ya’ got? Well, Paik. Robert Rauschenberg’s combines. Joseph Cornell’s shadow boxes. My grad school paintings looked like Mimmo Rotella before I even knew who he was (so, naturally any collage I find appealing — From Hannah Hoch to Wangechi Mutu). The reliefs of Louise Nevelson and Lee Bontecou. Francis Alys conceptual pieces always bewilder me: a mix of humor and patience. Robert Irwin’s spatialism is breathtaking (but seemingly impossible to photograph). Pedro Reyes Palas por Pistolas http://pedroreyes.net/palasporpistolas.php comes to mind — he melted guns into shovels, then planted trees with them. Miguel Angel Rios’ film, “A Morir,” https://youtu.be/00PPJmXmeoQ which is nothing but spinning tops (on three screens) bumping into one another until they all stop spinning. It’s hypnotizing. So is Fischli & Weiss’ “The Way Things Go,” https://youtu.be/SXrTlo1ytE0 which is a 30-minute Rube Goldberg machine. Then again, I’ve sat for hours under the Sistine Ceiling drawing Michelangelo’s Sibyls. And if I ever only had 15 minutes to run into a museum, I’d make a beeline to the French Impressionists, or to the late 19th Century American paintings to find a work by John F. Peto, or William Harnet.
109 | Would you be open to accepting sculpture and video pieces?
JA | Absolutely. The call is for 2D work, but if you can sell me on relief pieces or video, we’ll see if we can make it work. Everything that gets shown really needs to stay around the perimeter of the space, so if the work is designed to be seen in the round, this space isn’t the best fit at this time. And, it’s important to know that The 109 doesn’t have pedestals, or the video equipment to display either. But, if the artist submitting work can state their intentions in the supporting materials — make clear they have the pedestals or video equipment — I think we can make it happen.
Click here to download the Call for Art at the 109 application for 2021-22. And, special thanks to John Anderson for his skills and effort to bring artists to our community!