Location/Address: 1505 E. 27th Street, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37404
Hours: After opening events. Visits by appointment.
Website: Visit here.
Created and Operated by: Jackson Case and Clay Aldridge
Founded: October 2021
Most Recent Exhibitions: The Art Thing Art Crawl (featuring Josie Hayslette, Tori Vintzel, Jackson Case, Cierra Paulson, Victoria Sauer, Rebecca Steinhice); Dream About The Following (featuring Paige Laurel Warner, Jackson Case, Clay Aldridge, Sara-Anne Waggoner, Sarah Smith, Douglas Degges, Sarah Vallerino, Saria Smith, Erica Scoggins)
Bryn Evans: What led you to find/found Dry Ice Gallery? As artists, what have you found most exciting, enjoyable, and/or unexpected about operating a contemporary art gallery?
Dry Ice Gallery: We created the gallery with a desire to connect with our local community of artists after graduating from the art program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. We were fortunate enough to have free access to this warehouse and saw an opportunity to invite artists to put work in it. The space has presented a unique set of challenges, as “art gallery” was never its intended use, but overcoming these obstacles has been rewarding. By far, the most enjoyable and unexpected part of founding Dry Ice has been the outpouring of support from our community. We were blown away by the turnout for our first show, and we are incredibly fortunate that engagement has consistently remained high. Seeing so many people in our dusty, old DIY warehouse gallery is a truly humbling experience.
BE: Can you describe the local art scene in Chattanooga, especially with the Tennessee Triennial on the horizon? For those unfamiliar with Chattanooga, what would you say distinguishes the area from Tennessee’s three other major cities? Are there any artists or artist-run spaces that you would point Burnaway to check out next?
DIG: The local art scene in Chattanooga is split between contemporary galleries and more traditional galleries centered around craft arts. This dynamic provides a wide spectrum of available art suitable for a wide range of interests. It speaks to Tennessee’s history of being more of a craft-based art scene, as well as the state’s progress in creating spaces where contemporary and conceptual art can exist. With the Tennessee Triennial on the horizon, there’s an opportunity to look at both the history and future of the arts in Tennessee.
Dry Ice is low-brow, messy, and approachable. Chattanooga’s more popular art spaces are more formal in their approach to the gallery spaces with white walls, clean surfaces, and newly renovated buildings. These spaces are vital, however we felt the city would benefit from something a little rougher. Artists needed a gathering point that could quickly accommodate their experiments and new ideas. Emerging artists have room and opportunity to find their voice, while established artists have the freedom to explore new avenues of work. This is what makes Dry Ice uncommon in the current art scene. As emerging artists ourselves, it was vital for us to create a space where people felt more comfortable as both artist and viewer.
Chattanooga is unique because of its size and position. It is a crossroads. There is a saying here that Chattanooga is only a two-hour drive from everywhere. We get a lot of talented artists passing through. However, they rarely stay. Right now, we’re changing that. The city is becoming a destination. Chattanooga is ready to grow and expand, which makes it a great spot for an art gallery like ours. There is no need to compete for audiences and there is plenty of room for us to grow and expand our reach. Additionally, Chattanooga has a long history of underground punk culture. Lots of musicians and artists have lived in Chattanooga, and they generated amazing work in the niches and hidden spaces of the city. We are proud to be participating in that style of art-making.
BE: What’s on the horizon for Dry Ice Gallery?
DIG: We’ll be kicking off our 2022-2023 season of shows in September with As Above so Below, an exhibition curated by Jules Jackson, Grace Shahan, and Valerie LeNoir. In the meantime we’re looking forward to some community-building activities. We will also continue our series of artist talks and performances, affectionately called “Art-A-Nooga Tonight,” which takes place monthly on every third Saturday.