Linda and Hilliary: Making Space for Emerging Artists

In addition to being artists in their own right, Linda Rucina and Hilliary K. Gabryel are the founders of Era VI VII VI; located at 676 Woodward Avenue, Ridgewood, Queens, this artist-run space opened in May 2014. Hilliary and Linda tell us about the beginnings of Era VI VII VI, and also share their insights on the contemporary art scene in New York.

How did the idea for Era VI VII VII originate? Why this particular name?
In January 2014, we began looking for studio space in New York. We found a storefront property in the neighborhood of Ridgewood, Queens. We saw the storefront as unique space that would facilitate the creation of our own work as well as provide the opportunity for collaborative curatorial projects and pop-up exhibitions featuring new developing artists. We chose the name Era, because of its reference to time; VI VII VI, refers to the street address. We feel that founding this space has ushered in the beginning of a significant period in our artistic and professional lives.

What kind of artwork do you display? How do you choose your artists?
We are interested in showing work in a range of mediums; so far we have shown sculpture, painting, photography, video, digital and mixed media works. We select artists with serious studio practices, whose works have strong voices. Most importantly, before deciding, we ask ourselves – why show this artist, this work, right now? It is especially important for us to show sculpture and mixed media works, since we both work in these mediums.


What are your thoughts on the NYC Contemporary art scene?
The NYC contemporary art scene exists on a number of levels. On one hand,
New York is home to internationally established galleries and world-class museums. On the other hand, you find numerous project and pop-up gallery spaces just about everywhere. As emerging artists in the NYC Contemporary art scene, with endless opportunities to view art and create our own niches, we find the path remains wild and untamed. It is extremely challenging but full of opportunities at the same time.

What are your long-term projects?
Our most important long-term project is to run an art space that participates meaningfully in the contemporary art dialogue, thereby building an evolved network. Currently, we’re developing a connection between the New York City and the Latvian contemporary art scene. We are excited to make the first step in this endeavor by including Latvian Artist, Indriķis Ģelzis, in our May 2015 group show. Another plan for the near future is to hold monthly forums at Era.

What kind of focus do you have on the relation between art and new technologies?
New technologies are inherently present in Contemporary Art as well as everyday life and we tend to adjust the pace of how we view and make art accordingly. Often, viewing takes place online. Some artists use new methods to create their work; David Hockney and his iPad drawings, for instance, show how artists have opened their practices to the influence of new technologies. The relationship between art and new technologies is embedded in Era’s make-up, as well as all of the work shown.

MyTemplArt is particularly interested in the role that archiving has in the art world. Do artists feel compelled to archive their own work?
Archiving work is a thing of the past, yet the issue will forever remain. The reality and struggle of preserving and archiving work in NYC, is constant. Post-internet artist Artie Vierkant has an interesting approach to this challenge. In his Image Object series, documentation of his sculptural works and digital manipulation of these images, become separate entities. Vierkant’s approach to archiving, though very distinct, questions whether technology can preserve the memory of a work.

On one hand, galleries want to promote and sell artists’ work; yet they also want to protect their “ownership” of an artist’s association to the gallery itself. Where does Era stand with regard to the role of galleries?
From my experience working at an established contemporary art gallery, this is truly a contradiction. Galleries represent artists, and thus, take on the position of promoter and representative-liaison. We feel Era has a different culture than that of a traditional gallery. We primarily focus on showing the works of emerging artists with the specific intention of forging connections with fellow project spaces, galleries, and collectors.

Is contemporary art “selling its soul” to the idea of making a sale or is it possible to express a desired concept through art without worrying about its potential financial return?
The chances that an artist will live solely off the profits of their work are slim. The art market is largely controlled by commercial galleries and auction houses, which set standards and monetary values for artwork. Some artists tailor their practices in order to sell work; some choose to be guided by the integrity approval of peers. There is no exact formula to creating art and then selling it for a profit. Making art is like gambling; you have to play to have a chance.

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