Factory schmactory. I’m on my way to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to set up Bullseye’s stand at COLLECT, the international art fair for contemporary objects.
Fifteen hours, three airports and a cultural canyon away from Garlic Gulch.
This is my other life. Could a factory that thinks it’s a university seriously resist the urge to also run an art gallery? Obviously not. By the mid 1990’s we’d opened something called a Resource Center (more about that later) in Portland’s artsy downtown Pearl District. After a few friends like Dale Chihuly, Bertil Vallien and Richard Marquis let us show their work (made out of Our Glass!) next to the dichro jewelry counter, we got a little pompous and opened a “real gallery” across the street.
That was eight years ago. Today we are the only US gallery invited to exhibit at COLLECT, an international fair organized by the British Crafts Council and held annually in the venerable V&A in London – Chelsea, to be precise, where four of us – moi and three of our artists (Steve Klein, Jessica Loughlin and April Surgent) – have wedged into a nearby flat, divided up the closets, unpacked and are today wading through Day One of Art Fair angst.
No skeletons. Just a severe case of chromophobia.
This is April’s first London fair, but Steve and Jess were here with me last year, making them veterans, I guess, of this particular war.
2006 was our first time showing at COLLECT. We didn’t sell much. (I’d been forewarned). But I learned a lot. Like the Brits haven’t yet caught the art shopping virus that’s all over US fairs. But they ask great questions. And they bring a quaint perspective to what we do: “Look, mum, isn’t this lovely – it doesn’t look at all like glass.”
Well, look, mates, THIS doesn’t look at all like an easy way to do business….
April, Steve and Jess fighting the T-Mobile battle in a quaint local coffee house.
Tomorrow – or not, depending on T-Mobile: what a gallery has to do with a glass factory and other rationalizations.