By Betsy DiJulio
The opening of this long-awaited (and now controversial) exhibition, in the making for over three years, occurs after press-time. So Alison Byrne, Director of Exhibitions and Education, and Heather Hakimzadeh, Curator, agreed to provide a preview of what’s in store via an email Q & A. This ten-year retrospective of Hi-Fructose: The New Contemporary Art Magazine, based in San Francisco, promises a broad spectrum of work by over 50 of the foremost contemporary artists. Expect the informative, imaginative, and relevant.
BD: Hi-Fructose is pretty much the “it” print magazine for contemporary art. How did this collaboration come about and what roles did each of you collaborators play?
AB: Daniel “Attaboy” Seifert and Annie Owens-Seifert, Hi-Fructose Founders and Editors-in-Chiefs, proposed this exhibition to me over two and a half years ago. MOCA had previously organized solo exhibitions by several artists prominently featured in the magazine, including Barnaby Barford, Jean-Pierre Roy, and Brian Dettmer. We also seemed to share like-minded philosophies about how to engage our audiences, whether visitors to the museum or readers of the magazine – collaboration seemed like a natural fit.
MOCA curated and organized the exhibition: everything from selecting the final grouping of artists and artworks and negotiating loans of the artworks from artists, galleries, and private collectors to crating, shipping, floor plans, exhibition writing, and interpretation etc.
Annie and Attaboy were consultants for the exhibition, so we’d Skype and email frequently to discuss the artists and artworks we were considering and everything else from marketing the exhibition to proofing the catalogue. It’s been a highly collaborative partnership from the beginning. Hi-Fructose also brought extensive promotional exposure for the exhibition both in print and online, which has been really exciting.
BD: In the last decade, the magazine has featured a daunting number of artists. Who selected those exhibiting in Turn the Page, and how were those selections made?
AB: Yes, it was definitely daunting in the beginning. We began by delving into the magazine’s history. Heather documented every artist featured in Hi-Fructose’s print magazine over the past ten years. We made note of those artists with repeated features, cover artists and those included in the magazine’s Collected Editions. In the end, there were over 300 artists to consider.
Some of the artists are emerging names, just now making their mark. The more established artists hold sway over current movements in art and have played an important role in the history of the magazine. Our regular Skype conversations with Annie and Attaboy were really important during this period. Ultimately we all agreed upon the final 51 artists whose work you’ll see at MOCA.
BD: Choosing some artwork to highlight may be akin to choosing a favorite child, but I’m going to ask you to do it anyway. Sorry. From your perspective, what are some of the standouts among standouts and what makes them especially noteworthy?
HH: This is a tough question, mostly because the answer changes daily. I think there are some pieces that just blow me away, like Martin Wittfooth’s Incantation. But there are a couple like Greg “Craola” Simkin’s Killing Time and Nicola Verlato’s Off the Grid that have me returning time and again. There are so many details and layers of meaning to mine from these pieces that I can’t seem to get enough.
BD: Given the diverse work in this show as well as its scope, not to mention the sometimes challenging nature of contemporary art even for the initiated, how do you recommend that visitors approach the exhibition for maximum viewing satisfaction?
HH: I think the best advice I can give to any viewer for any exhibition is to allow yourself enough time. In this image-laden society, it is easy to race through and think you get the work. That is rarely the case with great art. I recommend that visitors find works that evoke a response, and to think about what that means for you. It would be unrealistic to expect every visitor to love every artwork. But I do hope they at least are open to the different ideas and modes of expression that Turn the Page represents.
MOCA provides lots of tools to anyone who feels they need some guidance. There are audio tours (our teen audio tours tend to be very entertaining,) gallery guides, information on the labels and a catalogue which was published in conjunction with the exhibition. Also, our interactive ARTlab gallery will provide activities and information to aid in insight and understanding.
BD: Though this exhibition will encompass the entire gallery space (I am assuming so—is that true?), I understand that a major installation by none other than Olek will be exhibited off-site. Can you share a bit about it, as well as explaining the connection between Turn the Page and Olek, or is their concurrency more an issue of timing?
HH: Yes, Turn the Page will fill the entirety of MOCA’s main gallery spaces. Hi-Fructose featured Olek in Volume 29. The article showed many of her past community projects. So, although one of her newest efforts will be part of the exhibition inside MOCA, it seemed that the best way to truly highlight the impact of her work was to include a community project during the exhibition.
Olek has been working with local students and community members to create a large scale, outdoor crochet project that will be unveiled on June 16, inaugurating this year’s Boardwalk Art Show. We can’t share all the details, but this will be an extremely memorable installation.
BD: Undoubtedly, educational and other community programming will play a central role during the run of these exhibitions. What can VEER readers expect by way of ancillary opportunities?
AB: Absolutely! We’ve got a really dynamic line-up of programming over the next six months.
One of the highlights will be opening weekend when we’ll host a Q & A with the Founders of Hi-Fructose magazine. Each month we’ll have at least one visiting artist from the exhibition at MOCA. Beth Cavener, Martin Wittfooth, and Brian McCarty will offer artist talks. Tara McPherson and Greg “Craola” Simkins will teach Master Classes. We’ll also host a very special and incredibly entertaining artist talk with Wayne White.
Other highlights include “The Long View” a monthly lecture series with Dr. Linda McGreevy, a former professor at Old Dominion University. In this exhibition, many artists reference art, artists, and art movements from the near and distant past. Dr. McGreevy will help us understand what it is we are seeing and why it matters.
We’ll be partnering with the Artists Gallery in Virginia Beach by hosting an exhibition of original works inspired by Turn the Page artworks at MOCA’s Satellite Gallery. We are also inviting artists of all ages to participate in our upcoming Open (C)all 2016 exhibition.
BD: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
AB: Yes! We are delighted that Turn the Page will travel to two prominent Museums upon closing at Virginia MOCA. We are working with colleagues at the Akron Art Museum in Akron, Ohio, and the Crocker Art Museum is Sacramento, California, to travel the exhibition to their Museums in 2017. It’s a wonderful opportunity to share this one-of-a-kind exhibition and highlight Virginia MOCA and Hi-Fructose to an ever-expanding audience.
WANT TO SEE?
Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose
Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
May 22-December 31
2200 Parks Avenue, VA Beach, VA
757.425.0000 / www.virginiamoca.org