Spotlight: 1122 gallery

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Lauren Schaefer & Jen Denrow of 1122 gallery.

An interview with the founders of 1122 gallery to highlight their non-traditional art space in SE Portland, which recently opened it’s doors in May 2018.

Please tell us a little bit about yourselves and your background.

Lauren Schaefer & Jen Denrow: We're cousins, and have been making things together and apart for 30+ years. Our paths took us in different geographic directions, but within the last few years we have been thinking more and more and having conversations about how to make art a more pronounced part of our lives, and when we began living in the same town, this became a reality.

Could you tell us a little about 1122 gallery and inspiration behind creating your art space? 

The main inspiration is the belief that art is an indispensable part of responding to the world. We wanted to create a space that could be generative and immersive and would allow artists to reimagine boundaries. As we continued to think on this idea and look for places, I visited Denver, where a friend of mine, Sommer Browning, had recently turned her garage into an art gallery, GEORGIA. We began talking to Sommer about what that process was like, and how she would feel about us creating a sister gallery, which we intended to call WREN at the time, and soon we came to the decision that we needed to look no further than my backyard.

What were the motivating factors for wanting to create an art space? 

We both believe that art should be part of the lived experience—that it doesn’t have to be contained within a frame, or in a book, or at designated art spaces—it should happen everywhere. We wanted to provide a space that gives sight to wonder, where people can come together and explore making things, and share in the intimacy of this, which connects us to what is most human about us—we are makers that sometimes lose sight of making.

What type of artists and work is 1122 gallery going to highlight?

We’re really interested in art experiments, and artists who are in the process of exploring their own work. We thought it would be a great space for work that is in the process of development, and work that is boundaryless. There is the space of the garage, but I imagine the projects and the work that will be exhibited at 1122 will play with space. For instance, the first show, Carin Rodenborn’s and Abbie Miller’s The Inside is the Outside, spoke to this by installing work both on the inside and the outside of the garage. Their beautiful collaborative piece, which was wearable art, pushed the boundaries of how we interact with art and how identity shifts when one finds oneself inside of art, as opposed to observing it.

 Inside 1122 gallery at the inaugural show  The Inside is the Outside  featuring work by Abbie Miller and Carin Rodenborn  Image by Laura DeVito

Inside 1122 gallery at the inaugural show The Inside is the Outside featuring work by Abbie Miller and Carin Rodenborn

Image by Laura DeVito

Why do you think it's important to create art spaces in your community? 

We need art. We always need art, but I feel that now we need it more than ever—as continuous recovery from the onslaught of political madness, and to find our way through—art connects us—it allows us to enter someone else’s point of view and see the world from their eyes, even if it’s momentary, and this experience is an empathy enhancer. The first show brought many neighbors that we’d never met before, from all walks of life, which was inspiring and exciting.

Outside 1122 gallery at the inaugural show The Inside is the Outside featuring work by Abbie Miller and Carin Rodenborn

Image by Laura DeVito

What are some of the setbacks or challenges you've faced with starting your own art space? 

The biggest thing we want to think more about and find creative solutions for is how to sustain the show beyond the opening. Because it’s not open every day, we need to figure out how to get people out to see the work after the opening. As with any small, artistic endeavor, money is a challenge, but we have been fortunate in that we know a lot of very generous people who are excited about what we’re doing and have donated their time, energy, and talents.

What have you learned from creating an art space?

That anything is possible and to be constantly open to that possibility! Our vision for 1122 was so much different when we began than what the reality turned out to be. It’s been a great adventure, and learning to keep open to even the most illogical ideas, and think outside of what we thought we wanted the space to look like, has been important. As with anything else, embracing uncertainty is essential.

What advice would you offer to people interested in opening their own art or project space?

Do it! Our dream is that many people will turn their garages into art galleries and we can all visit each other. Also, spend as much as time as you can visiting other galleries, having conversations with gallerists and curators, and looking at art.

Is there anything exciting you have coming up for 1122 gallery that you can share with us?

Yes! We’re really excited about the artist talks and response workshops we’ve got lined up, both of which allow for a deeper engagement with the art. There is a potential craftivism project in the works. We’ll start a film series in the fall and have some great things lined up for spring of next year, including Stacy Elaine Dacheux’s bread tutorial and performance! More immediately, we’re really excited about Jess Curran’s upcoming show, The Feeling Remains Even After the Glitter Fades which opens June 1st. Mostly, we are excited about all the possibility.

 1122 gallery at the inaugural show  The Inside is the Outside  featuring work by Abbie Miller and Carin Rodenborn  Image by Laura DeVito

1122 gallery at the inaugural show The Inside is the Outside featuring work by Abbie Miller and Carin Rodenborn

Image by Laura DeVito


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