7 months ago

F*CK U! In The Most Loving Way

Exhibition catalog for "F*CK U! In The Most Loving Way" created by the Northern California Women's Caucus for Art.


ARC GALLERY MANAGING PARTNER STATEMENT Each year-end, the Arc Gallery partners donate gallery space to a non-profit. In 2016, we invited the Northern California Women’s Caucus for Art (NCWCA) to mount an exhibition. As both a gallery partner and member of the NCWCA board, I was responsible for the smooth operation of the gallery space and participated in the show’s development and administration. When Exhibition Chair Leisel Whitlock first proposed an activist exhibition that referenced Womanhouse, the NCWCA board members were immediately intrigued. Each of us had an idea of what the exhibition might focus on, but many of us did not know enough about the history of the original Womanhouse. After some readings and viewing Johanna Demetrakas's documentary video, we discussed what the physical possibilities of such an exhibition might be at Arc Gallery. The gallery is not a house as was the original exhibition site of Womanhouse. It is a former industrial space converted into a multi-use building that includes two galleries, artist studios and micro-businesses. This meant that the display and artwork in our main and project galleries could not create an obstacle course or a fire hazard for the tenants. We abandoned the original concept of converting the gallery spaces into separate rooms with two exceptions. The Arc consulting office had its own four walls that could be used as a symbolic room. My studio upstairs was large enough and available to be used as a performance space. At the first (and only) exhibition committee meeting on June 5, 2016, we made key decisions and agreed to roles that drove the project from beginning to end. This exhibition would explore women's relational roles through racial, cultural and gender perspectives and would be given the provocative title of F*ck U! In the Most Loving Way. This would be a national juried exhibition open to all women; additionally, works of a few featured artists would be included, one or more original Womanhouse artists would be invited, there would be some aspect of community involvement and we would allow for a wide range of media including video and performance. We wanted to have either a professor or gallerist to jury the national submissions, as well as to hire a professional publicist to publicize the show and events, and later to create a comprehensive catalog and documentary video. As the discussion progressed, the exhibition became ambitious. Complexity was added only when an individual committed to owning that added scope. These agreements were critically important because NCWCA is an all-volunteer organization. With less than six months to opening reception, our project would have been disastrous if a key player dropped out or did not meet her commitments. The F*ck U! project was managed through a project plan. Leisel Whitlock and I developed step by step actions and milestones which were updated and enhanced from time to time. Leisel’s key responsibility was to make sure each committee member met the schedule’s deliverables and deadlines. I also developed a budget and income/expense spreadsheet so that we could track our finances. 8

Our financial goal was at the minimum, break-even; at best, end up with a small profit. Updating and maintaining this spreadsheet helped us manage unanticipated expenses and income. I trained committee members on exhibition management and our hired publicist trained us on publicity. All committee members met their commitments to the project, which included project management, administration, artist interface, management of featured artists, publicity, financial management, installation and de-installation of gallery, gallery curation, catalog, video, reception logistics, and event logistics. Equally important, we were flexible, assuming multiple roles and assisting others when help was needed. The community involvement aspect of our project was undefined at the beginning but began to take shape as the project progressed. In the end, we came up with three types of involvement. The first was a response to the Now Be Here project in Los Angeles where more than 700 women artists posed together in a photoshoot by Kim Schoenstadt on August 28, 2016. We decided to hold our own Creating Space photoshoot at Yerba Buena Gardens on October 2, 2016. We invited our members and randomly posted a call on Facebook for Bay Area artists to show up and be photographed. About 33 artists came, and committee member Mido Lee took the group portrait. This group shot was supplemented by selfies of women outside of the Bay Area and we created a group poster. The second was an invitation by Tanya Augsburg to her students to help videotape and photo-document the opening reception and performance by Emma Sulkowicz and Violet Overn. The third was a performance by Augsburg titled Kitchen Table Talk where the audience was invited to participate in brainstorming and discussion. All of these expanded participation in our exhibition. This project was a marathon and the committee faced challenges each step of the way. They included negotiating with original Womanhouse artists on their vision of the show vs our vision, the amount of time it took to follow up and manage each juried and featured artist, managing the project on a tight budget and determining when we could/could not allow for scope creep, overcoming a steep learning curve on publicity, providing backup when a committee member could not attend an event or work on the project due to travel, work or family conflicts, finding a venue for our video screenings, performance and Womanhouse reunion, changing the focus and tone of the exhibition when Hillary Clinton did not win the Presidential election, figuring out staffing alternatives when not enough people signed up to volunteer for all of the events, dealing with low attendance on some of our events, and realizing that we would have to cancel our closing panel, reception and party because they coincided with the Women’s Marches all over the country on January 21, 2017. That we worked through them as a collective speaks to how professional and well-organized we were. In the end, we produced F*ck U! In the Most Loving Way, a successful exhibition that was ahead of other anti-Trumpism shows of protest, resistance, and nasty women. Priscilla Otani 9