Nicole Inglis: Hanging on, artistically
January 20, 2012
There is an art behind the art show.
It's an art form that, if done well, might fly ever-so-subtly under the radar: It's the art of hanging a show.
On Friday afternoon, a quiet Depot Art Center gallery was the workshop of Park Myers, artistic director of the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, who was putting the final touches on "Snow/Crystal: Intricacy, Impermanence and Influence," a conceptual, mixed-media group show that explores the thematic aspects of our relationship to snow and other crystalline forms.
Also pacing through the gallery was local artist Jan Maret Willman, working on hanging "The 3D Show," which comprises her recent work, in the adjacent Artist Member Gallery.
Before the shows open next week, there is a lot to be done.
"Each space has its own energy and personality, as well as the paintings," Willman said, gazing at the blank walls on which her art soon will hang. "It's getting a feel for that before deciding where everything is going to go.
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"It's a process."
She had one of her raw canvas 3-D abstract paintings pinned to a wall to test out the light. Another work lay in the middle of the floor.
Willman has been in the gallery a few times already, trying out pieces on different walls, even hanging up one piece over the windows. She loved the way the light shined through the blank parts of the canvas and plans to hang it there for the show.
"With a space with this much natural light, it's going to be really interesting with the colors and the transparency," she mused.
In the main gallery, Myers had more than tangible artwork to consider.
The show — featuring artists Ian Scott, Damon Zucconi and Sonja Hinrichsen — features photographs, a video installation on a flat-screen TV and a video installation projected onto a wall.
"That's why I like to get it up early," he said about the show. "It's the little things."
Little things like taping the TV's cords to the wall or fixing the glare that will interrupt the video projection at certain times of day.
But then there are the bigger concepts behind what goes where.
For a group show of three artists with three very different bodies of work, Myers can't emphasize the word "context" enough.
"One of the challenges of a group show, especially one conceptual in nature, is, 'Does the work converse with each other?'" he said.
When he decided where to place each piece, he considered the visual, the technical and the conceptual. Where was the darkest part of the room for the video projection? How do the rings of snow tracks in Hinrichsen's photos interact with the Olympic rings of Zucconi's installation?
There are certain known rules for curating a show that he's honed through experience like holding art openings Thursday evenings or laying out all the work on the floor in the room to look at how the work flows. But there also enters a creative aspect unique to each artist and curator.
"For me, it's, 'In what space is the piece communicated best?'" Myers said.
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com