by Lorie Lewis Ham
In the current state of our world everyone is having to be creative, and the entertainment industry has done an amazing job of that. Some theatre companies are managing to put on shows using Zoom or YouTube, musicians are doing online concerts, there are virtual tours through museums, conventions are having streaming panels, and art galleries are also having virtual exhibits. Spectrum Art Gallery in Fresno is currently having an online exhibit called Stay @ Home and we chatted with their current curator Jesse Merrell recently to learn more about it. Jesse is also on the Board of Directors and heads the Exhibition Committee.
KRL: What is the “Stay @ Home” online exhibit?
Jesse: The Stay@Home exhibition was created to promote photography during the shelter in place order. It is very easy for individuals to become disconnected and unmotivated during these unprecedented times. As a means to engage our members and the public, we introduced our first completely online exhibition, and it looks like we are going to carry on this process moving forward on a quarterly basis.
KRL: Does the work have a specific focus?
Jesse: Yes and no. The theme was purposefully broad and submissions ranged from works that were done at home or in the home, unfinished or repurposed works that were completed while shelter in place was active, or works that discuss the shelter in place and/or the current state of the world. This was specifically to be inclusive of many of our member’s talents, as well as opening up to different perspectives. Everyone is coping with social distancing differently, and it was interesting to see what others were up to and where their creativity took them during this time.
KRL: How did this come about?
Jesse: The online exhibition was something that we have been trying to get off the ground for some time. However, as an all-volunteer organization, we have limited resources and time is always a struggle. However, when art galleries were ordered to close temporarily, we immediately picked up on this process. Spectrum Art Gallery understands the importance of keeping our members and our patrons engaged, all while providing an outlet for creativity to be expressed. As artists, we all have something to say. An online exhibition allows our artists to speak their messages to a wider audience, and even closer in our community during times we are closed.
KRL: How long will it be going on?
Jesse: The Stay@Home exhibition will be up until the end of September, at which time a new exhibition will be prepared and uploaded in October. The plan is to have a new online exhibition on a quarterly basis.
KRL: How does it work? Where does someone go to see it?
Jesse: The online exhibition is a part of our website. You can view the works at www.spectrumphotogallery.org and follow the links to the exhibit. You can also click here: spectrumphotogallery.org/home/category/current-exhibit
KRL: Whose work does it feature?
Jesse: The exhibition features works by members of Spectrum Art Gallery. Included are works from Franka Gabler, Richard Harrison, Steve Dzerigian, Jeff Hill, and many others.
KRL: Will it change from time to time?
Jesse: While this is the pilot exhibition for our online works, we are planning a quarterly exhibition schedule for online works. The next scheduled update will be in October.
KRL: Will the work be for sale or just to view?
Jesse: Because the works are online, this presents a different challenge to us. Previously, pricing was set up and included costs such as size of print, medium, matting and sometimes framing. In an online setting, there may be variations in pricing because of the digital presentation may not lead to a physical counterpart, at least not directly. Some artists may have different sizing or pricing available. Because all our members have their own valuation process, it’s difficult to determine what this will look like in the future, but for now, any sales inquiries would come through the curator, and I will reach out to the artists and get a few options for the buyer with pricing. However, this process is evolving as we navigate this new territory, so I am sure there may be some adjustments to come. Further, some artists may also choose to not sell their work.
KRL: Are they all new pieces?
Jesse: For this exhibit, it was not required for members to submit new work, as they could have provided something previously unreleased, but was not worked on until now. Keeping the theme more open does help with including a wide variety of works that would appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers.
KRL: Are all the artists local?
Jesse: Because all the works represented are of Spectrum Art Gallery members, all of which are within the Central Valley or surrounding area. While we have had a few members that have moved out of state, they still continue to support our non-profit organization and they still recognize their ties to our community.
KRL: What else have you guys been doing through the pandemic?
Jesse: While we are not able to hold any in-person receptions or exhibition openings, we are still working on virtual meetings, including image sharing – a process by which artists can share a sampling of their current works in progress and get feedback from other artists, and also our committees are still meeting via zoom. Another thing we are now able to do is focus on the opportunities presented through grants. At this time, we are looking into coordinating and collaborating with other organizations to expand photography as an art form in the Central Valley, as well as find ways we can continue to contribute to our growing community.
KRL: Are there ways people can help support your gallery through this rough time?
Jesse: Absolutely! Spectrum Art Gallery is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and we can always use some help! This could be in the form of donations including in-kind donations, sponsorships, volunteerism, and memberships. If anyone has an interest in becoming a member of Spectrum Art Gallery, there are many perks that they will enjoy! Simply reach out to us via email, through our website, or even on Facebook.
KRL: Anything else you would like to add?
Jesse: Unfortunately, due to the spread of COVID-19, Spectrum Art Gallery has postponed our auction and benefit event earlier this year. While the gallery relies on the great success of our auctions every year to keep our mission going strong, this year was a significant milestone. This year, Spectrum Art Gallery is celebrating its 40th anniversary and ongoing mission to support photographic art and education in the greater central valley. For this auction, we are excited and grateful to have been the recipient of magnificent contributions by world renown and regional photographic artists. In addition, philanthropic donors have contributed works by prominent artists who are no longer with us. Their legacy will continue to reach all of us through your generous donations, which are featured in this online catalog including the Edward Weston 50th Anniversary Portfolio.
Once it is safe to schedule our event again, we are looking forward to our community to come join us in celebrating this amazing milestone, have a great time, and bid on some fine artworks. In the meantime, Spectrum Art Gallery considers the safety of the community and members our top priority. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate through these challenging times.
Spectrum Art Gallery
608 E Olive Ave
Fresno, CA 93728