Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Exhibitor Profile: Abecedarian Gallery

A chat with gallery owner Alicia Bailey of Abecedarian Gallery in Denver, CO.

Kelly: What's the story on Abecedarian Gallery...how long have you been around, what's your niche or specialty, and anything else you'd like us to know?

Abecedarian Gallery opened in November 2007. The first location was a small room in the back of a building that housed several other galleries and artists' studios. In July of 2008 Abecedarian moved to a larger store front in the 910 Arts Building, a green-built complex designed and built as a creative community center. The gallery has two exhibition spaces. The smaller of the two is the Reading Room where artists' books are always on view. The larger space hosts rotating exhibitions that, while not specifically artists' books, have qualities of sequence, narrative or interactivity that are somehow related to artists' books.

Kelly: Can you give us an example of the kinds of things going on at Abecedarian this fall - perhaps things you're particularly excited about?

Alicia: Currently on view in the main gallery is a solo exhibition by a Denver area artist Mia Semingson. The exhibit includes 366 photographs taken by Mia during a year-long project, presented in 12 accordion fold books, each book presenting a month of photographs. Also on display are larger prints from the series. In the Reading Room is Photo Book Works, an international exhibition of artists' books with photography as a primary element (excluding SPODS) that was juried by Mia. Images of work from current and past shows are available both as print documents and via link from the gallery website. Coming up in January is the student/emerging artist grant exhibition. Abecedarian has been setting aside funds for this award for several months. I hope the gallery is able to continue offering similar opportunities to student/emerging artists. The decision to continue will be determined by the level of interest in the award and my success in securing funds for it in future.

Kelly: What's the Denver art scene like and where do you see your gallery in it?

Alicia: Denver has a flourishing arts scene particularly in the performative (theater and music) arts. The Art District of Santa Fe, has been identified as one of the busiest and well-attended of the 450+ grass-roots districts in the nation. This means that Abecedarian has opportunity to increase exposure to a wide audience of gallery visitors, many of whom are unfamiliar with the artists' book genre. This part of the country is attractive to many because of the recreation opportunities so in Denver cultural aspects aren't as well-regarded as in other cities of similar size. I don't view this as a negative. The result is that I put more energy towards education and community service than I might were Abecedarian located in another city. As the only gallery in the area with an emphasis on artists' books, the gallery functions as an unofficial center for resource sharing, education and opportunity in the book arts.

Kelly: What are you working on in your own art these days?

I have three student interns right now, and we mostly work on the design and production of limited editions. Hot off the press is Theia Mania - a multi-piece collaborative project that includes a sound element. More than twenty other individuals helped me with this project.
I continue with my ongoing project Lovely and Amazing, which is a mixed-media series including books, boxes and three-dimensional collage inspired by and fabricated from an inherited archive of biological specimens, handwritten documents, drawings and photographs.

Kelly: What are you looking forward to seeing or doing at the Pyramid Atlantic Book Arts Fair?
Alicia: Although it looks like an exciting schedule of presentations and workshops, I'll be spending my time there showing off the treasures from Abecedarian that I have selected for the fair. I will be bringing prints and books from several artists whose work I represent including Alice Austin, Emily Martin, Shu-Ju Wang, Tonia Bonnell, Johanna Mueller, Pati Scoby, Heidi Zednik and Jill Bergman.

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