Presented by National University’s Center for Cultural and Ethnic Studies, room 214a at NU’s La Mesa campus underwent the transformation from a classroom into an art gallery June 18.
Dubbed “Spiral Bound”, the inaugural 214a Gallery exhibition featured forty artists from both San Diego and New York, and was curated by Romanov Grave and Joan Dart. The vision of the exhibition was to display artist note and sketchbooks rather than their polished and completed works, offering insight to the creative process.
“I know from teaching how fascinating and interesting creativity is to everyone,” said Professor Annette Cyr, director of 214a Gallery, and Center for Cultural and Ethnic Studies. “So that made me think we could have this exhibit of sketchbooks and seeing them would be interesting.”
Inspired by galleries in New York’s East Village in the 1980′s that utilized small spaces, 214a employed storage closets to display the works.
“The idea came about that you don’t have to have a big slick gallery, that it’s okay if you have a small space, it can still be considered viable and important to show interesting art,” said Cyr.
While many artists showed traditional notebooks, San Diego artist Miriam Sievers utilized a digital viewer to display her inspiration, which came in the form of the frame of a chair. When Sievers removed the upholstery of one of her chairs, she noticed the movement of the springs, in turn sparking an idea she called, “A sitting of portraits.” Possible plans for her inspiration include a dance piece, Sievers said.
Artist Roy David Rogers, who also teaches art classes in 214a, doesn’t traditionally use sketches of his work, and instead displayed a piece he called “Sketch for a self portrait”, an NRA target with several pencils inserted into bullet holes.
“I never sketch,” wrote Rogers in the Spiral Bound program. “I hate sketches, not other people’s, just mine.”
While Rogers did not shoot the holes in the target himself, he was inspired by way the holes were spread out, none quite hitting the bull’s-eye.
Keeping with the theme of the gallery, visitors to 214a were entertained with music from the trio Green Fire Jazz, who performed both Jazz classics, and some of their own sketches. Choreographer Kathryn Irey also had three of her dancers perform modern ballet sketches.
Professor Cyr is planning to expand the 214a Gallery, and she is in the process of talking with museums in both Encinitas and Tijuana.
“This idea could keep snowballing or spiraling and go to different venues,” said Cyr. “And every time it went somewhere, there would be new artist’s sketchbooks from that particular region.”
Cyr credits Gwendolyn Smith, former director of the La Mesa campus, for assisting in making the building more art-friendly.