Sunday, January 31, 2010

FIBERNATION is no "Fabric-ation"

2nd April Galerie in Canton is currently showing “Fibernation”, an invitational fibers exhibit featuring the work of select regional fiber artists (a phrase I copied right off the postcard in case there is some copyright thing involved.) Textiles in both their decorative and functional forms are usually not shown together which makes for an educational as well as a visually exciting viewing experience. Some of the pieces are purely impractical and others are made to be pulled off the wall and worn. Some appear to be both at once, calling out to those who may be brave enough. Make time to stop in and decide which you dare to be! Therein lies the dilemma of one aspect of the art world. 2nd April is a commercial / retail gallery and studios complex that is hosting an “exhibition”. It is a lively and colorful one clustered to the front of the space and interspersed with other works of art for sale. The fiber pieces are for sale too, and several were purchased at last night’s opening. So what is the dilemma? It is one of semantics.

A commercial / retail space for art is often associated with having “shows” whereas museums and some la de da galleries have “exhibitions”. The former term lends itself more to a sales oriented perception whereas the latter term leans towards the “look but don’t touch” (and prices aren’t listed on the tags) concept. It is a minor thing in a way, but a big difference to those who do not inhabit the art world on a daily basis OR to those who are into it just a bit too much and get water-boarded every time it rains.

“Fibernation” is hung to allow people to touch the pieces whether one should or not, but if one is going to purchase a piece, being able to feel it (it IS fiber after all) is rather important. Because of the other gallery offerings being in such proximity, the “exhibition” term may be a bit misplaced, but since it is a collection of pieces with many by the same artists (often found in a “show case” situation), the concept behind this invitational is one of being an exhibition. That is the dilemma, how to showcase a specially curated collection in a space devoted to retail sales of art while doing justice to both. If the pieces are put into their own section, off from the other items, they become more museum-like because of the isolation and people may not be as inclined to consider purchasing them. If they are tossed into the mix of other assorted types of artworks, do the fiber pieces take on the persona of craft rather than art and the inclination is to see them not as “works of art”? It is a Catch 22 of the classic kind and for which I have no solution. In case one does not know what an invitational situation means, the artists were asked by the curator to be a part of the exhibition collection either by the curator being familiar with their work or, having researched the database of artists who work in that media, sought out cohesive pieces or, the showing has a theme and the pieces selected fit into the collective point of view. In the case of “Fibernation” I am guessing it was the first criteria used as the artists are close by (same regional part of the state). Nothing wrong with that at all, and in the case of a retail gallery, good for both the artist and the retailer in that patrons can find these exhibitors in the future without too much difficulty.

2nd April is constantly evolving in regards to how it looks and how it is laid out which is good for a space that hosts so many different activities and is a cornerstone of Canton’s Arts District. Nothing worse than a stale space that never changes its layout or its offerings. I hope Brennis and Todd continue to have such specially curated collections in the future. My one word of advice would be to call it a “showcase” so as to keep both the retail aspect up front (as in get your wallet in here and buy some of this fabulous art, available for this time only) and yet gives the work its due as a featured item to be seen by those who appreciate art. Leave the local museum to have “exhibitions”, and galleries that have one focus to have different “shows”. All that being said, go down and see the fiber works or as I prefer to call them, textile arts. How refreshing to see a presentation devoted to both aspects of textiles, wearable and decorative. A few special pieces of note, the jacket made from rag rugs and the every more sophisticated works by Gail Wetherall-Sack (and buy one before you leave!).

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