General News · 25th August 2015
The 2015 Members Exhibition at the Old School House Gallery opened recently, and such a variety of work! Art pieces of every imaginable material and scale and way of presentation are displayed across the walls, standing on plinths, hanging from the ceiling. Yet the overall impression of the exhibition is one of orderly flow accented with surprise. The four coordinators: Lynn Martilla, Caz Ratcliff, Oriane Lee Johnston, and Kathleen Horne did an excellent job, and as a visual artist, it’s fun to examine their results for hints and techniques about how to successfully hang a show.
The curator’s art materials are the individual art works, and the compositions created with them become the curator’s art work. In this way the entire gallery becomes a piece of art. In the same way that a visual artist attends to the vocabulary of composition—such as color, form and rhythm, the curator uses these same concepts when arranging work.
Work can be arranged by color or pattern harmonies where all the pieces relate as part of a similar color or texture family. Arrangements can be made according to color temperature, where the similar intensity, or saturation, of various colors creates a particular mood. An arrangement can also evoke an emotional mood, when the juxtaposition of different pieces creates meaning not found in any one art work. Color and texture can be used to balance otherwise dissimilar works because a small area of intense color or surface detail has the same visual weight as a larger area of the same color or texture in a less dramatic version.
The curator can create closed compositions where the work is limited by architectural edges or by visual boundaries using geometric shapes with strong vertical textures and forms. Yet a curator needs to also relate compositions of art works to larger groupings because the viewer moves throughout the gallery. These become open compositions where repeating elements in adjoining areas create a visual rhythm.
Curating a show is like making art in another significant way. This vocabulary of composition is mostly operating at a subliminal level. There probably isn’t much analyzing of elements and spaces. The arrangement finally just feels correct. So the next time you are at the gallery, step back from appreciating the individual pieces in exhibition, and also enjoy the curator’s art.
harmonious color and texture
saturated colors create intensity
a mysterious emotional mood
strong vertical forms make boundaries