#HiddenArtSLO is proposed by Catherine Trujillo, Charmaine Martinez, and Jeff VanKleeck

How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?

Jeff: Catherine told me about it.

Catherine: Jeff found it.

Charmaine: Catherine and Jeff.

But really, San Luis Obispo is halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. For our local community and our two collectives, we feel like the center of the universe at times and exiled into Siberia at times because of our coastal and rural location. Photographer Jeff Van Kleeck heard about the Crusade4Art grant and pitched it as an opportunity to expose our community to national photographers and to promote our talented pool of regional and emerging photographers.  

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

Jeff: I stole the idea from Catherine.

The projects is based on the Nothing Happened Here mission: A full-circle gesture to place art in an entirely unusual and unexpected context. All we leave behind are smiles. Curator Catherine Trujillo started #HiddenArtSLO last year partnering with area artists, writers, musicians, and creatives, to hide their work throughout the county for the community to discover. The hope is that the finder shares via social media and helps generate interest for the partner artist and their work. And in a quiet way, we want to provide an incentive so that finders can become collectors, and find a love for our local artists and creatives to become life-long collectors of awesome artists.  

Building upon this concept, #HiddenPhotoSLO seemed like a perfect evolution to encourage the collecting of fine art photography. Photography inspires and tells enriching stories that connect us all.

What is the most engaging art event/collecting event you’ve been to?

Charmaine: the Wisconsin Tryagainnial: an alternative exhibition held in a rented Ryder truck by University of Wisconsin art graduate students who were all rejected from the Wisconsin Triennial exhibition at the Madison Art Center. It was a freezing night and we served hot cocoa in the truck “gallery” which was lit with several clip lights from Home Depot. The curators of the Wisconsin Triennial were kind enough to visit the Tryagainnial exhibition—they were supportive and encouraging and they thought our show in the back of a truck was hilarious.

Catherine: Typing In Public-- Reading In Public's 2010 community event. The event primarily focused on people writing on typewriters around town, but folks shared comments via TwitterFlickr, and texted their submissions. To spark some inspiration, we received submissions from a variety of people, including Gerald Casale for Devo, and Dr. Paul Frommer writing in Na'vi (with translation to English). This by far was the most hysterical, collaborative, and joyful venture where everyone and their brother was able to contribute in one form or another.

Jeff: Anderson Ranch Art Auction in Snowmass Colorado. I almost spent $1200 on a teapot and I only had $200 and it went for $3,000. It was addicting and exciting.

What do you think is the greatest struggle/weakness facing artists and the art community right now? What is the greatest opportunity/strength?

The greatest weakness is that people spend all their time viewing screens, not people. In addition, creative work is not valued in our society. The greatest opportunity is that there are so many people out there making cool stuff.  We want to be the bridge that connects artists and emerging collectors.

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?

Artists need to give context to their work. It is not enough just to put it on the wall. People crave story, context and experience. Why not be whimsical about it!

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?

Many people find fine art photography intimidating because it is so often presented in an austere, white box. Most galleries are not fun and do not engage people as people. There is a perception that building an art collection is for the wealthy. What we aim to do is place art in context for the masses. Moms, dads, students, neighbors, uncles, kids. Anyone and everyone.

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