Pop-up gallery opening planned
Jessica Cabe was pleasantly surprised by Glenwood Springs’ vibrancy when she moved to the valley as an intern for the Aspen Music Festival and later arts and entertainment editor for the Post Independent.
“It’s a really special place, this valley. It’s rural and it’s small, but there’s a lot of really talented artists here from all over the country doing really interesting things,” she said.
That’s despite the high bar set from growing up near Chicago and attending journalism school at Syracuse University. Still, something was missing.
“Glenwood was my favorite place in the valley, but I was usually going to Carbondale to see the kind of conceptual, challenging contemporary art that I really like,” she observed. “For whatever reason, it never even crossed my mind to do anything about it. I thought of myself as an observer and an outsider, which is sort of what you have to be as a journalist.”
Then she became part of the 2015-16 Roaring Fork Leadership class and, during the program, took a full-time position at the Aspen Music Festival. Freed from journalistic conflict, she began to consider taking action.
“Art has always been a really big part of my life, even though I’m not particularly good at it, and artists are the kind of people I like to be around. I just decided that if other people start galleries, there’s no reason I can’t,” she said. “I’m not in a place in my life that I can drop everything, so a friend suggested a pop-up gallery.”
For the uninitiated, that means using vacant spaces for gallery openings instead of maintaining a permanent location. Ideally, it’s a win-win, providing income and advertising for the property owner and keeping overhead down for the gallery.
“Pop up shops are pretty popular in urban areas where people are trying to revitalize a struggling economy,” Cabe explained. “It’s an established idea, but it’s not super common around here, although the Carbondale Clay Center does some short term exhibits in other locations.”
So the idea for Nomad was born, but it was far from a reality.
“I was very naive about this whole thing. I’d never done anything like this before,” Cabe said. “Luckily it worked out, but there were a lot of nos on the way. Property owners have insurance to worry about, some of them pay the utilities on it. It’s kind of a lot of hassle for very little return on their part.”
For her first show, Cabe secured the former site of Gallery 809 in downtown Glenwood. Nomad’s inaugural exhibit is slated for 6-9 p.m. Second Friday, June 10, with work from Matthew Eames and Jay Phillips.
Finding the artists proved to be the easy part.
“I knew if I chose artists I didn’t have a personal relationship with for the first time, I would feel beholden to have everything go as planned. With pop-ups, you have to be flexible,” Cabe said.
So she started with her boyfriend, Eames.
“I wanted him to be in the show first and foremost because I’m a fan of his work,” she said. “I think it’s not like anything I’ve seen.”
He in turn suggested Phillips, with whom Cabe was familiar. Now that the show is coming together, the juxtaposition turns out to be ideal.
“There really is this great connection and contrast,” she said. “Matt focuses on structure. He creates these spaces with clay and wood and metal that are rickety and a little unsettling. He’s interested in people’s perceptions that buildings are going to last forever. Jay likes figures and people and human relationships — but they look kind of tenuous. They just sort of create this world together. Matt creates the habitat, Jay creates the inhabitants.”
If the first show is successful, Cabe already has an idea for the next one.
“Annie Bell, who suggested the pop-up model, is an artist herself, and we’re going to do a show with her photography of old ’80s punk shows in Chicago — like Slayer and Red Hot Chili Peppers when they were playing in tiny basements,” she said. “I have no space for that and no timeline, but that’s the game plan.”
With luck, the effort will build momentum and the next location will be easier to find.
“For the first show I wanted it to look like a gallery, but Nomad is all about using unoccupied or unconventional spaces,” Cabe said. “The idea is to make Glenwood just a teeny bit better and cooler. I don’t expect it to be profitable. I just hope that people come out and see it and like it and want to see more of it.”
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