Unlike most of my posts, this one will focus more on the artists than the artwork, because I want to give a proper shout-out to them for how well they collaborated to organize this exhibition. Kingston’s Associate Members meet to support each other and the gallery throughout the year, but this exhibition is their annual opportunity to exhibit their work in the space. A press release on our website describes each member’s work: kingstongallery.com.
This past Tuesday, I had the pleasure of laying out this year’s group exhibition with three of the nine current associate members, Meghan Chase, Wendy seller, and Rachel Thern. Wendy’s husband, Will Howcroft, was there to install (he is also a talented photographer), and Susan Emmerson also stopped by.
When I lay out shows, I like to move things around a lot. It’s like a slow-motion cross-fit workout: squatting down, backing up, running to the end of the room and back while carrying things, etc. Like many of you, I love finding unexpected connections between artworks. I don’t want the connections to simply be matching colors, shapes, themes, or be otherwise cute, but rather to provoke and even unsettle each other. To be weighty AND beautiful. The works in group exhibitions are in conversation, at times spirited and at other times thoughtful in nature. A current of tangled and knotted imagery runs through much of the work in Free Association, as though the artists are all dealing with how to accept and then coexist with the complexities of the world we inhabit.
The artists were receptive to my suggestions throughout the process, and our end result was a true collaboration by all those present. Galleries all have their “high real estate” spots and “lower-rent” corners. All three artists present placed their work further back in the space when they first unpacked it, rather than on the entry-way “gestalt” wall. I was impressed by how they took care of each other, particularly the artists who weren’t there to speak up for the placement of their own work during the layout. This group is a bit different from a critique group, although critique is part of their activities. Like the Kingston Gallery Artists, it is evident that they have common goals that enable them to focus across diverse media and artistic practices to accomplish more than they could apart.