It all began in 2017.
During an art opening at La Luna here in Mansfield, a handful of us stood chatting. The conversation between Aurelio, Jo Westfall, Orie Rush & I turned to Jo & Orie’s recent art show way up in Cleveland.
They tried to smile as they spoke. Obvious disappointment pierced their carefully selected words. They’d created pieces, priced them, lovingly packed them in a car, driven 2+ hours one way. They were excited, hopeful. They’d done the work, made an honest effort, hustled to make their 2-person show happen in a distant city.
Access to the venue was down an alley. Signage leading to this out-of-the-way spot didn’t do all that much to coax or entice people in. The opening was poorly attended. Ya know, overall, the experience was meh. Again, my friends tried to put a positive spin on the experience somehow. But they were deflated.
I know that feeling.
Most artists who find the courage to put their stuff out in the world know the grab-bag of emotions that comes along with that bravery.
You make art. You keep working it until you feel pretty okay with the results. You frame it, wire it for hanging. Struggle to put a price, a monetary value, on something that’s an extension of who you are. You load this stuff into a car. Drive it somewhere. Unload it. Then you let it go. Drop it off. Fingers crossed.
Maybe a juror judges your creation as either good enough to include in an exhibit or so ~horrible~ it’s rejected. Or your art’s displayed on a wall or pedestal so a bunch of strangers can view it & decide if it has any value. Is it worth anything at all? Is it worth buying, snapping a selfie with, telling a friend about? Does anyone even give a shit about the thoughts in your head & the thumpings in your heart made manifest?
So back in 2017, in the midst of a conversation with an undertone of heartbreak, an idea came. What if we put together a local group exhibition? No jurors. No rejection. No entry fee. Artists of all skill levels welcome. Newly created work only.
Eventually a name came: Membrane Constellation.
We held 3 shows in 2018: February/March, June/July & September/October.
Our first opening, there were over 300 people in attendance. Like, whoa.
Now with our initial show of 2019 currently up, we’ve had 4 shows & counting. So far, nearly 90 artists have participated. Not a single one was rejected. And while, yes, the art is displayed & a few have been sold or traded, the richest benefit is the community aspect of creative folk coming together, loving & supporting one another.
For many of the artists, this is their first attempt at showing their work outside a school setting. As organizers, we’ve been mentoring along the way on things like: how to frame & wire a piece, pricing, providing the information a gallery/venue needs, taking that next step in artistic expression.
Some descriptions we’ve used to try to describe these shows:
- “Exclusive view of the newest & freshest works of Mansfield’s premier underground artists.”
- “The Membrane Constellation Exhibition features artists from all walks of life who are bound together by their passion to create.”
- “These exhibitions are intended to merge artists from all walks of life and to encourage artists to challenge themselves by constantly creating.”
A lot of folks have put in hard work to make the behind-the-scenes stuff come together: Aurelio Villa Luna Diaz, Kathy Fetzer-Goodwin, Jason Ned Kaufman, Orie Rush, Victoria Hoefler, Alison Rae Bach, etc. (And I’m sure I’m forgetting folks – forgive me – let me know & I’ll add you right in.)
Honestly, it’s all about the artists & their art. Giving them (us) a place to belong. Mansfield’s richly diverse. Our Membrane Constellation Exhibitions serve as tiny cross-sections of this beauty. Each show is a window into what’s happening in the here & now.
These shows go up. They stay for a month or so. Then they come down. They’re ephemeral that way. And I suppose the point of me creating this post is to capture, in some small way, a sense of that experience.
MC-004 is as beautiful & varied as the 3 shows that have gone before. Our theme was “Rebirth/Blossoming” & artists had to incorporate the color green. This time around, I asked a photographer friend, Scott Smith, to help me chronicle the amazing collection.
Title cards are included in the pic of each piece. If the technology works as it should, you can click on a pic & zoom in. If the info’s still too small to read, and you’re interested in the artist or their work, let me know & I’ll do my best to connect you.