Galerie Leon celebrates ten years of innovative art exhibition

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There is a motto at the association Leon Gallery: “Outliers change the world.”

For the executive director Eric North, these words help define the mission of space. “It comes from a scientific mathematical term,” he says. “It’s the idea that people who are unique and have distinct voices are the ones who get things done, change our minds and allow us to see things differently, so that we have a more varied view of the world and of what is possible. “

It is precisely this reflection that enters into the selection of artists presented to Leon. “Our programming consists of works of art that we believe advance the art world in terms of technique and style,” explains Nord. “We are also looking for artists who have powerful and provocative content to address socio-political issues. “

Amid the COVID-19 lockdowns and civil unrest, “We carried out programs that responded very quickly to what was happening, like the Black Lives Matter movement,” says Nord. Two of these exhibits included Jasmine Abena Colgan’s Human currency, a collection of works combating institutional racism using the cowrie shell as a metaphor, and Raafi rivero Without weapons, an exhibition of sports jerseys for a fictitious team of unarmed blacks murdered by the police. The show explains how the names of those killed are too often forgotten, but sardonically suggests that if the victims were sports numbers, maybe people would remember.

The Leon Gallery was originally designed by Eric R. Dallimore, Matthew Buford and Lindsay Giles McWilliams. In 2014, Buford and McWilliams left to pursue other interests. Nord became part-owner and helped Dallimore reinvent the space from a for-profit business to a non-profit organization to better serve the artist community. The status of association became official in 2016, distinguishing their space from commercial galleries.

“It allows us to take risks and work with unconfirmed artists, which is not always financially viable,” says Nord. “It can take a while for people to get used to a new artist, especially if they’re really innovative or showcasing work that pushes the boundaries. By moving to a non-profit, we can be an experimental place where artists have the freedom to fail, while commercial galleries will only accept artists who are financially successful. They have to make those sales to keep the lights on.

The gallery offers support to emerging and unknown artists in a number of ways, from helping with writing their artist biographies to visiting workshops and mentoring in building a collection for an exhibition. But it is the financial aspect that makes the biggest distinction. The gallery only takes a 30 percent reduction in sales instead of the standard 50 percent, so the artist can cut prices to encourage more purchases and keep more money to themselves.

Nord also explains how the Leon Gallery offers the artists it works with an initial fee of $ 1,000. “The artist can use it in any way that helps him, from buying art supplies to framing or spending a week or two of his day job so he can focus on the assembling his works for a show. “

The general manager of Galerie Léon Eric Nord.

The general manager of Galerie Léon Eric Nord.

Samuel pike

This is where the money from grants and fundraisers comes in as the gallery prepares to host a fundraiser to celebrate its tenth anniversary with a costumed gala on August 21. Deca Dance will include an art auction, food and drink, DJs, and costume contest with cash prizes, where guests are encouraged to dress in the styles of their favorite artist era. Categories include:

1920s – Tamara (art deco elegance)
1940s – Picasso (abstract / avant-garde)
1960s – Warhol (pop / mod)
1970s – Mapplethorpe (leather / latex / BDSM)
80s – Basquiat (street chic)
2020s – Futuristic (wild card)

The event will take place on a red carpet runway in the gallery lane – an outdoor space that Nord believes will hopefully alleviate growing concerns over COVID-19. He plans to follow city and state guidelines and take all safety precautions for the celebration.

In the meantime, the gallery is open regular hours for those who want to see the exhibits and are planning for the future, including educational pop-ups and mentoring programs for young people. For Nord, what he likes most about his collaboration with the gallery is discovering new artists and giving them a helping hand.

“One of the hardest things about being an artist is getting people’s attention,” he explains. Painters and visual artists work on their own, so they don’t get a lot of feedback, and they can be very unsure if what they’re doing is right. “He says he enjoys watching an artist flourish when he starts out. to get a positive response to his work and see how it broadens his thinking in terms of what he’s capable of. they might. “

Leon Gallery

Leon Gallery

Amanda Tipton Photography

Leon strives to be a welcoming space not only for artists but also for visitors.

“We’re not one of those galleries that look from the bottom up,” he says. “We want people to come in and experience art, and we want to talk about it, because we think it’s important. We hope that the people who visit the gallery will leave having learned something or feeling better about the world, knowing that there are creative people in their minds.

Benefit Gala of the Léon Deca Dance Gallery operates 7 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, August 21, in the alley behind Leon at 1112 East 17th Avenue. Tickets are $ 25 and available in line.

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