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