Juan Carrera is more than just an artist. He’s a curator of events and exhibitions, a gallery manager, a community organizer, a supporter of all things local and creative, and a proud father. Typically when we ask the artists featured in our Local Artist Spotlight series if they have upcoming shows they want to promote, they typically have one show… possibly two. When we asked Juan the same question he listed off eight shows that he’s helping to support, curate, promote and occassionally participate in to show some of his own work.
Without further ado… the interview with local artist Juan Carerra:
Q: First, can you tell us a little bit about your artistic background?
A: I am a self taught abstraction painter. Columbus has been my home and primarily where I have been showing my work for the past 7 years. More recently, I became interested in curating and began organizing art shows. I formed an abstraction collective called Abx and we just celebrated our 1 year anniversary. As of 2010 I have also been curating for Gallery831.
Q: What exactly is ABX and what is the purpose of the organization?
A: Abx is a group of independent artists whose work explores the emotional complexities of Abstract Expressionism. The mission of the group is to provide members working in all disciplines and styles a platform to show in a collective voice. I founded the group in late 2009 and we had a dual-venue, debut show called Visual Rhythms in the South Campus Gateway at the Ohio Art League and across the alley at the OSU Arts Initiative. The original concept for the group was inspired by the New York School Annuals of the 1950′s and of course the name is derived from the Abstract Expressionism (Ab-Ex) movement.
Q: You mentioned that ABX just celebrated it’s first anniversary. How has the first year gone, and what have you learned thus far?
A: The first year was truly a success for us. Abx was fortunate to have four exhibitions throughout Columbus in our infancy. Our first show Visual Rhythms, in the South Campus Gateway, was a music themed show. In our efforts to connect the viewer with non-representational/non-objective work, each artist created a painting inspired by music in which each was displayed with an Ipod playing the music that inspired the work. Our 2nd and 3rd shows, MadLabx at MadLab Gallery and Abx @ OSU Hillel ushered in many new members to the line-up as well as incorporating 3D sculptural work to the shows. We rounded out the first year with our Abx 1 Year Anniversary Show, a big blow-out celebration exhibition at Gallery831. I was thrilled to add another dynamic to the show format with a projection installation which was set to live music by A House Ghost Liberation for the reception.
A change to the group format has been made to allow all forms of abstraction by removing the original limitations of only showing non-representational/non-objective work. The basis for all Abx shows still focuses on 3 components of composition: form, line and color but is no longer only limited to it. I felt the show dynamic could benefit by including a broader range of abstraction from artists who still experiment with the fundamental elements of abstract-expressionism.
Q: What local art groups, venues or curators have you collaborated with and are there any others you’re planning on collaborating with in the future?
A: Working with my friend Stephanie Rond was a gift. She was kind enough to curate the first Abx show and I got a real sense of the work ethic and commitment needed to put on a great art show. Couchfire was an enormous help as well in giving Abx the opportunity to show through their own programming at OAL our first time around. I had the pleasure of collaborating with local graphic artist Ryan Mowry on the Visual Rhythms and Abx 1 Year Anniversary poster images.
Sprout was a kids’ event I was very proud to help organize with Heather Wirth and Rob W. Jones at Gallery831 to benefit and feature the work of the Columbus Artmobile and the art students of local folk art legend Rob Jones. Rob had been working with his art students all year to construct decorative musical instruments out of found objects. It was truly rewarding to see all those young artists’ excitement at viewing their artwork in a gallery. We also got a chance to collaborate with local artist Jason Mowry for the Sprout show graphic.
Some other upcoming collaborations I am really excited about include:
- Abx collaboration with the GCAC’s OPPArt program in October. GCAC will host a roundtable discussion on series of topics involving abstraction and abstract-expressionism.
- The return of the Columbus artist collective Black Sail coming to Gallery831 with REVIVAL a 1-week (reunion) show the first week of September, organized by the ubiquitous Mr. Jon Stommel.
- Exquisite Corpse 2 at Wild Goose Creative in September to benefit the Columbus Artmobile.
As an artist, curator and show organizer I have been fortunate and am grateful to have worked with many art groups and I am always open to the possibility of collaborating with others.
Q: Can you tell us about your upcoming show with Zanzeville artists? How did it come about, why did you pick this city, and what can we expect at the show?
A: Originally called Zanesville Does Not (have to) Suck!, and later changed because of negative backlash from some of the participating artists, the concept originated from my beautiful and talented artist/photographer/curator girlfriend and partner-in-crime Brittany Stigler (Brittany Bird).
Brittany, a Zanesville native, now in Columbus, will be the first to say that this artist line-up definitely does not include (all) Zanesville artists, but is an accurate representation of the creative spirit currently flowing there. The concept of uniting all of these artists is an effort to [disprove] the mentality that small-town art scenes suck. Brittany’s view was that they can be, and in the case of Zanesville, are just as relevant and inspiring as bigger city scenes. The show includes 19 artists of all different medias and disciplines from very established to emerging. The Zanesville Artist Showcase is Brittany’s first show at the helm. She did a great job curating the show and I had the pleasure of assisting her through it.
Q: How do you balance your roles between the professional and management side of being a curator and the creative and artistic side of producing new work yourself?
A: With coffee and a genuine love for all kinds of art shows. Columbus has come to be known as a thriving city for creatives and many artists here share the drive to create through community. Independent artists have taken a lot of creative control for themselves and Gallery831 supports that idea through programming with a focus on emerging artists.
But truthfully… it takes a lot of coffee.
Q: What other shows do you have coming up in the near future?
Abx shows include:
- CS Gallery 7/16 – 7/27 with an opening reception Sat 7/16 from 8-midnight
- Spinelli’s Deli Downtown for Independents’ Day and through August
- 400 West Rich for an art and live music event this winter
Gallery831 shows include:
- Joss Parker solo show: Red, White and Pop Americana 7/12 – 7/30 opening reception 7/16 6-9pm
- LemonArt: art and crafts sale 8/5 – 8/19 reception Fri 8/12 6-9pm
- Four Letter Word: a Benefit for children of Batam, Indonesia
an exhibition of photos and film by Brittany Stigler and Jaime Hoff
- Black Sail REVIVAL
opening reception 9/3 7-10pm
closing reception 9/9 6-9pm
My personal upcoming show:
- 2 Man show with Todd Hickerson at CWAL (Cleveland West Art League) in October
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Yes. That my daughter is my hero.