Daily Archives: April 2, 2008

Off the Critical Map

This entry is about artists exhibiting in furniture showrooms, craft galleries, tourist and other exhibition spaces off the critical map. Some of the art in these places is not worth reviewing or buying but that isn’t a reason to ignore a whole section of Melbourne’s art world.

Ralf Kempken, stencil art paintings are on exhibit at a furniture shop in Smith St. The paintings are stencil pop images of urban scenes from Fitzroy with a tone of sentimentality. They are slightly different to the paintings of his that I have seen in gallery exhibitions; the design more decorative and they are full of nostalgia for the charm of Fitzroy and St. Kilda.

Kempken is not the only artist to be exhibiting in Fitzroy furniture showrooms. The Contemporary Art Society of Victoria members regularly exhibit at MoorWood Furniture. Many Australian artists have exhibited in furniture showrooms; it was in the early part of 20th century the common exhibition venue for paintings in Australia. It still seems logical if the art is intended for a domestic setting.

There are many small craft and art galleries in scattered around Melbourne. These galleries have different business models; in.cub8r, in Smith St. is a rental space dividing up the shop space to lease it to the makers/artists. Others take work to sell on a commission, like Self Preservation. Self Preservation also doubles as a coffee shop along with a good selection of local design jewellery and some look-like art. Self Preservation is on Bourke St opposite the old Aboriginal Dreaming Gallery.

Aboriginal Dreaming Gallery used to have paintings in stacks like rugs and big names of big name aboriginal artists in the window, names like: Emily Kame Kngwarreye and Minnie Pearle. It had been there for decades, selling to the tourists I thought, but I had never entered. Now it is closed, the space empty and good riddance to the philistines.

Another gallery to close is Circus Gallery, a shop front galley in Coburg. Circus Gallery is moving from Coburg, Victoria to Austin, Texas following the move by gallery director and artist, Andrew May. Painter, sculptor and photographer, May regularly exhibited his work in galleries and local exhibitions, like the Shopfronts/Artfronts project and the Moreland Sculpture Show. His energy and enthusiasm for organizing exhibitions will be missed in Coburg, a suburb now without any kind of art gallery.


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