7.13.2011

Update: The Chain Letter Show

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Scroll down to the bottom for an update and picture for 7.14.11
Final Update, a view of the show here
Update from Samson Gallery here

BOSTON--Today was drop-off day for the Chain Letter show here. The hosting gallery: Samson Projects at 450 Harrison Avenue in the South End. Here's a captioned visual report:

The gallery was due to open at noon. At 11:45, artists were already making their way with wrapped packages


Samson Projects

The beginning of the line

At 11:48 the doors opened

The first artists entered

. . . and kept entering

. . . and kept entering

. . . and kept entering

. . . and . . .

. . . and . . .

There was a lull so I asked artist and frame maker Stephen Halley to show us what he was going to put in


Then the stream picked up, this time with kids who seemed eager to participate

. . . and . . .

. . . and . . .

All of these arrivals came in just under 10 minutes


You notice you haven't seen anyone exiting. In that first 10 minutes the only movement was in.  That's because most of the artists went downstairs to hang their own work. I left to go jury a show across the way and returned at 4:45 to see what had transpired.

4:45 p.m. That's Camilo Alvarez, owner of Samson Projects, in the plaid shorts, with Anthony Greaney, owner of the neighboring gallery that bears his name 

"There's about 700 pieces up here," said Alvarez, "and about another 400 downstairs. It seemed like a conservative estimate. In addition to the artists streaming in all day, I'm told FedEx and UPS had made multiple deliveries. Alvarez seemed surprisingly calm, given that the show will open on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. (until 8:00)

Packages in the back room. You walk through the back room to get to the stairs . . .

. . . which take you to the lower level . . .

. . . where artists had been installing their own work. The work here and below is on one long wall


This is a portion of the opposite wall

More

And still more

For this view I walked way to the back and turned around to shoot where I had been. I expect the walls in the hallway, already filling, will be completely covered

Too late. It was just before 6:00 pm when I took this photo. The gallery was already closed.

The show will be installed by Saturday, and I understand that artists will be allowed to retrieve their work after the opening--which would then effectively make it a closing. Nothing about this show makes sense. I guess that's part of the point of it.

Update 7.14.11:
This Photo and report in the caption comes from Linda Cordner (thank you!) who has a studio in the same building as Samson Projects: 
"I took this photo through the front window. Looks like he [Camilo] got most of the room hung today--in a controlled chaos sort of way. Seems to me that this is just a way to create a big party at a gallery since it is one night only. I guess there's nothing wrong with that."

I can add that the large installation in the center of the gallery, with the image of Richard Pryor barely visible on the back wall, is by Todd Pavlisko, who has a solo show (with a little company) through July 16.

20 comments:

Susan Schwalb said...

I went downtown to drop off a work at Samson and made the decision to exhibit a digital printout of one of my paintings instead of the small original painting I had brought with me. With no consignment forms and no record keeping....and since I can't attend the opening.....I didn't feel my work was save. It was amazing through how many works were laying around. Some quite large. I hung my print in the basement gallery and perhaps they are going to use the upstairs space as well but that of course still had a show installed. For those who did this enjoy the opening party.

LXV said...

Kind of glad I wasn't invited. This could be a train wreck and I'm with Susan Schwalb: no originals! They would be trashed. Not sure what it all proves except that there are a ton of artists out there.

lisa said...

Thanks for posting Joanne. I was tempted for about a half a second but glad I resisted although I do love the idea of it.

swalzer said...

There were few artists at 1pm when I submitted my piece. Looking forward for the opening on Saturday at 5pm to share this unusual exhibition and experience with friends!

Adria Arch said...

A lot of us had mixed emotions about participating in this. At first, flattery to be asked, then concern about the details (when does it come down, etc.) and, finally, realization that this could be a potential mob scene, maybe even unsafe for the artwork. But on one hand, what a refreshing idea! And on the other hand, what's in it for an artist? But on the third hand, why not? Anyway, I decided to participate after all.

Linda said...

Thursday 1:30pm update. Camilo himself is hanging works floor to ceiling, salon style, in the main gallery space. If he finishes the entire room by Saturday it will look pretty amazing.

Joanne Mattera said...

Linda, thanks for this update.
If you happen to pass by there again and want to send me a photo, I'll post it in the blog.

I am planning to drive into Boston on Saturday to see the show and to take pics.

Debra Ramsay said...

I appreciate your reportage on this Joanne. For me, the concept was the strongest part.

lucy mink said...

thanks for the coverage Joanne, I sent my little "Glimpse" painting down, Susan Post dropped it off, I am hoping it is safe, look forward to your photos. I want to come down on saturday, but I just found out I might not be able to.

Lynette Haggard said...

Thanks Joanne for posting. It's kind of an odd concept but i admire Samson Projects for taking it on. Interested to see what you find on
Sunday.

Mery Lynn said...

The show is more about the concept behind it than about the art actually in it. The one in Santa Monica said that the work would be installed on the floor and would end up in stacks. So that one truly is not about viewing art.

In a way it remind me of the show I heard about where the artists came and installed their work and then the curator put up temporary walls in front of all the work, with only peep holes for viewing. Great idea but really upsetting for the participating artists. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between playful and disrespectful.

Anonymous said...

I mailed a "disposable" piece to the person who invited me and told them they could have it for 'installing' it. It took me maybe 10 minutes to make, mostly found stuff laying around my studio. Turns out it's a nice piece and they loved it, but I approached it as guerilla art-making, not an opportunity to showcase my art. When the letter first made waves on FB, I thought "OMG, what if I don't get invited? Everyone who claimed to like my work really doesn't. How LA." But then I realized most everyone I knew broke the chain anyway, as did I. My theory based on comments here and elsewhere: the further away, and the closer to the chain center, the less likely to participate due to the egalitarian nature of the exhibit. Just my anonymous 2¢. It's just a summer group show. ish. Love the photos of the install and drop btw.

couchartpotato said...

I agree with Debra Ramsay that it was easier to appreciate as a concept than in real life - what a mish mosh of paintings! Far too many to see, really. But it was a little like a treasure hunt, especially after Betty Fuller told me about the Kiki Smith, and the Michael Mazur and the Richard Serra...but as exciting as it was to see these artists (or their estates? or their forgers??) participating, I felt it was most important because it underscored the inclusive and small-d democratic impulsees behind the show. Now to try to pick up ...

Sue said...

Joanne - that last comment was by me - I think I may have finally figured out how not to get posted as my stupid blogger handle...Sue

annell said...

Interesting, and made me wonder, are names important?

Mira said...

I sent my piece with return postage and can only pray it got hung and even more, that I will get it back.... argh...

Christian Cummings said...

Joanne,
Camilo Alvarez pointed me to your blog this morning. The Boston show looks exciting. Were now gearing up for our own install here in Los Angeles, the opening is on Saturday. Stay Tuned.
Warmest, Christian Cummings

donna said...

Thanks Joanne, I mailed in a little piece with a SASE, knowing it couldn't possibly be carefully recorded, but I did write to Camilo yesterday and he confirmed that it was there and would be returned. All things considered, and I enjoyed your photos, I think he did a pretty great job. It reminded me of Hudson's show Power to the People at Feature where artists could bring a work and take a work. What's in it for us as artists? Nothing, career-wise, just a fun thing to keep your energy up maybe. And of course everyone wanted a chance for Hudson to see their work. The piece I took is signed with initials so I don't even know whose it is, but I like it.

Ilona said...

It was a very fun party with a surprisingly large amount of interesting work. It was difficult to really see everything, as there was SO much. Camillo did a wonderful job of hanging it all. It was smartly hung, which was extraordinary considering the quantity and the space he had for it. There was so much work one could not see everything, partly because it was literally hung floor to ceiling, but also because there was such a large quantity, you could not take it all in. It was a relief to see that much of the work was actually interesting. The smart people provided small works, some people who maybe were not experienced, brought large works, which was not that smart. Despite all this Camillo hung everything. I was happy I was there with a friend even before you were, so had hung my work and left, or spent a bit of time socialising out in the lovely sun shine before the crowds started arriving. On the show day the weather was beautiful, after we had had some awful days, so people were able to hang outside and relax. Thanks for posting this blog about the experience. It certainly was confounding and confusing. Many of us had many invitations to participate and it was difficult to get a grip on what was going to happen and how he was going to manage it all. It in end it was a great success.

Anonymous said...

Well, now I'm kinda pissed - I wasn't able to drop my piece off myself (had to work) so the friend who invited me to participate brought mine to the gallery for me. I had no idea (nor did she) that we were supposed to pick up our work the night of the opening!
I am completely devastated... I'll never get it back now!