Welcome to Bryan Memorial Gallery’s revised and refreshed BLOG, bringing you behind the scenes at the gallery. The more information we provide our artists, patrons, guests and visitors, the more questions they have: about the artists, the artwork, how something was done, where the idea for a show was initiated, and always, what’s next? So my part of this rejuvenated BLOG initiative will take you “back stage” where we put shows together, starting now.
If you’ve ever been at The Bryan for an Artist’s Roundtable Discussion you’ve heard me say that we couldn’t do it without our “A” Team*. These volunteers install our exhibits and after years of doing so, have it down to a science, although they always welcome new members of the team.
They usually arrive at the gallery on Monday morning before an opening. Within an hour, they have dismantled the prior show in the Main Gallery, brought the artwork for the next show out of the vault and are starting to talk about an approach to hanging the show. Jim and I may offer a few “coach’s tips,” telling them what to expect in terms of the idiosyncrasies of that particular show, but they are off and running quickly.
An assembly line of measuring, drilling, inserting screws, cables, and tagging is set up in the middle of the room, and by lunchtime, the installation is definitely starting to take shape. The “anchor” pieces are among the first chosen to be installed. Those are usually the paintings in 4 – 6 key locations around which other works are installed. While not all larger pieces are anchors and not all anchors are larger works, more often than not the anchor pieces have been obvious as the work as the works were delivered. Next time you’re at the gallery, look for the anchors.
Without any prior familiarity with the show’s contents, the team makes connections among the artworks, according to size, subject matter, tone, medium or some other obvious factor that drives the connections. By the end of the first day, the Main Gallery is usually finished, and it’s on to Day Two.
On the second day, the team often breaks up into groups: one for the East Gallery and one for the Middle Room. Though the Middle Room is smaller, and the Legacy Collection remains a constant in the East Gallery, the process of decision making can be as demanding as in the Main Gallery. Both rooms have their particular characteristics, and various teams of installers come up with new and imaginative solutions for each exhibit (such as hiding the alarm boxes that protrude from the wall.)
Database manager Marcie Vallette assures that the tags next to the artwork are accurate. Sometimes this means proofing as many as 250 wall tags in a single sitting, inserting changes, catching errors (width x height instead of height x width is the most common), and confirming that every request has been granted. A volunteer assembles the biography book, and Installation Week efforts are concluded by printing out the exhibit price lists and the name tags for the reception.
“A” Team Volunteers tell us besides the camaraderie and the joy of working with the artwork, lunch is their favorite part of Installation Week. In fact last Tuesday, some of them said they diet for the two months until the next Installation Lunch. In truth, it’s sandwiches from the local deli, chips, beverages and sometimes a home baked delicacy. That information is included in this blog to entice even more volunteers to this joyous aspect of exhibits at Bryan Gallery.
The A Team for 2015 has included Anna Vreman, Suchetha Prabhu, Barbara Bertocci, Fiona Cooper Fenwick, Cyndy Allen, Betsy Harper, Laurel Hammond, Tom Waters, and Marcie Vallette, led by Assistant Director Jim Gallugi.
By Mickey Myers