Wednesday, March 10, 2010

RVAAB asks some questions of... Reference Gallery

How did “Reference Gallery” happen?

Reference unofficially started in Conor Backman’s apartment on Monument Ave. in November 2008 when he along with friends had the first of two house shows in the eponymously titled “Monumental Gallery”. The four current owners of REFERENCE, Ross Iannatti, James Shaeffer, Conor Backman, and Edward Shenk met through working on these shows.

How did you find and acquire your space?

After several trials and errors with vacant retail spaces on Broad St, including instances of realtors literally laughing our plans off, we finally found a retail space available for cheap with an apartment upstairs.

From your statement: “Our mission is to introduce up-and-coming artists from around the world to Richmond, as well as promote artists in our city.” How are you selecting your artists, both from Richmond and from outside of Richmond?

It is a mixture of us finding and scouting out artists and people approaching us for shows. We are extremely interested in finding artists outside of Richmond to both bring attention locally and showcase a variety of art in our city.

Work by Ryan Crowley- his show "Scouting Foul" was up at Reference from Feb. 12th to March 6th

Has running a gallery changed the way you think about your own work? (Assuming that you are an artist/artists.)

Absolutely! It has given us a chance to realize how our individual pieces would be seen inside of gallery walls. Also, being able to look at a wide variety of work from all over has inspired us to create more.

3.5's drawing night at Reference

If you could work with ANY artist(s), who would it (they) be?


What has surprised you in your experience of running a gallery thus far (what advice would you give to others considering starting a gallery)?

Probably getting the business license was the most surprising thing. Getting an official business in the city is tough to do, we talk about how if we would have know how much it would have been how we would have been discouraged from the very beginning. However, it has exposed us to what it’s like to be on the other end of a gallery/artist relationship.

What is unique about Reference within the scope of Richmond’s art scene?

We like to think that we’re showing art that isn’t seen in galleries here in Richmond. Part of our feeling in starting this gallery was that there weren’t enough spaces representing emerging artists.

Michael Muelhaupt's work was part of Reference's inaugural show, "No Promo"

What was the best non-Reference art show you saw in Richmond in the past year? (What made it the best?)

There have been a lot of people organizing independent shows around town this year, which we are excited to see happening, such as ‘taut’ and PDF blast. The Panera Bread in Church Hill also has a really good collection, including but not limited to early work by Matthew Brett. They also have very clean bathrooms.

What is your favorite aspect of Richmond and/or the RVA art scene?

Richmond has been a good place for us to start a gallery because it has a strong art scene that is also accessible. If we were to try doing this in New York it wouldn’t be feasible and the other galleries there would easily overshadow us. The city is also not so small that we’re off the map. It’s a good mix of the two.

What is one aspect of Richmond and/or the RVA art scene you would like to see change?

It would be great if more people could get involved, it’s easy and a great thing to do.

Get involved- sponsor a part of Reference! Click here for more info.

What can we look forward to seeing at Reference in the near future?

We’re hoping to host more music events, movie screenings, and community events in addition to the art shows that will be continuing to present. People can check out our websites for up to date info on everything happening at our space.

Thanks to Reference for taking the time to answer our questions- check out their website and facebook for info on upcoming shows and events at the gallery. And sponsor a part of the gallery! Ice Cube would want you to...

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