Saturday, August 24, 2013

Spotlight on Eris Vafias of Limbo Gallery

Her de facto artist statement begins, “an oft misunderstood, idiosyncratic, renaissance woman with eccentric tendencies: a mother, an artist, a curator, a writer, a dreamer, a cynical idealist, a socialite, a recluse, a loyal friend, a formidable adversary… an agent of chaos, etc… who ‘daylights’ as a litigation paralegal under her real name.”

I first met Eris Vafias at a Limbo Gallery pop-up show called Hallways & Attic. In addition to being founder of Limbo Gallery and the annual Artist Kamikaze art experience -- this year will be AK 5 -- she is also an artist in her own right. I caught up with her here in advance of this weekend's cir-cum-am-bi-ent show at Sacred Heart.

EN: When did you first take an interest in making art? 
EV: I cannot remember a time that I was not interested in being around, learning about, collecting and/or creating art…I was always drawing “designs” for things, sketches, (clothing, dream houses, dream imagery etc.), as a young child. In kindergarten I caught some flak for creating a mythical hybrid animal instead of “any animal I could think of.” Fortunately it did not deter me and through the rest of my academic career I was blessed with teachers and professors who supported my unconventional leanings. Art has been such a central part of my life that upon graduation from high school I fulfilled my dreams of a trip to New York and was in awe of it all. The Guggenheim and the Metropolitan and all the smaller independent galleries in Manhattan blew me away.

EN: What are "pop up" galleries and when did you first produce/curate one of your own?
EV: Pop-up galleries are not a new concept, in general they are non-traditional art events--they are exhibits that defy geographical and temporal obligation. In fact, a man by the name of Leo Castelli (who became one of the largest and influential art dealers in the world) was almost 50 years old when he finally opened the Castelli Gallery — in his living room, a fourth floor townhouse in New York. I drew inspiration from this and started doing pop-up shows in May of 2011 at my own private residence. Much in the way a church can be anywhere, I believe art can be anywhere. I think having shows in non-traditional ways and spaces, makes it more accessible and a little less intimidating to someone who may have never thought to go to an art show. I often like to combine the art with music and/or film to make the exhibit a multi-sensory experience, much in the same vein as Andy Warhol’s Great Plastic Exploding Inevitable. Since that time I have had shows in host galleries, private studio spaces, art stores, dance studios, garages, and back yards. Of particular note and pride, I curated the one night only “Matter: Metal and Minerals “m3” show in the Twin Cities at the Cult Status Gallery which included the fabulously talented Venus DeMars and work by the late Amanda Christine (Kortuem/Royer).

EN: In addition to “pop up” galleries you have curated some more traditional shows and have had more than a few of your own shows. Can you tell us more about that? 
EV: Limbo Gallery was not always, nor is it strictly, a “pop-up” gallery. It used to be located in the historic NorShor Theatre circa 1999-2001 during which time there was a show about every month. I could be mistaken, but I think that we gave Chris Monroe, Jason Huntzinger, Eric Horn (Chronicle) and many others their first art shows back when we were all relatively new to the art scene. I was on the committee and was a featured artist in the first May Day celebration at the Red Mug. In addition to organizing the Artist Kamikaze at Pizza Luce, it is hard to believe it will be number five this year. Last year I co-curated the Wunderland show at the Zeitgeist Arts Café, which showcased some of the best and brightest artists from the Twin Ports and Twin Cities. Limbo Gallery also has featured local artists online with e-interviews from time to time. Maybe one day Limbo Gallery will find a permanent residence of its very own, but we are grateful to have such wonderful hosts thus far.

EN: What is cir-cum-am-bi-ent? You have a pretty hefty cast. How did it come about and can you share a few details?
EV: I was appointed “Art Director” by Tobin Dack for the upcoming Umbrella Cloud Festival “UCF” (ambient/experimental music) and the cir-cum-am-bi-ent show will be a pop-up show in conjunction with same. I am pleased to have some great artists on board such as Richard Rosvall, Patricia Mahnke, Jonah Cannon, Dusty Keliin abd Tobin Dack, among others. I am especially excited that Tim Kaiser will be bringing down some of his sound sculptures. In addition to the pop-up show there will be live painting by Yuya Negishi, Allison Price, Kristin Martin, Lesley Ross and Tina Luanna Fox. I have partnered up with Pineapple Art Center care of Lydia Walker and we will be having a community art project during the festival that anyone can contribute to and take part in.

The event this weekend is at Sacred Heart on Fourth Street. For details see the link at the beginning of this interview.

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