Declaring Independence

Declaring Independence

Organized by Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art (phICA)
Curated by Ted G. Decker
Eric Fischl Gallery at Phoenix College, Phoenix, Arizona USA
October 3-27, 2011

Declaring Independence, the second exhibition project presented by Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art (phICA), pinpoints the widespread phenomenon that many exceptional artists in our community and beyond do not have commercial art gallery representation. This has been inherent in the art market since the first commercial galleries were established in the late 19th Century – a function of the market forces of supply (so many artists), fewer galleries than artists and fewer galleries due to current economic times.

This exhibition spotlights the artistic production of 23 artists, mostly from Phoenix, but also from cities where this phenomenon is present in varying degrees, including Boston, Miami, New York, and Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil. The artworks include paintings, drawings, ceramics, photography, textiles, and mixed media works, most of which were made especially for this exhibition. With their participation in this exhibit, the artists become connected with one another and with viewers from the Phoenix area and elsewhere who visit the Eric Fischl Gallery at Phoenix College during the exhibition. The artworks selected for exhibition are as richly diverse in content and technical aspects as in the origins and experiences of the artists who made them. This exhibition requests active viewer response to and reflection about the art, and offers numerous portals of entry to interpreting and understanding contemporary art as well as interconnection with artists and the creative community at-large.

It is especially curious that the Phoenix-based artists in this exhibition make exceptionally strong work but currently lack commercial art gallery representation either in or outside of Arizona. This is true for the participating artists from other cities. The exhibition brings issues of the art market “food chain” to the forefront by showcasing work by artists who, though not represented, are making outstanding art, selling their art to collectors in their own communities and beyond, and whose artwork is shown by museums, cultural centers, and non-commercial galleries locally and outside of the areas in which they live and work. Without the intention of exclusivity or hierarchical ranking, artists were selected whose work effectively expresses the exhibition’s curatorial theme. Market forces, the various states of economies, decisions by gallerists based on their personal aesthetics or what they know as businesspeople is sellable, the strength of art patronage in a community, effective or ineffective marketing and the lack of initiative by artists in seeking gallery representation, and strenuous competition for eyeballs and time are variables in this discussion. However, equally significant are some artists’ decisions not to seek representation in favor of being independent from the commercial gallery aspect of the art world.

Desired outcomes for this exhibition project include greater awareness of exhibited artists and the broad spectrum of their visual production, an energetic discourse about unpinning issues the exhibit poses, creating a successful community collaboration between phICA and Phoenix College and the Eric Fischl Gallery, and creative presentation and programming endeavors key to the mission of phICA.

Participating Artists:

Bob Adams, Phoenix
Susan Beiner, Tempe
Bruno Belo, Petrópolis (Rio de Janeiro)
Sue Chenoweth, Phoenix
Colin Chillag, Phoenix
Sam Chung, Tempe
Christian Curiel, New York
David Dauncey, Phoenix
Andrea Evans, Boston
Jon Haddock, Tempe
Jerry Jacobson, Tempe
Marlyne Jones, Phoenix
Carolyn Lavender, Phoenix
Michael Marlowe, Phoenix
Matias Mesquita, Rio de Janeiro
Ann Morton, Phoenix
Paulo Santos, Rio de Janeiro
Mary Shindell, Phoenix
Randy Slack, Phoenix
Craig Smith, Phoenix
Karolina Sussland, Phoenix
Rubén Torres Llorca, Miami
Yann Vadaru, São Paulo

This exhibition was organized by Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art (phICA) in collaboration with Eric Fischl Gallery at Phoenix College and was curated by Ted G. Decker. This exhibition was made possible by funding support from Tana and Ridge Smidt. Additional funding provided by Robin and Bill Charles, Denise, Dave, Libby, and T.J. Decker, Ted Decker, Jennifer and Dwain Schmitt, Ellyce and Eddie Shea, Gretchen Smidt, Sue and Scott Wallace, and by phICA. Exhibition marketing was made possible in part by a mini-grant from Ted Decker Catalyst Fund. Additional community collaboration and in-kind support provided by Cindy Dach and Greg Esser, Chico Fernandes, Bill Fielder/Bill’s Custom Frames, Brent Bond, Cleo Corcoran and Bossa Brazil, Lisa MacCollum/LisaMac Studio, Tim Richard/Studio G Brand, Rikki and Tim Cook/Rikki Cupcake, Shemer Art Center and Museum, and Valber Silva.