October 27, 2005
After hours at The Accident Gallery
by JUDITH LEHMAN
ARTS ALIVE! WAS WINDING DOWN. I'D CLOSED MY open studio, but I knew it wasn't over. An artist friend had a piece in an invitational self-portrait show at Accident Gallery over at 210 Third Street and I was heading over there to check it out. When I got there, the doors were open, the room crowded, a band was playing --- all was alive and happening at the Accident Gallery after hours.
Accident Gallery started a year or so ago as a moving show set up in a different available space in Old Town Eureka each month. Phyllis Barba and Ananda Oliveri, the young artists putting on the mobile show, had previously lived in Chicago, putting on similar shows. When they moved to Humboldt they decided to try the same thing here.
Soon after, three more artists joined them --- Gretchen Anderson, Junior DeLeon and Jaimi Bernard. After a year of floating art shows, they decided to try a permanent space. Gretchen and Ananda both work at the Art Center at 211 G St., and the business' owners were very supportive of their efforts. They took a six-month membership in the venture to help them accomplish their goal. The group put out a call for members, and were joined by other artists looking for a creatively contemporary venue.
They began to look for an available place that would work for them. A warehouse on Third Street was available and filled the bill. They began the process of changing a grimy warehouse into a gallery, putting a lot of work and toil and sweat into the project. The first show in the new space was in May; the gallery at that point was a work-in-progress, a rough draft. By the next show, it was finished, with neutral painted walls and gallery lighting. Visitors commented on the huge change.
The first show was a retrospective of the art they had displayed in their traveling shows. The second featured new work by members. More recently they had an invitational self-portrait show and a miniature show, for which they constructed La Petite Guggenheim, a small white curving structure that held rows of miniature art inside. You followed the curve of the wall and viewed the art, both two- and three-dimensional. Below, on tiny boards, viewers could place a silent bid if they wanted to buy a particular piece. The display was both clever and entertaining.
I never cease to be amazed at all the excellent artists in our community who are hard at work putting their own individual and contemporary ideas into their art. The Accident Gallery offers space to those who may have a different approach from the often-exhibited artists of Humboldt County. The five young artist/owners of the Accident Gallery are making their gallery a real entity in the contemporary Humboldt art scene, creating a space filled with energy and hope, art and ideas. I admire their determination to make this work, and it is work --- they all put in long hours keeping the gallery open. The owners hope to add a few more artists, particularly in the sculptural and video fields. There are plans to add a small retail space at the front of the gallery in the next month, giving artists an opportunity to sell and share more of their work with an appreciative audience.
Next month, for November's Arts Alive!, there will be a three-way show between three groups of artists: Accident Gallery vs. Empire Squared vs. Visual Assault. Empire Squared, located at 47 W. Third in Eureka, shares the same sort of vision: It's member-run, with a focus on a contemporary approach to art; they too are open after hours. Visual Assault is a loose affiliation of well-established Humboldt artists including Jeff Jordon, John Pound and Duane Flatmo. I'm sure this will be an exciting and entertaining show as the gallery artists put their work up against the establishment. There will be experimental music by Starving Weirdos and DJs providing a soundtrack. An opportunity will be offered for the viewers to vote for the best piece in the show. If you come to Arts Alive!, plan on staying late. Get your vote in.
This is a group of artists taking control. I think it is the greatest thing artists can do. So many of us sit back and wait for opportunities to take advantage of. Here is a group of young artists who are making their own opportunities as well as offering an option for other artists. I can only admire their investment in their own future. May they prosper and multiply, increasing the range of the art available to the art lovers of Humboldt.
There can never be enough art.
Accident Gallery hours are Wednesdays thru Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sundays noon to 6. (Later for Arts Alive!) They are located at 210 C St., Eureka. For further information call 445-2420.
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