Friday, June 20, 2014

Alternate Venues: What are they?

What is an alternate venue? The moniker is a much-desired brand because it stands out from the others. Defining the term is not easy, because it can take many forms, but at the simplest level, it is an alternate to what? The mainstream.

An AV has to be doing things outside the norm. It is one place where bigger is not usually better. Well meaning people in tribal cultures, like Saint Petersburg Fl., will claim in knee-jerk fashion  that the places their cronies own or where they get to - or hope to show - to be AVs.
This is often followed by dogmatic articles of faith ("I believe in...") or worse.

Let's do a mainstream checklist:

The usual artists, themes, populist memes we have seen a thousand times, 40% commission, the same old everything, including bands, ethnic (lily white) emphasis, hackneyed commercial attitude, etc.
There is nothing wrong with this. It's the way it's done, but does not remotely qualify as an AV.
The number one qualifier for an AV is: Daring. It takes unbridled, almost suicidal passion to break away from the pack and do something else, given the risky nature of the business in its mainstream form.
Risk-taking is the handmaiden of reward for AVs.  Who has taken them in the area? From memory... (and I am probably leaving many out, so please do not feel offended if yours goes unmentioned)
...David Audet's gallery, Kenny Echezabal's Ybor space on 7th, all Gala Corina shows, everything Theo Wujcik was involved with, Beaux Arts, the recent eve-N-odd gallery by Jennifer Kosharek, Mindy Solomon gallery, which may have looked mainstream to many, but for elevating the quality of her gallery to Museum levels. Currently, in Tampa, there is EPOXY, a non-commercial space run by four women that is presenting an eclectic series of unusual shows, outdoing themselves and elegantly rebooting the meme for the arts in Tampa. In Saint Petersburg, there is the Venture Compound, an arts and music venue run by Jesse Vance and Brad Kokay that has simply demolished conventions (including their own!) surrounding the arts and music in St. Petersburg -- and have managed to last three years (!!!). 

To all of you, I salute you. To those who want the title, work harder, smarter and closer to the heart. 

--- Luis

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