12 Questions with UGLYgallery USPS Sticker Event Curator
On the rainy opening night of June 7th 2013, UGLYgallery had their USPS sticker show that housed many stickers from the community, as well as stickers from around the world. I had the chance to meet with the gallery owners Jeremiah Hernandez and David Guadalupe, both showing incredible respect to everybody as well as being amazing hosts throughout the night. Below are some flicks taken throughout the night, as well as 12 questions I had asked Jeremiah about his gallery and what it was all about!
1. What was your motivation in opening a gallery?
In 2001 the brand UGLY was born in the brain of David Guadalupe. A lifestyle brand based in fashion, U gotta love yourself was a directionless brainchild of creativity seeking to change perception. In 2007 David had the opportunity to incorporate the brand and begin the journey of taking a fledgling idea to fruition. In February 2011 we had the chance of a lifetime when the owner of a vacant space in a commercial property on a Union Street in downtown New Bedford was introduced to us by Chris Duval, owner of Circa Vintage Wear. Chris has one of the top 25 vintage clothing stores in the US as stated by GQ magazine. So when he tells us something cool is going on we listen. Anyway, his neighbor asked him if he knew anyone looking to occupy prime real estate in downtown New Bedford and he immediately pointed him out way. Our landlord liked the idea of our brand and handed over the keys to our space within minutes of meeting us. He asked that we open a business in this space that would be complimentary to the downtown area. And there you have it. UGLYgallery is born. We began with a lifestyle brand and introduced ourselves to the world as a gallery. A bit of a difference than what we initially anticipated. But as fate would have it, just what we needed to make something truly special for our community.
2: Tell us a bit about UGLYgallery!
Check question 1. Lol.
3: [i]How long typically is each exhibition/show you put on?[/i]
We change out each show at the UGLYgallery about every 5 weeks. There is monthly programming in our downtown area called AHA! Every second Thursday of the month. This gives us the opportunity to present a directed crowd of art buyers, people watchers, and New Bedford appreciators a new show each time they come out for AHA! There have been shows that have hung longer than 4 weeks.
[i]4: What do you look for in an artist who may want to exhibit with you?[/i]
Well. We are about 6-8 months out on booking artists which gives us time to always curate something special. We are a budding art community with no shortage of great artists within an hour of us. We look to find art that is indicative of what we like to call Urban Contemporary Art. Street Art at times pigeon holes us, so the broader more encompassing urban contemporary is a good compromise to bring together self taught artists to high level academic artists. We have shown anything from graffiti and stencil art to high level oil painting and abstract expressionism that some may have stated was very academic for our gallery. We are the vernacular of an art community that is tied to the storied past of academia, seascapes, whaling, boats, and portraiture. As the 7th most creative community in the US we had a torch to bear for those artists who may be underrepresented in our community and popular culture alike.
[i]5: How receptive have your past gallery audiences been towards street art shows?[/i]
WOW! Is all I have to say to this. The reflection of a community that street art provides is amazing and when faced with looking at oneself in the mirror, the reaction has been overwhelmingly receptive. The community in which this art does not reflect has been that which we are so amazed by. We are surrounded by affluent towns like Marion mattapoissett Dartmouth and Westport. The reception of UGLYgallery to these communities is really the amazement of ours. We did not expect these outlier communities to find the artistry and craft of street art so profound. Their reactions to what we present to them is beautiful. They are e amides by the romantic ideals of capturing the streets and bringing them inside to your home. And from this, we have discovered a bit of the collector we have sought after since day 1. The way we take communities of a broad spectrum and splash them together inside this gallery is a spectacle we never imagined possible. The demographics of the crowd that we attract is so far ranging we couldn’t be more pleased.
[i]6: What is the most prominent genre of art that has been displayed at the gallery?[/i]
I would say folk art, or art created by those not trained in the arts at a higher education level. We mostly work with artists who have not been trained in an academic setting. The mixed media of aerosol and oil and wheatpaste is likely what we have shown most of.
[i]7: How many shows do you have in a given year?[/i]
[i]8: What is the most out of the ordinary medium used you have seen in a piece of art?[/i]
Barbie dolls adorned a chalice. They were attached with an apoxy resin and then covered in entirety with wax. What a cool sculpture that piece was.
[i]9: What is the most fun you’ve had putting on an exhibition?[/i]
Our 1 year anniversary show called Stuck-Up- the history of stickers told thru music and pop culture was super fun. Meeting DB Burkeman and experiencing his sticker collection of over 40 years was really amazing. A talented artist himself, DB has befriended the gallery in a way that we couldn’t have imagined. The show hung for 6 weeks with over 2000 folks viewing the show.
[i]10: What, if any is the community involvement with the gallery?[/i]
This is where the gallery has had a profound effect. We opened the doors and anticipated being a gallery that sells artwork to the general public. And what we are or have been is this social institution where folks of all types come together and interact, collaborate, and create. We have been the tenuous at times liaison between the street art community and city hall giving the artists a voice they never had. We have been integrated into school programming with our #wheresthelove? project. We have been granted funds to produce large scale murals in the city. We have had the opportunity to produce streetart without fear of reprimand with permission walls. And are currently working on making a few more permission walls available to artists to mitigate the tension and anxietys street artists and city officials breed.
[i]11: Do any local artists help the gallery in any way? Promotion/donations, etc?[/i]
We wouldn’t be where we are if the buy in from the artist community around us was not heavily involved in what we do. From gallery sitting, to online promotion, design, flyer-ing, and donating works for different causes, the artists community here in the city has helped us along the way directly and indirectly.
[i]12: Anything else you want to mention about your gallery and art in general?[/i]
I’m sure you can pull something extra from the rest to answer this question. We are deeply appreciative of all the things that have happened over the last 2 years and look to expand the model to accommodate more community engagement, art supply, and public art. We are currently seeking investors to help us do so.