November 01, 2007

Internet Art Shows In Real Time...

Archives - 1998 - Ruralscape - 36x24

The upcoming art event, The Blogger Show, opens Nov 3, at four NE galleries plus the 'net and, of course there's also a blog for the group. I applaud the effort which has already introduced me to many new artist's blogs to peruse.

One might think this is a new and different phenomenon but... not! The idea of putting together works based solely (I assume) on the idea that they are artists talking via the Internet was successfully produced and performed in 1998 near Washington DC. That's not to say that it shouldn't be done again (and again and again,) but let me take this opportunity to introduce you to, very likely, the first such show, "Met On The Internet", strictly based on artists using the Internet to converse with one another... and it happened long before there was a word called "blog."

The art email list, Paint L is probably about twelve years old now, and still going strong. I was one of the original members, artists anxious to use the web to communicate beyond their own neighborhood... the world was wide open and we formed a bond all 'round it! It was a haven after the rough and tumble attempts at dialog on the old rec.arts.fine newsgroup (anyone remember newsgroups?) We had few trolls, next to no anger but lots of discussion, teaching, learning and sharing daily... not to mention good laughs!

At one point the idea of putting together a group show came up and one of our members was in a position to offer the gallery at a large hospital in Silver Spring, Md... it was great! She did all the ground work, we had only to ship our paintings and show up for the opening. As it happened, I did neither, to my regret... too much going on personally for me to participate, but I did create the website for the show. Here is the opening page... scroll down to the list of artists to view some of the artwork included. (An aside... the site was totally lost when I graduated from AOL to the real cyber world and neglected to save all the data. Later, when we realized it had totally disappeared, we were able to find the bones of it at the Wayback Machine which archives old websites. We rebuilt as we could from there.)

This community of artists went on to have other exhibitions, to meet and travel in small groups including NYC for the Christo Gates, Santa Fe, the scenic mountains of Arizona, a residency in the South of France, gallery runs in Atlanta and San Francisco and I'm sure I'm missing more. We had T-shirts with logo and for a long time, made sure it was in all our photos for the web album we kept. Many of these excursions I've made, and hope to make more in the future. In short, it's become a group of real time friends beyond being known only through the keyboard and monitor. It's also a welcoming group should anyone reading this care to see for themselves. Tell them I've been bragging on them ;-) Time restraints have put me in lurker mode lately but I consider myself very much a part of the longest ongoing list of artists on the Internet... (I would love to hear if there's another group of artists that can match or beat that statement.)

I send good wishes to all those participating in The Blogger Show and to those producing. It will undoubtedly bring more attention to this corner of the 'net so we'd best dress the part and be sure our spell check is working. Wonder what effects this show will have on the perception of today's artists... to the artists involved... to the artworld in general? My core belief has always been: just be ready... you don't know what's happening next!


CMC said...

Oh Wow........I can sure remember that. I just had joined Paint-l and everyone was discussing the upcoming show. I got on board too late to take part. Good gosh, I've been a member for almost 10 years if that was 1998. Heck, that was the year for joining the Mississippi Art Colony, too. What a turning point for me...and my work.

Thanks for the reminder, Karen.

Annette Bush said...

I must have joined about 2 years later. It has been a fun ride. I had forgotten about the Wayback Machine -- might need to use it -- thanks for the memory jog.

BTW, remember when a well-known art magazine wouldn't write anything about the group because they didn't think their readers would care about the Internet? As you say, just be ready!

Olga said...

This is fascinating. Thank you for writing about it. And that core belief of yours is such a great philosophy for life.

nikole said...

Hi Karen – thanks for the reminder of an unforgettable event that I still bring up when the conversation leads to the wonders of the internet. I remember the Paint L posts on the topic: ‘we are artists – couldn’t we have a show? – how could we do it?‘ Out of the ether came Lillian’s reply that she curated for the NIH Gallery. All interested sent her slides and waited to hear her answer. It was so exhilarating to read her reply – YES – I can propose this work as a show. Wilek and I shipped our work to Maryland and then came the best part – attending the opening and meeting everybody. Arriving in Washington/Maryland the night of the opening, we took the subway to the NIH Galleries and got there just as it was getting dark. The show was hung in several glass walled galleries, visible as we approached. Inside was a gorgeous exhibition and people who up to that moment had been words on a computer screen. Oh it was fun. A group portrait was made and afterwards we all went to dinner at a noodle restaurant. We talked and talked as if we’d known each other all our lives – people from Montreal, California, New York – it was unbelievable!. Some traded work. The next day quite a few met again to visit galleries. I will never forget that evening. Karen you made a wonderful web page for the show so you were with us in spirit but boy we all wished you could have been there with us in the flesh. Sometime after that we had to drop out of Paint L – I think I’m still registered there but haven’t really participated.

KJ said...

The show did create wonderful memories, Nicole... and I so enjoyed seeing your work again when I researched the site for the proper links. So good to be talking to you again... you really should reintroduce yourself on the list. Ellie who was at the opening, is still contributing and I know would love to hear from you. Most of that original group has departed but their spaces were filled with equally enjoyable artists. Or maybe you'd like to start your own blog! Now there's a good idea!

mary klein said...

I'm a lurker here, Karen, but am coming out to thank you for the good wishes.

It's great to learn some of the history behind online-generated-real-life exhibitions. I'm sure you experienced what many of us did last weekend when we finally met face-to-face with the bloggers we'd been communicating with online. I discovered that I really wasn't surprised by the real-life encounters - it was more of a filling-in-the-blanks type of experience.

KJ said...

And this is just the beginning of the global interactions of artists! I can't even begin to imagine what's next. Love your minimalist still lifes, BTW... considerable strength!

mary klein said...

Thank you, Karen - that means a lot to me.

This really is a beginning for us here - it's an exciting time. Thanks also for pointing that out and for your optimism!