When word of a potential new space for Transmission broke last month, we were excited and curious. Who is Bret Payne, what's he been up to, and what's the deal with Transmission past and present? The plot thickened when friend/associate/artist/past RVAAB interviewee Maxwell Perry agreed to ask Bret some questions...
TRANSMISSION first opened in 2007. What was it that inspired you to open a gallery?
I was working for Mrs. Rachel (Bunny) Mellon a few years ago in her private library in Upperville, Virginia, and she had talked to me about building a gallery on her property for her art collection. Her tentative plan was to ask me to be its curator. I made my way back to VCU to get a degree in Museum Studies, thinking that she was going to begin building the actual gallery. At this point, I had six years of experience as an assistant librarian and project manager for Mrs. Mellon's rare book and art collection. When her plans changed, mine did as well. I decided to get a degree in VCU's sculpture program and eventually open my own gallery.
How did you make that happen?
The timing was odd. I was still in school when someone told me about a space that was available to rent in the part of town (near the other "First Friday" galleries) in which I ideally wanted to be. I was in my last semester and knew from past experience that I should just jump in and figure things out on my own. Transmission became a large part of what I started doing in school, and I was making more friends with faculty and students in the painting and printmaking department at VCU.
You were able to maintain a strong connection to VCU, and area artists, as well as featuring national/international artists. How did you find them all?
Transmission's mission in its early existence was to mainly host two-person shows. One artist would be local and the other would be from out-of-town. This would potentially make opportunities for both artists to make lasting connections with each other. It would keep things fresh, here in town, and promote our local talent elsewhere. Finding the out-of-town artists is a trade secret, as silly as that may seem. The local artists were friends, colleagues, surprise meetings, etc. I've been fortunate that many of the out-of-town artists were willing to take a gamble on me. They may feel the same about me.
What happened to the old space?
Transmission had operated for a year and a half at that location (321 Brook Road), and I had come to a financial crossroads. I could either starve and try to get through a few winter months and hope that the next spring would be fruitful, or I could do what I decided to do. I closed shop with the intention of opening at a new location when things were supposed to work out for me. I was never really happy with the physical location of the old space, but I loved its size and character. I wanted to find a larger space and get away from the gravity of First Friday. That was no longer as important to me in the end.
How did the new space come to be?
A friend of mine has his studio above where the gallery is temporarily located. He offered to let me use the space for Transmission. I am currently thinking of this as a temporary home for the gallery, and I think there may be at least another before I settle and feel like moving the flat files in.
Tell me about the most recent show.
The show I had up in December consisted of artists who had shown at Transmission in the past, as well as a few new artists with whom I will work in the future. The artists included Joe Deroche, Dave Moore, Seth Ganz, Bill Donovan, Jamie Boling, Cece Cole, David Cook, and Travis Robertson. There was no cohesive theme. They are all artists I like personally and appreciate my hunger to continue. Joe Deroche is one artist I am working more closely with. He is allowing me to represent him. I am slowly asking a few others to be a part of Transmission more intimately.
Will there be regular hours?
There are currently no regular hours. Hours will be made available for upcoming shows. I work full time right now for a company and put much of my other time into trying to make Transmission what I want it to be.