The goal this first year was to establish what it meant to experience art at Public Functionary. Viewing art here should feel different: modern, fresh and welcoming. We selected artists who were willing to look beyond just the art, and further into full-scale gallery presentation. We believed that showing contemporary artists from across the country would illustrate possibility and perspective, set the stage and teach us something new. If we wanted to be a local gallery that simply provides space for local artists to hang their work, we could have easily done that. However, we’re aiming higher for collective gain. Public Functionary exhibits must be discernible. While there is room for more galleries in the Twin Cities, we certainly do not have the resources and support for more of the same. We can’t be of service to local artists until we establish a worthwhile reputation from which they can benefit.
Dzine, Sougwen Chung and Patrick Martinez are artists with diverse career positioning from major cities spread across the country: Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. The time for Minneapolis to put itself on the map is now. We are bursting with local pride for the creativity, culture and innovation in this city. We are metropolitan, forward-thinking, generally have a lot to offer and want the rest of the country to know it. Unless we open ourselves up to the world and admit that we are not the center of the universe, we’ll continue to be insular. We have to look at what is happening in LA, Chicago and New York and know who we are in relation. Before you can prove what you are, you have to be willing to understand what else is out there.
Dzine, is an established, internationally known, museum artist. He is part of the contemporary art world, no question. He has the ability to produce a spectacular exhibit experience with consideration to every single detail, to the point where red shag carpet ended up on our walls. With Dzine as our inaugural artist, we saw what was possible through a full gallery transformation, with no limitations.
Sougwen Chung is a young, innovative digital artist. Ground-breaking in her own right, she travels the world to talk about her creative process at conferences and workshops. Still at the beginning of a promising career, Sougwen offered us the opportunity to think about presenting work that spanned mediums, an experience of video, projection, drawing and digital print in her first solo gallery show.
Patrick Martinez is an up and coming artist, loved by the online art blogs and Instagram art enthusiasts. An artist with relentless hustle and drive, his art makes its way into contemporary art collections and garners recognition in mainstream culture at the same time. He was named an “artist on the rise” at SCOPE Miami and alternately has been showcased by Vh1, Playboy and other media influencers. Patrick’s exhibit has been an opportunity to collaborate and create a cohesive show out of a large body of work as well as provide context for the “local” experience. Well known nationally and internationally, based in LA, Patrick has never exhibited in the Midwest.
Why these artists? Because at Public Functionary it is about what the artist shows and who the artist is… but more so about HOW the art is shown. Can we remove the categorizing of art and instead, just be inspired? Does it matter if we show mid-career or emerging artists? Does it matter that we show a pumpkin art installation followed by a contemporary neon exhibit? The bottom line is that there are no rules in art, there never have been. Today, audiences are changing, demographics are shifting and expectations of the gallery experience will as well. People have short attention spans, diverse interests and too much going on daily. If art doesn’t change and adapt it will no longer matter to the general public. We do not believe that this reality should change the practice of art-making. Artists should create what they feel inspired to create. It is our job to figure out how to present art in a relevant manner so that a diverse audience will continue to come and experience it.
We challenge audiences not to feel intimidated or alienated by art, to experience art comfortably and learn to support art and artists. Alternately, we are challenging ourselves to think broadly about what and how we present art in this space. It is that simple, and yet this mission requires a high production, ambitious and intense final product, not simple in the least.
Thank you for supporting Public Functionary in this first year and staying open to our perspective on art. We’re looking forward to continuing to share art with you.