Too Much Art, Not Enough Space at RAW: Natural Born Artists' Showcase "Scope"
The idea behind RAW is a good one. It is a community of artists in their first ten years of their careers working toward the greater goal of generating exposure and awareness for themselves. This is an umbrella association for musicians, visual artists, filmmakers, hair and makeup artists, and performers. Their calendar of events ranges from February through October and takes place in major art hubs in the U.S., Canada, Australia and now the UK. In other words, there is a lot going on at once.
Almost like a Borgesian Aleph, last night's Scope showcase suffered mainly by the amount of artists involved and the physical limitations of LMNT as a venue. This does not mean that the event overall was a failure; quite the contrary. With its hip mix of fashion runway, live music, and performance, the event attracted a large crowd of mostly young patrons who seemed to be enjoying themselves and more importantly, were purchasing art from the featured artists.
In that case, RAW is successful.
But one can't help but think that if the layout was just more ergonomic in design, the visibility for all featured artists would be remarkably better. The open stage area out front was good for accommodating a pair of bars and the ticket booth, though the bottleneck this created was limiting to accessing the first room of artists where a spirited performance by the TASTE Ladies was held. The hallway area leading to the backroom with the runway, DJ booth, and more artist spaces also had a bar and the hair and makeup and fashion booths, which again, battled for space with the ebb and flow of the crowd.
Better use of space is always the a challenge at exhibitions and understandably, one that comes with a little trial and error. However, the showcase did succeed in attracting a crowd to some of the areas featuring more underrepresented and beginning artists, which is a good pairing between this new crop of both artists and art lovers (read: future collectors).
A good idea could be to triage the amount of artists a little better and to maybe have a clearer guideline as a governing body on how the participants are allowed to hang/display their work.
In the first room, this was evident given the relative loneliness EJ Lindhart's airy, wooden sculptures experienced while the further back one got into the displayed repertoire, the large ceramic body facsimiles of Hard Bodies Yo -- a grouping of about six or seven life-sized casts -- seemed to drown in the fracas by comparison to the 2D art that neighbored it. Could the tall walls of LMNT have been a factor in creating such a visual dissonance? More than likely. But it certainly boils down to it being too much for too little of a space.
The backroom with the runway would've been fine as the sole hub for fashion and hair and makeup booths as that lifestyle shares a somewhat tangible bond with a live DJ. Instead, it managed to obscure some of the wall displays as well as gum-up the spacing for the artists who were live-painting during the event.
It would be nice to see this type of partnership continue thriving within our artistic community, maybe even slightly held back. While it makes sense to include artists from other city's RAW associations, maybe reducing the amount of them traveling to other fairs will allow locals to get more face time with the future artistic patronage of this town.
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