Visual Communications

 

Research Question

What other communication purposes and functions can art galleries fulfill, other than marketing and sales of art, and what strategies help to make this successful?

 - Education

 - Collaboration with community

Topic

In order to explore the underlying functions and purposes a gallery can fulfill, I am going to focus on JGK Galleries, a fairly new local Rochester gallery that has enriched the culture and community of the city in ways beyond simply the exhibition and sale of artwork.  The owner of the gallery, Maria Lauriello-Klein, describes the JGK Galleries as welcoming, educational, and comfortable.  One of her foremost goals for the gallery is to create a place for people to learn.  In addition, the gallery is welcome to all visitors, not only those who are looking to buy.  JGK Galleries’ collaboration with other art organizations in the Rochester area, such as the Rochester City Ballet, also set this gallery apart. 

 

Thick Description

JGK Galleries’ physical location is in downtown Rochester just off of East Avenue in a somewhat secluded residential area.  The building within which it is located is a restored carriage house from the 1800s.  Inside, the immediate environment feels warm, as opposed to the sterile or cold feeling that can be found in many modern galleries.  The industrial trend in many galleries did not appeal to Lauriello-Klein when she opened her gallery. The exposed brick coupled with the hardwood floors give the gallery raw and natural characteristics, which juxtapose the clean white walls and pedestals on which the artwork is displayed. Although the space was completely restored from the inside, the gallery still maintains its original character, again through the exposed brick, as well as the incorporation of the original wooden beams and railroad nails along the windows, as pictured.  The lighting utilized in the gallery also enhances the warm environment, combining natural light with track lighting, which highlights each piece subtly, rather than directly spotlighting it.

 

Rather than creating one open space within the gallery, it is instead divided up into three sections, creating small vignettes, leading visitors throughout the space.  The general intention is for visitors to first go to the back of the gallery and work their way towards the front; however, visitors often start in the front section of the gallery.  Personally, I walked first to the back of the gallery. The artists’ works are then mixed in throughout the gallery, rather than grouping them together.  This invites the viewer to revisit each of the artists and their works as they move throughout the gallery.  While the works exhibited in JGK Galleries are vastly different in terms of their media, style and techniques, they all complement each other in a very unique way. Everything seems to fall into place in just the right sequence. 

 

The artists exhibited in JGK Galleries are mostly from the West coast or international.  The gallery owner has made the conscious decision to not exhibit any local artists at the moment (except in the case of works displayed for Rochester’s Greentopia event) because she feels that the gallery serves as a place to exhibit art not typically found in the Rochester area.  Visiting the gallery is a way to experience art from around the country as well as other countries.  Another defining characteristic of JGK Galleries is that the owner maintains a personal relationship with all of the artists exhibited there.  She also chooses to display only art that strongly appeals to her, rather than exhibiting art solely because it sells, a common mentality which is found in many galleries today, especially during economically difficult times.

The types of artwork that can be seen at JGK Galleries are also very differentiated. Works include paintings, sculpture, glass, metal and woodwork, as well as other unique mediums such as linocut and encaustic, and other mixed media.  

 

There is a limited amount of graphics and writing displayed in the gallery as well. The information displayed for each piece of work includes just the title, artist, measurement and price.  The owner chose to avoid large displays of graphic descriptions, such as displaying the artists’ names in bold decals, which can often be seen in other galleries, so as not to bombard the viewers with all of the information upfront. This way, the viewer is given just a taste of the information behind the works and is therefore drawn in to seek out the information in order to learn more.  Overall, the gallery maintains a minimalist, less-is-more aesthetic without being cold or empty.

 

Presently, there are no musical or film elements in JGK Galleries.  The gallery owner explained to me that for now she does not want to overwhelm the space but that she will be looking into utilizing music in the gallery in the future. 

Oct 28
Oct 14

Analysis Exercise 5 & 6

JGK Galleries

          Due to its limited hours of operation, which unfortunately severely conflict with my work and class schedule, I have not had a chance to visit the gallery in person. I plan to visit the gallery this Tuesday or Wednesday.  The information, photos and research I have collected so far come from their website and Facebook page as well as other information I have found online.

Step 2: Placing the Exhibit in Context

          JGK Galleries exhibits artwork from both establish and emerging artists from across the nation.  The media of artwork exhibited at the gallery includes paintings, sculptures, glasswork and other mixed media.  The gallery regularly exhibits over 50 pieces of various artworks, hosting new exhibits throughout the year. 

          The gallery is very new, opening its doors just a year ago with its inaugural feature exhibition on October 6, 2011. JGK Galleries is located in the East Avenue Historic District in downtown Rochester.  The actual building is restored from a carriage house from the 1800’s.  The managing director of JGK Galleries is Maria Lauriello-Klein.  She was encouraged by the “emerging prominence and depth of the Rochester art market.”  She states, “I always thought that Rochester deserved to have a gallery displaying great art from both coasts. My hope is to help add to the depth of culture found within the Rochester region.”

          During my visit, in addition to recording my experiences as a viewer, I also hope to be able to ask a few questions regarding the gallery’s intended target audience, what audience the gallery has found the greatest connection and interaction with, and how the gallery employees and owner would describe the environment and nature of the gallery.

Step 8: Research of the gallery and successful components of gallery exhibit design

Print Casebooks 10: The Best in Exhibition Design

          This casebook analyzes some of the most successful exhibit designs. Its description of The Art of Architecture exhibit in The Denver Art Museum notes that the exhibit designers hoped to show the museum in a new way for the museum’s centennial. In order to do so, they “combined architectural shapes, details and materials with architectural photos, bold graphics, unconventionally displayed text and dramatically presented videos.” The mixed elements were intended to give the visitors “constant surprise,” (Carpenter, 1994, p.27).

          The exhibit utilized a graduation of colors from black and white in the beginning up to full color and light at the end.  The combination of materials included stainless steel, medium fiberboard walls, mesh and red fabric.  The photographic pieces in the exhibit were mounted on transparent Duraclear in white wooden frames and hung from the ceiling.  The exhibit also utilized various fonts in its signage ranging from reproduced handwriting to classic Italian typefaces.  Finally, the end of the exhibit included multimedia videos (Carpenter, 1994, p.28-29).

           From the many photos of JGK Galleries I have seen, this gallery utilizes a similar mixture of colors, materials and light, which contributed to the success of the Art of Architecture exhibit in the Denver Art Museum.  The artwork in the gallery is displayed in various methods.  The artwork is hung on both white walls as well as beautiful brick walls, which I’m assuming date back to when the building was originally a carriage house. These materials combined with the hard wood floors develop a warm feeling of natural materials in the environment.  Other 3D sculptures and artwork are displayed on pedestals, with the brick as a backdrop, as well as on individual shelves along the white walls.  The gallery also utilized a combination of natural lighting from the large windows combined with track lights, which cast dramatic shadows on the pieces, adding to their display.

Exhibition Design

           This textbook intended for “students of design, aspiring designers, exhibition professionals, and anyone with an interest in the topic, hopes to convey some of the skills necessary to thrill, educate and entertain new generations of exhibit visitors, while also passing on necessary information about the practical aspects of responsible exhibition practice, such as moving visitors safely through exhibition spaces, designing digestible and legible text, interaction, the integration of film, and exhibit construction.  The book is broken down into 14 sections, of which I will use “The Visitor,” “The Site,” “Exhibition Strategy,” “3D and 2D Design Skills,” “Lighting,” “Interaction,” “Sound and Film,” and “Materials,” as a guide when I evaluate the successful aspects of JGK Galleries.

Other Articles

         I also plan to use several studies and journal articles to evaluate the effectiveness of JGK Galleries’ exhibits.

Oct 1
Sep 30

Frans Wildenhain Exhibit

Absence

          One noticeable absence in the Wildenhain exhibit was the lack of information such as titles or specific descriptions next to each piece. The description of the piece in the lower pictures included “Stoneware, 19 x 18.5 inches, Reduction fired.” Most of the pieces did not include titles or even descriptions of what the item actually was, such as “vase” or “bowl.”

         Professor Austin explained his reasoning for this deliberate choice, which I personally liked. He explained that the pieces simply did not need these descriptors because it would just be stating the obvious. But beyond that, I felt that by not including descriptions of what the pieces actually were, it made them feel more like art as opposed to artifacts. These pieces are meant to stand alone as objects of form, not function. In addition, I have never personally been a fan of titling artwork unless the title enhances the art by giving it another dimension. Oftentimes, I feel that artwork does not need titling, and should instead speak for itself, leaving the interpretation up to the viewer.

Self Examination

          As I walked through the exhibit, I wanted to be conscious of what pieces I was drawn to, which ones I spent more time examining, and why. As I looked at the blue sphere in the bottom photos, I was immediately attracted by the ombré saturation of hues, gradually blending the turquoise and cobalt glazes.  I have noticed this technique of graduating colors recently in clothing and fashion, home decor and even hair coloring. I try to always be very aware of aspects of style that are simply trends that will soon fade and become outdated and ones that have the potential to become classics. Frans Wildenhain’s ombré piece proves that it is a timeless piece that transcends its own date of creation. Despite the fact that it was created several decades ago, this piece could be found in any modern decor. 

          I think the reason I am more strongly drawn to a few particular aesthetics and don’t care as much for other styles is because I am very aware of what I do and do not like. Even when I see a style of design or art that I am not particularly a fan of, I still like to take the time to understand the meaning behind it and why it was done that way, and why it appeals to other people and not myself.

          I know that much of the reason particular aesthetics and design appeal to me is because of the home environment I grew up in. Growing up in Texas, I fostered a strong appreciation for nature and the rustic, Southern imagery around me. In addition, I grew up in two very differently designed households. My mother’s home is a very classic, contemporary style, accented by furniture and other pieces that have been passed down through our family. On the other hand, my father’s home is a modern design with a very minimalist aesthetic, yet it still feels warm, whereas other modern designs can have a very cold feeling. My personal style now has developed as a combination of all of these roots; although, I am continually finding and learning about new styles and designs that I have come to appreciate and incorporate into my own style.

          When examining the exhibit as a whole, I was particularly intrigued by what I noticed as I walked through the exhibit. When I first arrived at Bevier Gallery, I walked through the exhibit starting from the far right side, and continued along the perimeter of the room. As I came toward the back wall of the exhibit, it felt interrupted by the emptiness, which I photographed in the top photo. I felt like the flow of the artwork was disturbed and that the emptiness of the back wall was actually distracting, and made it feel unfinished. As I continued along, examining the artwork in the center of the gallery, I turned back around and realized that the back wall actually formed a perfect backdrop for the pedestals in the center of the room, highlighted by the track lights along the top and punctuated by the Wildenhain exhibit sign. I began to think that I had walked through the exhibit incorrectly, not experiencing it in the way that it was intended to be experienced; however, I then remembered that Professor Austin did not intend for the exhibit to have a specific direction or path through the sequence of artwork. This exhibit can be experienced from all angles. 

         Since Professor Austin’s discussion in our class, I have found myself reintroduced to my interest in museums and galleries. His discussion shed more light on all of the work that goes into designing and putting on an art exhibit and the thought process behind it. Since his visit, I have recently changed my concentration in advertising and public relations from psychology to art history. I originally came to RIT to study photography and was mildly disappointed when I changed my major because I felt that I was moving away from the arts, which have been such an influential part of my life. Since hearing Professor Austin’s discussion I have realized that I can still incorporate the arts back into my studies. I am looking forward to beginning this new endeavor and learning more about the study and art of gallery and exhibit design. 

Syncopation 2 & 3
Acrylic on Canvas
Burton Kramer
         What I found interesting during Mr. Kramer’s talk was his comparison of the current graphic design industry and techniques with that which he worked with decades ago. The idea of the creation of commercial graphics without the use of computer programs seems almost unfathomable. I was also very interested when he discussed the technique of using woodblock-type prints. Over the past several years my father has been collecting prints and creating his own wood block prints so that was particularly interesting to me.
         Burton’s pieces, Syncopation 2 and Syncopation 3 particularly stood out to me at the University Gallery because of the pieces’ titles and the use of repetition and rhythm in the composition.  Having played piano for 12 years of my life, the term syncopation refers to playing a musical note on the off beat so that the strong beat becomes weak and the weak beat becomes strong. This type of musical style can most clearly be heard in ragtime music from the turn of the century. 
         Looking at these pieces, I am immediately reminded of the keyboard of a piano, with the repetition of black and white vertical shapes. The placement of the smaller rectangular shapes is reminiscent of the placement of musical notes in sheet music. The even spaces between the lines is also very rhythmic, giving a balance to the pieces.  The color scheme used in each of the pieces creates strong differences between the identical pieces. The top painting uses bold primary colors while the bottom painting uses softer pastel colors, giving each of them a very different mood and feel. 
Sep 16

Syncopation 2 & 3

Acrylic on Canvas

Burton Kramer

         What I found interesting during Mr. Kramer’s talk was his comparison of the current graphic design industry and techniques with that which he worked with decades ago. The idea of the creation of commercial graphics without the use of computer programs seems almost unfathomable. I was also very interested when he discussed the technique of using woodblock-type prints. Over the past several years my father has been collecting prints and creating his own wood block prints so that was particularly interesting to me.

         Burton’s pieces, Syncopation 2 and Syncopation 3 particularly stood out to me at the University Gallery because of the pieces’ titles and the use of repetition and rhythm in the composition.  Having played piano for 12 years of my life, the term syncopation refers to playing a musical note on the off beat so that the strong beat becomes weak and the weak beat becomes strong. This type of musical style can most clearly be heard in ragtime music from the turn of the century. 

         Looking at these pieces, I am immediately reminded of the keyboard of a piano, with the repetition of black and white vertical shapes. The placement of the smaller rectangular shapes is reminiscent of the placement of musical notes in sheet music. The even spaces between the lines is also very rhythmic, giving a balance to the pieces.  The color scheme used in each of the pieces creates strong differences between the identical pieces. The top painting uses bold primary colors while the bottom painting uses softer pastel colors, giving each of them a very different mood and feel. 

I am a 3rd year Advertising and Public Relations major. Originally from San Antonio, Texas, I came to RIT to study photojournalism, but found that my strengths truly lie in communications and design, which led me to the Advertising and Public Relations program in the College of Liberal Arts. I am is currently the public relations director for the RIT Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America and was previously the Vice President of RIT’s Equestrian Club Team. This winter and spring I will be on co-op as a marketing assistant for the Barnes & Noble at RIT. 

Sep 9
Claire Owen-Schubnell
Museum & The Exhibit - The Guggenheim Museum
1071 5th Avenue New York, New York
         Designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1940s, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum houses both modern and contemporary art inside one of the most renowned architectural achievements in the world. 
         This photo, taken from one of the top floors of the museum, depicts the continuous spiraling floors that lead visitors through the museum. The image invites viewers to look more closely into the photo in order to examine the various activity taking place throughout the image. The viewers’ eye cannot help but follow the circular motion of the spiral design of the architecture. 
         This photograph, taken by Jim M. Goldstein in 2006, is one of a series he took of the interior architecture of the museum. It can be found on his website www.jmg-galleries.com. His photo also appears when simply Googling the Guggenheim Museum. Some of the keywords that accompany this photo on his website include “art enthusiasts,” “classic view,” “gallery,” “New Yorker,” and “landmark.”
         Because it serves as a classic image of an iconic design, this image could be used in various contexts such as magazines, brochures or even as a post card.
         I visited the Guggenheim several years ago with my parents. Growing up in a very artistic household, I spent much of my life visiting galleries and museums each weekend. I find that as much as I appreciate and enjoy the arts, I often times find myself losing interest after a couple of hours in a museum. However, the flow of the exhibits in the Guggenheim captured me from beginning to end. 
Sep 9

Museum & The Exhibit - The Guggenheim Museum

1071 5th Avenue New York, New York

         Designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1940s, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum houses both modern and contemporary art inside one of the most renowned architectural achievements in the world. 

         This photo, taken from one of the top floors of the museum, depicts the continuous spiraling floors that lead visitors through the museum. The image invites viewers to look more closely into the photo in order to examine the various activity taking place throughout the image. The viewers’ eye cannot help but follow the circular motion of the spiral design of the architecture. 

         This photograph, taken by Jim M. Goldstein in 2006, is one of a series he took of the interior architecture of the museum. It can be found on his website www.jmg-galleries.com. His photo also appears when simply Googling the Guggenheim Museum. Some of the keywords that accompany this photo on his website include “art enthusiasts,” “classic view,” “gallery,” “New Yorker,” and “landmark.”

         Because it serves as a classic image of an iconic design, this image could be used in various contexts such as magazines, brochures or even as a post card.

         I visited the Guggenheim several years ago with my parents. Growing up in a very artistic household, I spent much of my life visiting galleries and museums each weekend. I find that as much as I appreciate and enjoy the arts, I often times find myself losing interest after a couple of hours in a museum. However, the flow of the exhibits in the Guggenheim captured me from beginning to end.