Around 600 or so artists lined up at the Cameron Art Museum (CAM) in 2011 as then-director Deborah Velders inaugurated the very first State of the Art/Art of the State exhibition. The project gained its footing thanks to Walter Hopps, an American museum director and curator of contemporary art out of D.C. who passed away in 2005.
“Hopps formulated an event for artists to bring in a single, self-selected work of their art, with no entry fee and no jurors,” Kim Kelly, communications manager at CAM, says. Titled “36 Hours,” the event showcased well over 400 pieces of art in the Museum of Temporary Art in D.C.
Velders sought the same style of exhibition with hopes of drawing contemporary curators from many of the best art institutions across the country to CAM. The success became overwhelming in artist response across the NC, with 75 percent of the works hailing from locals.
“[It] was very meaningful for the community to see the diversity of talent in our own region alongside works from artists throughout the state,” Kelly says. “The hardest part was being prepared for the unknown. Though we requested that artists sign up ahead of time, we knew there would be others who would just drop by with their artwork.”
This time around CAM director Anne Brennan and her artistic team are preparing for a more efficient process thanks to the help of their registrar, Holly Tripman-Fitzgerald. The intake of the work, with all details of each piece, will help in planning the 24-hour curation and exhibition installation, set to take place from September 19 at noon through the 20 at noon, with an opening reception on the evening of the 20.
“It is very important that artists understand they must personally deliver their artwork within the designated 24 hours,” Anne Brennan reminds.
“Contact information, media type and dimensions are all needed as part of the process,” Kelly adds. “There are teams working with Holly to make sure this information is captured in a streamlined form.”
Artwork cannot be larger than 5-by-5 feet for 2D work and 125 cubic square feet for 3D work. As well, the 3D work will not be secured by plexiglass. All artists that step into the museum will receive a number that holds their places in line. Their number will be on a paper ticket and is required in order to meet with one of three renowned curators that Brennan helped secure for the exhibit. Laura Hoptman of New York’s MoMA is on the docket.
“Serendipitously, when we contacted Laura, we found out she has strong connections with NC and owns a home in Saluda,” Brennan says. “[She] thinks very highly of the work she sees produced in our state. Who knew?”
Other curators include Peter Eleey, MoMA P.S.1 in New York, NY, and Heidi Zuckerman from MCA Denver and the Aspen Art Museum. “Zuckerman just opened a $45 million expansion during a 24-hour event,” Brennan tells. “The curators are in the forefront, all working for institutions which embrace community involvement, social engagement, arts learning, creation of cultural gathering places, and active use of alternative space; all directives which are keenly a part of CAM’s mission and vision.”
Artists who participate in State of the Art/Art of the State will benefit from one-on-one engagement with these art-world mavericks. “They will have a brief chance to talk about their artwork and their direction, and perhaps hear from the curator’s view,” Brennan says.
Many volunteers are joining the event to help with intake forms and take photographs of each work per the gallery reference book needed for the exhibition. Just as important to the event’s community embrace is the surrounding environment during the intake process. Daphne Holmes, CAM’s curator of public programs, has lined up live performances to take place in CAM during the 24-hour time frame.
“We have much more representation of art expression other than just visual,” Holmes confirms. “Nearly every hour on the hour will be a scheduled musical performance or spoken word.”
Adding live art not only helps propel CAM’s mission of becoming a social gathering place, it presents alternative enjoyment to artists who await their number to be called. Holmes booked local acts like Americana band Stray Local, acoustic guitarist Susan Savia, folk musicians Cosmic Groove Lizards, cellist and guitarist duo Upstarts and Rogues, among others, like traditional Appalachian fiddle player Bruce Green and Mediterranean music players and belly dancers Taqasim Tribe.
The exhibition, which is open to the public, will start at 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 20, in the Hughes Wing of CAM. The exhibit will hang through February 12.
“The reception is a big party,” Holmes promises. “It’s $10 admission for everyone, cash bar. Great time! We will host artist gallery talks with artists included in the exhibition throughout the run of the show, along with other interpretive and interdisciplinary programming.”
State of the Art/Art of the State
Artwork delivery: Sept. 19-20, noon to noon
Exhibition opening: Sept. 20, 6 p.m.
$10 admission; cash bar
Cameron Art Museum
3201 S 17th Street