Art will find you when you least expect it. While shopping in Pasadena today I found a small artist’s studio that invites visitors not to view art, but to become a part of it. Carly Steward’s “The Arrangement” creates “an ongoing collaborative installation between viewer and artist that explores elements of exhibition design such as lighting, wall color, space arrangement and display tools”.
The exhibition is part of an artistic partnership between the One Colorado shopping center (the studio is in converted retail space) and the Pasadena Armory Center for the Arts.
“The Arrangement” attempts to turn the process of an installation inside out and focuses on the behind the scenes elements of an exhibition. Visitors are encouraged to interact with blocks, pedestals, hooks, braces, lucite boxes and other tools to re-arrange the space. Photographs are taken of the visitor’s artistic expression and displayed on the walls within the studio.
I asked Carly Steward about the visitor’s reaction to the space. Some embraced the concept by spending hours re-arranging and interacting with the elements, while some were offended by the idea of interacting with the art. I could see someone bristling at this concept; the artist is supposed to entertain and draw a visceral connection between their work and the viewer. The artist creates the work and the viewer consumes it, the viewer doesn’t create. This dichotomy in perception was interesting to me.
I imagine the reactions to the installation and the specific ways people interact with the objects in the studio as a behavioral Rorschach test. I chose to move around small objects, so that I would not disturb the integrity of the larger pieces; I was afraid of knocking something over without realizing that accidents are also part of the process. It’s hard to break years of visiting museums under the suspicious gaze of security guards! Conversely I could easily see someone completely re-arrange large-scale portions of the studio without regard to the arrangement that was in place. If I were a psychology student I would spend a day in this space to study that behavioral dynamic.
I was not familiar with the Armory Center and learned that they are a non-profit organization whose mission is to build on the power of art to transform lives and communities through creating, teaching and presenting the arts. They reach out to all ages through classes, exhibitions, community outreach and artists in residence programs. This got me thinking about some of the people I’ve met while just hanging out in Pasadena. One was an artist who was taking donations for his Basquiat styled work, another was a rapper hawking some demos; the area supports artists from all genres and it is wonderful to see the community infuse it’s appreciation for the arts into its residents and visitors.
The installation is on display until January 10, 2011
Carly Steward: The Arrangement
24 Smith Alley, Pasadena
Gallery Hours: Noon-9pm (Wednesdays), 10am-6pm (Saturdays & Sundays)