Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday November 22nd 2017

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@rt at the @nnex Launches

By Shelby Nalepa

A brand new popup exhibit at the 10,000-square feet Cowork @nnex will soon become a staple of Gallery Night.

The series, @rt at the @nnex, kicks off this Friday and will feature urban contemporary art from local graffiti and street artists.

The series is a collaboration between art firm Leader Art Consultants LLC (LAC) and Cowork @nnex, which is a community workspace in the recently renovated Blount Building.

Alexis Leader, director of LAC, said that the exhibit consists of 27 original works by 14 local artists, with an additional collaborative piece by Nate Lyle and Brandon Barnhart that was commissioned specifically for Cowork @nnex.

“We opened up submissions for graffiti and street art, but also for works influenced by contemporary urban art,” Leader said. “As a result we were able to bring together familiar Gallery Night artists, such as Rafi Perez and Rachael Pongetti, with emerging and established street artists such as Alec Garcia and Presto St.”

Works include everything from graffiti on canvas, found objects and skateboard decks, street art inspired abstracts and video projection and a 40 locker mural by artists Lyle and Barnhart.

“Works are painted, sprayed, stenciled, photographed, projected and more,” Leader said. “It is an intimate, local exploration of the graffiti/street art movement.”

Leader said that recently graffiti and street art has become a global art movement and, within the realm of the art market, an economically viable one.

“Street art and graffiti techniques are evolving and collectors are taking notice,” she said. “It’s why auction houses and art fairs are struggling to keep up with demand. This is affirmed by prices escalating well over a million for outsider to industry darlings of the field, like Banksy. However, I do not agree with dealers who profit from unsanctioned sales of street art and I sympathize with the struggle many of these artists face in seeing their work removed from the context they intended.”

Leader said that this popup contains works submitted personally by each artist and approved for exhibit and sale.

“Pensacola is constantly evolving, as is this movement,” she said. “We are being introduced to new ideas and welcoming more public art into our city. If we can elevate the graffiti and street art movement locally, even for a one-night popup, to help others appreciate the line between vandalism and art then we did our job. I don’t want to remove the works from the street. I want to inspire others to fill it.”

The community that artists work within often shape their style and Leader said that she looks forward to seeing how Pensacola affects local artists and their contribution to the evolution of urban contemporary art.

“With artist collectives such as Art Beyond Walls, events like CUBED, UWF lectures on contested public art and businesses seeking commissions by graffiti artists to impact their space; the notice is undeniable,” Leader said. “The movement has evolved from a shadowy subculture to an increasingly dominant and appreciated medium.”

Leader said that as an art consultant, she thinks any new residential or commercial building downtown is an opportunity for the arts community.

“Downtown redevelopment impacts the arts through businesses such as my own as well as individual artists and arts-based nonprofits and organizations,” she said.

Leader said that she recently relocated from LAC’s former Garden Street address to Cowork @nnex to be in the center of the creative culture and Palafox energy.

“Working daily with others who prioritize community, collaboration and are supportive of startups has been a game-changer,” she said.

The Cowork @nnex is a shared coworking space with memberships for desks, private offices and conference rooms. They host workshops, member socials and events, support start-ups and create a collaborative community and work space.

“Collaborating with Alexis and celebrating the diversity of the arts, whilst providing exposure and opportunity for local talent and start-ups, makes sense for us as a way to participate in Gallery Night,” said Cowork @nnex community manager Karen McLouth. “We want to be a place of encouragement and growth for all, personally and professionally, whatever your passion is, pushing the boundaries of the ‘norm’ and helping to support our community, whatever that may look like.”

Leader said that her firm will continue to showcase curated artistic endeavors by local and regional artists.

“In November we will exhibit artwork by members of a newly formed professional artist’s collective, Creative Circle. I look forward to sharing more about this group and its mission in the weeks to come.”

Leader said that graffiti and street art is rooted in bringing artistic expression to the public.

“What better venue than downtown’s most popular monthly art gathering?” she said. “Galleries and museums dedicated to showcasing urban contemporary art are popping up globally but not locally. I think it is important to give those artists desiring new venues to showcase their artwork an opportunity and a space to thrive.”

@RT AT THE @NNEX
WHAT: A PopUp Exhibit Series
WHEN: 4-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20
WHERE: Cowork @nnex, 13 S. Palafox
COST: Free
DETAILS: leaderfineart.com

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Sophisticated Selfie
If you haven’t already, this weekend is your last chance to catch “The Reflected Self: A Cultural History of Portraiture” at the Pensacola Museum of Art. The museum transformed their Project Space for the exhibit, which will be on display during Gallery Night before it closes Sunday.

“The Reflected Self” is a site for interaction and inspiration where visitors get to engage with the portraiture genre as a viewer and participant. Selected works from the PMA permanent collection and on loan are part of the exhibit including Vivian Maier, Picasso and Gilbert Stuart. This exhibit also features contemporary artists Adrian Coates, Patryk Stasieczek and Marzia Ransom.

PMA Assistant Curator Felicia Gail said that visitors can try their hand at their own self-portrait at an interactive station. Activate your own portrait by being part of the exhibition with selfie and portrait sitting stations.

See the “The Reflected Self” from 4-8 p.m. during Gallery Night at Pensacola Museum of Art, 407 S. Jefferson St.

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Art Denied
If you’re curious about that lecture Leader mentioned, you aren’t alone. We were too, so we decided to reach out and get some details.

Often times when it is introduced, public art is met with discourse from lots of varying viewpoints—artists, art historians, critics and the viewing public. In an upcoming lecture “The Legacy of Contested Public Art,” UWF lecturer of art Carrie Fonder and Valerie George, associate professor of art, will explore how commissioning entities and viewing audiences have dealt with contested public works of art throughout history.

“One infamous example of a contested work of art that was ultimately removed is Richard Serra’s ‘Tilted Arc,’” George said. “It was a site-specific sculpture originally commissioned by the United States General Services Administration Arts-in-Architecture program in front of a federal building in Manhattan. Commissioned in 1979 the sculpture was approved by the U.S. General Services Administration, constructed in 1981 and become the centerpiece of public debate. It was removed in 1989.”

George said that those who worked in the area found the sculpture extremely disruptive to their daily routines, and within months the work had driven over 1300 bureaucratic employees in the greater metro area to sign a petition for its removal.

“There is a host of reasons that artwork may be rejected by its intended audience, including the content, aesthetics, politics and process surrounding the commission of the work,” George said. “For example, the aesthetics of the Eiffel Tower were widely contested when it was first erected in Paris in 1889 for the World Fair. If its detractors had their way, it wouldn’t be the icon of Paris that it is today.”

George said that sometimes politics can play a significant role in the removal of contested art.

“In this context, politics encompasses governmental, institutional, cultural and personal values,” she said. “Politics impacts what kind of art is commissioned, how it is funded, and where it is placed. Ultimately, politics determine if it is deemed successful or not which often decides the fate of public art.”

Often, George said, contested works or art can provide a good opportunity for dialogue and debate.

“Often conversations about public art can be polarizing,” she said. “When people hate a work of public art, often artists, museums, governments or the public are blamed for being out of touch or elitist. Art stays or goes. The cycle can be limiting. If we look at past examples of work, we can understand the complex relationships that spring from engagement with public art.”

George said that sometimes the legacy of a removed or rejected piece is far more potent than the piece would be if it actually existed or remained.

“No one gets too worked up over the Eiffel tower anymore,” she said. “However, the controversy surrounding Richard Serra’s ‘Tilted Arc’ has continued to stoke the imagination.”

THE LEGACY OF CONTESTED PUBLIC ART
WHAT: A lecture hosted by UWF
WHEN: 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26
WHERE: Pensacola Museum of Art, 407 S. Jefferson St.
COST: Free
DETAILS: uwf.edu/downtownlectures