Ant/Not Terminal Gallery:
Seattle Washington

Freedom of expression is absolute.  So long as no one is put in harms way, as Americans we can express whatever ideas we like.  Sounds good, right?  In reality, there are always going to be people who believe it is their right, no, mission, to make sure that points of view not consistent with their own are not allowed to be heard.  This is frequently a result of religious and/or political ideology, as we’ve seen recently in New York, and is probably just as frequently a product of conflicts in commercial interests (three sides of the same coin as I view it).

Artists are easy targets for all three of the types of censorship noted above.  The ridiculous mess in Brooklyn is an unfortunate example of a combination of political, religious and economic threats against the free expression of an artist.  I won’t belabor the details here because I suspect I’d be preaching to the choir.  What I’m actually here to do is tell you about a gallery in Seattle which has a primary mission of providing artists with an uncensored, non-juried venue to express themselves as they wish.

elebrating its eleventh year in October as a completely volunteer, artist run, not-for-profit entity, the Art/Not Terminal Gallery is unique in the Seattle art scene.  It is not necessary for the gallery to pander to the pressures of political correctness faced by traditional commercial galleries and publicly funded art venues, nor are its members captive to the “vision” of a single curator.

This isn’t to say that a visit to the A/NT is like visiting a house of ill repute.  There are a wide range of serious, talented artists who enjoy the freedom to decide what they will show and how it will be presented.  Many of the members do produce art that is not accepted by the mainstream, and the A/NT is really the only place in town to show this work.

Additionally, the A/NT is a great place for people to test the waters when they are just starting out an art career.  The gallery accepts ANY work from ANYONE, without jury.  You could display paintings by your cat if you wished.  In my opinion, this is the greatest service provided by the gallery, as well as its biggest liability.  The opportunity for the inexperienced artist to get a feel for the public display of his/her art in an attractive gallery space is almost unheard of.  If you are just starting out, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.  How many doors have been rudely shut in your face?  Kind of disheartening isn’t it?  Most of the time it doesn’t really matter if your work is good or not.  If you don’t have the “in”, you’re probably always going to be an “outsider”.



As I mentioned, theA/NT welcomes you.  All of you, no matter how out-there your art or ideas.  As a result, the gallery is often a mixed bag of really cool, progressive art, and more “pedestrian” (to quote Seattle Sidewalk)type hobby art.  This is the liability I mentioned.  Because you never know what you’re going to get here, sometimes the gallery gets less respect than it deserves from the local “in” crowd, as well as the community as a whole.

That opinion is changing.  Because the gallery is all volunteer, it is only as vital as the energy put into it by the membership.  There is currently, I believe, a critical mass of artistic talent, creative energy and administrative skill that has been combining to make the gallery an “in” place to be an outsider.  Sales of art are way up and participation from the membership, old and new, is at a level that hasn’t been seen in several years.

In the last year, the gallery has expanded its usable space to include a huge subterranean space available for monthly rental.  Built in the 1920’s, and recently finished out, the space is a virtual cavern of pipes, concrete, old growth timbers and dungeon atmosphere.  This is probably the coolest art space in Seattle and since people are discovering it, it is booked solid 8 months in advance for a variety of private and gallery sponsored art shows. The basement also serves as the location of 3 weekly life-drawing sessions with professional models.  These have become very popular and are open to anyone who would like to participate.

Gallery volunteers have also built a website at http://www.antgallery.org, where members can display their work online.  The website is a great resource for you to learn more about how the gallery operates and how to get involved, as well as information on future shows and events.

The main gallery areas are where the general membership (i.e.: anyone who chooses to participate) and the monthly “featured artist”, who is drawn randomly from a pool of qualifying members, display their artwork.  To qualify as an active member, you must volunteer at least 6 hours a month at the gallery when showing work, with a choice of volunteer duties available. Many active members volunteer more than the minimum 6 hours and are the real backbone of the success of the gallery.  A Board of Directors, which is elected annually by the general membership, transacts the business of the gallery.

Ok, the most frequently asked question, “what’s with the name?”  When the gallery was first established in 1988, it was intended as a one-month show in a recently abandoned bus terminal.  As it seemed like a good idea, the original members decided to keep the space open after that first month, and laid out the same general ground rules the gallery currently operates under. In those early months, people would come into the space looking for the bus terminal.  The response to a particular visitor with limited English skills “…art, not terminal…” stuck.  The gallery has since moved to new digs on Westlake Ave in downtown Seattle.

Many thanks to Rick Santiago and artbabyart.com for the opportunity to brag on our gallery.  If you’re in the Seattle area, please drop in and see what we’re doing, or to anyone, please visit our website at http://www.antgallery.org.

Kris Hoglund
Board of Directors
Art/Not Terminal Gallery
Kris Hoglund - Surreal Pop Art
Kris Hoglund - Art, Dope & Saving the World

*****

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