Black is a Color: an Exhibit about the Flow of a Show
I want people to ask themselves, “Why does this piece feel so right next to that one?”
At 1+1=1 Gallery, we have taken on a seasonal rhythm with our exhibits. For a few years now, our first exhibit of the year has been Young Voices, a fundraiser for local charities and show of artwork by my art students.
Our second exhibit has been a “best of the basement” show of work by artists we represent. Mid-summer brings BODY, a popular group show of art-jewelry and figurative art. Themes for our fall exhibits change every year, usually inspired by what our artists are working on in their studios. And finally, every November and December we host our Holiday Gift Show: small, affordable artworks by all artists associated with 1+1=1.
This weekend we opened our best-of-the-collection exhibit. In the past, we’ve called these shows “Best of 1+1=1” or “Hand Plucked” (an exhibit chosen by community members.) Hand Plucked was so successful we planned to have another Hand Plucked this spring. However, Covid-19 got in the way. It was impossible to gather community members for an evening of “plucking” while non-essential businesses were shut down, so… we changed course.
My inspiration for the theme of this exhibit comes from the many gallery visitors who tell us they particularly notice how our exhibits are hung with a flow that draws them in, helps them understand the artworks, and gives them new insight into a piece they may have seen before. They tell us we are good at “arranging” our exhibits. We are delighted to know that the hard work of organizing many diverse artworks into a cohesive whole is recognized and appreciated.
So how do I go about arranging an exhibit? It’s magical. Just kidding.
In choosing the works for “Black is a Color” I had a few criteria: I pulled out pieces I really like. Pieces that haven’t been seen in the gallery for a while. Our gallery assistants carried everything upstairs and as always, leaned them against the walls around the exhibit area. Then the culling started. I noticed, looking at the whole group in daylight, that I could arrange most of the 50+ pieces in a flow from black and white, to black and white plus one color and so on. And that every piece had some black in it.
Organizing an exhibit is almost like making a painting.
Start with the color black on white. Add another color: yellow ochre. Mix those to make brown. There are so many gorgeous browns. Add another color, maybe red to make a burnt orange or burgundy depending on whether your brown is coolish or warmish. Standing back, you see where you need to bump up the heat with orange to make a more assertive piece. Add some green as a pale celadon and everything quiets down just a bit. Gradually brighten up the aqua to a brilliant turquoise and pull it all together with some of your earlier colors: burnt sienna, yellow ochre, mars black.
In some cases, I place artworks next to or near each other because I see a glint of color the leads my eye from one to the other. I want everything to feel like, “Yes, of course, this arrangement makes perfect sense.” Not just to my eye but to my intuition and my sense of harmony in design.
Sometimes I decide placement based on the subjects in the art: a dog next to a clutter of cats … I like to make unexpected connections, interesting links in a viewer’s subconscious, delicious relationship combinations.
You have just made a trip around our exhibit floor and have seen how, in this exhibit, color becomes the common thread, weaving the pieces together. All you have to do is walk through the front door and allow the art to speak to you. Let the flow of the exhibit lead you gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.
Artists whose work is included in Black Is A Color are Susan Mattson, Annie Lewis, Becky Street, Larry Calkins, Joan Mamelok, Peter Shaughnessy, Lori Blaylock, Dawn Endean, Dan McArdle, Tina Garrick Albro, Maureen Shaughnessy, Poo Putsch, Laurie Shaman, Paul Guillemette, Carol Montgomery, Bonnie Lambert, Elizabeth Bass, Trudy Skari and Boyd Carson.