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“By the Numbers” show aims to remove preconceptions
By Dan Swartz
Fort Wayne Reader
Like most other art scenes, Fort Wayne is the busiest in the fall and spring, usually starting off with the University of St. Francis’ gala exhibition and continuing with numerous shows until the Trolley Tour, organized by the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, and is the collection of numerous galleries around downtown. This has been continued since then with another batch of shows, including Daniel Dienelt’s solo show at Device Tattoos, Steph Leyden’s first solo show at Pint and Slice and St. Francis’ Contemporary Craft show in November, and “By the Numbers”, the group show at the Dash-In on Friday, November 7th.
The last show, “By the Numbers” is going to be a somewhat different experience being that the entire show is going to be anonymous (both curator and artists), and the art is being priced very generously so that it can go into everyone’s homes, not only the larger collectors. “This show is meant to be about the art and ideas,” says the curator. The members have been given the numeral titles of “919”, “20”, “0.5”, “1986”, “33”, and “3”. This form of anonymity, and the small focus on prices lend to the title of the show.
Curator/919 organized this show with a number of objectives, including questioning the role which the social construct of the “artist” plays in the minds of the public, and art being more democratic. “I wanted to create a show where the artists are secondary; a show where the artist's background and opinion do not play into the art,” says the curator. “When you remove these elements the public is forced to look at it only through their eyes and no one else's perspective. The other point behind this show is to get art into people's homes...every home.” In this way, Curator/919 goes against many of the foremost trends in the art world. In a market without true identity, how does one construct value? And can this value grow over time? These are questions which also follow some street artists, most notably recently would be Banksy, the British street and graffiti artist whose work has recently gone up on auction, creating a stir about authenticity and beginning bids.
Curator/919 continues, “I do not think that it affects the art's meaning but the viewer's perception of the art piece by stripping away things that may distract them from the art itself.” This stripping away of distractions cuts out the local reputation of the artists and allows the viewer’s instincts take over. The Jones’ don’t matter anymore, just the viewer and the collector’s emotional connection to the piece.
“All the artists of the show have supported this from the beginning,” says Curator/919. “The reasons for signing up vary. For a few, this is their first show and may be shy, despite the good quality of their work. Other established artists get a chance to experiment with new styles and display them in secret. Others just love the idea of art for art and getting it into homes.” In these ways, this show is being viewed as a common ground for the art community. It’s a ripe space to make connections for the young and the inexperienced, and a safe space to try something that won’t enforce the professional artist’s consistency.
“By the Numbers” will have a broad range of experience among its artists, from those who have formal training to those with none, those with an established history in the arts, with well rounded exhibition records, and some others of which this is their first show. In addition to all of this, the range of media, style, and intent of these artists is extreme as can be seen by the photograph, titled “Lifer” by the artist “1986,” the low relief assemblage resembling Cornell, titled “Ghost,” by artist “33,” and the untitled painting by the artist “20”.
Curator/919 says Fort Wayne’s art scene is growing all the time. “One of the many reasons it stands out to me is how malleable the scene is here. If you have the want and drive there is room here to create and survive. The community as a whole has come a long way but there is still a lot of room for growth.”
This growth can in part be scene by so many non-traditional, alternative spaces to exhibit art such as the Pint and Slice’s upstairs gallery room, the Dash-In’s awesome wall space (not to mention their two-way liquor license and nice management), tattoo parlors like Device Tattoo, now located in the Village of Canterbury, and artist studio/gallery spaces, old and new like Tim Johnson’s space on Berry Street, Terry Ratliff’s on Jefferson, and the brand new Jim Williams’ “1832 Studio”, two of which (1832 Studio, and Tim Johnson) who had shows opening the 24th of October. With all of this activity, and the new sensation that Fort Wayne can sometimes feel of having multiple art events to choose from in the same night, all of the signs are looking good for a strong and prosperous art scene here in the future.
By the Numbers
7 p.m. -10 p.m.
814 S Calhoun St
Fort Wayne, IN 46802