Curating an art gallery seems simple enough, right? Gather what you like, discard what you don’t, and hang it on the walls.
The art of curating is a balancing act, requiring a keen eye for content and a thoughtful approach to a gallery’s overall concept. Sprinkle in some consideration for color, shape, subject matter, lighting, and the fact that gobs of people will inevitably scrutinize the work just for kicks, and you’ve got the job.
Sausalito artists Georgette Osserman, Leslie Allen and Barry Peterson have joined forces to curate a preview gala for the 20th anniversary of Marin Open Studios, a two-weekend event in which art studios throughout Marin County are opened to the public and feature local artists.
The preview gala, which will be held Saturday, April 27 at Town Center Corte Madera, will feature one piece of art by each of the 260 participating artists. This year’s theme is “Spark Your Imagination.”
“Hanging a show is a completely creative endeavor for all the people involved,” MOS co-founder and director Kay Carlson said. “This is a connecting experience between the artists and the visitors.”
This year’s curating team said the wide range of pieces featured at the gala was difficult, but rewarding in the end.
“What’s challenging about curating, in general, is trying to bring an overall idea into a collection,” Osserman said. “The more disparate the collection, the more challenging our job is.”
As the team’s captain, Osserman said much of the efforts that go into curating an event of this size are largely unknown to the public.
“We tend to curate from the content within the shape [of an art piece], rather than the shape itself,” Osserman said. “Within the collection, we try to enhance each piece by placing a piece that relates to it nearby.”
Osserman also said the dynamic of a three-curator team brought new dimensions to the gallery, both figuratively and literally, as Peterson is a practicing architect.
“Having an architect on our team was really interesting,” Osserman said.” They look at a room differently than an artist. Barry brought a completely different perspective as to how to look at a project.”
Osserman said Peterson stepped into the gallery and immediately outlined how the room should be approached. Inside the elongated room, Peterson pulled out the larger pieces and angled them toward the back corner, as to direct the flow of the gallery.
“When you step into the room, you feel the energy pulling you to the back of the room,” Osserman said. “I would never approach it that way, but had he not established the vertical lines marching you back, one might by prone to turn left or right. I think it’s a brilliant and effective use of space.”
Peterson said Osserman, too, brought tremendous talent to the table.
“She has a great flamboyant eye,” Peterson said. “You can’t help but be charmed by the space she arranges. She should consider being an interior designer.”
All of the curators agreed having pieces from all 260 artists was a new experience.
“It isn’t as though you’re jurying the pieces,” Peterson said. “You’re just given and work with what’s there. We had to find our own connectivity between the pieces.”
Osserman said she believes everyone can relate to the process of curating.
“We all have art on our walls, and people always want to make their homes prettier and more coherent,” Osserman said. “If it’s done correctly, it should feel relaxing and your eye shouldn’t stop.”
Marin Open Studios will be held for two consecutive weekends – May 4-5 and May 11-12 – from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at select locations.
For Weekend 1, studios will be open in Sausalito, Mill Valley, Tiburon, Belvedere, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Ross and Central San Rafael.
For Weekend 2, studios will be open in San Geronimo, Woodacre, Fairfax, San Anselmo, Northern San Rafael and Novato. Some studios will be open for both weekends.
The events are free and open to the public, though the curators ask those who attend to do so with an open and accepting mind.
“As a curator, you’re always looking for a proceedable order,” Peterson said. “It can be hard to do with a show of this kind because there was no concept artists were told about ahead of time, but it’s also great because it’s all open to interpretation.”
For more information on MOS, visit marinopenstudios.com.
Contact Gregory Andersen at email@example.com.