Tea Time with Melanie — Notes on August
Starting a new gallery in the middle of a global pandemic may seem to be a ridiculous venture, but this time and experience has given myself and The CAMP Gang ample time to cement our purpose, our ethos, and our identity. Sure, in the first few months I was the dragon queen to their peaceful quarantine, but it paid off! We organized; took part in two online art fairs, created and curated many online exhibitions; surrendered our gallery space in Miami to two local CAMP artists; our roster is growing, with at least 10 new artists joining both the gallery and our Spotlight program; sales are coming in. Because of all of this, we are now, really, able to dream and further enhance our visions and plans, and make them into realities.
For us, the shutdown began with the signing of new CAMP artists, like Italian sculptor Anna Ghilardi, who’s already gaining attention on Artsy as one of our most viewed artists. Anna’s work is densely textural and focuses on what is behind the faces that she sculpts. Clara Fialho also joined, bringing her energetic and colorful compositions to treat our audience with bursts of color. We also met and signed European artists Marc Brousse and Johhny Ramstedt. Marc draws intricate works on paper that enforce the idea of interconnection, which take hours to complete, and through his lines, he draws the viewer into his compositions and asks us to find our path both through and out of his work. Johnny paints seemingly bare canvases soaked in one color palette at a time, though in fact, they are complex studies of internal moments.
I am happy to say that both Khotan Fernandez and Carlos Rancano have joined The CAMP—it is always rewarding when artists stick with you, and they have. Carlos has been busy painting his portraits, and he continues to present the viewer with subtle subjects that make grand statements about our society. Khotan has delved deeper into his surreal world and, lately, the complexities of the world, pairing them with the innocence he finds in his daughter, her outlook being much of the inspiration of his latest works. Lastly, we welcomed artists Silvia Yapur and Beatriz Chachamovits to the roster during shutdown. Beatriz is another sculptor whom, because of the shutdown, found herself painting and drawing again after years of only sculpting. Her subject is and has always been marine life, the seas that house coral reefs and the precarious position we have placed them all in through pollution. Silvia is a textile artist who uses her fabrics to ‘weave’ together collages of human emotion based upon experience, both her and those of whom she encounters as she travels through new horizons.
The additions to our Spotlight roster begin with Angela Constanzo Paris, whom we met through CAMP member Brianna Fernandez. What’s interesting about Angela’s work is the room she affords each piece to give the viewer access to the composition, and how she steps away from her piece to make this entrance accessible. Barbara Nati also joins The Spotlight, with her digital compositions focusing on the duality of structure and imagination—an interesting mix and one that needs to be seen to fully comprehend.
We also welcome Ellen Friedlander, a photographer who uses her camera to create a visual diary, though it is more than her just snapping away. Friedlander’s work is a complex study of what it means to be human and how the human condition impacts the world around us. Artist Karla Kantorovich, a mixed media artist is now also in The Spotlight, treating us to her assemblage pieces often comprised of natural materials. Restoring items to their original state, she uses different conditions of one item and shows its ability to transform; Reclaiming Poetry, for example, is made from paper and bark, and held together through string. It is almost as if she points out the original condition of the bark and how it later becomes paper, yet will forever hold two identities—one of its ontological being and the other what of what society needs. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Lastly, artists Isher Dhiman and Vicky Martin round out this month’s new Spotlight artists. Isher is an illustrator working in mixed media, putting the focus on fashion, how it is a marker of identity and often a social goal exploring reality and embracing the beauty that lies within. Vicky Martin, on the other hand, is a photographer creating digital compositions that explore social markers through film and story that, although beautiful in their essence, somehow can leave one yearning for what they cannot grasp as film is the fruit of fantasy captured forever.
Since launching in April, The CAMP Gang has pulled together and curated 5 online exhibitions, and taken part in two online art fairs: Photo LA and the Hamptons Virtual Art Fair. Though I am proud of all the work the gang has done, I am particularly impressed with Not Dior’s New Look and Symbiote.
Usually, curation is left to a certain few, or one within a gallery—I am against that. I don’t see why fresh and untapped visions have to wait, and so I task each staff member with at least 2 curated exhibitions a year (I do usually come up with the titles).
For Not Dior’s New Look, I wanted an exhibition that brought us the opulence of the 1950’s, but with the confidence of today’s woman—and I got it. This exhibition was curated by Andres J. Mora, and what impressed me the most is how he composed the artworks of Emma Coyle and Vicky Martin, in some ways violating’ curatorial ‘rules’ by ignoring spacing expectations. As a result, he created stories where the woman is strong on her own, but often stronger with the support of other women. Truly an important statement!
Symbiote came about as I thought to how The CAMP Gallery is sitting all alone, and lacking the creative energy that any gallery needs to thrive. So, I came up with an idea, an experiment: take two artists who have never met and throw them together. I could not have asked for a better result. I introduced Khotan to Beatriz Chachamovits because, though they dwell in different art ‘worlds’, their voices were unbelievably similar; they met at the gallery and instantly formed a bond, and became a united artistic voice. Under my plan, they had to meet, conceptualize a theme, a title, install and curate the show. Their meeting of the minds resulted in not only one of the most beautiful exhibitions at the gallery, but they also made the title piece together in the gallery. I wanted artistic energy and did I ever get it!
Though, due to the pandemic, the gallery is closed most days, and viewings are by appointment only, this is an experiment I will continue in the future, because being able to see the artists create, and then put up an exhibition as they see it, is an experience that must happen more often. Don’t get me wrong, I am not looking to remove myself, or not curate, I just want there to be less barriers, which only means there will be more creativity, more positive art experiences—something the world definitely needs, don’t you think?
August is usually a quiet month, with galleries and collectors venturing off to distant horizons to recharge. This year, though, many have been recharging since March. Not us at The CAMP! We will host two online exhibitions this month: Obscured Objects, featuring works from Stefano Ogliari Badessi, Laura Marsh and Silvia Yapur and a solo show featuring work by Katika. We have also partnered with two more art platforms, Artfare and Art Terms to further enhance global presence for our artists. We will also be launching our first interview series this month, created and curated by both Maria and Brianna from the CAMP Gang; the interview series is just one more way that we strive to break down barriers between the artist and the public, the barriers often installed by the gallery model of the past.
That’s all for now! Stay tuned to what we are up to and be prepared—there are some pretty cool announcements coming up!
Enjoy the month. Oh, and support living artists by collecting art!