My original thoughts were interrupted by a fire alarm (or maybe drill) shortly after walking out of the gallery and finding my way to the cafeteria for some coffee to further take it all in. You see when the gallery at Lakeland Community College had it’s opening for From WOMAN XII, I ran into issues trying to get there without having a reliable vehicle and lack of public transport to get me there either. It's in the middle of nowhere.
Although I had planned on this being a post about the artwork of powerful women, and it will be, to a point, I also had one big epiphany after I paid an Uber quite well to get there from East Cleveland. That epiphany? Going to a gallery in the middle of nowhere on a Thursday around noon. After being at the Bay Arts show where artwork was hung salon style so my own piece had work above, below and a few inches from the side of it, as well as the large hoards of people that made it hard to hear the artists you were standing next to and the heat from all the bodies. There was a lot of “did you see that piece, it’s over back in that corner” and even after being there until people were filling out, I am sure there were plenty of artworks I did not see. A similar occurrence happened when I went to Cudell Fine Arts Center just a few weeks before. There were so many people at one point myself and my partner were stuck in a line of people waiting to go down the stairs. And when they started the awards we were in a hallway clapping for people we couldn’t see for awards we couldn’t hear.
It was refreshing in a way, to see the work and not have any of the white noise that over crowds it. Don’t get me wrong, I love openings and getting dressed up and you have purple grapes or whatever other finger foods are there, but to what extent does all of the frills take away from that which is the main reason for the purpose of the gallery in the first place, to showcase the art?
Standing there in Lakeland Community Colleges’ Art Gallery, I was taken back to Italy, the Uffizi Gallery to be exact. Walking through during the day with my classmates squished in some sort of line formation trying to hear while we are told about Caravaggio's Medusa then hurried into the next room to see the next piece. We were told early on by our instructor we were not on this trip for “Fast Food Art” but the entire time I was there I did not feel any better than the people who walked up to a piece to take a photo then walk away. After our tour of the Uffizi ended and we had our lunch we had a choice, go off and explore other parts of Florence, go back to the apartment and nap, or re-enter with our tickets that were good until the doors of the gallery closed for the day. So out of 11 students two of us stayed behind.
After walking through and the tourist filled out I remember walking into the room with the Birth of Venus. There she was, all alone. The painting at the moment, only existed for me. It was still behind four inches of bulletproof glass and if I leaned over too far I would hit a senor alarming the guards, but I had her all to myself. In the most famous art gallery in the world. The ability to stand in front of a work of art and truly take it in never happened before. Or if it had, it never occured to me until that moment. And being in the gallery here in Cleveland, for the WOMEN XII show had the same epic feel to me. My psyche was affected by being able to see these beautiful paintings, sculptures, tapestries and assemblage without any other interruptions or distractions.
Bare bodies and nipples filled some canvases. Yes nipples, no need to hide them and be ashamed of our bodies in this space. There were bronze sculptures with butterflies, stained glass windows and even a colorful torso with Trump quotes. The amount of talent in that gallery was immeasurable. As this was my first time in the gallery I can not comment on how it looked before its new renovation but it was of the most successful, spacious galleries I have set foot in. Mary Urbas, curator, gave each piece the amount of space the piece not only desired but demanded. I got to spend intimate moments watching students braid hair, read the thoughts of refugees, tredge through a swamp and stand on top of a factory all in the same space.
I thought I would regret not making it to the opening as I missed out on the awards, food, and conversation, but for a moment I existed for the art, just as it had existed for me.
Call for Artists: 10th May Show
The Gallery at Lakeland invites artists to submit artworks for consideration to be included in the 10th Annual May Show at Lakeland Juried Art Exhibition running May 16 through July 12. Cash awards include the “Best in Show” prize of $1,500. To date, we’ve given out $36,000 in cash awards! Visit lakelandcc.edu/gallery for details and to download the entry form. The drop off for artwork is Saturday, May 4, through Monday, May 6.