La MaMa Blogs: 6 Questions: Elise Gardella

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

6 Questions: Elise Gardella

The next exhibit at La MaMa Galleria is 39X17 curated by Elise Gardella.  The opening is Thursday, October 15, 2015 from 6pm to 8pm.  Elise took tome out this week to answer 6 Questions for the La MaMa Blog:

1. Can you talk a bit about the salon that you organize, Presenting at 17? What does a typical evening look like?

There's a rhythm to it and a simple, set format. It's held in my apartment on the third Sunday of the month from 8:00–9:30 PM. Wanting to keep the focus on the the artist, I don't serve anything, and after it's over everyone is invited to come along to a restaurant or bar in neighborhood. There are no formal RSVPs or guest list. We never know who is coming until the bell rings, and guests start walking up to the 5th floor.

2. What led you to start Presenting at 17?

I was feeling a restlessness like something was missing. Then that summer in 2012 I went to Berlin as a visiting artist for a very unique residency called Picture Berlin started by my old friend, the artist April Gertler. In our personal conversations while I was there, April and I talked about the need for community and contact with other people working creatively and/or deeply involved in ideas, the problems of tough economic pressures, and artist environments seemingly more aligned with business practices than the open, undetermined pathways of creativity.

In fall, April and her partner, the artist Adrian Schiesser, began Sonntag—and I :::::Presenting at 17::::: Each are on the third Sunday of the month when we in cities six hours apart invite people into our homes for a creative happening.

So in this way, I'm an instigator rather than a curator. It's an experience (rather than a salon in a classic sense) – making community.

3. Where do you find the participating artists?

At the start, I emailed 31 people I knew, whom I had always come away from wanting more conversation, to see more of their work, looking some reference up, and generally being happier than before I ran into them. I briefly explained my idea, they would have an hour and a half in the entry room of my two room apartment to do whatever they wanted to do and I "present" them--they are not confined to a presentation

To my surprise, almost everyone said yes, and we started fixing dates. Cecilia Dougherty kicked things off on Sunday, October 21, 2012. As time went on friends recommended people, or someone would ask me about it.

4. Are there any surprising or unexpected moments from the salon that stand out to you?

There is a kind of beautiful openness that many bring to their evening, and this is often met with earnest, candid appreciation by guests. People seem hungry to be together in an intimate space where to some degree the masks are removed.

5. An exhibition and a salon are obviously quite different commitments – what were the responses like when you started pitching the show to the artists?

I didn't really have to pitch it. When everything was set with La MaMa, I sent an email invitation to all those who had had their evening at :::::Presenting at 17::::: or were booked for an upcoming date—people said yes.

6. What does working at La MaMa Galleria mean to you?

It's very dear to me, and I'm grateful to La MaMa. To be a part of this historic creative kinship, in my neighborhood, with such good people makes me know how lucky I am. It's exciting.

La MaMa Galleria presents


curated by Elise Gardella

October 15 - 25, 2015

Gallery Hours: 
Wednesday to Sunday 1 to 7PM, or by appointment

La MaMa Galleria
47 Great Jones Street
(between Bowery and Laffeytte Street)
New York, NY 10003

For more info: CLICK HERE

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